West Bengal: Huge spike in Al-Qaeda footprint shocks Mamata's police

Al-Qaeda terrorists have been nabbed in West Bengal earlier as well, but the fact that they have rapidly enlarged their footprint in the state seems to have evaded the eyes of the local authorities. Until now

FP Staff September 17, 2022 17:05:51 IST
West Bengal: Huge spike in Al-Qaeda footprint shocks Mamata's police

According to the intelligence officials, Al-Qaeda started expanding its network in West Bengal almost three years ago.

Kolkata: Several arrests of Al-Qaeda terrorists in West Bengal in the recent past has local law enforcement agencies worried aout the increasing jehadi network in the state.

Al-Qaeda terrorists have been nabbed in West Bengal earlier as well, but the fact that they have rapidly enlarged their footprint in the state seems to have evaded the eyes of the local authorities. Until now.

Recently, after the arrest of four members of Al-Qaeda’s sub-continental branch (Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent or AQIS) in the state, the intelligence departments of the West Bengal Police and the Kolkata Police have come to know about the expansion of the terrorist organization in the state.

The rapidly growing presence of the terrorist organization that had carried out the 9/11 attacks under late leader Osama bin Laden has shocked the state’s intelligence agencies.

According to officers of the Special Task Force (STF) and Intelligence Branch of the West Bengal Police, at least three AQIS modules have been created in the state. One of them is working in North and South 24 Parganas, one in Howrah and the third in north Bengal.

According to intelligence sources, the names of at least 19 people from three modules have been found after interrogating the detainees. Six of them have been caught. Four of them were arrested by the STF a few days ago. Two were caught in North 24 Parganas, one in South 24 Parganas and one in Mumbai.

Saddam Hussain Khan, who was arrested in Mumbai, was hiding in Mumbai as a labourer to avoid arrest. However, the investigators have not yet managed to trace the remaining 13 people.

Among them, at least three people, including Abu Talha, are key figures within the Al-Qaeda organization in South Asia. However, all three are Bangladeshi citizens. They entered this country by crossing the border. Detectives suspect that the members of AQIS have spread to different parts of India including West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and several states of South India.

According to an intelligence officer, migrant workers go to different states of the country from different districts of West Bengal. It has been seen in the past that members of terrorist organizations mingled within different groups of migrant workers to hide themselves.

However, an STF official claimed that since several members of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) have mingled within groups of Bengali workers in other states in the past, migrant workers from West Bengal have been put under strict surveillance. Based on that source, the detectives hope that it will be possible to catch the Bangladeshi AQIS terrorists if they continue to stay in India.

According to the intelligence officials, Al-Qaeda started expanding its network in West Bengal almost three years ago. During the Covid-19 lockdown, the administration was busy dealing with the coronavirus pandemic for a long time.

On the other hand, many workers returned from to West Bengal from other states. Using that opportunity, the Al-Qaeda developed its organization in remote villages of several districts including 24 Parganas, Howrah and north Bengal. At that time, the work was done under the instructions of Abu Talha who was sitting in Bangladesh.

Talha and some of his followers entered India through the Tripura-Meghalaya border after the Covid-19 lockdown was over. From Barpeta in Assam, a base was established in the Duars region of North Bengal. It is assumed that Talha has moved to another state from there.

In the past, the movement of Al-Qaeda terrorists was confined to three districts of South Bengal and two districts of North Bengal near the border with Bangladesh, according to intelligence officials. Apart from this, JMB module was known in Birbhum after the blast at a madrassa in Khagragarh.

But in the case of Al-Qaeda, its organization in the districts of Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and South 24 Parganas
has come to the fore. As a result, the intelligence agencies are worried. Not only that, there was no such surveillance in many areas in the last two years. As a result, many feel that it is difficult to find out who have joined the Al-Qaeda in West Bengal and where they are currently.

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