The authorities say they have evidence that the Hizb ut-Tahrir organisation, active in dozens of countries around the globe, has been lending support to homegrown terror cells plotting attacks around India.
Hizb ut-Tahrir, a fundamentalist Sunni organisation which advocates the creation of an Islamic caliphate and the exclusion of Western influence, has long claimed that it disavows terrorist violence, pointing out that Islam forbids the killing of innocent civilians.
But recent revelations from Indian police suggest the group's actions may not be in line with its statements.
According to New Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, whose Special Cell forces have been investigating the 2010 German Bakery blast in Pune, evidence has emerged which suggests that Hizb ut-Tahrir provides support to the Indian Mujahideen (IM) terror group. IM is believed responsible for the bakery attack, in which seventeen people died.
"Hizb ut-Tahrir has no direct role, but gives intellectual and often financial assistance to IM," Kumar told Khabar South Asia. "The large number of educated, technically-qualified people that IM has succeeded in indoctrinating and recruiting is a result of Hizbut's role."
In May, Delhi Police filed a charge sheet in metropolitan court against 11 suspected IM operatives for allegedly planning urban bomb attacks all over India. The men named were accused of trying to create new IM terror cells.
Government intelligence has determined that IM received both financial and intellectual support from "a large number of foreign terror groups, including Hizb ut-Tahrir", Minister of State for Home Affairs Mullappally Ramachandran confirmed to Khabar.
He said the government is "seriously concerned" that IM is attempting to gain assistance from abroad in an apparent bid to "radicalise Muslim youth from educated backgrounds".
IM extremists seek support from abroad
Homegrown terror groups have a track record of linking up with international sponsors. According to B.K. Rao, Kashmiri militants during the 1990s secured the backing of global extremist networks.
"In those days it was common to see young men from places as far removed as Chechnya and Egypt investing their lives in the Kashmir [militant] cause," Rao said. "Now IM seems to be out to revive that spirit."
IM's links to Hizb ut-Tahrir may have been facilitated with the help of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the deadly Pakistan-based terror organisation. Suspected LeT handler Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari, also known as Abu Hamza and Abu Jundal, is thought to have had contacts with IM members, including three alleged bomb plotters who are currently under arrest.
Ansari himself was picked up at Delhi's international airport after being extradited from Saudi Arabia in June. Police say he has yielded a goldmine of information about the connections between various extremist groups and their methods of recruitment.
"As seen in the Abu Jundal experience," Kumar said, "there are a number of informal platforms in that country which bring together South Asian-origin Muslim expatriates."
Ramachandran said Jundal regularly organised feasts for Indian migrant labourers, which he then used to spread propaganda. "We feel that this operation could not have thrived without Hizb ut-Tahrir’s support. We don't have a direct role yet, but the assumption is based on firm evidence."