SIMI: Where has the outfit parked its funds?

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Even as the hunt for the remainder of the SIMI men intensifies, investigations would show that the revival of the deadly outfit was part of a major plan. Two operatives were gunned down in Nalgonda last week in an encounter after they had shot at a constable.

It was found that these two men were part of the gang of five which escaped from the Khandwa jail in Madhya Pradesh in October 2013. While two have now been killed the hunt for the other three has been intensified with the National Investigating Agency leading the charge.

Also read: Nalgonda encounter: Who sheltered these SIMI operatives?

Funds for SIMI raise a question

Revival strategy

When the SIMI split up in 2004 a few years after it had been banned by the Indian Government, there was a full fledged plan to launch a series of terror strikes across the country.

One faction of the SIMI decided to fight out the ban in the courts while another formed under the leadership of Safdar Nagori decided to turn radical. The Nagori faction had become extremely fierce and it derived support from several persons across the country.

Camps were held in Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The outfit led by Nagori had an approximate strength of 500 members who were planning to go all guns blazing against the Indian establishment.

However in the year 2008 following the arrest of Safdar Nagori, the outfit began to decline. There was too much heat generated on them and this led to some of its members dropping out and forming the lethal Indian Mujahideen.

The Indian Mujahideen had a run for 6 years in which it targeted several cities in the country and shook up the security mechanism to a large extent. However following the arrests of Yasin Bhatkal and three others, the outfit began to decline.

This led to some operatives of SIMI deciding to once again revive the outfit and a module led by Haider Ali alias Black Beauty took charge. They carried out two major blasts which included the one at Patna targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and another at Bodhgaya targeting Buddhist monks.

The formation of another module

The NIA was however quick to arrest Haider Ali who ran a module in Bihar and Jharkhand. A major part of the plan for revival was busted with the arrest of Haider Ali.

In the meantime the five operatives of the SIMI who had managed to escape from Khandwa decided to take it upon themselves to revive the outfit. This module was acting on its own and did not have any organizational structure.

They did not have access to foot soldiers who would carry out logistics and neither did they have any access to money.

This raises a major question as to what exactly happened to all that money that SIMI operatives especially in Kerala had managed to source through hawala networks and donations. NIA officers and intelligence bureau officials say that all this money is parked with criminals and small time politicians.

It is only the top leaders of the SIMI who are now behind bars who know where the money is parked. They will not come out and disclose the money trail and thanks to this the new module had to fend for itself.

Also read: SIMI's five: 2 down, three more to go

Fending for themselves

The five operatives of the SIMI were indeed desperate. They knew that all the money that the SIMI had collected over the years would never reach them. They instead decided to fend for themselves and carried out robberies in various parts of the country and biggest heists were at Karimnagar and Madhya Pradesh.

They are said to have robbed at least Rs 90 lakh in cash and used this to purchase weapons. However the investigators are yet to find out where they have parked the money.

These men could not have operated on their own without some amount of local support. They spent a considerable amount of time in Kerala and Telangana and it would be important to find out who sheltered them, an NIA official pointed out.

Disorganized structure always dangerous

What has kept the police officials from nabbing these men for nearly two years is that they never followed a structure or pattern. Their communication on mails and phones was limited.

None of them remained together and always dispersed after an incident. There was no proper intelligence on them and they chose to remain disorganized which turned out to be a boon for them and a bane for the various police officials chasing them.

The Hyderabad police could call it luck that they managed to gun the two operatives down. They were not aware of who these persons were when the encounter took place. They thought they were gangsters and it was only when the Madhya Pradesh ATS identified them did the truth regarding these two men come out.

Three to go

There are still three more of these operatives who are on the run. These three are armed and dangerous. Nabbing them is of extreme importance since they could well turn dangerous over the next couple of months.

They are expected to lie low for now because there is too much heat on them. They would want the heat to wade away before they make the next move.

However the NIA and the police officials feel that these three should not be given any more time and need to be nabbed as soon as possible. They would be looking for revenge and would make an attempt to strike.

Currently there are several police officials looking for these three who they believe are hiding in Telangana. How effective this chase would be and will they be nabbed at the earliest? Only time will tell.

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