India 'Briefed Israel on Danger to Rajasthan Tourists'
Israel was briefed last month about a possible Indian Mujahideen attack against its citizens who visit the Rajasthan region of India, Indian home ministry and Israeli sources told the Hindustan Times Wednesday.
"The threats against Israelis are being seen as further evidence that a section of the Indian Mujahideen has adopted the pan-Islamicist agenda of al Qaeda," the newspaper reported.
The Indian home ministry and the Rajasthan police carried out a joint security review of Pushkar, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer — all popular tourist destinations for Israeli and other foreign tourists. The Israeli embassy was briefed by Indian counterterrorism officials, according to the report, but it has not issued a special warning to tourists.
The existence of a Rajasthan Indian Mujahideen section was revealed by the investigation that followed the recent arrest of Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal. He revealed that the organization has split on ideological lines.
A Brahma temple in Pushkar was cited by Bhatkal as being particularly popular among Israelis. This temple had been considered by Lashkar-e-Tayyeba scout David Headley as a terror target, the Hindustan Times further reported.
The part of the Indian Mujahideen led by Iqbal Bhatkal, Riyaz Bhatkal and Mohsin Choudhary takes its cue from the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, according to the report. The ISI, it said, wants the terrorist group to remain focused on mainland India.
"The Pakistanis are also nervous about putting Israeli in the crosshairs given the Jewish state’s policy of violent retaliation against terror attacks," said the Times. "Sources have claimed that after the Mumbai 26/11 attack, the Pakistan military sent an unofficial message through the Turkish army to Israel claiming the Israeli deaths were an error."
Nine hostages, seven of them Israelis, were killed in the Islamist siege of the Mumbai Chabad House in November of 2008. Among the victims were Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg.
A month ago, terror alerts were reported regarding two possible targets on the island of Goa, which is very popular with Israelis, especially in the October “party season”: a beach town named Anjuna and a nearby resort village named Arambul. There are Chabad houses in both locations.
Bhatkal reportedly told interrogators that his group is planning to abduct Jews and trade them for jailed terrorists. The Jewish community in Mumbai was placed on alert following details revealed in Bhatkal's interrogation.