SIMI on regrouping bid; sleuths spring into action

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi-Daily Pioneer published on May 27, 2009

The Intelligence wing of the Kerala Police has initiated a multi-pronged operation in coordination with the Anti-Terror Squad to track the developments in the pro-terror Islamist outfits in the context of information provided by the Union Home Department that an effort is going on for the regrouping of erstwhile activists of outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

Sleuths of the State police’s Intelligence wing are using various tracking methods like manual tailing of known ex-activists of SIMI, discreet interview with former sympathizers, close watch of organizations like the Popular Front of India (NDF), eavesdropping over communication networks for telephonic discussions, etc in the new circumstance.

Almost all the relatively new Islamic organizations working in fields like charity, scholarships and theology are under constant surveillance by the police on special instructions from the Union Home Department. The Central Intelligence Bureau had earlier found that about 25 organizations active in Kerala had some kind of connections with the now-defunct SIMI.

Sources in the Special Branch of the State police said that the Union Home Department’s information was not surprising as the Kerala sleuths had even two years ago understood that several newly formed organizations, including some campus-based ones, could have been fronts of the SIMI, which was working through outfits like the Indian Mujahiddeen under the command of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba. Unfortunately, they said, they were yet to get clinching evidences for such a nexus.

The IB’s assumption is that some SIMI leaders who are still at large are behind the efforts for a re-grouping. The sleuths have information that several SIMI leaders and workers had participated in the training camp held at Vagamon, Idukki, which had formed the practical launchpad of the Indian Mujahiddeen terror acts in the various Indian cities last year, are planning a regrouping.

Most of the leaders of SIMI have already been arrested by the police still do not have any knowledge about several second-line leaders of the banned outfit. The assumption is that these leaders are driving the re-grouping efforts in Kerala. These people also could be getting active help from the newer outfits which are functioning as fronts.

Sources in the police admitted that the investigations into the terror network had gone slack after the general elections were declared but added that they were back into full-fledged action now. The interrogation of Sarfaras Nawaz, Oman-based LeT fundraiser, PDP chairman Abdul Nasser Madani and his wife Sufiya were part of the renewed investigation, they said.

The police are convinced that the Popular Front of India had a lot of former SIMI workers in it as by the time of the imposition of the ban on it they had seen the NDF as a forum for safe rehabilitation. Despite this conviction, sources admitted, they had no specific information to go all out against that organization, especially after it had transformed into Popular Front in February last.

They also agreed that the ruling CPI(M)’s electoral alliance with the PDP had posed several kinds of difficulties in effectively probing the terror network. There were no standing instructions from the Government against any sort of inquiries into the alleged links of Madani with terror operatives but the alliance had worked as a psychological hindrance for the police force.

Another difficulty was that the LDF-PDP relation incapacitated them to move against the NDF as any attempt in that direction would have been interpreted politically because that outfit was in alliance with the Congress-led UDF. Moreover, there was no reason to act against the NDF when arrested terrorists’ statements and witness depositions were more against the PDP than the NDF.

The sleuths of the Anti-Terror Squad had recently questioned Madani and his wife Sufiya at their residence in Kochi on the basis of the statements by Sarfaras Nawaz, who had arranged funds for the blasts in the Indian cities last year, Abdul Sattar alias Sainuddeen, who had allegedly manufactured the explosives for those blasts and others. Nawaz had told the police in Kerala and Karnataka that he had met Madani at Kollam. However, Madani had claimed that the investigators had no evidences against him.

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