Ticket, reservation, agency, elaichi, black beauty: These were some of the over 70 code words used by members of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) while chatting on the internet as they plotted deadly attacks on the country, police sources said.
The revelation comes after the arrest of Tehsin Akhtar alias Monu, head of IM (India), last week along with the outfit’s expert bomber Zia Ur Rehman alias Waqas from the Indo-Nepal border and Rajasthan respectively.
“These secret code words were being used by the operatives during their chats through different e-mail accounts to avoid detection,” an officer requesting anonymity told IANS. “There are over 70 such secret codes.”
According to sources, the operatives had a code word for everything, be it sophisticated weapons, cities, states and countries and even investigating agencies. The operatives too were given secret names.
“They would address Delhi as Sham, Mumbai as Gaw, Pune as Metro, Gujarat as Jeju and would refer to India as Innd in their chats,” said a source.
As far as the investigative agencies or even their partner outfits were concerned, code names were given to them as well.
‘Agency’ meant (Pakistan’s) Inter-Services Intelligence, ‘N eye’ was India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), ‘BB’ (Black Beauty) were members of banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), who were the friends of Tehsin while the Al-Qaeda was referred to as ‘Wagh’.
Some other interesting code words were ‘ticket’ or ‘chaloo’ used for pistol and ‘kalungi’ for explosives, while the popular AK-47 assault rifle was addressed as ‘reservation’ while ‘elaichi’ meant a detonator.
And obviously, the top IM operatives, including Yasin Bhatkal, had code names as well.
“Beboo was one of the founder members of the outfit and top operative Iqbal Bhatkal while his brother Riyaz had a code name ‘ChTa’ (both are now in Pakistan),” said the source adding that Yasin Bhatkal, who was arrested in August last year by the NIA was referred to as ‘JJ’ or ‘TB’. Yasin Bhatkal is judicial custody.
Tehsin and Rehman, who gave the information to the police after their recent arrests, were named ‘hass’ or ‘hazil’ and ‘jadd’ respectively.
“These codes were used in chats that took place on August 25, 2013, where the top IM operatives discussed about getting fidayeens through Al-Qaeda for operations in India,” the source told IANS.
“The discussion also revealed how some IM operatives narrowly escaped the Batla House shootout.”
The shootout between a Delhi Police Special Cell team and alleged IM operatives occurred at Batla House in south Delhi Sept 19, 2008, days after serial blasts rocked the national capital Sept 13 claiming 26 lives. Delhi Police Inspector M.C. Sharma was gunned down in the shootout.
According to the source, the code words were again used in a chat dated July 15, 2013, wherein the IM operatives discussed a “fight between some fellow operatives in Karachi (Pakistan) as well as the role of the ISI in the matter.”
“When Riyaz Bhatkal went to Afghanistan two months back, he was given some tasks including an attack on Jews living in India. They discussed this in a chat last year in August,” said the source.
Meanwhile, the top bosses made sure to use proxy servers to chat with each other in order to hide their exact location.
Indian Mujahideen, whose India head Tehsin Akhtar and four other operatives were arrested this week from the India-Nepal border and Jodhpur, began as a small group of radicalised Muslim youth called `Usaba’ and now has operations spread through South Asia, investigators said.
Officials studying their operations and antecedents say IM took the present name only after it carried out its first strike in 2007 through simultaneous bombings in three cities of Uttar Pradesh.
Police sources said that the terror outfit, which was the first known instance of a homegrown Islamist terror outfit in India, had started as a small group called Usaba over 10 years back and declared its name as `Indian Mujahidin (IM)’ through an e-mail after the 2007 serial bombings in judicial courts at Varanasi, Faizabad and Lucknow which killed 18 people.
‘Usaba’ is an Arabic word used for a group that has more than 11 men but less than 40, police sources told IANS.
They said that Usaba included Ahmed Siddi Bapa Zarar alias Yasin Bhatkal, one of the ringleaders, who was arrested last year. The group started meeting in Bhatkal town in Karnataka after the government banned the Islamist radical outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in 2001. The sources said Yasin Bhatkal was one of the active members of SIMI.
The sources said that the main objective of Usaba was to bring together persons who were indoctrinated and motivated to take part in ‘jihad’. They said meetings of Usaba started taking place on a regular basis, generally on a Friday, in the house of Iqbal Bhatkal and issues like weapon training and financing were discussed.
As the group expanded its operations, it also included men from Azamgarh, Pune and other Indian small towns.
The sources said that apart from Yasin Bhatkal, the co-founders of the Indian Mujahideen, which was banned in 2010, included Iqbal Bhatkal, his brother Riyaz Bhatkal, Jasim, Shabbir, Sajid, Afeef, Gora Ismail alias White Uncle, Sultan, Tariq Anjum and Fashih Mahmood.
The sources said the Bhatkal brothers, who are top operatives of the outfit at present, are now based in Pakistan.
“The revelations about IM’s working came to light after the interrogation of Yasin Bhatkal,” a police official , who did not want to be identified, told IANS.
Yasin Bhatkal and his associate Asadullah Akhtar were arrested in Aug 2013 in Motihari town of Bihar by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) along with Bihar Police. “IM has its operatives in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan,” said the official.
Yasin Bhatkal, in his interrogation, also revealed that the larger aim of IM was to radicalise susceptible youth on religious lines with the aim to create “a pan-Islamic caliphate” and to induce them to participate in terrorist acts.
“The organisation is receiving financial and material assistance from Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). The agency is providing shelter to operatives in places such as Karachi,” said the official.
A new module of IM was busted in Rajasthan last week when its bomb making expert Zia Ur Rehmand alias Waqas along with three other operatives were arrested. Police said most of IM’s operatives were radicalised Muslim youth from India, though now some Pakistanis have also joined its ranks.
Indian agencies are still not clear about the strength and spread of this outfit but claim to have busted many of its “operating modules” in India. The outfit seems to be on the lookout for “IT experts” to join its ranks as nearly all the three arrested from Jodhpur this week had technical and IT skills, said the investigators.
Police officials said that IM has been involved in a series of terror attacks including the Sept 2008 Delhi serial blasts, the July 2008 blasts in Ahmedabad and the Surat and Jaipur serial blasts in May 2008.
They said the outfit has also been involved in the German Bakery Pune blast in Feb 2010, the Chinnaswami Stadium Bengaluru blasts in April 2010, the Dec 2010 bombing at Varanasi’s Sheetla Ghat and the cooker bomb blast outside the Jama Masjid in Delhi in Sept 2010.
The outfit has also been involved in the July 2011 serial bombings in Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Dadar West, the Aug 2012 low intensity blasts in Pune and the twin bombings in Hyderabad in Feb 2013.