The IM story, from its roots to sudden emergence in terror


In 2002, Mohammed Sadiq Sheikh, 26, of Mumbai, travelled to Pakistan via the Bangladesh border and attended a terror training camp, according to a security analysis documenting the emergence and spread of the Indian Mujahideen. After he returned, Sadiq sent two others, Arif Badaruddin Sheikh and Dr Shahnawaz, to Pakistan via Dubai, says the report, compiled by a central agency.

From those early recruitment steps, the IM has grown today to an estimated 100 cadres, around 50 of whom have been arrested since 2008 while the rest remain spread across India. The four men arrested by Delhi police for the August Pune blasts, as well as Bihar resident Fasih Mehmood, deported from Saudi Arabia and arrested, have all been described by police as IM operatives.

The key people responsible for running and funding the IM, however, remain out of reach, the report says.

The early years

"It appears that the IM was formed as an offshoot of ARCF (the Asif Reza Commando Force)," the report says.

The report says the group began its "war against India" as early as 2002 but not under the name by which it is known today. It cites the 2002 attack on the American Center in Kolkata, masterminded by Amir Reza Khan and Aftab Ansari to avenge the death of Amir's brother Asif, as the first major terror act of this group. Later that year, Amir, helped by Riyaz Bhatkal, is said to have recruited Sadiq Sheikh and sent him for training to Pakistan. Sadiq was arrested by Mumbai ATS in 2008.

The report names Amir, Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal as the founder-members of the IM. Intelligence agencies believe the three were supported and guided by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and HuJI-B, whose members helped them build a small army of home-grown jihadis. The initial recruits were youths from prosperous but conservative Muslim families from Azamgarh, it says.

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