New Delhi: Five members suspected to be involved with terror outfit Islamic State (IS) were arrested and nine others detained by the NIA in cooperation with state police agencies across India, a home ministry official said on Friday. Of the six men who picked up for interrogation by the NIA and police in Karnataka, one is a 46-year-old US-educated software engineer deported from Turkey for attempting to enter Syria, reports The Indian Express.
Two of them were arrested — Mohammed Afzal, 35, a software engineer with MNC IHS Global, and Najmal Huda alias Majnu, 24, a chemical engineer from Mangalore.
“They were allegedly planning and making efforts to establish a channel of procurement of explosives/weapons, identify locations to organise training camps including of firearms, motivate new recruits to target police officers, foreigners in India and carry out terrorist activities in various parts of India. Interrogation of suspects and verification of their backgrounds are in progress,” the NIA said.
The other four detainees were identified as Abdul Ahad, 46, a software entrepreneur with a master’s degree from Kennedy-Western University in California, Syed Mujahid, 34, a shop owner from Tumkur, Mohammed Sohail, 31, a madrasa teacher from Bengaluru, and Asif Ali, 30, an IT worker also from Bengaluru.
Sources said all the raids at 12 locations in six cities were conducted on tip-offs that the IS sympathisers were planning bomb attacks in several cities on Republic Day (26 January).
The raids were conducted in Bengaluru, Tumkur and Mangalore in Karnataka, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh.
Incriminating documents, mobiles, laotops and unaccounted cash and material used in making bombs were seized during the raids. Huge quantities of arms and ammunition were seized from the rented house of two of the suspects in Bengaluru, an official told IANS.
Among the detainees, Afzal is suspected to be a key influence on Indians, the sources said. He was a follower of Bengaluru Islamic preacher Syed Anzar Shah Qasmi, who was arrested by Delhi Police two weeks ago for alleged links with the al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent.
"The National Investigation Agency has arrested five suspected terrorists and detained nine others in a joint operation with state police organisations across India," Home Ministry Joint Secretary (Internal Security) M.A. Ganapathy said.
Ganapathy said some of them were planning to organise a meeting before carrying out the attacks.
He said all suspects are “radicalised youths" and more information would come out once ongoing investigations are over.
The suspects were planning to establish a channel of procurement of explosives and weapons, identify locations for training camps, motivate new recruits to target police officers, foreigners in India, an NIA official said.
The arrested men - Mudabbir Mushtaq Shaikh, Mohammad Nafees Khan, Mohammad Shareef Mounuddin Khan, Najmul Huda and Mohammad Afzal - are accused of encouraging youth to join the IS.
Mudabbir is from Thane near Mumbai, and Nafees and Shareef from Hyderabad. Najmul lives in Mangalore while Afzal hails from Banglore. "The arrested men are in the age group of 25-35 while one is aged 54,” Ganapathy said.
"We have no indication so far that they were planning a terror attack in Delhi during the Republic Day function," the officer said.
An NIA official, on the condition of anonymity, told IANS that four of the detained suspects were Asif, Sayed and Ahad - all from Bengaluru - and Syed Mujahid Husain from Tumkur.
Of the remaining suspects, three are from Mumbai, and one each from Lucknow and Manglore.
"The NIA with the help of local police picked 14 youths from different cities in raids since Thursday night. They were under security surveillance regarding their activities on the social media," the official said.
The nine suspects, yet to be arrested, are being interrogated for their alleged links with IS sympathisers and their role in possible terror strikes.
According to sources, the NIA is on the lookout for five to eight more suspects.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police on Friday issued an alert after a taxi driver alleged carjacked by three unidentified people from Pathankot in Punjab was found dead in Himachal Pradesh.
Through its official Twitter handle, the Delhi Police released photographs of three suspects and the details of a Maruti Alto car, bearing registration number HP-01D-2440, which was hired by them on January 17. The body was found on January 20.
Taxi driver Vijay Kumar was later found dead at the Kalta bridge in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, a police officer said. Kumar was a resident of Gaggal in Kangra.
Investigating agencies said the vehicle, registered with a travel agency, was untraceable.
Security agencies relate the incident to happenings prior to the attack on Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Pathankot in Punjab on January 2, in which taxi driver Ikagar Singh was killed by terrorists.
"People should not panic as security agencies are doing their best... The message is to just alert the people. The citizens should inform the police control room if they observe any suspicious activity," Deputy Commissioner of Police Rajan Bhagat told IANS.