Indian media is reporting that the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), an organization supported in the past by elements of the global Muslim Brotherhood, is believed by police to have conducted at least three secret combat camps last year. According to the report:
Students Islamic Movement of India leaders conducted at least three secret combat camps last year, police investigating a group of top SIMI leaders held in Indore believe. New recruits were taught basic jungle-craft, elementary marksmanship with air-rifles and the principles of bomb-making, police sources told The Hindu. SIMI’s leading bomb-maker, Mumbai-based Mohammad Subhan — alleged to have been linked to the perpetrators of the 2003 Gateway of India terror strike — was the principal instructor at the camps.
The report also stated that the SIMI leadership also decided to resume publication of three jihadist magazines which had been discontinued by the former SIMI President in an effort to distance the SIMI leadership from jihadist activities. Last month, Indian media reported that the Safdar Nagori, the SIMI All India General Secretary, had been arrested along with ten other SIMI members following government reports that the organization was planning a series of bombing attacks. The Indian government also blamed Simi for blasts in Mumbai (Bombay) in 2003 in which at least 50 people were killed.
A Jamestown Foundation report on SIMI describes the background of the organization as follows:
SIMI was founded on April 25, 1977 at the Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh, as a radical student outfit with a mission to revive Islam in India and transform the entire country into an Islamic state. SIMI’s founding president was Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi, currently a professor of journalism and public relations at the Univeristy of Western Illinois. The group’s three core ideological concepts were: Ummah, Caliphate and Jihad. SIMI’s ideological inspirations were Muslim thinkers who had launched major Islamic movements in the subcontinent, in particular Shah Waliullah, Sayyid Ahmad, Haji Shariat Allah and the legendary Maulana Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). Specifically, SIMI was deeply inspired by Maududi’s goal to make Islam the supreme organizing principle for the social and political life of the Muslim community. In its annual report, SIMI reiterated these tenets, urging Muslim youths to struggle for the revival of Islam in the light of the Quran and Sunnah (South Asia Analysis Group, October 30, 2003). In fact, the Maududi influence was so deep-rooted that in the early years of SIMI’s existence the organization was dominated by the Indian wing of JI, called Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH). In due course, SIMI emerged as a coalition of student and youth Islamic bodies, namely the Muslim Students Association, Students Islamic Union, Students Islamic Organization and Muslim Youth Association.
The Jamestown report goes on to say that following SIMI’s pro-Taliban position after 911, anti-U.S. demonstrations, and the glorification of Osama Bin Laden, the organization was banned by the Indian Government but, citing Indian media sources, that Nagori was trying to revive SIMI and had established links with Pakistani intelligence operatives, the Palestinian group Hamas and other “like-minded organizations beyond India’s borders.” In 2001, Indian media reported that SIMI had developed “fairly extensive pan-Islamic contacts” and was closely associated with the Saudi World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) and the International Islamic Federation of Students’ Organisations (IIFSO) in Kuwait. Both WAMY and the IIFSO are part of the global Muslim Brotherhood network. The current state of SIMI’s relationships with the organizations is unknown.