"... Here we are back − the Mujahideen of India..." — this was the beginning of an e-mail suspected to be sent by Indian Mujahidden, or IM, to media houses minutes before the Ahmedabad serial blasts in 2008 that claimed 38 lives and left over 100 wounded. And since 2007, the group has managed to strike over and over again despite many alleged operatives being arrested.
Believed to be an offshoot of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India, or SIMI, the IM gradually established itself as a dreaded terrorist organisation managing pan-India terror strikes by using improvised explosive devices to carry out blasts in major Indian cities.
Yasin Bhatkal alias Ahmad Zarar Siddibapa is said to be the founder of this terrorist organisation and is alleged to have fled to Pakistan since he was wanted by security agencies.
Banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs on 4 June 2010, the IM was also declared a terrorist organisation by the US on 15 September 2011 and by the UK as well.
The group is believed to be associated with the 2008 Delhi blasts that killed 30 people, 2008 Jaipur serial blasts and also the Pune German bakery blast in 2010. The name of this group also cropped up during the 2010 blast at a Bangalore stadium and during the 2012 low-intensity blast in Pune.
Terror strikes carried out by the group have killed over a hundred persons so far if all the loss of lives in these blasts in different cities is taken into account. The 2002 are 2007 blasts in Hyderabad are also linked to this group while Thursday's blasts also bear signs of the group's involvement. The group is also suspected to be behind the 2010 Jama Masjid and Varanasi bomb blasts as well. Even the 2011 Mumbai serial blasts at two locations have been linked to them.
As per the release of the US Department of State, "IM also played a facilitative role in the 2008 Mumbai attack carried out by LeT that killed 163 people, including six Americans."
Apart from the death toll, the blasts have also left many maimed, destroyed many families and have always left behind a trail of destruction.
The IM modus operandi is simple: activate sleeper cells, carry out reconnaissance of target locations, assemble IED devices, look for a crowded place (eateries have turned out to be favourites), picking a rush hour for maximum damage and then placing bombs.
"IM’s primary method of attack is multiple coordinated bombings in crowded areas against economic and civilian targets to maximize terror and casualties," the US Department of State writes about IM.
Not long ago the arrest of a suspected IM founder member Fasih Mahmood by Delhi Police in October 2012 after deportation from Saudi Arabia was described as an "important catch" by Union home secretary RK Singh.
His name came up when Gauhar Aziz Khomani, one of the six alleged IM operatives arrested from Chennai in 2011, gave his name to the police, the Daily Mail reported. In February 2012, another IM operative Mohd Tariq Anjuman Hasan was also in the police net. It is now clear that these catches haven't been effective enough to break the terror network.
For security agencies, there is always a perennial fear of sleeper cells that are activated before a terror strike. What have made matters worse for the investigators are the increasing use of hi-tech methods like multiple SIM cards, remote controlled or timer devices, using high and fatal amount of shrapnel and the deadly ammonium nitrate.