A Journey of Active Sleeper Cells
From SIMI to Indian Mujahideen
SIMI was initially formed as a student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) on April 25, 1977 in Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh). But when in 1981 SIMI protested Yasser Arafat’s visit to India (since they considered him a western puppet) the parent organisation JIH disowned SIMI. SIMI is known for its extremist views. It does not believe in the notions of nationalism and hence it does not believe in Indian Constitution. The prime motive of SIMI is to mobilise Muslim youth for the cause of Jihad against Hindus and other “anti-Islmaic cultures”. They even celebrated the demolition of Bamiyan Buddhas by Taliban. In the wake of 9/11 SIMI celebrated Osama bin Laden as a true Mujahid who has undertaken Jihad for the Muslim “Ummah”.
In the year 2001, following the 9/11 terror attack, SIMI was banned by the Indian government. On September 28, 2001 national president of SIMI Dr Shahid Badar Falah was arrested from his office in Zakir Nagar, Delhi for inciting communal hatred in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Safdar Nagori, the absconding general secretary of SIMI, was arrested on March 27, 2008 from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, along with his brother Kamruddin Nagori and 12 other cadres of SIMI. SIMI is believed to have links with Pakistan’s ISI and various other anti-Indian terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. On February 15, 2007 the Supreme Court described SIMI as a “secessionist movement”.
Formation of Indian Mujahideen
Indian Mujahideen is a terrorist group which is believed to be the offshoot of SIMI. Ex general secretary of SIMI Safdar Nagori is believed to be the architect behind this transformation. Riyaz Shahbandri and his brother Iqbal Shahbandri, also known as Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal are amongst the top commanders of IM. Father of Riyaz and Iqbal, Ismail Shahbandri left Bhatkal town of Karnataka in mid 70’s and settled in Mumbai where he established a leather tanning work and bought an apartment on Tulsi Pipe Road. Riyaz studied civil engineering and Iqbal Unani medicine and grown interest in Tablighi Jamaat. In 2001 they were introduced to SIMI by Riyaz’s would be brother in law Shafiq Ahmed.
In February 2000 LeT chief Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed proclaimed that his war against India is reaching a new phase. He claimed Kargil (1999) was the first component of this war, wave of suicide attacks in Jammu and Kashmir the second and promised a “third round” soon.
Bhatkal brothers and others like them were looking for more and direct action against Hindus and were not satisfied with mere discussions. Another SIMI cadre Sadiq Israr Sheikh fled to Pakistan in September 2001 and similarly Abdul Subhan Qureshi, a computer engineer, resigned from his job at Wipro in 2001 and went to Pakistan.
All these people were in Lashkar’s training camp before 2002. After they returned from Pakistan they recruited more youth in their operations. Sheikh’s contacts in Azamgarh provided manpower, Riyaz explosives and his brother Ismail a pool of couriers and communication experts from Mumbai and Pune. It was around this time that Indian Mujahideen was taking shape. Amir Raza Khan and Bhatkal brothers were instrumental in this formation.
Till then no one was aware of these anti-national activities. It was in 2007 Uttar Pradesh blasts that the presence of IM became clear. From Uttar Pradesh bombings in 2007 to Bodh Gaya blasts in 2013 IM has claimed the responsibility of around 10 dreaded bomb blasts claiming more than 500 lives.
Terrorist Organisations and their Formation
Sr. No. Name of Organisation Year
1 Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front 1977
2 Indian Mujahideen Uncertain
3 Lashker-e-Taiba 1990
4 Babbar Khalsa 1981
5 Khalistan Commando 1986
6 Al-Qaeda 1988
7 Harkat-Ul -Mujahideen 1985
8 Hezbollah 1985
9 Jaish-e-Mohammad 2000
10 People Liberation Army Manipur 1978
11 National Liberation Front Tripura 1989
12 Harkat-ul-Ansar 1993
“Indian Mujahideen was formed after the Gujarat riots”
—Shakil Ahmad, Congress Spokesperson
‘SIMI emerged as a student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami-i-Hind (JIH) in 1977. SIMI was banned in September 2001, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967, due to alleged working relations with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other Islamist terrorist groups. ….. Indian Mujahidin has simply appropriated the militant elements of SIMI.’ – (See: Students Islamic Movement of India and the Indian Mujahideen: An Assessment by C Christine Fair, The National Bureau of Asian Research, Seattle, Washington)