Terror camps, Pak flags in Karnataka jungles

via TIMES OF INDIA published on February 2, 2008

KALGHATGI (DHARWAD): Terrorist training camps may be closer to home than the distant mountains in Pakistan.

This chilling evidence came to light during the interrogation of three Islamist radicals arrested recently – Riyazuddin Nasir alias Mohammed Ghouse, Asadullah Abu Bakar and Mohammed Asif.

The investigators have unearthed a thick forest area bordering Dharwad and Uttara Kannada districts of Karnataka, which was used to train terrorists in the use of firearms. The three youths arrested by anti-terror police in Hubli and Davanagere a fortnight ago allegedly received weapons training in these woods which are surrounded by religious shrines.

Sources said this could well be the first time that a terrorist camp used by self-proclaimed Islamist fundamentalists has been detected in southern India, where a spate of terror attacks in the last few years, such as the ones in Hyderabad’s Mecca mosque and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, have sensitized police to Islamist terrorism. It exposes a serious chink in the country’s intelligence armour but also opens the door to getting answers on why and how Bangalore engineer Kafeel Ahmed transformed into the Glasgow bomber and his brother, Dr Sabeel Ahmed, joined in the UK terror plot.

Investigations led by DSP S V D’Souza revealed that the radicals were taking camping trips to the woods for “initial training as terrorists”. During a raid, the officials noticed Pakistani flags flying and had them removed.

The details of the camp have been passed on to Central intelligence agencies. “The existence of the camp and the fact that the likes of prime suspect Mohammed Ghouse allegedly worked for a terror organization in Pakistan through intermediaries is of vital importance for intelligence agencies,” an investigating official said.

Not only does it prove that the terrorist network is wider in southern India than imagined, it also establishes links between various terror attacks across the country, including the sensational strikes at IISc in Bangalore, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid of Hyderabad.

Given the sensitivity of the matter, the police are keeping investigation details a secret. Sources said that investigators have spent the last few days trying to establish who was running the camp and who were the men being trained. They are also trying to establish the operation for which these people were being trained.

A local police officer said the three accused revealed that they had established base in Kalghatgi and were preparing for a jihadi strike. Ghouse and his accomplice Abu Bakar frequently visited Kalghatgi along with Asif, a MBBS student. Here they met about 20 young radicals who were being taught the use of small arms and double barrel guns.

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