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ISIS sympathiser who conspired terror attacks in Mumbai arrested

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad has arrested a city-based software engineer, who admired the middle-east terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, for allegedly conspiring to blow up US establishments here including a school.

Anees Ansari, 24, who worked at a multi-national software company was apprehended from his office in suburban Andheri and produced before a court on Sunday which remanded him in police custody till October 26, an ATS official said today.

The online chats of Ansari, whose office job involved designing navigation maps, hinted at a plot to target US establishments including a school in suburban Bandra, the official said.

Ansari was booked under section 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) read with 302 (murder) of Indian Penal Code, and relevant sections of Information Technology Act.

He sympathised with ISIS fighters and described, in his online conversations, the Americans as tormentors. ATS also seized his computers, a mobile phone, and has obtained `mirror images’ to extract the data.

“Our team that keeps a close watch on online posts sometime ago got the wind of his shady activities which suggested that he had been chatting with two persons based in UK and Australia who have been indoctrinated to believe in the extremist ideologies,” the ATS official said.

The online discussions about a plan to target an American school in the city alerted the ATS, which led to his arrest.

The ATS officer claimed that it had gathered enough evidence to suggest that Ansari had been chatting — through a Facebook account in a fake name — about punishing Americans and defending the ISIS which according to him was the victim in the current turbulence in Syria and Iraq.

“A lot of Jihadi material, videos and literature related to ISIS and its leaders was shared with him by the two people who were chatting with him for nearly two years,” the officer said.

“His online interaction clearly indicated his ill-intentions but we are verifying how well he has prepared himself to execute the plot. Our interrogation would focus on the places he had visited, the persons he had met and the reasons therefore,” the officer said.

Ansari lived in suburban Kurla with his parents and two younger siblings, and according to sources, he had applied for a passport a month ago, which has led the investigators to suspect that he planned to leave the country to support/join the ISIS.

In May this year, four youths from neighbouring Kalyan town — Arif Majeed, Shaheen Tanki, Fahad Shaikh and Aman Tandel — had left India to visit holy places in the Middle East, but disappeared thereafter. They are suspected to have joined the ISIS. On August 26, Majeed was reportedly killed in bombing.