‘Slain SIMI men wanted to fight for ISIS in Syria’

The eight suspected SIMI operatives who were killed in an alleged encounter after their escape from Bhopal Central Jail on October 31, dreamed of fighting for the terrrorist outfit Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to police sources.

This was disclosed to the police by nine other SIMI activists who are lodged in the jail, said sources privy to the jailbreak investigations.

The escapees, especially middle-aged Aqeel Khilji, Amjad, Zakir and Mehboob, harboured wish of joining the ISIS fighters in Syria, sources said quoting the SIMI men.

Despite knowing about the shrinking IS base in Iraq and Syria, the eight were determined to go to that country, police said.

‘SIMI men had often planned to flee India via Nepal ‘

The cops also claimed that the SIMI men had often planned to flee India via Nepal with the help of contacts in Uttar Pradesh and eastern India.

The wish of the eight escapees was akin to a wish of six SIMI men who, led by their leader Abu Faisal alias Doctor (presently lodged at Bhopal Central Jail’s high security A block), had escaped from Tantya Bheel Jail in Khandwa on October 1, 2013.

Police claim that Faisal, who was arrested in December 2013 along with two aides from Sendhwa (Barwani) near Maharashtra-MP border, had confessed to planning an escape to Pakistan through Jammu and Kashmir to join Tehrik-e-Taliban and join the al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.

Faisal had then said that he was even ready to wash utensils for al-Qaeda fighters if they didn’t consider him fit for fighting.

Investigators probing the recent jailbreak are also looking into the possibility of the escapees trying to carry out other plans, including freeing scientist Afia Siddiqui from a United States prison by holding US tourists hostage.

Faisal had confessed to having done a recce of possible targets in New Delhi and Goa for the same plan.

The investigators are also probing if the SIMI men were trying to recover a small portion of the 12 kg gold looted by them from a finance company in Bhopal in 2010.

While, 6.2 kg gold of the total 12 kg was recovered by Madhya Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad after arrest of the SIMI men including Abu Faisal in Bhopal in 2011, the remaining portion couldn’t be recovered.

A major part of remaining portion was sold in Kolkata and Ranchi, while a small portion could still be stashed somewhere, police claimed.

A portion of the proceeds from the looted gold sale was used by Faisal to purchase a house in Tatanagar (Jharkhand), while an unknown sum was handed over by Faisal to alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Haidar Ali, who had, reportedly, handled the 2013 blast at the then Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s rally in Patna and serial blasts at Mahabodi temple premises in Bodh Gaya in July 2013.

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