An Indian court on Monday found two Muslim men and a woman guilty in twin bombings that killed 52 people and wounded 100 in the country's financial capital, Mumbai, six years ago.I noted the name 'Mohammed Haneef' with passing interest. As regular readers (Hah!) of lefthandpalm will know, I had a sizeable swarm of bees in my bonnet about the arrest and detention of Mohammed Haneef in Australia, in 2007 (2).
Two taxis carrying explosives blew up within minutes of each other Aug. 25, 2003, at the Gateway of India, a popular tourist attraction on the waterfront, and at a busy shopping complex.
The bombings were one of the worst attacks in Mumbai's history. No one else has been charged.
Ashrat Shafiq Mohammed Ansari, Syed Mohammed Haneef Abdul Rahim and his wife Fahmeeda Syed Mohammed Haneef were arrested under India's tough anti-terrorism law shortly after the attacks. (1)
Then, the aforementioned moment of illumination:
Judge M.R. Puranic said all three were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a banned, Pakistan-based militant group formed in the 1980s — with the alleged blessing of Pakistani intelligence — to sow trouble in the disputed Kashmir region. The three denied involvement with the group. (3)A vague memory was stirred. Wasn't Mohammed Haneef linked to an India terrorist organisation? I checked (4). He was. He was alleged to have been a member of SIMI, the Students' Islamic Movement of India, "a clandestine organisation that has frequently been held responsible for bomb attacks in India in the name of Islamic extremism" (5).
Dots started to get joined up in my head. Was there a link between SIMI and Lashkar-e-Taiba? I did what every two-bit internet detective would do, and zapped the names through google. According to Indian police, there are:
The terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has been providing the necessary training and support to the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Indian Mujahideen, which have been behind the recent series of terrorist attacks in India, Delhi Police said on Saturday.That's from 2008, whereas the luckless Mohammed Haneef was detained in 2007, so there isn't quite an overlap - but it is an interesting pointer, and it raises some questions.
"When LeT's terrorists were arrested (Pakistan's intelligence agency) ISI had a problem internationally. So their strategy was to train more and more people of Indian origin. So they approached SIMI and Indian Mujahideen and coordinated with them," Singh said.
"SIMI provided the money and execution support to the Indian Mujahideen,” he added. (6)
When Mohammed Haneef's name was run past the anonymous Bangalore police source (7), did it sound familiar enough to set alarm bells ringing and prompt the source to identify him as a possible terrorist? Was Haneef, essentially, detained, humilated and smeared because he had the dual misfortune of having a terrorist as a distant relative, and a "John Smith" sort of name?
Was Mohammed Haneef detained, even though Syed Mohammed Haneef Abdul Rahim had ALREADY been in custody in India, for YEARS?
This might seem a bit tenuous, but compared to the case the Australian government made against Haneef, it is cast iron and impregnable.
1 - "Indian court finds 3 guilty in 2003 Mumbai bombing," by Rajesh Shah for the Associated Press, published 27th of July, 2009. Hosted by Google. (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iNjVY5coVaWXDeh2BqKTonWF7vIQD99MOC4G0)
2 - As described previously on lefthandpalm: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/search/label/Mohammed%20Haneef
3 - Associated Press article, op. cit.
4 - "Suspect linked to Indian radicals," by Dennis Shanahan, published in The Australian, 18th of July, 2007. (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22092906-5006786,00.html)
5 - ibid.
6 - "SIMI, Indian Mujahideen new faces of Lashkar-e-Taiba: police," unattributed article published by the Indo-Asian News Service, reproduced by the hindustan Times, 20th of September, 2008. (http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/FullcoverageStoryPage.aspx?sectionName=NLetter&id=bb63827d-fad8-4eb8-a44a-c7e917e581daTerrorStrikesDelhi_Special&Headline=SIMI+IM+new+faces+of+Lashkar-e-Taiba)
7 - Shanahan, op. cit.