Hyderabad, Feb. 23: Hyderabad has been both a target and a sanctuary for terrorists for over two decades, with sleeper cells of several outfits having executed attacks in the city of the Nizams.
Intelligence officers said many of the strikes had been carried out on directions of the ISI, which has provided training and other kinds of support.
Sleuths of the CBI, the Intelligence Bureau and Andhra Pradesh intelligence wings who claim to have “infiltrated” some of the outfits over the years by planting moles reckon that most of the outfits are based in Pakistan and Bangladesh and use Nepal as a corridor to send men and material.
But it is as a recruitment ground that Hyderabad had been the most exploited, the officers said.
Poor boys are picked up, indoctrinated on jihad and replanted back in Hyderabad, often as volunteers under several self-employment schemes, to escape attention, another official said.
State intelligence sources said many agents of terror outfits passed off as school and college teachers, petty traders, IT professionals and even doctors. “It is tough keeping tabs on them. Any crackdown attracts public wrath and angers minorities,” said a retired joint director of the CBI.
As early as 2000, when terror attacks started increasing in the country, Hyderabad was known to have several sleeper cells of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, HuJi, Simi and the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen (IUM). They are part of over a dozen outfits learnt to be active in the city.
Some of the recruits arrested have told interrogators that they were taken to Pakistan via Bangladesh for training and brought back through Nepal to Hyderabad. “We were assured of regular monthly income and directed to do their (handlers’) bidding. Some of us were indoctrinated to become human bombs,” one of the youths was quoted as saying during interrogation by an intelligence officer.
The recruits are part of an estimated 170 people arrested from different parts of Andhra since the twin blasts of 2007 for allegedly involved in extremist operations.