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Al Qaeda banking on SIMI to recruit educated Indian youth

Al Qaeda, which has announced plans to target India, is keen on recruiting youth trained in computers or aeronautics for its terror designs and is taking the help of banned terror outfit SIMI for this, officials with access to intelligence inputs have revealed.

Sources said intelligence inputs shared by central agencies with the police in some major cities including Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai talked of Al Qaeda not only planning to recruit disgruntled youth but had a target to pick up those familiar with use of computers or having knowledge about aeroplanes.

They said that Al Qaeda, which was responsible for the Sep 11, 2001, attack on New York’s World Trade Center but has no reported presence in India till now, is using Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives in Pakistan to establish contacts with the sleeper cells of SIMI to recruit educated Muslim youth.

“A recruit with some technical skill can prove to be more lethal than others. Al Qaeda wants to add manpower and gain capabilities,” an official, who did not want to be named, told IANS.

Sources said that Al Qaeda has plans to cause blasts and other disturbances in India. Intelligence officials said that members of Al Qaeda were in touch with Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, founder members of Indian Mujahideen who are believed to be in Pakistan.

The sources said there was evidence of growing ties between Al Qaeda and IM. IM has worked in close association with SIMI in the past and its sleeper cells were sought to be used by Al Qaeda.

SIMI was formed in Aligarh in 1977 and had several thousands of members and offices in almost every district of Madhya Pradesh before it was banned in 2002.

The group is said to believe in fundamentalist Islam and to spread its values. In 2007, the Supreme Court of India described SIMI as a “secessionist movement”.

Osama bin Laden’s successor Ayman al-Zawahri had in September announced the formation of Al Qaeda’s branch for the Indian subcontinent. He had said that it would spread Islamic rule and “raise the flag of jihad” across the subcontinent.

Zawahiri said the wing will defend the “vulnerable in the Indian subcontinent, in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir” from “injustice and oppression.”

“Not only in India, security establishments across the world have concerns about the rise of Al Qaeda and its attempts to recruit Muslim youth,” another security
official told IANS.

Sources said that police forces have also been asked to keep a tab on any efforts at the radicalisation of youth. (IANS)

(IANS Reporter Rajnish Singh can be contacted at rajnish.s@ians.in)

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