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Bank loot finger at Simi for attacks

Students’ Islamic Movement of India (Simi) members have looted nationalised banks to fund their terror activities in the country, according to the confession of an alleged Indian Mujahideen operative.

A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team took Haider Ali, alias Black Beauty, an alleged Indian Mujahideen operative, in remand on Friday.

Ali, along with three other key suspects in the 2013 serial bomb blasts in Patna and Bodhgaya, were arrested from Jharkhand last week. He is in remand till June 6. Ali (26), originally from Aurangabad, told the interrogators that he used to receive money from Abu Faizal, alias Doctor, the self-styled chief of the Madhya Pradesh Simi unit, to carry out terror attacks. He claimed that Faizal also provided funds for the Patna and the Bodhgaya blasts.

He purportedly revealed that Faizal was the brain behind five bank robberies in Madhya Pradesh, including a Mallapuram heist in Khandwa in which Rs 1.25 crore was looted in October last year. Ali had gone to Khandwa to meet Faizal before the terror attacks in Bihar last year.

A senior official of a central intelligence agency said Ali’s confession has helped the intelligence and security agencies to establish a link between the IM and Simi, declared a banned outfit in 2001.

Patna police officers were also tipped off about the involvement of some Simi activists in the loot of Rs 1 crore from the truck of nationalised bank near Fatuha on May 13. “We have been investigating the heist from different angles,” said senior superintendent of police Manu Maharaaj.

He added that he was aware of the activities of Simi that was trying to regroup to launch its operations to gather funds. “We have kept our options open. The modus operandi of the robberies in Madhya Pradesh was different from that in Patna,” he said.

Two senior police officials in Bihar, including Paresh Saxena, the inspector-general and head of the state’s anti-terrorism squad, deposed before a tribunal set up by the Centre to review the ban imposed on the Simi in February this year. The tribunal headed by Justice Suresh Kaith held its first sitting in the Patna collectorate on Wednesday.

Saxena told the tribunal that the Simi was active in Bihar and cited many cases showing their involvement in terror attacks. Another police officer, Baliram Choudhary, advocated for the continuation of the ban on the organisation.

Ashok Agrawal, who appeared on behalf of two former Simi activists, although told the tribunal that the organisation was made to cease its operations in 2001 after the ban.


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