New Delhi : Members of the module inspired by the so-called Islamic State behind the Bhopal-Ujjain train blast, led by ‘emir’ Atif Muzzafar, crisscrossed the country between February 2016 and January 2017 visiting various borders and contacting immigration agents in cities with international airports in search for an opportunity to exit the country and migrate to Iraq/Syria.
After forming a ‘core’ group of like-minded, IS-influenced youths in Kanpur in February 2016, Atif, along with Danish and Faisal, travelled to Srinagar, Amritsar, Wagah and Jaisalmer, exploring ways to exfiltrate to Pakistan through the land border and contacting travel agents to get a visa to Pakistan.
In Srinagar, they even tried to get local contacts to arrange a meeting with members of a terrorist outfit, who could help them cross over to Pakistan for training and subsequent migration to Iraq/Syria to join IS.
When the efforts failed, they decided to take a bus to Amritsar. However, they could not get local travel agents there to secure a Pakistan visa.
They also went to Wagah to illegally cross over to Pakistan, but in vain. Their next attempt took them to Jaisalmer.
After returning to Delhi from Amritsar, they took a train to Jodhpur and then reached Jaisalmer by bus. They took a hotel room at the fort and went around enquiring about ways to cross over.
But the idea was dropped after they learnt of the heavy deployment at the border. While Saif and Faisal returned to Kanpur, Atif, determined to migrate to territories occupied by IS, left for Mumbai via Udaipur-Ahmedabad by bus.
However, after failing to get an employment visa for Saudi Arabia through a placement agency, he too returned to Kanpur in March 2016.
Three months later in June-July 2016, Atif and Gaush Mohd Khan, the ex-IAF personnel in the module, went to Kolkata to attempt an entry into Bangladesh for further journey to Iraq/Syria.
The module’s latest attempt to emigrate was as late as in January this year, when Atif, Saifullah (killed in the Lucknow encounter) and Danish visited Kozhikode to explore possibilities of meeting an IS contact in Kerala, who would help them cross over to Iraq/Syria.
When nothing worked, they tried setting up base in the jungles of Panna in Madhya Pradesh but returned to Bhopal after two days and then headed back to Lucknow.
In July 2016, after their attempts to exit the country and join IS failed, Atif was appointed ‘emir’ of the module and he and 8 others took oath of allegiance to IS at his plot on the Unnao highway near Kanpur. The module decided to procure arms and explosives to wage war in support of IS in India. Keen on railway sabotage, the module extensively studied maps and rail network to select targets. Gaush Mohammad Khan, suspected to be an ISI mole, advised them on derailment.
Source : Indian Express