Washington: The US on Thursday slapped sanctions on India-based terrorist group Indian Mujahideen (IM) by designating it as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation and said it has significant links with Pakistan-based groups like the LeT.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slapped sanctions on the organisation. The State Department said IM maintains close ties to other US- designated terrorist entities including Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HuJI).

"IM's stated goal is to carry out terrorist actions against non-Muslims in furtherance of its ultimate objective – an Islamic Caliphate across South Asia," it said.

IM is responsible for dozens of bomb attacks throughout India since 2005, and has caused the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians.

"These designations highlight the threat posed by IM not only to Western interests, but to India, a close US partner. The Indian populace has borne the brunt of IM's wanton violence and today's actions illustrate our solidarity with the Indian Government," stated Daniel Benjamin, the
Department of State's Coordinator for Counter terrorism.

These designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to abandon terrorism.

The State Department said, IM's primary method of attack is multiple coordinated bombings in crowded areas against economic and civilian targets to maximise terror and casualties.

In 2010, IM carried out the bombing of a popular German bakery in Pune frequented by tourists, killing 17 and injuring over 60 people.

 In 2008, an IM attack in Delhi killed 30 people.

Also in 2008, it was responsible for 16 synchronised bomb blasts in crowded urban centres and a local hospital that killed 38 and injured more than 100 in Ahmedabad.

 IM also played a facilitative role in the 2008 Mumbai attack carried out by LeT that killed 163 people, including six Americans, the State Department said.

 "The consequences of these designations include a prohibition against knowingly providing material support or resources to, or engaging in other transactions with, the Indian Mujahideen, and the freezing of all property and interests in property of the organisation that are in the United States, or come within the United States, or the control of US persons," State Department said.

The slapping of sanctions against IM comes within a fortnight of a Congressional report identifying IM as an example of dangerous growing trend of indigenous Islamist terrorism in India.

"Despite New Delhi's reluctance to openly acknowledge the fact, India also has its own indigenous Islamist terrorism threat.

"The newly emergent IM group, widely believed to be an offshoot or pseudonym of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), has been found complicit in a number of recent bombings, even as government leaders continue to name Pakistan as an abettor of such episodes," the Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report on India.

"The New Delhi government formally outlawed the IM in 2010; months later, the group claimed responsibility for a December bombing in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi that left a child dead and at least 20 people injured," CRS said in its report.
In July 2011, three synchronised bomb blasts killed 17 people and injured some 130 more during Mumbai's evening rush hour, the report said.

"No credible claims of responsibility were received and, to date, Indian officials have refrained from naming any specific foreign or domestic groups as suspects, but the coordinated bombings appear to have required sophisticated explosives training (Pakistan’s two top leaders had immediately condemned the attack)," it said.

"Early indications are that the perpetrators were India-based, perhaps from the IM, rather than from a Pakistan-based group.

Some Indian experts assert that the IM's top operators, drawn mostly from SIMI's ranks, receive training at camps inside Pakistan," it said.

"Prime Minister Singh acknowledged in 2008 that the involvement of 'local elements' in terrorist attacks added a 'new dimension' to the country's indigenous militancy problem.

294 SIMI may be viewed in alignment with the greater international jihadi movement, given its endorsement of the goals of Al Qaeda and its links with other international terrorist groups such as the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harakat-ul-Jihad-Islami," CRS said.

(Agencies)