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Terror's New Tentacles

Terror's New Tentacles

Author: TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: June 2, 2008
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Kolkata_/Terrors_New_Tentacles/articleshow/3091533.cms

The morning after the May 13 serial blasts in Jaipur, people were still picking up the pieces. Lives had been shattered, and the Pink City was still reeling under the shock of the attack that claimed 80 lives. But inside police control rooms, sleuths were already picking up a trail of terror.

Within days, a few things became clear. The blasts were synchronized and masterminded with clinical precision. RDX may have been used and like the blasts in UP courts, the explosives were stored in cycles. "Each of these links point to the involvement of HuJI, the Bangladeshi extremist outfit that has taken over from Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed as India's biggest terror threat. HuJI operators use Kolkata as their base and the porous border with Bangladesh to smuggle arms and explosives into the country," said an intelligence source.

In fact, since 2005, the majority of terror attacks in India - Mumbai train blasts, Mecca Mosque explosion, Sankat Mochan attack - have reportedly been carried out by HuJI.

The connection has been evident for a long time. On October 12, 2005, suicide bombers attacked the Hyderabad office of the Special Task Force. Two months later, police arrested Kaleem, who revealed that the operation had been executed by a Bangladeshi national. He said he had been recruited and taken to Bangladesh for training. Later, a Bangladeshi arrested from Murshidabad confessed he was a HuJI member and had been involved in the attack.

These were the first tremors. Over the next three years, HuJI emerged as the prime terror outfit involved in most jihadi attacks in India. Most of the attacks were remote-controlled from Bangladesh. As the probes progressed, sleuths found HuJI's terror network went far deeper into India than thought previously. Their hand was seen in several other terrorist strikes that were earlier attributed to other groups.

Delhi police, for instance, had claimed that LeT was behind the serial blasts of October 2005 in the capital. But Jalaluddin, alias Babubhai - a top HuJI operative in eastern India arrested in June 2007 - confessed that he had transported 20 kg of RDX to Delhi weeks before the blast. The Mumbai train blast, too, was initially claimed to be the handiwork of LeT. It was later revealed that HuJI had planned the attack.

In the face of this sustained terror campaign, sleuths have been able to do little. Take the example of Abdul Rahaman, who was 'arrested' in Delhi on May 22, 2008, and charged with involvement in the Jaipur blasts. Babubhai revealed that as far back as 2004, Rahaman was transporting explosives across the Bengal-Bangladesh border. A minor accomplice then, Rahaman had been sent to the Biswa Ijtema at Tongi and attended a training camp in Bangladesh before final training in Pakistan.

According to central intelligence sources, by the time Rahaman returned from his Pakistan stint, he was an important member of HuJI. Babubhai confessed that around one and a half years back, Rahaman was sent to look for fresh recruits in Bangladesh. But around eight months ago, he was nabbed in a raid by Bangladeshi intelligence agency DGFI. Under pressure from India, he was allegedly handed over around two months ago. This, in effect, quashes the Delhi Police's theory that he might have been linked to the Jaipur blasts less than a month ago.

Indian agencies have also failed to secure the custody of Abu Hamza, believed to be the second-in-command of HuJI in India. A native of Hyderabad, he is a close aide of Shahid Bilal, one of HuJI's masterminds in India. Police claim Hamza and Bilal planned the Hyderabad blasts in 2007. Hamza is also wanted by Mumbai police for the Ghatkopar blasts in 2002. Central intelligence agencies claim he is in the custody of DGFI.

The Bangladesh government, however, denies this. But sources in Bangladesh confirmed Hamza is now in custody. Indian agencies have reportedly managed to lay their hands on one of his recent photographs.

For India, Hamza is the key links the other HuJI big gun, Shahid Bilal, has allegedly been gunned down in Karachi in September 2007. Indian agencies are worried that Hamza, too, might be killed. "Hamza's arrest would unearth how ISI is backing the militia. Unknown gunmen had killed Bilal, probably his own men," said a senior intelligence officer.

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