The Indian Mujahideen (IM) planned to cut ties with the ISI and align itself directly with al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban, according to the supplementary chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
According to the chargesheet, Riyaz Bhatkal, alleged founder of IM, referred to the Pakistani intelligence agency as “kutta” (dog) in Internet chats, and spoke of the need to break free of its clutches to be able to operate freely.
A special court in Delhi took cognizance of the NIA’s 277-page supplementary chargesheet against alleged IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal, his aide Asadullah Akhtar and two other members of the IM, Manzar Imam and Uzair Ahmed, on Monday.
The NIA is learnt to have accused them of criminal conspiracy, being members of a terrorist organisation, waging war against the government, recruiting youth and collecting funds for the IM. The NIA had filed its first chargesheet against five alleged IM members in July last year. Court proceedings are scheduled to begin on March 7.
Also on Monday, the Delhi Police’s Special Cell filed its supplementary chargesheet against Yasin and Akhtar in a sessions court. The police are learnt to have charged the two men with setting up an arms manufacturing unit in the suburbs of Delhi with the intention of carrying out terror attacks across India.
The sessions court of Additional Sessions Judge Daya Prakash will consider this chargesheet on March 3.
According to the NIA chargesheet, senior ISI officials had reprimanded the IM leadership in Pakistan after finding out about the group’s attempts to establish links with the al-Qaida and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Based on information contained in Internet chats among half a dozen alleged IM operatives, the NIA has said that the ISI, after discovering the IM’s outreach towards the al-Qaida and TTP, withdrew a Mitsubishi Pajero SUV and some funds that it had given to the Bhatkals.
The chargesheet quotes Riyaz Bhatkal as saying the IM should begin to ally with al-Qaida through “taawun” or assistance, and subsequently consider a merger. The IM leadership, according to the chargesheet, believed the TTP leadership was brave but foolish, and therefore preferred to ally with Arab fighters.
The NIA has claimed to have accessed secure email accounts that show the IM tried unsuccessfully to contact Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaida chief himself.
The chargesheet describes an instance when Riyaz was allegedly contacted by an al-Qaida operative in Pakistan who wanted help to send weapons through India to Myanmar, where Riyaz apparently planned to recruit Rohingya Muslims. According to the chargesheet, Riyaz was also considering procuring weapons in Thailand, where the IM had located a private weapons manufacturing unit.
In statements made in court, Yasin has allegedly accepted his role in the blasts at Hyderabad (2007 and 2013), Jaipur (2008), Delhi (2008 and 2010), Ahmedabad and Surat (2008), Bangalore (2010), Pune (2010) and Mumbai (2011).
Akhtar has allegedly confessed his involvement in the bomb blasts in Delhi (2008 and 2010), Mumbai (2011), Pune (2010) and Hyderabad (2013).
Both men are learnt to have confessed to have been trained by the ISI. Yasin has allegedly said he was trained in Karachi in 2005, while Akhtar has said he received formal training in September 2009. Both are said to have claimed that the Batla House encounter of September 19, 2008 was the provocation behind many of the attacks.
According to the chargesheet, Yasin has confessed to have recruited youths into the IM, built and planted IEDs, and sheltered other IM operatives. He has allegedly said he joined the IM “to protect the rights of Muslim people”.
The chargesheet, filed on the basis of searches at alleged IM hideouts, the alleged recovery of incriminating material, alleged records of money transfers, analysis of alleged Internet-based communication and statements of witnesses, says Delhi’s Akshardham temple and Pune’s Army cantonment were at the top of the IM’s hit list.
Former Apple executive and Dwarka MLA Adarsh Shastri has also been included in the spokespersons’ list.