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How ‘India’s Bin Laden’ brought SIMI close to Indian Mujahideen

He would meet prominent IM members at SIMI’s head office in Kurla and conspire to carry out attack.

mumbai Updated: Feb 25, 2018 01:12 IST
Presley Thomas
Presley Thomas
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,SIMI,Indian Mujahideen
Abdul Subhan Qureshi quit his job in 1999.

Abdul Subhan Qureshi alias Kalim alias Tauqeer, who was arrested last month in New Delhi for his alleged involvement in the 2008 blasts in Gujarat and the national capital, tried to bridge the gap between the banned Indian Mujahideen and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Known as India’s Bin Laden, he wanted to revive the IM network in the country.

He would meet prominent IM members at SIMI’s head office in Kurla and conspire to carry out attacks. Qureshi, a resident of Highland apartment from Nayanagar area of Mira Road in Mumbai, was an active SIMI member since 1998 — when radicalisation of Muslim youth reached its pinnacle.

He studied computer science at Bharatiya Vidyapeeth at Kharghar (in 1990) and Wilson College at Marine Lines. He worked with various software firms in and around Mumbai, including at SEEPZ in Andheri.

The first signs of his radical tilt were witnessed when he resigned from a software firm in 1999. His resignation stated that he had quit to ‘to pursue religious activities’. Qureshi, police sources said, enrolled himself into SIMI and used to give public speeches at Mira Road. SIMI, which called for ‘liberation of India through Islam’, was first banned in 2001.

His activities caught the attention of senior SIMI leaders who then used to visit him on a regular basis. Qureshi rose through the ranks and is believed to have handled SIMI’s technical aspects owing to his education and work experience, according to the an officer from Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad. Such was Qureshi’s hold in the organisation that, police sources said, Safdar Nagori — the chief of SIMI’s radical wing — used to visit him in his house and at times stay there. Police officials believe that Qureshi played a vital role in organising SIMI meetings before the 7/11 serial train blasts in Mumbai.

His name features prominently in almost all interrogation reports of SIMI leaders, who were arrested from Madhya Pradesh. Qureshi attended all meetings and training camps organised by SIMI in various parts of the country, including the ones at Choral in Madhya Pradesh, Waghamon near Alwaye in Kerala and at Halol near Vadodara.

Qureshi thus became a key SIMI operative. This is one of the reasons that he was roped in by IM founders Amir Raza, Riyaz Ismail Shahbandri alias Riyaz Bhatkal and Sadiq Israr Shaikh. Riyaz studied at Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute in Mumbai.

Hyderabad-born Salim Mujahid Islahi first recruited Bhatkal and others to carry out blasts in India. Islahi had contacts with brothers Asif Raza Khan and Amir Raza Khan, who controls IM from Pakistan.

Qureshi would meet Riyaz and Sheikh at SIMI’s Mumbai head office in Kurla and they became the key planners for IM. Qureshi, police sources said, would plan the blasts and leave the city making it tough for them to nab him.

First Published: Feb 25, 2018 01:03 IST