New Delhi: A 40-year-old Pakistani man, who has been living in New Delhi for several years and is allegedly part of an active sleeper cell node, was arrested by Delhi Police’s Special Cell Monday.
The accused, Mohammed Ashraf, was living under the name of Ali Ahmed Noori in the national capital’s Laxmi Nagar area, disguised as a ‘Peer Maulana’, according to DCP Special Cell Pramod Kushwaha.
“Ashraf had been acting as head of sleeper cell nodes in India and had been assigned to carry out terror attacks during the festive season,” Kushwaha said.
“He is suspected to be involved in multiple terror strikes in Jammu & Kashmir and other parts of India in the past. Further investigation of the case is in progress,” he added.
Sources told ThePrint that Ashraf has been living in India for the past 14 to 15 years and had been changing locations, using fake IDs and working on the directions of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s intelligence agency.
“We had intel on the sleeper cells and that their head, who was assigned the task of terror strikes during the upcoming festive season and had reached the advanced stage of procuring arms and ammunition to lead the terror attacks,” a senior police officer, who wished to remain unnamed, told ThePrint.
Based on preliminary interrogation with Ashraf, the police carried out raids in and around the Trans Yamuna area and recovered an AK-47 assault rifle, one hand grenade, two magazines of AK-47 along with 60 rounds, two China-made pistols with 50 rounds, one Indian passport and other forged Indian IDs.
ISI training for terror attacks
A Class 10 graduate, Ashraf hails from Chandarke Kanjroor in the Narowal city of Pakistan’s Punjab province, according to police.
“He was trained by a Pakistan ISI handler with the code name Nasir in 2004 in Sialkot. The Pakistan ISI agent motivated him to work as a sleeper cell in India,” DCP Kushwaha said.
The police further noted that Ashraf entered India for the first time through Siliguri border, West Bengal.
“After entering India, he went to Ajmer and befriended a Maulvi of a local masjid there. In the year 2006, he accompanied the Maulvi to Delhi and started working as a tilawat (daily wages prayer job) at different factories in the capital city,” Kushwaha said.
Sources noted the accused initially received money from the alleged ISI handler Nasir through IDs of the relatives of Maulvi.
“The recovered arms and ammunition were arranged by the Pakistani handler. With his arrest, (and) the terror strikes planned for the festive season have been averted,” said DCP Kushwaha.
Ashraf has been booked under relevant provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Explosive Act, Arms Act, and other provisions.
Last month, the Delhi Police Special Cell had also arrested six men who were allegedly part of a “Pakistan-orchestrated terror module” and had been tasked with carrying out terror attacks in the festive season.
(Edited by Rachel John)