The Pulse

The Indian Mujahideen are Leaderless

The entire top leadership of the Indian Mujahideen, a home-grown terror group, has been arrested.

The Indian Mujahideen are Leaderless
Credit: Flickr / Sudhamshu

The Indian Mujahideen are a terrorist group that have attacked several civilian targets in India and become one of the major internal national security threats facing the country. The group has known links to the Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba and strives to establish an Islamic caliphate in India. The government of India banned and declared the Indian Mujahideen a terrorist group in 2010. The group’s most serious attack within Indian borders was the 2008 Ahmedabad bombings, which claimed over 50 lives and injured 200.

The United States officially declared the Indian Mujahideen a terrorist organization in 2011. “An India-based terrorist group with significant links to Pakistan, IM is responsible for dozens of bomb attacks throughout India since 2005, and has caused the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians,” the U.S. Department of State noted in a statement in 2011.

The group’s activities has drawn the attention of the Indian government, police forces, and intelligence community over the past year. According to a new report by The Indian Express, a collaborative effort between India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence Bureau, National Investigation Agency, Delhi Policy, and Rajasthan Police has led to the capture of the “entire top leadership of the Indian Mujahideen in India.” This marks an important milestone for counterterrorism operations in India — a country that traditionally suffers several terrorist attacks a year.

The Indian Mujahideen managed to proliferate across the country, with arrests made as far south as Kerala. Group operatives were also captured in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and Goa. According to The Indian Express, “the breakthrough in the war against India’s homegrown terror outfit was the August 2013 arrest of Yasin Bhatkal, an IM co-founder and the head of its operations in India.” Bhatkal operated out of Pokhra, Nepal and had managed to evade Indian authorities for some time.

The Express‘ report also catalogs international cooperation in combating the Indian Mujahideen — both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have deported prominent Indian Mujahideen leaders to India.

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The effort to rein in the Indian Mujahideen demonstrates a maturing counterterrorism bureaucratic capacity in India. The extent to which government agencies, local police, and intelligence agencies successfully cooperated should set a benchmark for preventative counterterrorism operations in India.

Despite having captured all of the organization’s top leadership, Indian investigators remain cautious about the group’s intentions. “Our initial assessment was that the group had weakened with arrests and the division. But the IM has grown manifold. Each group has its men and logistics in India,” notes one counterterror official quoted by The Indian Express. The Indian Mujahideen has been actively working to radicalize Indian Muslim youth against the state.