A series of Internet chats between key members of Indian Mujahideen (IM) based in India and Pakistan provided leads as early as July 2013 to the emergence of new terror modules with links to West Bengal, Assam and Bangladesh, and a branch leader identified only as “Bengali”.
The transcripts of some of these chats — unearthed last year by National Investigation Agency (NIA) — reveal that the ground had been laid in 2013 to launch terror operations under the leadership of “Bengali”. They also indicate that it was this operative who carried out the SMS campaign in 2012 that sparked panic among people from the northeast living in southern cities such as Bangalore.
In one conversation, on July 12, 2013, Ahmed Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Afeef Jilani Mota (muthumamu80 @yahoo.com) discuss the credentials of a new “Bengali” leader for a branch of the IM. Bhatkal was arrested in August last year from Nepal and Mota is suspected to be currently in Pakistan.
In the conversation, Yasin Bhatkal asks whether the new head of Afeef Mota’s group had participated in any “jihadi operation” in India. Mota replies that this leader carried out a plan to trigger violence in India by spreading fake SMSes in August 2012, linking people from Assam to the killings of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, which led to an exodus from southern states of people from the northeast who feared retaliation.
The identity of this new leader was not revealed even to Pakistan’s ISI, Mota claims in the chat.
A separate conversation between two other IM operatives — Mirza Shadab Beg (james_usually10@yahoo. com) and Asadullah Akhtar (email@example.com) — on July 12, 2013, reveals that a new leader who hailed from “bng” was operating in India. The leader was “soft-natured” and would handle affairs in Karachi, Beg tells Akhtar. According to NIA, “bng” stands for West Bengal.
In another chat with Asadullah Akhtar on July 18, 2013, Beg discusses the “Bengali person’’ appointed as the head of an IM branch that also includes him and others. When Akhtar insists on knowing whether the new group is reliable, Beg replies that its members are wanted in different cases in their own region but have no records with police in India.
“These groups are known for their work. One of the groups has already carried out the deposits (fidayeen) in India. One Bengali has done it,’’ the NIA stated while quoting Beg’s July 18, 2013 chat with Akhtar in a recent chargesheet filed against IM operatives.
These chat conversations have gained significance in the light of the October 2 blast at a house in Burdwan in West Bengal which resulted in the death of two persons allegedly involved in making explosive devices.
The NIA, which is investigating the Burdwan blast, has confirmed that six persons arrested on October 10 by police in Assam’s Barpeta district were linked to the explosion and the Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh.
Shaikhul Islam alias Abdulla, who was arrested in Assam, has been named as an associate of Shakil Ahmed alias Shamin, an activist of the Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh who was killed in the Burdwan blast.