Immediately following Wednesday evening’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, some Indian news media were quick to say that Indian Mujahideen, a local militant group, could be a suspect. But Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday morning refused to point any fingers, saying “all groups that have the capacity of carrying a terror attack are suspect.”
Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images
Indian police cordon off the area of a bomb blast site in Mumbai on Wednesday
No group has claimed responsibility for the three blasts that left 18 people dead and 131 injured.
What made Indian Mujahideen an immediate suspect for some Indian journalists was that it appears to be one of the few home-grown terrorist groups that is capable of launching simultaneous, high-casualty attacks of the sort that were previously mostly attributed to Pakistan-based militants.
Indian Mujahideen first came into prominence after it claimed responsibility for a series of terror attacks in 2008 that began with serial explosions in Jaipur city in Rajasthan state on May 13 that year that killed more than 60 people.
It also claimed responsibility for a July 26, 2008, attack in the Gujarati city of Ahmedabad that killed 53, and one in the national capital New Delhi on September 13 that year that left more than 20 dead. The group also claimed responsibility for the firing near Delhi’s Jama Masjid in September last year, shortly before the city was to host the Commonwealth Games.
Indian authorities and terrorism experts believe the group is a militant front of the Students Islamic Movement of India, which they allege has close links with Pakistan’s Laskar-e-Taiba, the group that was behind the 2008 attacks by gunmen on Mumbai that left over 160 dead. They also believe it has ties to other terrorist groups in the region.
SIMI is considered a banned terrorist organization by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs. It came into existence in 1977 as the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, a hard-line domestic Islamist political organization. They later separated and SIMI, which was in the beginning a moderate student group espousing Islamic values, took on an increasingly extremist hue after Hindu activists partially demolished the Babri Masjid, a 16th-century mosque, in northern India in 1992. The attack on the mosque was followed by widespread riots across India in which many Muslims died.
Former SIMI members have said that the group’s members felt insecure amid resurgent Hindu nationalism and felt the need to defend their faith and future by the use of violence. That sentiment was further reinforced following the deadly Gujarat riots in 2002 in which Muslims made up the majority of the more than 1,000 people who died.
Since 2006, Indian authorities have rounded up hundreds of SIMI activists and just last week Maharashtra state police arrested two alleged Indian Mujahideen members in connection with the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts.
Very little is known about when exactly the Indian Mujahideen was formed, or about its top leadership.
The emails sent by the Indian Mujahideen taking responsibility for the 2008 attacks expressed anger at the treatment of Muslims in Hindu-majority India and vowed continued revenge for the demolition of Babri Masjid and the Gujarat killings.
According to a strategic affairs site, in one such email sent mainly to Indian television news channels during the Ahmedabad blasts, the group said: “In the light of the injustice and wrongs on the Muslims of Gujarat, we advance our Jihad.”
Via: India Real Time