MUMBAI: Is banned terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) on the verge of splitting? Going by the police probe and internet chat messages of IM cadres, it is established that there is dispute among the IM operatives over the outfit’s leadership.
The current chief, Riyaz Bhatkal, who has almost been sidelined by the Pakistan’s intelligence agency (ISI), and his own men, became so frustrated that he began terming the ISI officials as ‘dogs’ during his conversations.
In an internet chat with arrested IM co-founder, Yasin Bhatkal, Riyaz told him about a change in ISI leadership and its visible change in its attitude. Riyaz stated that some ISI officials had come to meet him and his associates in Karachi and warned them.
ISI officials complained that the IM cadres were interested in getting trained in Afghanistan and fight alongside al-Qaida, which they didn’t like.
Over this issue, ISI badly treated Riyaz, the chat messages, retrieved by the police, stated. “Yeh sunnuu (meas dogs in Nawayati, a local language spoken in Karnataka’s Bhatkal village) kabhi bhi chale aate hain aur pareshan karte hain,” Riyaz wrote to Yasin.
During one of the yahoo messenger chats with an IM operative, Afeef on May 22, 2013, Yasin learned a discomfort was growing within the IM over the leadership. Most of the IM cadres wanted to join fight in Afghanistan against Nato forces while Riyaz’s decisions were restricted by the ISI which does not want IM to tie up with al-Qaida.
“Afeef mentioned that he was not bothered of Riyaz’s decision to not sending him to Afghanistan, but Farhan, Saleem, Sultan, Shafi and Salim Ishaqui (all IM operatives, now based in Pakistan) were also demanding to send them to the battle field in Afghanistan. Afeef had asked Riyaz to leave the chairman’s post and to give opportunity to Sultan so that all the members could get together for work under a new commander. Afeef mentioned that Riyaz always cited ‘technical problems’ whenever they spoke about joining al-Qaida and handing over the outfit’s reign in other hands, however, Afeef felt the main ‘technical problem’ was Riyaz himself. Yasin stated that he was afraid of some action against them by the ISI over their internal disputes,” the NIA chargesheet stated.
While one IM cadre, Sajid Shaikh alias Bada Sajid, is already in Afghanistan as a part of the al-Qaida forces, he was injured in one of the skirmishes with the Nato forces.
Investigators also established apparent rift between the two groups of IM; one led by Bada Sajid (originally an Uttar Pradesh resident) which included Indian operatives Afeef, Sultan, Mirza Shadab Beg, Dr Shahnawaz, Khalid Kodi, Abu Rashid (all currently in Pakistan), while the other group is led by Riyaz and his elder brother Iqbal Bhatkal.
This group included arrested accused Yasin Bhatkal, Asadullah Akhtar and wanted accused Mohsin Chaudhry, Tahseen Shaikh alias Monu and a Pakistani Waqqas.