Kochi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday arrested nine Al-Qaeda operatives, after simultaneous raids in West Bengal and Kerala. The arrests have pre-empted possible terrorist attacks in various parts of the country.
NIA had learnt about an inter-state module of Al-Qaeda operatives at various locations in India, including West Bengal and Kerala.
An NIA statement said the three arrested from Kerala were – Murshid Hasan from Pathalam near Kalamassery and Iyakub Biswas and Mosaraf Hosse from Perumbavoor. All three were residing in Ernakulam.
Subsequently an NIA team in West Bengal nabbed Najmus Sakib, Abu Sufiyan, Mainul Mondal, Leu Yean Ahmed, Al Mamun Kamal and Atitur Rehman from Murshidabad. The NIA officials are verifying their nationality to check whether they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh.
The surprise raid started at around 2 am. According to sources the trio have been working at various factories, as well as manual works in the Perumbavoor area. They will be produced at NIA Court in Kochi for transit warrant and will be taken to New Delhi.
Plans to kill innocent people
As per the preliminary investigation, the module was actively indulging in fundraising and was planning to travel to New Delhi to procure arms and ammunition. They “were motivated on social media by Pakistan-based terrorist organization to undertake attacks at multiple places” including the capital region.
A few members of the gang were also planning to travel to New Delhi to procure arms and ammunition. These arrests have pre-empted possible terrorist attacks in various parts of the country, said an official statement.
“The group was planning to undertake terrorist attacks at vital installations in India with an aim to kill innocent people and strike terror in their minds,” the country’s main counter-terrorism arm said in the statement.
Earlier, NIA had arrest Jamaat-UL-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) terrorists from various parts of Kerala. Even Intelligence agencies have alerted that terrorists are using Kerala as a hideout as a large number of persons from West Bengal and Assam reach Kerala for employment.
A spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pakistan has often denied giving material support to militants.
India has stepped up an offensive against militants in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir and elsewhere.
Last year, Indian forces killed the leader of an al Qaeda-affiliated militant group in Kashmir.
In the latest raids, the NIA seized sharp weapons, domestically made firearms and locally fabricated body armour. The nine militants will be produced in court for police custody and further investigation, the agency said.
The NIA officials have seized digital devices, documents, jihadi literature, sharp weapons, country-made firearms, a locally fabricated body armour, articles and literature used for making home-made explosive from their possession.