(G.N.S) Dt. 23
The arrest of Abdul Subhan Qureshi alias Tauqeer by Delhi police, suspected of involvement in the serial blasts in Gujarat and Delhi in 2008, is likely to throw light on grey areas and answer several questions related to the myth and misconceptions around the home grown terror outfit Indian Mujahideen.
Qureshi’s arrest is being considered a ‘very big catch’ by the police as well as the intelligence agencies.
No one, not even his family members, could ever imagine from the resignation letter that Qureshi had given to his employer in March 2001, stating – “I wish to inform you that I have decided to devote one complete year to pursue religious and spiritual matters” – that this would be the beginning of the journey of one the most wanted terrorists in India.
The computer engineer-turned-alleged terrorist was born in a small place called Rampur near Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. He moved to Mumbai with his parents as a child, studied there, obtained a diploma in Industrial Electronics, worked in a couple of software companies and then vanished one fine morning.
His name resurfaced in 2008 in serial blast cases due to emails sent by Indian Mujahideen operatives, and he soon acquired the sobriquet – ‘India’s Osama bin Laden.’ His is a story of metamorphosis of a quiet Mumbai boy who turned into one of the dreaded terrorists — an enigma of sorts, who carried a bounty of Rs 4 lakh on his head.
“It’s a good catch by Delhi police. A thorough interrogation of Abdul Subhan Qureshi may lead to several links, his nexus with other terror outfits and modules. It will also give an insight of the Indian Mujahideen’s operations. The network of Islamic terrorist organisations is fast spreading across the country. I’m told that the People Front of India (PFI) which was limited to Kerala, has now reached Jharkhand and a few other states,” Prakash Singh, former DGP, Uttar Pradesh and former Border Security Force chief told media.
“Given the present situation, there’s an urgent need to strengthen our internal security, to keep our house in order,” Singh added.
The investigating agencies are trying to find out how an urban-educated youth from Mumbai got indoctrinated. Qureshi, a Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activist, reportedly held the top rank in SIMI after the arrest of its general secretary Safdar Nagori from Indore in Madhya Pradesh in March 2008.
Counter-terrorism analyst, Anil Kamboj said, “Qureshi’s arrest is one of the biggest catches in recent times. The intelligence agencies had been on a look-out for him even before the Gujarat blast. Besides his operations, Qureshi’s interrogations may give more clarity to this indigenous Indian Mujahideen module, its organisational structure, rank and file, its functioning, sources of funding to Indian Mujahideen, arms supply, etc. It won’t be surprising that he may be having connections with Pakistan-based terrorist organisations.”
The Indian Mujahideen network announced its presence to the public through media in 2007, as an indigenous Islamist militant force, which emphasized on getting its cadre from local Muslim population, rather depending on foreign recruits. According to investigators, Indian Mujahideen is one of the many groups formed by recruiting lower-tier SIMI members. The government banned Indian Mujahideen, after declaring it a terrorist organisation in June 2010.
However, investigating agencies had also been questioned on the very existence of Indian Mujahideen.
“Both police and agencies had been after him for a long time, and he gave slip to all. Tauqeer is the co-founder of Indian Mujahideen. His arrest is likely to provide answers to several unanswered questions, several missing links and his role in Indian Mujahideen, including the very existence of Indian Mujahideen outfit. He had been in the Gulf between 2015 and 2017 and also in Nepal. He came back to India to revive the outfit in several parts like MP, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, which has been lying dormant for some time,” an intelligence agency official who tracked the Indian Mujahideen almost for a decade, told Firstpost, on condition of anonymity.
“He is an expert bomb-maker and a bomber as well. I’m quite hopeful that interrogations will reveal his role in several bomb blasts in the past, modus operandi, his network and connections with other terror outfits both in India and abroad,” the official added.
Few incidents when Indian Mujahideen claimed bomb blasts across India:
2006: Mumbai blasts 2006
2007: Twin bombings in Hyderabad and Uttar Pradesh bombings.
2008: Serial blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.
2008: On 13 September Delhi bombings.
2010: Bomb blast at German Bakery in Pune and Sheetla Ghat, Varanasi.
2011: Three simultaneous bombings in Mumbai.
2012: Serial blasts in Pune and one in Hyderabad.
2013: Bodh Gaya blasts.
The investigators believe that the interrogations of Qureshi by various agencies may also provide definitive answers on whether Indian Mujahideen single-handedly carried the blasts or along with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and/or with any other terror organizations at few locations. Of the above mentioned incidents of attacks, Indian Mujahideen reportedly claimed a few of them by sending emails. Only proper investigation will reveal the truth.