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Not just a claim, a manifesto for jihad

Praveen Swami

E-mail sent by the Jaipur bombers offers glimpses into the mind of terror.

Ever since newspaper and television stations received an e-mail from the terrorists who carried out the Jaipur serial bombings, commentators have busied themselves searching for messages hidden amidst its text.

In fact, the e-mail couldn’t be more transparent: as its authors assert at its outset, the document mailed to the media quite simply is the “Indian Mujahideen’s Declaration of Open War Against India.”

Given the stark fact that the bicycles shown in the video attached to the Indian Mujahideen e-mail were those used to execute the Jaipur serial bombings, there can be little doubt the message is credible.

It would be misleading, though, to understand the e-mail only as a claim of responsibility. Like a similar document issued by the Indian Mujahideen after the bombings of three trial-court buildings in Uttar Pradesh last year, the e-mail is — despite its crude style and poor spelling — a political manifesto.

Mixed motives

According to the authors of the e-mail, the bombings were carried out to meet two purposes: first, to “blow part your tourism structure” and, second, to “demolish your faith in the dirty mud, in the name of Hanuman, Sita [and] Ram”.

At its outset, the e-mail links the attacks in Jaipur to the broader global jihad, warning the “USA and [Great] Britain in particular that [that] we Muslims are one across the globe.” Although there is no reference to the Islamist campaigns in Afghanistan or Iraq, the e-mail threatens that western visitors to India “will be welcomed by our suicide attackers.”

But the e-mail is, for the most part, concerned with explaining just why the Indian Mujahideen are conducting terrorist attacks. Violence, the e-mail states, is a means to “to clearly give our message to Kuffar-e-Hind [the infidels of India] that if Islam and Muslims in this country are not safe then the light of your safety will also go off very soon”.

Perpetrators of anti-Muslim violence “got promotions and are enjoying good government support,” the e-mail notes. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi “who gave the orders to kill the Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 won two consecutive terms of Vidhan Sabha [sic.]. Babu Bajrangi who killed the Muslim women in their pregnancy and kept their child on spear is moving freely in Gujarat.”

However, the e-mail continues, “modest Muslims who went for the revenge [sic.] of the demolition of the Babri Masjid were arrested and tortured.” “Others,” it says in a reference to the perpetrators of past Islamist terror attacks, “who fled away from India are now being brought back from different countries of the world.”

In its tenor, the e-mail is almost identical to an e-mail sent out by the Indian Mujahideen just minutes after the trial court attacks in Uttar Pradesh. On that occasion, the group had asserted that the 1992-1993 pogrom in Mumbai and the 2002 carnage in Gujarat “forced us to take strong stand against this injustice and all other wounds given by the idol worshipers of India.”

Attack on clerics

Some of the sharpest invective in the document, interestingly, is reserved for the clerics who issued an unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in February. After two days of discussions held at the historic Dar-ul-Uloom seminary in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, the clerics had said terrorism was “un-Islamic,” and called on Indian Muslims to “continue their loyalty towards their motherland.”

Describing the clerics as “dogs,” a “bunch of cowards”, “puppets of Hinduism” and “ullema-e-Kuffar”, or the disbeliever’s clergy, the e-mail interrogates “what terrorism is all about and who is a terrorist”. Who, it asks, are the terrorists: the “Hindus who killed the Muslims in Gujarat [and] Maharashtra or us who took revenge [qisas] through serial blast in Mumbai local trains?”

Citing from the Koran and the Hadith, or traditions of the Prophet, the Indian Mujahideen argues its actions have theological legitimacy. Scriptural calls for forgiveness relied on by the Deoband clerics, it says, are only relevant after a decisive military victory. Dialogue, it continues, is futile: “there is no existence of compromise between a believer and a non-believer.”

Islamic law, the e-mail asserts, allows the use of collective retaliation against civilians if they are infidels. Given that “a single [Muslim] home is attacked by thousands of [Hindu] terrorists, [a] single woman is raped by hundreds of men,” it becomes legitimate for “the mujahideen to go to any extent or use anything to crush the dignity and power of the enemy.”

According to the e-mail, all Indians are legitimate targets because “they have willingly elected their leaders and representatives in Parliament who draw up the policies which murder our children, dishonour our women, occupy our houses and plunder our wealth.” Moreover, Hindus “fund the terrorist organisations like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Shiv Sena.”

In its hostility to the Deoband clerics’ declaration, the e-mail is one with most south Asian jihadists. Soon after the declaration was issued, the Jamait ul-Mujahideen rejected it as “poison for all Islamic movements in the world.” For its part, the United Jihad Council said the declaration was “one-sided,” and promised to continue the jihad “until the Day of Doom.”

Questions of authorship

Just who might the Indian Mujahideen — and the authors of the e-mail — actually be? It is hard to say for certain, but some experts believe the name is drawn from the Mujahideen Islam e-Hind — a group of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Students Islamic Movement of India-linked terrorists who bombed inter-city trains on December 6, 1993, the first anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

One of the architects of those bombings, Mohammad Tufail Husaini, is still active in Uttar Pradesh. Interestingly, Nalagonda resident Azam Ghauri, one of the co-founders of the Lashkar in India, also had set up an organisation with aims and a name, similar to the Indian Mujahideen. Ghauri’s Indian Muslim Mohammadi Mujahideen carried out several bombings in Andhra Pradesh.

Like SIMI, the Indian Mujahideen represents itself as an authentic Indian movement: its first e-mail was at pains to point out the group were “not any foreign mujahideen.” The e-mail’s language seems heavily influenced by SIMI, which called on its cadre to wage a jihad against India eight years ago. SIMI posters also called on Muslims to emulate the acts of Mahmud Ghaznavi.

Another SIMI-lined Harkat ul-Jihad-e-Islami operative is known to have used the pseudonym ‘Guru’ in the past—a fact of significance since both Indian Mujahideen manifestos have been signed ‘Guru al-Hindi’. According to the interrogation records of HUJI operative Jalaluddin Mollah, a large consignment of military-grade explosive was delivered to ‘Guru’ in 2005.

Mollah, who used the code-name ‘Babu Bhai,’ told his interrogators that he had trained with ‘Guru’ at a HUJI-run facility in Bangladesh, and later accompanied him to Karachi. Investigators were able to determine that ‘Guru’ had earlier stayed in the neighbourhood where the first Indian Mujahideen e-mail was sent — but were unable to establish if he was its author.

Finding the author of the e-mail, though, is less important than addressing the issues it has raised — and ensuring the Islamist jihad does not gain legitimacy because of the Indian state’s failures.

(Spellings and grammar from the Indian Mujahideen e-mail have been edited for ensuring readability.)

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