India has been confronting a jihadist threat from Pakistan for decades. Expeditionary terrorism typically receives the most focus, but indigenous actors benefiting from external support are responsible for the majority of jihadist attacks in India. The Indian mujahideen (IM) network, which announced its presence to the public via media in 2007, is the latest and most well known manifestation of the indigenous Islamist militant threat. As this paper details, however, its members were active before then.

Moreover, a small number of Indian Muslims have been launching terrorist strikes—with and without Pakistani support—for more than two decades. The dynamics of Indian jihadism and the nature of India’s evolving counterterrorism response are not easy to comprehend. This is understandable given that, even among Indian security officials and analysts, a knowledge gap exists.

Stephen Tankel
Tankel was a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment, where his research focuses on insurgency, terrorism, and the evolution of nonstate armed groups.
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Discussions with issue experts and policy analysts prior to field research highlighted that three key areas regarding Indian jihadism remained opaque: the organizational nature and scale of the indigenous movement, the degree to which indigenous networks could threaten U.S. interests in India or across the wider South Asia region, and the nebulous ties between Indian jihadist networks and Pakistan-based groups. This paper addresses these and related issues and focuses on the evolution and dynamics of Indian jihadism.1 It begins by providing an overview of the evolution of the Indian jihadist movement, then explores the dynamics extant within that movement today, and concludes with an assessment of the threats posed by the movement.

The Four Phases of Indian Jihadism

Phase One

In December 1992, Hindu chauvinists demolished the Babri Masjid (Babur mosque) in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India, which had been constructed by the first Mughal Emperor of India in the 16th century. Hundreds of Muslims were killed in the communal riots that followed the mosque’s demolition. An environment of relative deprivation afflicting Indian Muslims had already created a small pool of would-be militants.2 So too did pervasive abuse by the police, which grew once Muslims started becoming involved in homegrown terrorism and contributed further to a sense of political alienation.3 The demolition of the Babri mosque thus catalyzed a response among an already radicalizing portion of the Muslim community. Believing that established leaders of the Muslim community had failed to stand against a rising threat from Hindu chauvinism, radical members took it upon themselves to fight back.

In the wake of communal riots that killed hundreds of Muslims, Dawood Ibrahim, the Muslim leader of South Asia’s largest crime syndicate known as D-Company, worked with the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to engineer a lethal series of bomb blasts in Mumbai (Bombay at the time) in March 1993.4 This series of blasts remains the most deadly terrorist attack in India’s history and may have helped inspire or embolden would-be jihadists to take action. At the very least, D-Company became an important recruiting vehicle, using its logistical networks and ties to Pakistan to facilitate transit there for aspiring Indian jihadists in search of training and support.5

The link between organized criminality and Islamist militancy remained an enduring feature of the Indian jihadist movement. The Asif Raza Commando Brigade, formed by gangsters- cum-jihadists and discussed later in this section, constitutes one of the two major building blocks of that movement. The Tanzim Islahul Muslimeen (Organization for the Improvement of Muslims, or TIM) is the other.

Activists from the Gorba faction of the Jamaat Ahl-e-Hadith in Mumbai formed the TIM in the Mominpora slum in summer 1985.6

Motivated by communal riots that erupted the previous year in Bhiwandi and spread to Mumbai and Thane, these activists converged around the need for a Muslim self-defense militia and the possibility of taking revenge for Hindu nationalist violence.7 Three key figures were present at the Mominpora meetings: Jalees Ansari, Azam Ghouri, and Abdul Karim (also known as “Tunda”). (For an alphabetical reference of these and 13 other key figures in the history of Indian jihadi activities, see appendix 1.)

Even though TIM was an armed defense militia, its members largely confined themselves to parading around the grounds of the Young Men’s Christian Association where, modeling the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, they trained with lathis, the long, heavy wooden sticks often used as weapons in India.8 However, Ansari, Ghouri, and Karim were already training with explosives, the latter having earned his nickname after a bombmaking accident blew off his left hand.9 As early as 1988, Ansari allegedly was executing “petty bombings” for which he used folded train tickets as the timer and detonator for small explosives.10 After the demolition of the Babri mosque and the riots that followed, the three men outlined a significantly grander plan for which they found help from abroad.11

In the early 1990s, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was still a small Pakistani militant group and just becoming the Pakistan military’s most powerful proxy against India. However, LeT was organized enough to dispatch an operative named Azam Cheema to India shortly before the eruption of the 1992 communal violence. Soon thereafter, Cheema recruited several TIM lead- ers. A year to the day after the Babri mosque’s destruction and with the support of LeT, the men of TIM executed a series of coordinated bombings in several Indian cities (not to be confused with those D-Company engineered).12

Ansari was captured in the midst of planning a second series of bombings scheduled to coincide with India’s Republic Day celebrations in January 1994.13 Ghouri fled to Saudi Arabia and then traveled to Pakistan where he linked up with LeT.14 Karim crossed into Dhaka, Bangla- desh, and headed LeT operations there during the mid-1990s as part of a wider tasking to help build the group’s pan-India capabilities. TIM members who had not fled or been arrested began a recruitment drive, sending some of those they enlisted to Pakistan for training, often via Bangladesh.15 Karim acted as a conduit for Indian recruits transiting from or through Bangladesh to LeT camps in Pakistan.16 Working via the Dhaka-based Islamic Chattra Shibir (Islamic Students Organization), Karim coordinated the creation of a robust network throughout north India.17 It formed the backbone of LeT’s Indian operations branch, known as the Dasta Mohammad bin Qasim. Cheema was its commander. Karim became its top field operative, returning to India in 1996 to begin putting his network into action.18 Collectively, Karim was allegedly involved in over 40 bomb attacks across the country, 21 in Delhi alone, committed in 1994 and from 1996– 1998.19 Ghouri returned to India in 1998 at Karim’s behest and launched the LeT-associated Indian Muslim Mohamadee Mujahideen in Hyderabad. It executed seven bomb blasts, five in Hyderabad, and two in the surrounding areas of Matpalli and Nandad, targeting trains, buses, and markets.20 It was just one of a number of small outfits operating in the area at the time, all of which were part of the same network despite their different names.21

In 1994, two Indian gangsters, Aftab Ansari and Asif Raza Khan, who belonged to the other major building block of the jihadist movement, were locked up alongside Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh in Tihar Jail. Sheikh was a British-born member of the Pakistani militant group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.22 He motivated Ansari and Asif Khan to wage jihad against India.23 Both took up this charge following their release from prison. They linked up with militant members of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which became a feeder for the burgeoning Indian jihadist movement and a recruiting pool for Pakistan-based organizations like LeT looking to train would-be homegrown Indian terrorists.24

Founded in 1977 at Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh as the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, SIMI was soon at odds with its parent organization. In 1981 they separated. During the next 10 years, some SIMI members became even more alienated from the mainstream political culture and more prone toward militant Islamism. SIMI rhetoric hardened in the lead-up to the 1992 mosque demolition, with some leaders of the organization ultimately declaring Islam to be under threat in India and calling upon Muslims to wage jihad against the Indian state or at least members of its Hindu majority.25 As the 1990s progressed, SIMI leaders increasingly sought to link themselves—ideologically, rhetorically, and operationally—to the transnational jihadist movement burgeoning at the time.26 Some of its most hardline members, frustrated with extremist talk but little action, linked up with Ansari and Asif Khan.

Riyaz Shahbandri (hereafter known by his alias Riyaz Bhatkal) and Mohammed Sadique Israr Sheikh (hereafter Sadique Sheikh) were the most prominent among these hardline members. In April 2000, Sadique Sheikh connected with Aftab Ansari, after which he and several other would-be militants traveled to Pakistan, all of them carrying Pakistani passports. After training in LeT camps, Sadique Sheih returned in July where he reconnected with Asif Khan to begin plotting terrorist attacks.27 Riyaz Bhatkal was seeking funding from Asif Khan to finance terrorist operations in India by this time as well.28

The Gujarat police killed Azam Ghouri in 2000. Karim absconded to Pakistan via Bangladesh the same year. In December 2001, the Gujarat police gunned down Asif Khan, who had been taken into custody and was allegedly trying to escape. Despite their absence from the battlefield, the movement these men helped to build was poised for growth.

Phase Two

The second period lasted from 2001–2005. By the beginning of the decade, it was becoming clear that the guerrilla war in Indian-administered Kashmir was not bearing fruit and that some Pakistani militant groups were escalating their involvement in attacks against the hinterland.29 The 9/11 attacks followed by the December 2001 assault on India’s Parliament by the Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) also may have triggered a realization within the ISI that an overreliance on Pakistan proxies risked provoking international ire. The confluence of these factors likely contributed to the LeT decision to expand its recruitment efforts in India and terrorist operations there.30

At approximately the same time, India banned SIMI in 2001, driving many of its members underground and triggering a cleavage within it between those who, while extreme, were not prepared to take up arms and hardliners looking to launch a terrorist campaign.31 A small number of SIMI activists who split from the organization went on to form the core of the Indian mujahideen.32 In early 2002, riots in the Indian state of Gujarat claimed the lives of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus.33

The riots mobilized a section of India’s Muslim population already prone to radicalization at a time when LeT and the inchoate network that would become the IM were increasing recruitment efforts.34 Other independent militants, often with ties to Pakistani militant groups—especially LeT, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami branch in Bangladesh (HuJI-B), or both—were active during this time, too. The focus here is on the network that coalesced into the IM. However, it is worth noting that key LeT operatives, including Sayed Zabiud- din Ansari (aka Abu Jundal), the Indian who taught Hindi to the 2008 Mumbai attackers and was in the control room for the operation, was among those recruited into the group during this phase.

In December 2001, the men who ultimately came together to form the IM constituted only another small cell with ties to militant groups in Pakistan and Bangladesh. After the Gujarat police gunned down Asif Raza Khan, his brother Amir Raza Khan (A.R. Khan) established the Asif Raza Commando Force in his brother’s name.

He enlisted several Indians, including Sadique Sheikh, as well as two Pakistani militants. Operating under the Asif Raza Commando Force banner, they attacked police officers guarding the American Centre in Kolkata killing 6 of them and injuring 14 other people.35

A.R. Khan fled to Pakistan. On his instructions, Sadique Sheikh launched another recruitment drive, this time focused on his native Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh.36 At the same time, Riyaz Bhatkal and his brother Iqbal were recruiting a cadre for training across the border.37 In his new role as a Pakistan-based LeT interface for Indian jihadist networks, A.R. Khan facilitated training and travel for recruits via the provision of fake passports and financing.38 As those who traveled to Pakistan for training returned to India, they quickly became involved in launching bomb attacks.39

Indian prosecutors allege that in 2004 Riyaz Bhatkal brought various operators from the burgeoning jihadist movement together for a retreat in the south Indian town of Bhatkal. His brother Iqbal, Sadique Sheikh, and others, some of whom had also trained with LeT, were pres- ent.40 Together, these men formed the core of the IM network. On February 23, 2005, using Research Department Explosives (RDX) provided by HuJI-B, they bombed the Dasashwadmedha Ghat in Varanasi, the holiest bathing place for Hindus on the banks of the Ganges.41 The IM network had activated.

Phase Three

The third phase lasted from 2005–2008, during which time the IM was primarily or solely responsible for at least nine additional bombings, not including the 2006 Mumbai blasts, which may have been a joint LeT-IM attack, and the 2008 Bangalore blasts, which almost certainly was. (List of attacks attributed to the Indian Mujahideen is available in appendix 2.)

Members of the Azamgarh module led by Atif Ameen and Sadique Sheikh, who recruited many of them, were responsible for all but one of these nine bombings.42 With the Azamgarh module active in the north, the Shahbandri brothers increased their recruitment efforts in southern India.43 This included establishing a module in Pune, Maharashtra, where the two were based for part of 2007.44 Mohsin Choudhary, who met Iqbal at a religious event in 2004 and became another high-ranking IM leader, is believed to have assisted with these efforts.45 Under the direction of Riyaz Shahbandri (also known as Riyaz Bhatkal), the Pune module executed one attack, the 2007 twin bombings in Hyderabad that killed 44 people and lent assistance for the LeT-led 2008 Bangalore blasts that left 2 dead.46 However, Indian officials continued to attribute these attacks to LeT and HuJI-B, which intelligence officials now admit hampered their counterterrorism efforts.47

In 2007, the IM began publicly claiming its attacks.48 By this time it was becoming increasingly cohesive and consisted of three wings: the Mohammad Gaznavi Brigade, which was built around the Azamgarh module and also known as the Northern Brigade; the Sahabuddin Brigade, which was built around the Pune module and also known as the Southern Brigade; and the Shaheed-Al-Zarqavi Brigade responsible for planning fidayeen attacks (which never came to fruition).49 The IM later added the Media Group, which became responsible for claiming its attacks via electronic and print media.

This cohesion meant that removing a key node could cause a serious blow. In September 2008, the Delhi police stumbled onto such a node: Atif Ameen and several of his colleagues in their rented address at Batla House. Ameen and another militant, Mohammad Sajid, were killed and two others were arrested while one suspect escaped.50 The information gleaned from the Batla House encounter led to a wave of arrests, including Sadique Sheikh. It also forced others to go underground or flee the country.51 This threw the IM into disarray and contributed to an almost 2-year pause in attacks. It did not, however, end the IM terrorist threat.

Phase Four

The ability to find safe haven in Pakistan and to travel from there to the Gulf, specifically Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), enabled IM leaders, including the Shahbandri brothers who fled India, to regroup and rebuild their networks. With Atif Ameen dead and Sadique Sheikh in prison, Ahmed Siddi Bapa emerged as the on-the-ground commander in India. He took control of the Pune module and built another, alternatively called the Bihar or Darbhanga module.52 The Indian authorities arrested him in August 2013.

The IM resumed attacks in 2010, bombing the German bakery in Pune. Additional attacks followed, some more successful than others. In several instances, discussed in the following section, IM members allegedly worked with LeT operatives or used LeT-supplied RDX. Mansoor Peerbhoy, who led the Media Group, was arrested before the IM resumed its bombing campaign, and no claim of credit was issued for the first two blasts. In December 2010, after a bomb exploded at the Sheetla Ghat in Varanasi, an email entitled “Let’s feel the pain together” was purportedly sent to several media houses. It claimed, “Indian Mujahideen attribute this attack to December 6 . . . the loss of their beloved Babri Masjid” and was signed “Al-Arbi,” the same signature used on all the previous IM emails.53 Although most interlocutors with whom the author spoke concurred this was an IM attack, several of them observed that anyone with rudimentary computer knowledge could send a claim signed Al-Arbi.

Theoretically, this makes assigning blame for attacks more difficult and can create additional uncertainty for investigators.54 In reality, no claims of responsibility accompanied subsequent IM attacks.

On average, there has been a reduction in number of attacks per year and the lethality of attacks, correlating with a drop in the yearly death toll. The most successful strike occurred in July 2011 when the IM executed three simultaneous bombings in Mumbai.55 This was the most calculated and organized attack to occur since the Batla House encounter; it killed 26 people and injured approximately 130 others.56 The head of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad claims to have evidence that Riyaz Shahbandri planned the attacks from Saudi Arabia, where he met with others involved.57 He and Siddi Bapa are named in the 4,700-page charge sheet filed as having planned, funded, and provided explosives for the attack.58 According to the National Investigative Agency, which was questioning Siddi Bapa at the time of writing, the IM field commander told them a Pakistani national called Waqas with bombmaking expertise planted one of the three explosive devices.

He alleged Waqas was roped in specifically for the operation, was currently in hiding, and reported directly to handlers in Pakistan.59

Two more attacks followed: serial blasts executed in Pune on August 1, 2012, and two bicycle bombs in downtown Hyderabad that killed 17 and injured over 100 people.60 It remains unclear whether the IM was definitively responsible and, if so, who within the network planned or executed these attacks. Investigators undoubtedly will seek clarification from Siddi Bapa. His arrest also raises questions about the future of the IM network and, especially, the Bihar module. Authorities claim to have successfully degraded the Pune module in the past 2 years, leaving the Bihar module as the most important IM entity. Siddi Bapa’s arrest is unlikely to spell the end of the Indian jihadist movement, but investigators and analysts can hope to learn more about its dynamics. It is to these that we now turn.


The following briefly explores the scale and composition of the Indian jihadist movement, its ideology, drivers and recruitment, the evolution of bombmaking, and external support from Pakistan and Pakistan-based groups such as LeT.

Scale and Composition

The IM is part of a larger universe of jihadist entities operating in India. Many are connected to one another and to external jihadist entities such as LeT or HuJI-B, each of which recruits and runs its own Indian operatives in addition to supporting independent networks. The IM also is best thought of as a label or brand for a network of modules that connect to, and sometimes suck in, smaller cells and self-organizing clusters. Even at the peak of cohesion and attacks in 2008, all the entities acting under the IM label were not in touch with each other. Some of the men arrested in September 2008 had not even known they were part of the IM until its leaders began making public announcements claiming credit for attacks that those men had executed. As the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) recalled, “these boys had joined Atif Amin to do jihad and that’s all they knew.”61

The Bhatkal brothers exercise a loose leadership over the IM network from abroad. They are believed to shuttle between Pakistan and Gulf countries, primarily Saudi Arabia and UAE.62 Ahmed Siddi Bapa, who until his arrest in late August 2013 served as the on-the-ground IM commander, allegedly told investigators the two now spend the majority of their time in Pakistan, where they sought to remain perhaps in order to avoid arrest and deportation.63 Fayyiz Kagzi is alleged to have acted as a main LeT/IM interface in Saudi Arabia.64 After several LeT and IM operatives were deported to India, Kagzi is believed to have fled to Pakistan.65

According to several IB analysts who have tracked the IM network for years, the situation on the ground in India is fluid:

It’s not like Pakistan where you have JeM turf and LeT turf, JeM leaders and LeT leaders. Here it’s about focal points. If you have 1 or 2 people connect with the Bhatkals or LeT in a certain area here in India then they become a focal point and can recruit others mainly from that area. So people join Person X who might go to someone like Riyaz Bhatkal for help and if he’s successful then he will get more support and recruit more people. Riyaz is a big focal point. But Person X is a focal point too.66

The IB estimates the entire number of people who are part of the IM network—including foot soldiers within modules, but excluding individual cells tangentially connected to it— at most 100 people, some of who may have fled the country.67 Those inside India are spread throughout the country, but concentrated in certain states: Bihar (Darbunga), Delhi and Uttar Pradesh (Azamgarh) in the north, and Karnataka (Bhatkal and Bangalore), Kerala, and Maha- rashtra (Mumbai and Pune) in the south. Simply being located or recruited in one area, how- ever, does not imply being active there.


The IM is more of a terrorist network than a jihadist organization. Its division of responsibilities is almost entirely operational, and the network has never boasted a religious committee of any sort. Nor does the IM have any clerics among its ranks. Boiled down to its essence, IM ideology is one of exacting revenge for communal injustices. IM leaders attempt to situate their domestic struggle in the context of a wider pan-Islamist jihad, for example by referring to India’s capital not only as the “most strategic hindutva hub,” but also the country’s “green zone,” a likely reference to the protected U.S. enclave in Iraq.68 Yet this pretense of a grander ideological paradigm masks what still remains an overwhelmingly locally focused terrorist campaign fueled by communal grievance. The Bhatkal brothers repeatedly proclaim their bombing campaign as Muslims’ Qisaas or revenge.

Although IM leaders repeatedly single out Hindu nationalist organizations, the police, and various politicians and state institutions as the culpable parties, they do not ideologically circumscribe their violence accordingly. Instead, they have threatened to punish the entire nation.69 Echoing al Qaeda’s assertion that all Americans are fair targets for terrorist violence be- cause they elected and paid taxes to the U.S. Government, the IM labels all Hindus “combatants” because they elected the country’s leaders.70 The IM also encourages targeting fellow Muslims if they act as hired informers or spies.71 Although IM leaders establish broad parameters for acceptable targets, they do delineate priorities and single out specific states for terrorist attacks. These states, which have “crossed the limits of cruelty,” are Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.72 A review of IM attack locations reveals that the network’s rhetoric matched its operational planning.

Drivers and Recruitment

The overwhelming majority of Indians who become involved in militancy appear motivated primarily by a sense of grievance. Individual recruits may believe that violent jihad is obligatory, but collectively, the ambition to impose Sharia or otherwise Islamize society is secondary, if it exists at all, to the desire for revenge against real and perceived injustices. According to police and intelligence officials, almost every arrested militant they interrogated mentioned the Babri mosque’s demolition, the Gujarat riots, or both as a major motivator.73

Indian experts such as Praveen Swami and Shishir Gupta have written about the role that economic hardships, especially frustration among educated Muslims who believe employment opportunities are closed off to them, are believed to play in terms of contributing to a sense of injustice.74 Poor treatment by the police came up repeatedly in interviews with security officials and Muslim community leaders as well.75 There is also a pattern among some Indian militants of moving back and forth between jihadism and for-profit crime.76 Finally, as with many militant movements, the IM also attracted its share of attention seekers. One member reportedly told an interrogator he simply wanted to see his face on India’s most wanted list.77

How are those looking to engage in violence or at least open to it recruited into the jihadist movement? SIMI may no longer be the feeder it was in the past when a core mass in the hundreds—radicalized and motivated to fight against Hindu domination—moved along a conveyer belt into jihad. But SIMI connections still matter, as do familial and friendship ties.78 In some instances, a person is exposed to the proper “mood music,” decides he wants to “do” jihad, and looks for assistance where he can find it. In others cases, talent-spotters work from the top down, but even in this instance, the connections are often organic. Recently recruitment has been taking place via the Internet, including Facebook and Twitter.79

Recruitment also takes place in the Gulf where many Indian Muslims have sought employment opportunities. The Gulf employment boom for Indian Muslims led it to become a place for recruiting and indoctrinating them first by LeT and now by the IM.80 Fayyiz Kagzai, Fasih Mahmood, and Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari were the three most well-known Indian recruiters based in Saudi Arabia. The latter two have since been deported to India. Notably, all three are considered LeT members who recruit for and interface with the IM, suggesting considerable overlap between the two.81


When the IM network began its bombing campaign in 2005, it used HuJI-B–supplied RDX smuggled across the Bangladesh border.82 While Sheikh’s Azamgarh module was carrying out attacks in 2005–2006, Riyaz Bhatkal is believed to have been sourced ammonium nitrate from Karnataka.83 This effort paid off after June 2006 when the militant responsible for smuggling RDX was arrested and the explosives supply line broke down. Thereafter, Siddi Bapa was tasked with transmitting the ammonium nitrate used for all of the attacks from 2007–2008.84 This move indigenized the process, and it remained the explosive of choice through 2008.

Yet at those times when the indigenous movement has struggled, such as after Batla House, external entities such as LeT may have stepped in to provide an infusion of assistance. For ex- ample, the 2010 Pune bombings used ammonium nitrate as the core charge and RDX as the booster charge.85 Networks associated with LeT commander Rashid Abdullah were suspected of supplying the RDX.86 The July 2011 serial blasts in Mumbai that killed 26 and wounded 130 were the first successful attack to use only indigenous materials (that is, ammonium nitrate) since the Batla House encounter.87 However, more recent attacks have used pentaerythritol tetranitrate to trigger ammonium nitrate mixed with fuel, once again suggesting the possibility of external support.88

External Support and Command and Control

The IM has received significant support from abroad; most notably from Pakistan, but its members also leveraged hospitable environments in Bangladesh, Nepal, and several Persian Gulf countries. In addition to its support for the IM, LeT supports militants seemingly unconnected or only tangentially linked to the network. For example, it helped to train and support militant networks in the southern state of Kerala. Some of these men were connected to the IM or later absorbed into its web, but others remained independent.89

The ISI allegedly launched an enterprise, since dubbed the “Karachi Project,” to help sustain the homegrown jihadist network in India without the same negative international repercussions that came from attacks by Pakistani actors.

David Headley, the captured LeT operative who performed reconnaissance on all of the targets hit during the 2008 Mumbai attacks, appears to have been the first to use the term Karachi Project. However, it is unclear whether the term describes an actual delineated program, or if Headley simply used it to describe LeT units based in Karachi.90 Two things are clear from Headley’s testimony. First, the purpose of each unit in Karachi was to launch operations in India using indigenous actors. Second, he alleges the militants in charge of these units were in contact with and received assistance from ISI officers for their operations.91

LeT emerged as and has remained the primary, though not the only, group responsible for instructing Indian recruits. It is questionable whether as many of those recruited—either in the Gulf or locally—still go to Pakistan for training as in the past. Over time, Indians learned how to build explosives using locally sourced materials for explosives. Once a well-trained cohort of operators who could pass along their skills returned, there was less need for either deploying Pakistanis to India or bringing new recruits to Pakistan for training.

This helped to indigenize the Indian jihadist movement and decrease the need for travel to Pakistan. Some new recruits are now trained in places such as the Hubli jungle in Karnataka on the use of small arms or the basics of bombmaking rather than traveling to Pakistan.92

Other recruits are simply used as foot soldiers or for logistical support and need no serious instruction.

Numerous Indian security officials pointed to interrogation reports and intercepts corroborating the existence of a nexus with Pakistan and the presence of this infrastructure, which allegedly includes the provision of safe haven for wanted Indian militants such as Riyaz Bhatkal and A.R. Khan.93 Indian officials have transmitted lists of militants believed to be sheltering in Pakistan to their counterparts there on numerous occasions. Although it is by no means certain all of those on these lists are receiving sanctuary in Pakistan, some almost certainly are.

Money matters, too. It is an article of faith among the Indian authorities that LeT continues to finance the IM via hawala networks and cash couriers (some of whom transport counterfeit currency).94 Both are notoriously challenging to trace. Recent reporting suggests the IM also raises money through criminal activity and by using false names to solicit donations from Gulf donors with the pretense of using it for charity, a tactic LeT and other militants groups have engaged in for many years.95 Siddi Bapa allegedly coordinated with Gulf-based Indian opera- tives including Fasih Mahmood to “rope in the funds through which the Indian Mujahideen survived” after Batla House.96 This raises questions about whether the IM successfully built semi-independent financing operations.

Until recently Bangladesh was a major transit point for Indian and Pakistani militants. Bangladesh-based HuJI-B and LeT operatives often facilitated their travel, with ISI sometimes providing passports and money as well as intervening with local Bangladeshi authorities when necessary.97 However, since the Sheikh Hasina’s Bangladesh Awami League administration came into office in Dhaka early in 2009, such activity has shrunk significantly. In recent years, Indian authorities have begun to worry more about Nepal, which they see as a growing transit point for people executing terrorist attacks in India.98 A serious lack of governance exists in Nepal and it is unclear whether the ISI plays, or even needs to play, a major role in facilitating jihadist travel through there. Saudi Arabia and the UAE also remain important safe havens and transit points. Many Indians traveling between these countries carry Pakistani passports. Until recently even known Indian militants captured in Saudi Arabia or the UAE would simply be sent back to Pakistan if they had a Pakistani passport.99 It is unclear whether the Saudis’ arrest and deportation of Ansari and Fasih Mahmood signal a permanent break from this practice.

While support for the jihadist movement in India from LeT and the ISI undoubtedly exists, the degree of command and control over the movement remains unclear. Indian intelligence analysts assert that during the IM’s heyday from 2005–2008, Amir Raza Khan was the main interface between the network and the Pakistan-based LeT.100 A dossier prepared by the Andhra Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad also contends that Sadique Sheikh and Riyaz Shahbandri would liaise with A.R. Khan regarding attack plans.101 One captured militant supports this contention, telling investigators that A.R. Khan took direction from LeT commanders based in Pakistan.102 Riyaz Bhatkal’s relationship with the ISI remains unclear and is subject of speculation among various Indian analysts.

Some in the Intelligence Bureau believe he has replaced A.R. Khan as the main interface with the ISI in Pakistan and is taking direction from it directly or via LeT.103

In either case, one can assume Pakistan is able to exert a level of influence over the IM. Whether the ISI has been directing attacks remains a subject of debate. Most Indian officials contend the ISI, via LeT, is directing the IM. This is anchored on the theory that the ISI would not provide safe haven to IM leaders without seeking to exert control over how the network op- erates. However, it is possible the ISI may be protecting major IM leaders for other reasons. For example, they could implicate Pakistan for the support it has provided and their capture would endanger militant networks that Pakistan does not wish to see unraveled.

A spectrum of possibilities exists with significant control on one end of the continuum and an ISI/LeT–supported “wind-up toy” on the other. Based on what is known about ISI tasking from the anti-Soviet jihad, insurgency in Kashmir and more recent insurgency in Afghanistan, it may be that the ISI engages IM leaders on ad hoc basis to undertake discrete attacks. As this report illustrates, evidence suggests LeT operatives have solicited attacks and provided support for them, though whether they have always done so at the behest of ISI officers (official, rogue, or retired) is unknown.

Direction may include instructions simply to “do something,” to do something in a certain area (for example, Mumbai or Delhi), or to strike a particular target or type of target. It may also be the case that in exchange for safe haven and support, IM networks execute specific types of operations when directed to do so, but are otherwise left to their own devices. To quote one Indian analyst, “You do what I ask you to do, but I don’t tell you to do everything you do.”104

Qualifying the Threats

The Indian jihadist movement constitutes an internal security issue, but one with an external dimension. The two dimensions are historically intertwined, and in the last few decades, the boundaries between them have become increasingly blurred. Pakistan-based groups, most notably LeT, have significantly greater capacity, more robust capabilities, and considerably more resiliency, thanks in no small part to a more hospitable environment. However, they are also easier to detect than their Indian counterparts and typically lack the topographical and cultural knowledge these indigenous operatives enjoy. Ultimately, trying to quantify the threats from each set of actors—internal and external—risks misrepresenting the degree to which the two are connected.

Indian jihadists are far more lethal as a result of external support, but no longer entirely dependent on it. Even in those instances where a purely indigenous attack occurs, the perpetrators often will have benefited from earlier assistance. Pakistan-based actors have significantly greater capacity and more robust capabilities, and may remain able to launch unilateral strikes absent Indian assistance. But they are unlikely to be able to equal the frequency of attacks achieved by the IM. Moreover, although pure expeditionary terrorism with no indigenous assistance can still occur, a catalogue of past attacks—attempted and successful—suggests foreign militants often benefit from some form of Indian assistance such as safe haven or reconnaissance.105 In short, most attacks involve some admixture of foreign and indigenous elements.

Any loss of life is tragic, but as with most terrorist attacks the greater danger lies in the wider responses they can trigger.

Although many Indian officials now make only a minimal distinction between the IM and Pakistani groups such as LeT, viewing both as tools of the Pakistani state, it has become more difficult to trace Indian militants and the attacks they execute back to Pakistan. This is partly the case because some Indian attacks really are entirely indigenous, and partly because the ISI and Pakistan-based groups such as LeT have become more sophisticated at hiding their involvement. New Delhi is unlikely to mobilize for war in the event its own citizens were responsible for even a major terrorist spectacle. This is especially true given India’s strategic culture of restraint, which likely would remain the case even if it could be proved quickly that Pakistan had provided support or direction.

Nevertheless, the issue is of enough concern that it now merits discussion at Track 2 events.106 Furthermore, although an attack by homegrown militants with foreign support may not spark a war, it has become yet another hurdle to overcome as the two countries seek to navigate a peace process.

Numerous Indian interlocutors cite another threat: the prospect that another sustained terrorism campaign could trigger a spate of communal violence. As one senior Indian security official admitted, “Islamist terrorism is a manageable problem, but we do worry seriously about the backlash effect from the Hindu community.”107

Such concerns are understandable. Hindu extremists launched several terrorist attacks in recent years—Malegaon, the Samjauta Express, and the Mecca Masjid—in response to Islamist terrorism and what they viewed as the state’s failure to combat it. Notably, they do not appear to have differentiated between attacks by indigenous and Pakistan-based actors, both of which are equally motivated to avenge Hindu violence as this report illustrates.

Indeed, these fed the terrorism cycle, triggering reprisal bombings by the IM, which was already partly a byproduct of past episodes of communal violence. When asked what the state could do better in terms of counterterrorism, the aforementioned official zeroed in on policing and stated, “We need to be careful and aware of the prejudices in our own security forces.”108

Although Lashkar-e-Taiba has become a higher priority for the United States since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed six Americans, the indigenous Indian jihadist networks re- main a significantly lower priority.109 This is sensible given limited resources, but that does not mean that the IM poses no threats. The networks focus primarily on communal, touristic, economic, and other soft targets, but these have included locations where Westerners are present. Specifically, the 2010 Pune attack targeted a restaurant, the German Bakery, known to be popular with foreigners. As with the 2008 Mumbai assault, these blended attacks can serve multiple purposes. Killing foreigners, especially Westerners, may be intended to weaken the economy and the state.

It also might indicate an attempt to satisfy an internationalist agenda within the IM, LeT, or both, and thus the potential for further fusion of Indian and foreign targets. It is worth noting, therefore, that David Headley, who remained a LeT operative but began freelancing after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, told investigators he performed reconnaissance on targets in Pune for the late Ilyas Kashmiri who led the 313 Brigade and was al Qaeda’s chief of operations in Pakistan at the time.110 Kashmiri sent an email to a Pakistani journalist in which he did not directly claim credit for the Pune attack, but implied 313 Brigade’s involvement.111

It is far from certain that the IM constitutes a horizon threat for the United States in South Asia, but it is one that should be monitored for signs of a shift toward internationalist aims. In the meantime, Washington has an interest in reducing Pakistan’s strategic reliance on militant proxies, but doing so entails raising the costs to Pakistan of this reliance and/or reducing the utility of militant proxies. The low-cost and relatively low-risk option of covertly supporting Indian jihadists further reduces the disincentives for the Pakistani ISI of breaking with this practice. Finally, the United States is invested in India’s peaceful rise and wider stability in South Asia. Hence any challenge to either is problematic, though one that must be kept in perspective.

Ultimately, the issue of Indian jihadism is not now a major threat to regional stability or to India’s rise. Rather, it is a symptom of several stubborn factors including an Indian bilateral relationship with Pakistan defined by intense, zero-sum competition, as well as poor Indian domestic governance, political malfeasance, economic inequality, and a sense of injustice felt by many. As one former official acknowledged, “These problems would still be here even if we had no terrorism.”112 Another former police officer concurred, adding, “Pakistan may be taking advantage of the situation to radicalize Muslim boys. They may even be controlling the IM. But even if they are then so what? We still must look within as to why Indians are susceptible. And it’s up to us to solve this problem here.”113

Appendix 1. Indian Jihad Dramatis Personae

Atif Ameen: Headed Azamgarh Module of Indian Mujahideen (IM), which was responsible for most bombings from 2007–2008; killed during the Batla House encounter.

Aftab Ansari: Gangster-cum-jihadist radicalized in prison; facilitated training in Pakistan and support for future IM leaders; arrested in Dubai; extradited to India; and imprisoned for role in 2001 attack on U.S. Cultural Center in Kolkata.

Jalees Ansari: Early member of Tanzim Islahul Muslimeen (TIM); involved in 1993 serial bombings; arrested while planning bombings during Republic Day celebrations in January 1994.

Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari: Recruited into Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) networks after 2002 Gujarat riots; fled to Pakistan during middle of last decade after involvement in Aurangabad arms haul; trained 2008 Mumbai attackers in Hindi and was in control room for the attacks; key interface between LeT and the IM; arrested in Saudi Arabia and deported to India in June 2012.

Ahmed Siddi Bapa: Became the IM field commander in 2008 after Batla House led to arrest of Sadique Sheikh and forced migration of Shahbandri brothers; arrested by Indian authorities in Nepal in August 2013.

Azam Cheema: LeT’s first head of operations for India; deployed to India in 1991–1992; oversaw recruitment, attacks, and helped to build LeT networks during 1990s.

Azam Ghouri: Early member of TIM; involved in 1993 serial bombings; fled to Saudi Arabia and helped build LeT networks there; returned to India in 1998; killed by police in 2000.

Fayyiz Kagzi: LeT operative recruited into same network as Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari; fled to Pakistan during middle of last decade after involvement in Aurangabad arms haul; key interface between LeT and the IM.

Abdul Karim: Early member of TIM; involved in 1993 serial bombings; fled to Bangladesh and helped build LeT’s pan-India networks; returned to India in 1996 as LeT field commander; fled to Pakistan in 2000; arrested by Indian authorities in Nepal in August 2013.

Amir Raza (A.R.) Khan: Brother of Asif Raza Khan; founded Asif Raza Commando Force that executed 2001 attack on U.S. Cultural Center in Kolkata; fled to Pakistan via the Gulf; became the main interface for facilitating training and support for inchoate IM network; later became main IM interface in Pakistan; believed to be in Pakistan.

Asif Raza Khan: Brother of A.R. Khan; gangster-cum-jihadist radicalized in prison; facilitated training in Pakistan and support for future IM leaders; killed by police in 2001.

Fasih Mahmood: LeT/IM operative allegedly involved series of attacks in 2010; helped recruit Indian cadre in the Gulf; arrested by Saudi authorities and deported to India in 2012.

Mansoor Peerbhoy: Headed IM Media Group; arrested in 2008.

Mohammed Sadique IsrarSheikh: Former Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) member; recruited by Aftab Ansari and Asif Raza Khan; trained in Pakistan; involved in 2001 attack on U.S. Cultural Center in Kolkata; one of the founders of the IM; recruited many cadre for Azamgarh Module.

Iqbal Shahbandri: Brother of Riyaz Shahbandri; former Tablighi Jamat member; one of the founders of the Indian mujahideen; known for indoctrinating IM cadre; signatory to IM communiqués; believed to be in Pakistan.

Riyaz Shahbandri: Brother of Iqbal Shahbandri; former SIMI member; one of the found- ers of IM; signatory to IM communiqué; allegedly leads IM at time of writing; believed to be in Pakistan.

Appendix 2. List of Indian Mujahideen (IM) Attacks

Attack Date Responsible Organization(s) Remarks
Dasashwamedh Ghat, Varanasi February 23, 2005 IM–Northern Brigade Research Department Explosives (RDX) smuggled from Bangladesh
Delhi-bound Shramjeevi express train, Juanpur July 28, 2005 IM–Northern Brigade RDX smuggled from Bangladesh
Diwali Festival, Delhi October 29, 2005 IM–Northern Brigade RDX smuggled from Bangladesh; Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) may have contributed manpower assistance
Temple and railway station blasts, Varanasi March 7, 2006 IM–Northern Brigade RDX smuggled from Bangladesh
Commuter train blasts, Mumbai July 11, 2006 LeT and/or IM; possible joint attack LeT initially blamed and some LeT operatives claim to know bombers; arrested IM operatives claim Northern Brigade was responsible; believed to have used RDX smuggled from Bangladesh
Gorakhpur serial blasts May 22, 2007 IM–Northern Brigade Locally sourced ammonium nitrate
Twin bombings, Hyderabad August 25, 2007 IM–Southern Brigade Locally sourced ammonium nitrate; revenge for Mecca Masjid bombing by Hindu terrorists
Varanasi, Lucknow, Faizabad courts bombings November 23, 2007 IM–Northern Brigade Locally sourced ammonium nitrate; first communiqué issued
Jaipur serial blasts May 13, 2008 IM–Northern Brigade Locally sourced ammonium nitrate; second communiqué issued
Bangalore serial blasts July 25, 2008 Jamiat-ul-Ansar-ul- Muslimeen (JIAM) LeT provides material support and guidance to JIAM members; IM–Southern Brigade assists with explosives preparation
Ahmedabad serial blasts July 26, 2008 IM–Northern Brigade Attempted blasts in Surat by IM–Southern Brigade fail; locally sourced ammonium nitrate; third communiqué issued
Delhi serial blasts September 13, 2008 IM–Northern Brigade Locally sourced ammonium nitrate; fourth communiqué issued
German bakery; Pune (American tourist) February 13, 2010 IM–Pune and/or Bihar Module LeT may have provided assistance in the form of RDX and/or manpower
Chinnaswamy cricket stadium attack April 17, 2010 IM–Pune and/or Bihar Module LeT may have provided manpower assistance
Jama Masjid shootings, Delhi September 19, 2010 IM–Pune and/or Bihar Module LeT believed to provide one shooter
Sheetla Ghat, Varanasi December 7, 2010 IM–Pune and/or Bihar Module Email claiming credit in IM issued, first formal claim since Batla House encounter in 2008
Delhi High Court, Delhi May 25, 2011 IM–Pune and/or Bihar Module No fatalities
Serial blasts, Mumbai July 13, 2011 IM–Pune and/or Bihar Module LeT may have provided assistance with manpower/ bombmaking
Serial blasts, Pune August 1, 2012 IM–Pune and/or Bihar Module No fatalities
Twin bicycle bombings, Hyderabad February 21, 2013 IM–Bihar Module Believed to be purely indigenous attack


1 Extensive desk-based research augmented 4 weeks of field research in India in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, and 1 week of field research in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Interview subjects included local and foreign journalists, senior Indian government officials from the National Security Council, Ministry of Home Affairs, and Ministry of External Affairs, Indian security officials from the National Intelligence Bureau (IB) and National Investigative Agency (NIA), former officials from the IB, NIA, and the Research & Analysis Wing, current and former police officers, academics, think tank experts, nongovernmental organization workers, leaders from the Muslim community, civilian politicians, and U.S. diplomats. The aim was to triangulate between what the various actors do, what they say, and what others say about them in order to solicit enough information from different sources to redress the bias or ignorance of any one party. Meetings also were held with experts from the Department of Defense, Department of State, and others within the interagency community in advance of travel to India and Bangladesh. Preliminary findings were presented to individuals at the Defense and State Departments thereafter to sharpen analysis.

2 For example, according to the Sachar Committee commissioned in 2005 to examine the social, economic, and educational conditions of the Muslim community, Muslim graduates had the highest unemployment rate of any socio-religious group. Overall, Muslims were found to be underrepresented at elite educational institutions as well as in the Indian Administrative Service (3 percent), Indian Foreign Service (1.8 percent), and Indian Police Service (4 percent). See Prime Minister’s High Level Committee, Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India, November 2006.

3 Shishir Gupta, Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (Gurgaon, India: Hachette Littlehamp- ton, 2012), 296.

4 Hasan Zaidi, Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts (New Delhi: Penguin, 2002).

5 Praveen Swami, “The Well-Tempered Jihad: The Politics and Practice of Post-2002 Islamist Terrorism in India,” Contemporary South Asia 16, no. 3 (September 2008); Praveen Swami, “A Road to Perdition: India and Its Invisible Jihad,” unpublished manuscript, April 2008.

6 Praveen Swami, “Harnessing Hate,” Frontline, July 29–August 11, 2006, available at .

7 Swami, “The Well-Tempered Jihad.” Regarding the riots, see Asghar Ali Engineer, ed., Com- munal Riots in Post-independence India, 33 (Hyderabad, India: Universities Press, 1991); Thomas Blom Hansen, Wages of Violence: Naming and Identity in Postcolonial Bombay (Princeton: Princeton Univer- sity Press, 2001), 70.

8 Praveen Swami, “The ‘Liberation’ of Hyderabad,” Frontline, May 13–26, 2000, available at <>; Praveen Swami, India, Pakistan, and the Secret Jihad (New York: Routledge, 2007), 196.

9 Swami, “Harnessing Hate.”

10 Ansari would allow potassium to burn through the paper ticket. Once complete, it would detonate a small explosive. Rakesh Maria, chief of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, interview by author, Mumbai, India, June 11, 2012. See also Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 26.

11 Swami, “The Well-Tempered Jihad”; Swami, “A Road to Perdition.” See also Praveen Swami, “The Spreading Tentacles of Terror,” The Hindu, August 31, 2003.

12 See “Life Sentences for 15 for 1993 Serial Train Blasts,” Rediff, February 28, 2004.

13 Swami, “The Well-Tempered Jihad.”

14 Indian Security Services, “Interrogation Report of Abdul Razzak Masood”; “Lashkar Using Gulf NRIs in Network,” The Times of India, November 29, 2002; Praveen Swami, “Behind Bangalore: The Origins of the Long Jihad,” The Hindu, January 9, 2006, available at < paper/tp-opinion/behind-bangalore-the-origins-of-the-long-jihad/article3237269.ece>.

15 Stephen Tankel, Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 90–91.

16 Ibid. 90.

17 Praveen Swami, “Why LeT Terrorist Abdul Karim Tunda Is a Big Catch for India,” Firstpost, August 19, 2013, available at < catch-for-india-1040373.html>.

18 Swami, “The Spreading Tentacles of Terror”; Manoj Joshi, The Lost Rebellion: Kashmir in the Nineties (Melbourne: Penguin Group Australia, 1999), 176–177.

19 “LeT Terrorist Abdul Karim Tunda Arrested, Sent to 3-day Police Custody,” Firstpost, August 17, 2013, available at < 3-day-police-custody-1040369.html>; Jatin Anand, “Who Is Syed Abdul Karim alias Tunda,” Hindustan Times, August 17, 2013, available at < Karim-Tunda/Article1-1108934.aspx>.

20 Praveen Swami, “Road to Unimaginable Horror,” The Hindu, July 13, 2006.

21 K.S. Reddy, Andhra Pradesh bureau chief for The Hindu, interview by author, Hyderabad, India, June 14, 2001. Anjani Kumar, Inspector General of Police, interview by author, Hyderabad, India, June 19, 2012.

22 Arrested and incarcerated for his role in kidnapping four foreign nationals as part of a plot to free other Harakat Ul-Mujahidin members imprisoned in India, Sheikh later gained international notoriety when he engineered Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping in Pakistan.

23 Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 128–129.

24 According to former head of the IB Ajit Doval, the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was responsible for recruiting the cadre, who were then vetted by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)-linked mosques and then sent to Pakistan for training. Ajit Doval, former head of the IB, interview by author, May 31, 2012. Regarding SIMI’s role in recruitment see, Gupta, Indian Mujahideen; Swami, “The Well- Tempered Jihad”; C. Christine Fair, “Students Islamic Movement of India and the Indian Mujahideen: An Assessment,” Asia Policy, no. 9 (January 2010), 110–119.

25 Farhat Aysas, professor at Jamia Millia Islamia, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 27, 2012; Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 4, 34.

26 SIMI launched a national movement to mobilize support for Caliphate rule, identifying rhe- torically with Osama bin Laden and connecting with various Pakistani and Kashmiri militant groups. See Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 4, 20; Swami, “The Well-Tempered Jihad.”

27 Information in this paragraph comes from the courts trial record of Mohammad Sadique Israr Sheikh Final Report Forum (Under Section 173 Cr. P.C.) in the Court of Ms. Kaveri Baweja, CMM, Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi, FIR No. FIR No. 130/08, February 27, 2009.

28 Praveen Swami, “Riyaz Bhatkal and the Origins of the Indian Mujahideen,” CTC Sentinel 3, no. 5 (May 2010).

29 Tankel, Storming the World Stage, 140.

30 The Composite Dialogue launched between India and Pakistan in early 2004 likely rein- forced these dynamics. It made clandestinity for LeT, and hence the availability of indigenous militants to launch attacks or provide logistical support, more important.

31 Former high-ranking Indian intelligence official, interview by author, Bangalore, India, June 14, 2012. Fair, “Students Islamic Movement of India and the Indian Mujahideen,” 114.

32 Swami, “Riyaz Bhatkal and the Origins of the Indian Mujahideen.”

33 Unofficial estimates put the death toll as high as 2,000. It was widely alleged that officials from the Bharatiya Janata Party–led state government, whose chief minister (then and now) Narenda Modi was named in September 2013 as that party’s candidate for prime minister in the coming 2014 elections, encouraged and assisted Hindus who were involved in violence. For official casualty figures, see “Gujarat riot death toll revealed,” BBC Online, May 11, 2005. For unofficial casualty figures, see We Have No Orders To Save You: State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat (New York: Human Rights Watch, April 2002). In 2012, a state legislator and former state education minister, who is among Modi’s confidants, was one of 32 people convicted for roles in the riots. See Gardiner Harris and Hari Kumar, “32 People Convicted for Roles in Gujarat Riots,” The New York Times, August 29, 2012.

34 Rahul Bedi, “Bombay Bombings Fuel Tension,” Jane’s Terrorism & Security Monitor, Septem- ber 12, 2003; Swami, “The Well-Tempered Jihad”; Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 4.

35 Information in this paragraph comes from the courts trial record of Mohammad Sadique Is- rar Sheikh Final Report Forum (Under Section 173 Cr. P.C.) in the Court of Ms. Kaveri Baweja, CMM, Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi, FIR No. FIR No. 130/08, February 27, 2009. See also Gupta, Indian Mujahi- deen, 133.

36 During the next year, he transited between India, Dubai, and Pakistan, enlisting cadre who would form the sinews of the Indian mujahideen. Information comes from the courts trial record of Mohammad Sadique Israr Sheikh Final Report Forum (Under Section 173 Cr. P.C.) in the Court of Ms. Kaveri Baweja, CMM, Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi, FIR No. FIR No. 130/08, February 27, 2009.

37 New Delhi Police Special Cell, “Final Form Report Under Section 173, Code of Criminal Procedure in the Court of Kaveri Baweja, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate,” November 2010.

38 Ibid.

39 Indian IB analysts responsible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012; Swami, “Riyaz Bhatkal and the Origins of the Indian Mujahideen.”

40 Swami, “Riyaz Bhatkal and the Origins of the Indian Mujahideen”; Final Form Report Under Section 173, Code of Criminal Procedure in the Court of Kaveri Baweja, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, New Delhi Police Special Cell, November 2010 [Final Report New Delhi Special Cell, 2010].

41 Indian IB analysts responsible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012; Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 135; Praveen Swami, “The Indian Mujahidin and Lashkar-i-Tayyiba’s Transnational Networks,” CTC Sentinel 2, no. 6 (June 2009), 9; Organization for Counter Terrorist Op- erations, Government of Andhra Pradesh, “Study Material on Indian Mujahideen,” n.d.

42 Indian IB analysts responsible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012; “Study Material on Indian Mujahideen”; Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 178, 181, 189–191, 203–205. 43 This information comes from an Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) analysts responsible for IM

portvisiting Hyderabad in 2007. Briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012; from Indian Na- tional Investigations Agency (NIA) analyst, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 5, 2012; “Study Material on Indian Mujahideen”; See also Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, chapter 5.

44 Assessment provided by Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) analysts responsible for IM portvis- iting Hyderabad in 2007. There they out India, g to recruifolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012. Information corroborated in, “Study Material on Indian Mujahideen”; Mohd Mansoor Ashgar Peerbhoy, Mubin Kadar Shaikh, Asif Bashiruddin Shaikh FINAL REPORT FORM, (Under Sec- tion 173 Cr. P.C.) IN THE COURT OF MS. KAVERI BAWEJA, CMM, TIS HAZARI COURTS, DELHI, FIR No. 293/08 Date 13.09.2008. See also Chaitraly Deshmukh and Prasannakumar Keskar, “Bhatkal Brothers Spent 8 Years to Set Up IM Base,” DNA India, October 12, 2012.

45 Shishir Gupta, journalist with The Hindustan Times, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 1, 2012; Indian IB analysts responsible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012; Praveen Swami, journalist with The Hindu, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 5, 2012; “Study Material on Indian Mujahideen”; Deshmukh and Keskar, “Bhatkal Brothers Spent 8 Years to Set Up IM Base.”

46 “Study Material on Indian Mujahideen”; Vicky Nanjappa, “Yasin Bhatkal—The Real Story,” Journalism for Vertebrates, August 30, 2013, available at <http://vickynanjapa.wordpress. com/2013/08/30/yasin-bhatkal-the-real-story/>. Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 192–194; interrogation report, Thadlantede Naseer (Kannur District, Kerala), Interrogation Centre, Bangalore, January 7, 2010; interrogation report, Sarfaraz Nawaz (Ernakulam District, Kerala State), Bangalore City Police, PIN 683565.

47 Indian IB analysts responsible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012; Indian NIA analyst, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 5, 2012. Former Indian intelli- gence official, interview by author, Bangalore, India, June 14, 2012.

48 One theory holds that this was done via A.R. Khan at Inter-Services Intelligence’s behest to create the illusion of a purely indigenous movement and sow greater communal tensions. Another suggests that, although they received support from LeT and the ISI, IM leaders were tired of Lashkar getting credit for their attacks.

49 Shakeel et al., Final Report Baweja Court, December 2008; Peerbhoy, Shaikh, and Shaik, Fi- nal Report Baweja Court, September 2008. “Indian Mujahideen’s Declaration Open War Against India,” sent after Jaipur bombings on May 13, 2008.

50 Praveen Swami, “Behind the Batla House Shootout,” The Hindu, October 10, 2008.

51 According to India’s Institute for Conflict Management, more than 130 men allegedly be- longing to or associated with the IM were arrested following the Batla House encounter. See Sanchita Bhattacharya, “Indian Mujahideen: Mutating Threat,” Eurasia Review, May 14, 2012, available at .

52 Shishir Gupta, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 1, 2012; “Interrogation Report: Statement of Salman (aka Chotu, aka Aquib),” IB briefing; Bhattacharya, “Indian Mujahideen: Mutating Threat”; Vicky Nanjappa, “Darabanga—Yasin’s Baby,” Journalism for Vertebrates, August 29, 2013, avail- able at <>; Neeraj Chauhan, “Investigators suspect role of first IM module,” The Times of India, August 6, 2012.

53 Rajesh Ahuja, “IM Claims Blast, Says It’s Retaliation for Babri Verdict,” Hindustan Times, De- cember 7, 2010, available at < s-retaliation-for-Babri-verdict/Article1-635634.aspx>; Rashmi Rajput and Prachi Wagh, “Varansi Bomb Blast: Indian Mujahideen Email,” NDTV, December 8, 2010, available at < varanasi-bomb-blast-indian-mujahideen-email-71369>; Anubhuti Vishnoi, “IM Sends Email, ‘Biased’ Babri Verdict Its Theme,” The Indian Express, December 8, 2010, available at < news/IM-sends-email—biased–Babri-verdict-its-theme/721703>.

54 B. Raman, director of the Institute for Topical Studies, interview by author, Chennai, India, June 17, 2012; Sushant Sareen, Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, interview by author, Delhi, India, June 28, 2013; Indian IB analysts responsible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012; U.S. intelligence analysts, briefing for author, Washington, DC, date withheld upon request.

55 “3 Bomb Blasts in Mumbai; 17 Dead, 131 Injured,” IBN Live, July 14, 2011, available at <>; “Three Bomb Blasts Shatter Mumbai’s Peace,” Rediff, July 13, 2011, available at < sions-in-mumbai/20110713.htm>; Shailesh Shrivastava, “Serial Blasts in Mumbai, at least 10 killed,” International Business Times, July 13, 2011, available at < 10-killed-298213>.

56 “Mumbai Blasts: Death Toll Rises to 26,” Hindustan Times, July 30, 2011, available at <http:// aspx>; “Mumbai Blasts: Death Toll Rises to 23,” NDTV, July 23, 2011, available at < ticle/india/mumbai-blasts-death-toll-rises-to-23-121559>; “Death Toll in Mumbai Terror Blasts Rises to 19,” NDTV, July 16, 2011, available at < rises-to-19-119692>.

57 Rakesh Maria, interview by author, Mumbai, India, June 11, 2012.

58 “MHS not kept in the loop on 13/7 Mumbai blasts arrests by Maharashtra ATS: sources,” IBN Live, January 23, 2012, available at < rests-by-ats/223575-3.html>.

59 Vicky Nanjappa, “13/7 blasts—Goof ups galore,” Journalism for Vertebrates, September 10, 2013, available at <>.

60 “Dilsukhnagar bomb blast toll rises to 17,” The Hindu, March 6, 2013, available at ; “An- other Suspected IM Militant Held in Pune Blasts Case,”, October 17, 2012, available at <>; Mihir Tanksale, “Yasin Bhatkal one of the August 1 Pune Bombers?” The Times of India, August 11, 2012, available at <http://articles.timesofindia.>; “Pune serial blasts case ‘cracked,’ three held,” The Hindu, October 12, 2012, available at ; “Another IM member held for Pune serial blasts,” Deccan Herald (Bangalore, India), October 17, 2012, available at < held-pune.html>; “Pune blasts: Key IM suspect arrested,” ZeeNews, October 26, 2012, available at <>.

61 Indian IB analysts responsible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012.

62 Ibid.; Rakesh Maria, interview by author, Mumbai, India, June 11, 2012; Indian NIA analyst, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 5, 2012; Anjani Kumar, interview by author, Hyderabad, In- dia, June 19, 2012; Praveen Swami, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 5, 2012; Shishir Gupta, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 1, 2012; Vicky Nanjappa, journalist with Rediff, interview by author, Bangalore, India, June 13, 2012. According to one captured operative, who met both brothers when they visited Sharjah (in the United Arab Emirates) in September–October 2009 and again in Paki- stan that winter, they are “extremely mobile and freely frequent locations such as Dubai and Shargah.” Excerpts from the confession of Salman.

63 Vicky Nanjappa, “Yasin speaks of Riyaz and Iqbal,” Journalism for Vertebrates, August 29, 2013, available at <>.

64 For example, three operatives arrested while planning attacks in Bodhgaya and New Delhi alleged to the police that Kagzai facilitated their meeting with Iqbal Bhatkal in Saudi Arabia after which they were told to coordinate with Yasin Bhatkal in India. See Vicky Nanjappa, “IM’s Saudi hub—Fayaz Kagzai is the man we need,” Journalism for Vertebrates, October 5, 2012.

65 Nikhil S. Dixit, “ Saudi Arabia deports IM operative; held in Delhi,” Daily News and Analysis (Mumbai), October 23, 2012, available at < operative-held-in-delhi-1755194>.

66 Indian IB analysts responsible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012. 67 Ibid.

68 “Indian Mujahideen’s Declaration of Open War Against India,” sent after Jaipur bombings on May 13, 2008.

69 “Eye for an Eye: The Dust Will Never Settle Down,” sent prior to the Delhi bombings on September 13, 2008; “Indian Mujahideen’s Declaration of Open War Against India.”

70 “Indian Mujahideen’s Declaration of Open War Against India.”

71 “The Rise of Jihad: Revenge of Gujarat,” sent in advance of the Ahmedabad and failed Surat bombings on July 26, 2008.

72 “Crossed the limits of cruelty” from “Eye for an Eye: The Dust Will Never Settle Down,” sent prior to the Delhi bombings on September 13, 2008. The list of states is delineated in “The Rise of Jihad: Revenge of Gujarat,” sent in advance of the Ahmedabad and failed Surat bombings on July 26, 2008.

73 For example, “Interrogation report, Thadlantede Naseer (Kannur District, Kerala), Interrogation Centre, Bangalore, January 7, 2010, author in possession of hard copy.” “Interrogation report: Sabahuddin Ahmad, Anti-Terrorist Cell, Bangalore City Police, Office Gandhwar, Police Station Sakri, District Madhubani, Bihar, undated, author in possession of hard copy.

74 Gupta, Indian Mujahideen; Swami, “The Well-Tempered Jihad.”

75 Satish Sahney, chief executive of the Nehru Center, interview by author, Mumbai, India, June 11, 2012; Farhat Aysas, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 27, 2012; Obeid Siddiqi, professor at Jamia Millia Islamia, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 1, 2012; Maulana Mahmood Madani, executive member of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, interview by author, New Delhi, June 4, 2012; Asghar Ali Engineer, chairman of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, interview by author, Mumbai, India, June 12, 2012; Ejaz Ahmed Aslam, secretary of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, interview by author, New Delhi, June 27, 2012; also see Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 296.

76 See, for example, Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 86, 129–131.

77 Ibid., 185.

78 Regarding SIMI, Mirza Himayat Baig, recently convicted for his role in the 2010 Pune bombing, belonged to a SIMI module and was arrested in 2011 for links with the banned organization. See Chandan Haygunde, “Aspiring teacher to terror accused,” Indian Express, April 19, 2013. Regarding familial ties, the leadership roles the Bhatkal brothers and their cousin Yasin played is one sign of their importance. In another example, while Mohsin Choudhary was helping to establish the Pune module, his brother Akbar was allegedly one of those involved in the August 2007 serial blasts in Hyderabad for which that module was responsible. See Rahul Tripathi, “The IM story, from its roots to sudden emer- gence in terror,” Indian Express, October 24, 2012.

79 Tarique Anwar, “Jama Masjid attack: Suspected IM operative Fasih Mehmood chargesheet- ed,”, February 18, 2013; Srinath Vudali, “Terror groups luring tech-savvy youth,” The Times of India, April 22, 2013.

80 Those recruited (or merely groomed) in India may also be directed to travel to the Gulf for indoctrination and instruction.

81 Anwar, “Jama Masjid attack”; Sanchita Bhattacharya, “India: Terror Trails to Saudi Arabia,” South Asia Intelligence Review, October 30, 2012.

82 Indian IB analysts responsible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012; “Study Material on Indian Mujahideen”; Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 123, 165.

83 Indian IB analysts responsible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012; “Study Material on Indian Mujahideen”; Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 178, 181, 189–191, 203–205; Praveen Swami, “Who Is Arrested Indian Mujahideen Founder Yasin Bhatkal?” Firstpost, August 29, 2013, available at < kal-947229.html>; Vicky Nanjappa, “Yasin’s Interrogation So Far,” Journalism for Vertebrates, August 30, 2013, available at <>.

84 Mohammed Shakeel et al., Final Report Baweja Court, December 18, 2008. Vicky Nanjappa, “Karachi project—Yasin tells all”; Praveen Swami, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 5, 2012; “Study Material on Indian Mujahideen”; Deshmukh and Keskar, “Bhatkal Brothers Spent 8 Years to Set Up IM Base.”

85 Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 261.

86 K.S. Reddy, interview by author, Hyderabad, India, June 14, 2001; Shishir Gupta, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 1, 2012; Indian IB analysts responsible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012. See also Praveen Swami, “Lashkar-linked Charity Raises Terror Fears,” The Hindu, September 3, 2011, available at <>.

87 Rashmi Rajput, “Mumbai Blasts: Sophisticated IEDs Controlled by Cellphones Used,” NDTV,July 14, 2011; “Ammonium Nitrate Used to Carry Out Mumbai Blasts,” CNN-IBN, July 14, 2011.

88 See, for example, “Explosions bear signature of Indian Mujahideen,” Indian Express, February

22, 2013.

89 Praveen Swami, “The Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Army in India,” The Hindu, January 17, 2009; Swami,

“The Indian Mujahidin and Lashkar-i-Tayyiba’s Transnational Networks”; Shaju Phillip, “Kochi to Kup- wara, the Lashkar recruitment trail,” Indian Express, March 11, 2011; “Confessions of a bombmaker,” Rediff, July 24, 2009.

90 Headley told investigators that at least two separate units existed in Karachi for the purpose of launching or supporting attacks against India. Sajid Mir (aka Sajid Majid), who handled transna- tional operatives for LeT, oversaw one unit. Abdur Rehman Syed, a Pakistan army officer who took early retirement and joined LeT in 2003, controlled the other. Syed split from LeT in 2008, but kept control over his unit in Karachi according to Headley. See “Testimony of David Coleman Headley to the Indian National Investigative Agency,” June 3–9, 2010. Author in possession of hardcopy.

91 Ibid. For open source information, see Animesh Roul, “After Pune, Details Emerge on the Karachi Project and Its Threat to India,” CTC Sentinel 3, no. 4 (April 2010).

92 Rakesh Maria, interview by author, Mumbai, India, June 11, 2012; former high-ranking Indian intelligence official, interview by author, Bangalore, India, June 14, 2012; D. Sivanandan, former director general of Police, Maharashtra, India, interview by author, Mumbai, India, June 9, 2012.

93 Indian IB analysts responsible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012. An Indian operative named Salman (aka Chhotu) who traveled on a Nepali passport to Dubai and then to Pakistan was arrested in 2010 after returning to India. In his confession to Indian authorities, he described having seen Bhatkal and Khan living in a protected area of Clifton in Kara- chi. After his deportation, Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari reportedly told Indian authorities that the Bhatkal brothers met with LeT members in Pakistan. Another Indian militant, Sheikh Abdul Khwaja (aka Amjad), also told interogators that IM leaders were present in Karachi and handled by Inter-Services Intelligence in late 2009. Khwaja added that LeT commander Muzammil Butt paid him a salary for recruiting and motivating Indian youth. Information regarding Salman from “Interrogation Report: Statement of Salman (aka Chotu, aka Aquib),” Intelligence Bureau; information regarding Khwaja from “Interrogation Report of Shaikh Abdul Khwaja,” Intelligence Bureau. See also Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 143–149. On Ansari see, “Jundal had sent shooter to India to help IM boss,” The Times of India, June 26, 2012.

94 Pushpita Das, associate fellow in the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, in- terview by author, New Delhi, India, June 5, 2012. Some Indian security officials claim that in addition to confessions by captured operatives, signal intercepts reveal discussions about financing for the indigenous movement. Rakesh Maria, interview by author, Mumbai, India, June 11, 2012; Anjani Kumar, interview by author, Hyderabad, India, June 19, 2012; Indian IB analysts respon- sible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012. On hawala, see John Rol- lins, Liana Sun Wyler, and Seth Rosen, International Terrorism and Transnational Crime: Security Threats, U.S. Policy, and Considerations for Congress, (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, January 2010).

95 Rakesh Maria, interview by author, Mumbai, India, June 11, 2012; Anjani Kumar, interview by author, Hyderabad, India, June 19, 2012; Bhattacharya, “India: Terror Trails to Saudi Arabia”; Nan- jappa, “IM’s Saudi hub—Fayaz Kagzai is the man we need”; Vicky Nanjappa, “IM raised Rs 45 cr—How they did it?,” Journalism for Vertebrates, October 11, 2012.

96 Vicky Nanjappa, “Darabanga—Yasin’s baby,” August 29, 2013, available at <http://vickynan->.

97 Bangladesh National Security Intelligence officer, interview by author, Dhaka, Bangladesh, June 22, 2012; Bangladesh Enterprise Institute briefing for author, Dhaka, Bangladesh, June 22, 2012; Gupta, Indian Mujahideen, 10.

98 Pushpita Das, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 5, 2012.

99 Anti-Terrorist Cell, Bangalore City Police, “Interrogation Report: Statement of Sabahuddin Ahmed”; Intelligence Bureau, “Interrogation Report: Statement of Salman (aka Chotu, aka Aquib)”; Ste- phen Tankel, “The Mumbai Blame Game,” Foreign Policy, July 9, 2012; Tankel, Storming the World Stage, 92–95. Swami, “The Indian Mujahidin and Lashkar-i-Tayyiba’s Transnational Networks.”

100 Indian IB analysts responsible for IM portfolio, briefing for author, New Delhi, India, June 7, 2012.

101 “Study Material on Indian Mujahideen.”

102 Shakeel et al., Final Report Baweja Court, February 2009.

103 This information was relayed to the author during a briefing with Indian IB analysts respon-

sible for the IM portfolio, who believed A.R. Khan was in semiretirement. The interrogation report of Salman both supports and contradicts this assessment. On the one hand, he clearly states, “Amir Raza Khan has been replaced.” However, Salman also claims to have come into contact with A.R. Khan on several occasions during which he describes him in operational terms. Citing the same interrogation report, Shishir Gupta asserts A.R. Khan is still “running the show” (Indian Mujahideen, 266). However, at no point does Salman state this definitely in the copy in the author’s possession. See “Interrogation Report: Statement of Salman (aka Chotu, aka Aquib).”

104 Ajai Sahni, executive director of the Institute for Conflict Management, interview by author, Delhi, India, June 1, 2012.

105 Many Indian analysts and journalists suspect that indigenous elements provided additional assistance on the ground in advance of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but there is no definitive evidence in open sources. Regarding Ansari’s assistance with preparing the fidayeen squad, see Tankel, “The Mum- bai Blame Game.”

106 Senior Indian National Security Council official, interview by author, New Delhi, India, June 16, 2012.

107 Ibid.

108 Ibid.

109 Two of the Americans killed in the 2008 Mumbai attacks had dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship. 110 “Testimony of David Coleman Headley to the Indian National Investigative Agency.”

111 Al Qaeda’s number three at the time, Sheikh Sai’d al-Masri, claimed credit for the bombing on behalf of Illyas Kashmiri. On Kashmiri’s email, see Syed Saleem Shahzed, “Al-Qaeda chief delivers a warn- ing,” Asia Times, February 13, 2010, available at <>. On al-Masri’s email, see Praveen Swami, “Indian Mujahideen Doesn’t End with Yasin Bhatkal’s Arrest,” Firstpost, August 30, 2013, available at < yasin-bhatkals-arrest-1069161.html?utm_source=ref_article>.

112 Former high-ranking Indian intelligence official, interview by author, Bangalore, India. 113 Satish Sahney, interview by author, Mumbai, India, June 11, 2012.

This article was originally published in Eurasia Review.