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A Tribune Exclusive
Kerala favourite spot for SIMI activists
Man Mohan
Our Roving Editor

New Delhi, August 24
‘God’s own country’ — as Kerala is popularly known — seems to have emerged as the favourite spot for the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI)’s terror training camps.

The famous backwaters, small islands and lush green coconut jungles of the coastal state appear to have helped in the recent years in concealing the terror outfit’s weapon training and motivation camps.

As a large number of people from Kerala migrate to the Gulf for jobs, SIMI has reportedly been recruiting sympathizers in several Islamic nations. The Jamayyatul Ansar, an organisation of SIMI activists comprising expatriate Indian Muslims, is said to be operating from Saudi Arabia.

A clear picture about the Kerala connetion with the recent Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Jaipur bomb blasts has started emerging, following the visit of the Gujarat police and members of the central intelligence agencies to various sites where SIMI held camps.

For the Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Jaipur blasts, a little known outfit `Indian Mujahideen’ had claimed the responsibility. But the arrest of over 10 SIMI activists, including the `mastermind’ - Mufti Abu Bashir (a cleric from Azamgarh, UP) - by the Gujarat police last weekend, has shown that it was SIMI’s face hiding behind the mask of `Indian Mujahideen’.

During interrogation, the arrested men allegedly said they had made several plans to kidnap VIPs or hijack an aircraft to free SIMI chief, Safdar Nagori, who was arrested in Indore in March. Currently, he is lodged in the Rewa jail.

It seems SIMI organised at least three major training camps in Kerala between 2006 and January, 2008. Soon after the last camp, SIMI also assembled a group of hardcore activists in Halol in central Gujarat in the same month. After dispersal, some of those who were selected to carry out serial bomb blasts in Ahmedabad and Bangalore, met again in Ernakulam.

With definite evidence in hand, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) sources claimed that the first SIMI camp in Kerala for physical and mental conditioning of its cadres was held in Binanipuram near Aluva in the Ernakulam district in 2006. A big batch of about 40-50 activists received commando training and learnt jungle warfare skills.

Another training camp was held in the Ernakulam district from December 8-10, 2007, and another camp in Vagamon in the Idukki district in December 2007-January 2008. About 20 students from Hubli, Belgaum and Bangalore attended this camp. Vagamon is an enchanting hill station, located on the Idukki-Kottayam border, dotted with gardens and beautiful meadows.

At these camps, the SIMI activists were taught how to assemble explosives with easily available materials by a bomb expert known by the name of Altaf Subhan. They were told to avoid procuring certain materials needed for making bombs as the police and security agencies world over had started keeping a close watch on the sales of RDX, SEMTEX, and explosives made for the army. In the West, the use of nitrogenous fertilisers by terrorist organisations has decreased but has shown an increase in India.

Of late, SIMI has been experimenting with a new concoction using hydrogen peroxide to make liquid bombs. Prototypes of liquid bombs were first experimented in the Vagamon camp.

SIMI activities, it is learnt, used over 10 IEDs with ammonium nitrate and mechanical timers in the Ahmedabad bomb blasts. The Surat IEDs failed completely as experts believe that it might have happened due to the disintegration of the explosive material if it had been fabricated much in advance and kept in storage.

Near the Vagamon camp, `SIMI’ was found written in bold letters on a rock; the pocket is known as Thangalpara. Questioned now, the local people told the police that they had heard `unfamiliar’ languages being spoken by the people, when they used to pass by the area.

The central intelligence agencies now clearly know what kind of activities used to take place at the SIMI camps in Kerala and elsewhere. The activists were given commando training in jungle warfare and were told about the medicinal herbs and plants that must be consumed for survival.

They were also specially trained in trekking, rock climbing and scaling and sliding down the hills using a rope.



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