CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu does not have many terror modules with the stamp of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence, but security experts say the threat perception in the state is very high as it is home to many jihadi outfits with links to extremist units across southern states, and connections with Pakistani terror groups.
Jihadis in north India use RDX to make improvised explosive devices and use AK-47 assault rifles. Their counterparts in Tamil Nadu usually make low-intensity pipe bombs and use sickles instead of guns.
But the arrest of Sakir Hussain, a Sri Lankan Tamil with ISI links, could mean the worst fears of security agencies are coming true. “ISI is probably using the Sri Lanka route to send people into the state,” former CBI director R K Raghavan said. “IM may have links here, but it is not as entrenched here as it is in other states,” he said.
Tamil-speaking Sri Lankan Muslims are an easy way to overcome the language barrier and reach out to radical elements in the state, an intelligence official said. Al-Umma, which was behind the 1998 Coimbatore serial blasts, the bomb attack on the BJP’s Malleswaram office in Bangalore in 2013 (in collaboration with IM), and a series of murders of BJP and RSS activists in TN over the past three years, is the most dreaded terror outfit in the state.
Police in October 2013 arrested Al-Umma men Sikander ‘Police’ Fakruddin, Panna Ismail and Bilal Malik from Chennai and Puttur in Andhra Pradesh.
But Abubaker Siddiqui, the ideological fountainhead of the group, is still at large. “Siddiqui has links in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. We cannot rule out his involvement in the train blasts,” said Bangalore assistant commissioner of police H M Omkariah, the primary investigator of the BJP office attack.
Central intelligence agencies are now keeping a close watch on groups of extremists in TN’s coastal villages. Some members of these groups have made their way to Pakistan, Pak-occupied Kashmir, Syria and Turkey and have been trained by al-Qaida.
Haja Fakkrudeen Usman Ali of Cuddalore, who lived in Singapore for 10 years, received arms training in Syria in January. This came to light when Singapore deported his accomplice, Gul Mohamed Maraicar, to India two months ago. Maraicar revealed that Ali had recruited many youngsters from Tamil Nadu.