The Indian Mujahideen had made plans to kill several top Muslim leaders in the country for their pro-government stance. The homegrown terror outfit had also decided to target Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Rakesh Maria for his role in arresting IM operatives from Pune in 2008,it is learnt.
The information was given to interrogators by IM operative Asadullah Akhtar,who was arrested along with IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal from the India-Nepal border in late September.
Subsequently,central agencies sounded an alert and efforts are being made to review the security of these Muslim leaders,home ministry sources said.
The terrorists may try to carry out shoot-and-scoot operation against top Muslim leaders and Maria. The group has also been trying to procure weapons from Maoists to conduct killings and kidnappings to finance their jehadi activities, said a senior official.
The Muslim leaders in the crosshairs of the IM,according to Asadullah,include Dr Shahid Badr Falahi,a former national president of SIMI who had been jailed for his provocative speeches at the time of the ban on SIMI in 2001.
Sources said Falahi was seen as associated with the SIMI faction opposed to violence and the IM may have decided to target him due to his differences with jailed SIMI leader Safdar Nagori.
Another name that is on the IMs list is Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Sadiq,who is also associated with the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. Lucknow-based Sadiq has often come under attack for his efforts to spread modern education among Muslims.
Others on the list include Mahmood Arshad Madani,a Rajya Sabha MP belonging to the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD),and his nephew Maulana Mahmood Madani,the general secretary of Jamiat-Ulema Hind.
We are still trying to understand the threat to these Muslims leaders and what could be the reasons to attack them besides the fact that they are seen as pro-government, a senior official said.
Investigators also suspect that terror groups have begun to resort to crime to finance their operations and do not even hesitate to associate with criminals for this. As a result,security agencies have asked police in some states where the IM is active to pay close attention to details while investigating crimes,particularly ones like looting of cash vans and bank ATMs.