Arrested IM leader Yasin Bhatkal, has told his interrogators that his team had been working on a plot to take “foreign Jews” hostage when he had been caught.
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This indicates IM is shifting from being a self-proclaimed avenger of attacks on Indian Muslims to a more international, pan-Islamic agenda, say Indian and Israeli sources, the Hindustan Times reported.
Chabad House in Mumbai after 2008 attack (Photo: AP)
An alert following this threat has been issued nation-wide, confirmed top police officials in Goa. Mumbai in Maharashtra and Goa have been especially sensitised and security has been increased around Chabad houses - a Chabad house is a home for religious Jews set up by the Chabad movement and India has 20 such centres - and other Jewish sites. The alert was issued around Jewish New Year on September 3-4, 2013.
“The Council of Indian Jewry sent out advisories through emails and phone-calls to eight synagogues located in Mumbai and Thane asking community members to be extra careful and report any presence of suspicious objects or persons to the police,” said Ezra Moses, secretary of the council and head of a Thane synagogue.
“Since our festival season of Succoth is on, most Jews in the city are visiting synagogues and hence the alert was necessary,” added Moses.
The consul general of Israel in Mumbai, Jonathan Miller, said, “We are checking (on the threat) but we are very satisfied with the security given by Indian authorities and authorities in Mumbai.”
“During the High Holy Days, we always request for security, and this year as well, we have had good cooperation from the authorities,” added Miller.
The Hindustan Times reported that though Bhatkal and fellow IM member, Asadullah Akhtar, are in police custody, two other members of his IM terror team Waqas, from Pakistan, and Tehseen Akhtar, alias Monu from Bihar, are still at large.
The presumption is that the IM plot may have been part of an attempt to negotiate the surrender of some other jihadi prisoners.
This is not the first time Jewish sites are targeted by Indian Muslim groups. In November 2008 a Mumbai Chabad house was one of a number of locations attacked by the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which killed 173 people, injuring hundreds more.
In the Chabad house itself five Israelis were killed.
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