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Lucknow businessman wrote terror mail: police

Lucknow businessman wrote terror mail: police

Author: Praveen Swami
Publication: The Hindu
Date: August 27, 2008
URL: http://www.hindu.com/2008/08/27/stories/2008082755641200.htm

Introduction: Shahbaz Husain is alleged to be the overall commander of Jaipur, Ahmedabad attacks

Investigators believe a top Students Islamic Movement of India operative arrested in Lucknow on Monday was the author of a series of e-mail manifestos issued by the terror cell responsible for a series of attacks across northern and western India.

Shahbaz Husain, a Lucknow-based businessman held by the Rajasthan Police, is alleged to be the operational head of a SIMI-linked group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen, which carried out in Faizabad, Varanasi, Lucknow, Jaipur and Ahmedabad.

Husain, who moved to Lucknow two years ago, and set up two successful businesses operating out of Maulvi Ganj, in the Aminabad area. One, the Snazzy Computer Training Institute, offered basic courses in information technology, and also acted as an agent for a nationwide broadband Internet service provider. The other, Zyna Career Consultants, was a human resource firm providing workers to companies in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

But the Uttar Pradesh police say Husain also had a parallel life as a terror operative who built the complex, overlapping networks that carried out the most sustained Islamist terror bombing offensive India has ever seen.

According to police sources, he was recruited into SIMI while he was studying at the Indian Institute of Mass Communications, where he pursued a journalism diploma after obtaining a Bachelor of Sciences Degree. Before SIMI's proscription in 2001, he briefly edited one of its English-language magazines, Islamic Movement.

Police sources said he had been placed under surveillance after the arrest of SIMI's former general secretary, Safdar Nagori, at the end of March. During his interrogation, Nagori had identified Husain - who he referred to by the nickname 'Shaanu'- as the ranking head of the group's military operations.

Nagori also told police that top SIMI bomb-maker Abdul Subhan Qureshi had held a series of training camps for operatives on Husain's orders.

However, Uttar Pradesh authorities held back on making an arrest, arguing that the evidence available was inadequate to justify the arrest of a prominent member of the community. However, the Rajasthan police obtained an arrest warrant, after several suspects held in Gujarat - including top local SIMI organiser Sajid Mansoori - correctly identified photographs of Husain, who they described as their ranking commander.
E-mail suspicions

Husain's public e-mail address, shahbaz_hindi@yahoo.com, the Uttar Pradesh police found, bore some intriguing similarities with those used by a terrorist cell calling itself the Indian Mujahideen.

Minutes before the bombing of three trial court buildings in Uttar Pradesh in November, 2007, the Indian Mujahideen issued a document claiming responsibility for the attack, using the e-mail address guru_alHindi@yahoo.fr. The document was signed by an individual using the pseudonym 'Guru al-Hindi.'

"Guru", in north Indian argot, is used to refer not just to a religious leader, but to a boss or leader. 'Hindi', in this context, signifies a person of Indian origin.

Just before the serial bombings in Jaipur in May this year - an attack police suspect Husain directly organised - an Indian Mujahideen manifesto was issued from a similar address, guru_alhindi_jaipur@yahoo.co.uk. Again, the document was signed by 'Guru al-Hindi.'

Later, just before the serial bombings in Ahmedabad last month, the Indian Mujahideen sent a third e-mail, this time bearing the signatures of both 'al-Hindi' and a second operative calling himself 'al-Arbi', or 'the Arab'. Better written and designed than the earlier documents - and in PDF, rather than the Microsoft Word format - the Ahmedabad e-mail, was sent out from alarbi_gujarat@yahoo.com.

Finally, 'al-Arbi' sent out a fourth e-mail last week, to decry the arrest of key suspects including Abdul Bashar Qureshi, an Uttar Pradesh seminary student-turned-SIMI jihadist who was also held in Uttar Pradesh last week.

Maharastra police sources said they believe 'al-Arbi' is in fact Abdul Subhan Qureshi, a top SIMI bomb-maker wanted for a string of attacks since 2003.

Husain and Qureshi are emblematic of a new generation of computer-literate SIMI operatives, many of whom joined the Islamist group after experiencing religious discrimination while working at multinational corporations. Earlier this year, police arrested Peedical Abdul Shibly and Yahya Kamakutty, who had set up in Bangalore a jihad cell. It recruited at least half a dozen information technology workers through a front organisation, Sarani.

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