The Maldives chapter of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba, in association with the Al Qaeda, is one of the most ambitious plans of the two dreaded organisations till date.
The two outfits have decided to move out of Pakistan and make Nepal their new headquarter, and the plan to spruce up their Maldives base has begun to materialise.
Intelligence Bureau officials had warned that most of the attacks on India would be launched through the sea, as it is difficult to guard the country's entire coastline. Capitalising on this weakness, terrorist outfits are planning to take over several islands near Maldives and use them as striking grounds, to launch future attacks.
The entire operation, to set up base in Maldives, will be funded by operatives located in Gulf. The sleeper cells, which will become active and take position in Maldives, will be relocated from Tamil Nadu and Kerala. These facts have been revealed by the investigations being carried against the accused persons nabbed in connection with the serial blasts in Bangalore and Hyderabad.
The Tamil Nadu chapter of the LeT is expected to play a significant role in sending out recruits. Over the past few years, both the Lashkar as well as the Jaish-e-Mohammad have been sending their operatives to Tamil Nadu. Police officials told rediff.com that there has been an increase in the number of outsiders in Tamil Nadu, who initially entered the state under the pretext of medical treatment or higher education.
Sarfaraz Nawaz, a Gulf operative who was brought to Bangalore for interrogations, has informed the police about the sleeper cells operating in Tamil Nadu. He revealed that the LeT had cancelled their plan to carry out serial blasts in Chennai in view of long-term implications.
Intelligence Bureau reports also suggest that over the years, several agencies from the Gulf have constantly funded the sleeper cells in Tamil Nadu.
Several terror cells in Kerala have also geared up for the Maldives operation. Asif Ibrahim, a Maldivian national, was nabbed by the police in Kerala. He confessed that he had come to the state to procure arms and ammunition for the LeT's Maldives operation.
Incidentally, the man who triggered the bomb blasts at Male in September 2007, which injured 12 people, had been traced to Thiruvananthapuram. Interrogations have revealed his links with the Lashkar.
Sabahuddin, the man being tried in connection with the terror attack on Mumbai in November last year, had also admitted that the LeT's next major assignment was setting up the Maldives chapter.
He also told his interrogators that several youths from both India and Maldives had been recruited for this operation. The Lashkar feels that the islands in and around Maldives are the best spots to carry out terror operations, Sabahuddin told the police.