The Indian Mujahedeen: Home-Grown Terror Group with Global Connections

Urban terrorism in India has become synonymous with a group calling itself Indian Mujahedeen (IM) that claimed responsibility for at least four blasts this year. Added to its attacks in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and New Delhi, the latest target seems to be Mumbai on July 13.

Police believe that improvised explosive devices (IED) were used to trigger the blasts which coincided with the birthday of Ajmal Kasab, the lone Pakistani gunman in the 2008 Mumbai attack, an operation for which he has been sentenced to death. The latest terror attack, which claimed about 20 lives, comes only hours after two other suspected Indian Mujahedeen operatives, who provided vehicles used in the 2008 serial blasts in Gujarat that killed 56 people, were arrested in a Mumbai suburb by the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS).

Indian analysts believe that the IM emerged from militant elements in the Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) supported by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jihad-Islami (HUJI-B). SIMI and IM endorse the goals of Osama bin Laden and also seek to provoke an Islamist revolution by India’s Muslims. SIMI/IM has long-standing ties to global Islamist organizations, including LeT and Harkat-ul-Jihad-Islami (HUJI), as well as Pakistani intelligence agencies.

Some have suggested that IM does not exist at all as an independent group but is instead an effort by Pakistan’s external intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), to project an Indian face to the activities of Pakistan-based militant groups.

According to police reports, IM is a network of three groups active in different parts of the country: Gujarat, the United Province, and Mumbai. There is a twelve-member core group, according to unconfirmed, leaked Indian intelligence sources, but the only known member is Altaf Subhan Qureshi (alias Tauqeer).