Two days before the twin blasts in Hyderabad, former Andhra Pradesh Intelligence chief K Aravinda Rao told a US Consulate officer that the ideology of Hyderabad-based Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (MIM) was creating an environment conducive to recruitment by Islamic terrorist groups of young people in Hyderabad’s predominantly Muslim old city, states a classified cable sent on August 29, 2007 by the US Consulate, Chennai, and released last week by WikiLeaks.
Rao, who retired as the state’s Director General of Police on June 30, 2011, spoke with a political and economic officer of US Consulate on August 23, 2007, two days before the blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat House that killed 42 people. Rao told the officer that 40 to 50 Indian nationals in Hyderabad who have links to Islamic terrorist groups were being monitored at that time and many of them had travelled to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Chechnya, where they received training in terror methods.
Rao blamed HuJI operative Mohammed Abdul Sahed alias Shahid Bilal for the May 18, 2007 blast at Mecca Masjid. He said terrorist groups in Hyderabad did not take directions from abroad, a statement that he changed immediately after the August 25 blasts, telling the US Regional Security Office that the Hyderabad bombings were directed from abroad by HuJI or LeT.
During the conversation, Rao expressed frustration over the lack of coordination between state and Central intelligence and security agencies especially when he approached the Central Intelligence Bureau several times seeking help in tracking satellite phones which he suspected were being used by two Hyderabad-based terror suspects, but received no response. Rao sought US assistance in tracking Thuraya satellite phones.
“On August 23, two days before the attacks, a visiting political/economic officer met with Rao... and spent almost an hour candidly discussing the state’s efforts to combat Maoist and Islamic terrorist groups. Rao said he is “confident” that the state has the Maoist threat contained. But he said he worries about the threat of Islamic terrorism because, unlike the Maoists who he described as a solely internal problem, Islamic terrorism has international implications,” the cable states. The cable, sent under the header ‘Hyderabad terror groups have international links but don’t take orders from Pakistan/ Bangladesh, says State Intel chief’ was sent by Consul General David Hopper. “The day after the bombings, Rao reversed course...This change was likely due to the fact that Rao’s political superiors, including the state’s Chief Minister, had publicly blamed outside forces for the bombings,” it observes.