Wednesday, Sep 03, 2003
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By Our Staff Reporter
Activists of the banned organisation had come under close scrutiny by the State police after one of its former presidents, C.A.M. Basheer of Aluva in Ernakulam district, emerged as a prime suspect in the recent bomb blasts in Mumbai. The State police are therefore actively tracking "SIMI cells" operating under different guises in Kerala, an official said. These "cells", which could easily be functioning within larger organisations, operated in a highly secretive manner and kept no records of their membership, he said.
An official said the local SIMI unit's links with the Mumbai terror networks had come in the open well before the twin blasts on March 29 this year when the southern commander of the Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT), Muhammad Fasial Khan alias Abu Sultan, was killed in an encounter with the Mumbai police. Some time before his death, Abu Sultan had made a clandestine visit to Kerala with a suspected Basheer-aide identified by a top police official as "Yahya". The official said efforts were on to trace "Yahya" who could perhaps provide clues about Basheer's whereabouts.
Top police sources told The Hindu that the organisations currently under scrutiny for the likely presence of SIMI activists among their members included the Muslim Youth Cultural Forum (Ernakulam), the Karuna Foundation, the Muslim Ikya Vedi (Alappuzha), the Sahridaya Vedi (Thrissur), the Samskara Vedi (Malappuram), the Muslim Ikya Vedi (Ernakulam), the Solidarity Students Movement and the Movement for Protection of Islamic Symbols and Monuments.
The police also had information about a "SIMI girl's wing which presently has 335 active members in the State".
Police said that Basheer, a post-graduate diploma holder in Aeronautical engineering, had gone underground in 1992 after he was accused in a case registered by the CBI under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. The other accused in the case included Saquib Abdul Hameed Nachan of the SIMI and Lal Singh of the Khalistani Movement. Both of them were arrested subsequently.
An official specialising in SIMI activities said that Basheer could have used his contacts in Kerala to channelise funds for those who carried out the attacks in Mumbai. When the SIMI headquarters, the `Solidarity House' in Kozhikode, was raided by the police in October 5, 2001, officials had stumbled upon account books showing contributions made to the organisation by "benefactors'' in the Gulf through hawala networks. The other documents seized from the SIMI office included propaganda material printed by the Kashmiri militant outfit, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat-e-Kashmir. "The payments often ranged between 20,000 and one lakh Saudi riyals a week. No record was found on how it was spent. Some records showed that a fraction of such donations were used for providing training in karate and kalari to some of the SIMI cadre," an official said.
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