New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Saturday arrested nine alleged al Qaeda terrorists from Murshidabad in West Bengal and Ernakulam in Kerala, claiming that they were planning a series of terror attacks across India, including in Delhi.
They were also planning to go to Kashmir for weapons delivery, NIA sources said.
According to a source in the NIA, the accused were raising funds for logistics required for the attacks, and also planned to visit Delhi to procure arms, ammunition and explosives.
Following the arrests, a large quantity of “incriminating materials”, including digital devices, documents, jihadi literature, sharp weapons, country-made firearms, a locally fabricated body armour, articles and literature used for making home-made explosive devices were seized from their possession, the NIA claimed.
“This inter-state module of al Qaeda, supported by Pakistan, was planning to undertake terrorist attacks at vital installations in India with an aim to kill innocent people and strike terror in their minds,” an NIA officer said.
While Murshid Hasan, Iyakub Biswas and Mosaraf Hossen were arrested from Kerala, Najmus Sakib, Abu Sufiyan, Mainul Mondal, Leu Yean Ahmed, Al Mamun Kamal and Atitur Rehman were nabbed from West Bengal.
All the accused, however, are natives of West Bengal, sources in the agency said.
According to the NIA officer, the agency had registered a case in this regard on 11 September after it learnt about an active inter-state module of al Qaeda operatives planning a conspiracy.
“Following the leads, early Saturday morning, NIA conducted simultaneous raids at several locations at Ernakulam and Murshidabad and arrested these nine terrorists associated with Pakistan-sponsored module of al Qaeda, foiling their plan to carry out terror attacks,” an NIA spokesperson said.
Radicalised by Pakistan-based terrorists on social media
According to the NIA, preliminary investigation in the case has revealed that the men were radicalised by Pakistan-based al Qaeda terrorists on social media, including Facebook, and were motivated to undertake attacks at multiple places, including the National Capital Region.
“First they were brainwashed to be a part of this plan and when they actively started engaging, they were given different roles,” the NIA officer quoted above said.
“They were in touch with several people on social media, talking to them about arranging logistics for the attacks, which included places to stay, from where explosives will be procured. A few members of the gang were planning to travel to New Delhi to procure arms and ammunition,” the officer added.
These arrests, the officer said, have preempted possible terrorist attacks in various parts of the country.
The NIA has now taken custody of the accused to question them on their network of handlers, which the agency claims are based in Pakistan.