Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA)
The Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA) was founded sometime in the year 1996. MULTA is one among the approximately 14 Islamist terrorist outfits reportedly operating in the State of Assam. MULTA and the Muslim United Liberation Front of Assam (MULFA) are also said to be part of the All Muslim United Liberation Forum of Assam (AMULFA). AMULFA was reportedly founded to coordinate the subversive activities of Islamist terrorist elements in the Northeast region of India. Though its time of founding is not known, MULFA is believed to have taken shape at the behest of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), the external intelligence agency of Pakistan. The then Chief Minister (CM) of Assam, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, in his statement on the floor of the Assam Legislative Assembly on ISI activities in the State, on April 6, 2000, said MULTA and MULFA were being guided by the ISI. Mahanta further claimed that the ISI had drafted a plan to cause subversion in the State by appealing to the religious sentiments of vulnerable sections in the society, in Assam.
Leadership & Cadre Strength
Available reports have, thus far, not been able to home in on the names of the leadership of MULTA. Similarly, the cadre strength of the outfit is yet not known. However, security forces have arrested many MULTA cadres and several more have also surrendered to the authorities in the State. A majority of MULTA cadres, reports indicate, are drawn from the poorer sections of the Muslim population in the State and have no more than minimal formal education.
Aims & Objectives
Reportedly, MULTA, as is allegedly the case with the other Islamist terrorist outfits in the State, seeks to mobilise the Muslim youth in Assam to 'fight' for the 'cause' of Muslims. Reports have also indicated that the outfit has as its objective the waging of jehad against India, to eventually set up a 'greater independent Islamistan' for the Muslims of Assam. MULTA cadres, in fact, reports suggest, are attempting to emulate the terrorist outfits operating in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, and claiming that they are waging jehad against the Indian state.
The outfit has established both intra and inter-regional linkages. Reports suggest it has linkages with the National Socialist Council of Nagland -Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM). NSCN-IM operates primarily in Nagaland. The NSCN-IM has allegedly provided training to MULTA cadres in the Jiribam jungles. Some reports even indicated that cadres of other Assam-based terrorist outfits championing the Islamic cause in Assam, too, had trained with the NSCN-IM.
MULTA is also said to be a constituent of the United Reformation Protest of India (URPI), another organisation that claims to be a platform for various Islamic terrorist outfits operating in the Northeast. A MULTA cadre arrested on July 9, 2002, in Bilasipara, Dhubri district, Assam, disclosed this. Besides, reports of June 21, 2002 have expressed the apprehension that the Al Qaeda might spread its network across the State. Fleeing Al Qaeda terrorists are looking for safe houses after the US campaign against them started in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the US. These cadres, reports indicate, might turn to the Islamist terrorist outfits in the State to secure safe houses.
According to intelligence sources, the ISI had backed the formation of the AMULFA, of which MULTA and MULFA are members. The sources also claim that the ISI is even providing training to these two outfits in the Syleth district of Bangladesh under the command of one Rustom Ali, who is said to be a former Pakistani Army officer. Sources further claim that the AMULFA would finally be linked with the United Liberation Front of Seven Sisters (ULFSS), in ISIís larger plan to destabilise the Northeast region.
There have also been reports indicating that MULTA has been receiving help from the Jamat-e-Islami (JeI) of Bangladesh, a fundamentalist group that is a member of the ruling coalition in that country.
Area of Operation & Activities
Dhubri district of Assam has witnessed the maximum number of incidents involving MULTA terrorists. A MULTA cadre whose arrest was reported in the media on July 4, 2002 confessed to the police that the passage along the International Border in the Golokganj area of Dhubri district is used as a route to infiltrate into the State from Bangladesh. Nagaon and Morigaon districts of Assam have also witnessed MULTA activities. A few of its cadres have been arrested in Darrang district, too. Moreover MULTA allegedly maintains base in Jiribam sub-division of Manipur.
Extortion from the local population in the areas it operates, abductions for ransom and the illegal arms manufacture and trade in them have been identified as the main activities of the outfit. The outfit's cadres have also been involved in committing murders. For instance, a MULTA terrorist killed son of the Deputy chief of Dhubri city police on April 14, 2002. Besides, the outfit, allegedly at the behest of the ISI, has also plans to create communal disturbances in Assam. This was stated in media reports on August 30, 2002, quoting Assam Inspector General of Police Siba Brata Kakati. Further, an unnamed intelligence official was quoted in the same report as saying that approximately 30 MULTA terrorists were waiting to cross into Assam after having completed training in Bangladesh.
Reportedly extortion is a major source for its finances. The sale of illegal weapons is another source to finance its activities. In fact, several MULTA terrorists were arrested on the charges of illegal arms manufacture and their sale.