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Terror Watch: Indian Mujhaideen in Goa

GoaChronicle.com brings to an insight into the dreaded terrorist organization Indian Mujhaideen (IM) and its activities in Goa. A recent classified report from the Central Intelligence Agencies sent to the newly appointed Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde have cautioned that the terror outfit is on a comeback trail and has started re-activating its network primarily in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Goa

In 2008, Mohammad Asif – a final year MBBS student from the Karnataka Institute of Medical Science in Hubli revealed to the Intelligence Agency about the terror-links in Goa and their plans of a terror attack.

In October 2010, two five-star hotels, one in the North and one in the South of Goa both belonging to two prominent hotel groups, were to be terror attack target.  The terror plan was foiled by the Central Intelligence Agencies. Interestingly, the modus-operandi appeared used was a local entertainment businessman who provided entertainment solutions to these hotels in order to get access to the hotel. The terror operators as explained by the entertainment businessmen to the Central Intelligence Agencies were educated and already had the lay-out plans of the hotels with them.

Goa over the last five years is emerging as a preferred destination for members of the IM. Intelligence agencies sources of the rank of Special Director at the New Delhi headquarters revealed that according to their information there are about 12 sleeper cells in Goa concentrated in the areas of Vasco, Margao, Fatorda and St Cruz. Though, there have been no reports of any movements from the suspected members in the cell, the agencies are keeping a watch-out. There are also suspicious movements of certain members at Palolem, Agonda, Morning and Arambol. “If there is to be an terror attack in Goa, it would be aimed at the tourists pronged areas,” expressed the Special Director. “We keeping a close watch on tourist areas frequented by tourists from USA, UK and Israel, as information have revealed that IM would be targeting spots.

Incidentally, the classified report, which Central Intelligence Agencies had given the Union Home Ministry, details of which have been accessed by GoaChronicle.com, comes close on the heels of serial bombings in Pune in which Indian Mujahideen is a prime suspect. While Maharashtra and Karnataka are the primary focus areas where the IM is revamping its operation, Goa is becoming a nodal point for the IM members to hide-out and re-group. In fact the failure of the local intelligence network to keep a tab on terror trails in the state has forced Central Intelligence Agencies to send teams from HQ to assess and report on the ground situation.

The Intelligence Bureau has also stressed on the need for sensitising the crime branch and special branch of all state police as well on the revival of Indian Mujahideen.

However, a recent local media report exposed the presence of IM chief Yasin Bhatkal in Vasco in 2009. However, senior officers in the CID branch failed to act on the report. When the issue was raised during the recent Goa Assembly session, the current Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar agreed to the existence of such a report but also stated that his personal intelligence network has vetted the information to be false.

The classified report to Union Home Ministry warns that the Pune bombings should be treated as a ‘wake up call’.

“The Indian Mujahideen and Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) have a formidable network in both Maharashtra and Karnataka and there is specific source based information that the network is being activated once again. They have started recruiting fresh operatives in these states and other states like Goa and Andhra Pradesh as well,” the report goes on to add.

Central Intelligence Agencies are keeping a close watch on an Islamic convention planned to be held in the month of October this year. SIMI involvement in the convention cannot be ruled out, informed about senior IB official. Recently Hindu Right Wing organisations conducted a five-day Hindu Nation Convention. Sources inform that this Islamic Convention is a retaliatory action to the Hindu Convention.

The Indian Mujahideen had suffered serious reverses in November last year when some of its key operatives were arrested in a joint operation by the Intelligence Bureau and Delhi police’s special cell. Most of those arrested belonged to what is now known as the Darbhanga module of Indian Mujahideen.

“After that crack down the Indian Mujahideen has started regrouping and have started their activities again,” a senior intelligence official said.

Investigating agencies, sources added, will be questioning key Indian Mujahideen operatives lodged in a number of jails across the country to ascertain if they can get some leads into the Pune bombings.

Sources said the Mumbai ATS and crime branch which is questioning Lashkar-e-Tayyaba militant Abu Jundal has also quizzed him in this regard as Jundal has tremendous information of Lashkar and Indian Mujhaideen operations.

That Goa is a soft target and is on the terror radar is a known fact to the Central Intelligence Agencies, according to IB information there is the possibility of a major attack before the end of the year in Goa. And it will happen at a place of touristic importance. But what is more troubling is the fact that Goa is emerging as a small hub of terror activities.

In fact a couple of weeks ago two local-based journalists received SMS warning about a probable terror strike on Goa. The message came from Spain. Chief Minister has forwarded the message to IB and RAW to investigate.

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