Khaja Moideen, one of the suspected terrorists, arrested | Photo: ThePrint Team
Bangalore: The arrest of several suspected members of groups directly or indirectly related to the Islamic State has resulted in a “major conspiracy” to spread terror across India, according to investigative officials.
Police and intelligence agencies are on high alert after the suspected terrorists in Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been arrested for making “plans to spread terror and create community disharmony” in the country.
“The police suspect there is a major conspiracy to spread terror involving these people,” said a senior official from the Karnataka Department of Intelligence.
Sources in the agencies also told ThePrint that the “foreigners” of these terrorists had activated multiple sleeping cells to recruit, radicalize, train, and arm people to attack India and join IS.
Another source of information, which refused to be identified, said the authorities thwarted previous attempts to cause unrest.
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The role of Khaja Moideen
According to intelligence agencies, the three arrested people – Khaja Moideen (52), Syed Ali Navas (32) and Abdul Samad (28) – tried to flee Nepal to join ISA after “planning a series of attacks”.
Their arrests led to several other people in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and police sources said they had links to the banned terrorist group Al-Ummah.
In particular, the arrest of Moideen has linked various sleep cells in the three southern states. He was arrested in Tamil Nadu for allegedly participating in the murder of Hindu Munnani leader K.P. Suresh Kumar in 2014. Moideen was released on bail in July 2019, but by the end of the year, the Tamil Nadu police had started a massive search since he did not appear for his court appearances.
At that point, the police exposed a massive radicalization plan by Moideen, which included reorganizing and recruiting men to “fight for their cause” and to join the Islamic State, sources said.
The sources added that Moideen was clearly in contact with his “foreign dealers” after the NIA filed a charge against him in 2017 for allowing a man named Haja Fakkurudeen from Tamil Nadu to travel to Syria in 2014 to do so To join IS.
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The role of Mehboob Pasha
A joint investigation by the police in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu found that members of Al-Ummah hatched a conspiracy to “promote community disharmony and meet people from other communities”.
The police claimed this conspiracy was being concocted by a man named Mehboob Pasha along with 13 employees who were all led by Moideen. They apparently held several secret meetings in Bengaluru.
According to crime sources in Bengaluru, Mehboob Pasha and his nephews organized meetings at his residence in South Bengaluru where Moideen met Karnataka and Tamil Nadu youths to radicalize and encourage them to join IS.
“Pasha, his nephews and moideen not only recruited, but also helped procure weapons and identify areas where these men could train,” said a criminal police officer on condition of anonymity.
Three of Pasha’s employees were arrested on January 7th from Suddaguntepalya in southern Bengaluru.
“They had big plans to create disharmony in the community and they followed the instructions of their overseas caretaker,” said a senior police officer who refused to be named.
The official police statement signed by Sandeep Patil, the joint crime commissioner, said: “UAPA registered case against Mehboob Pasha and others. Only a few of those accused in Bangalore and Chennai were in direct contact with a foreign trader and waved to cause unrest. They also procured weapons for this. Chennai defendants are already involved in such cases in Tamil Nadu. Few of the accused are detained by the police in Chennai and Delhi. Further investigations are ongoing. “
On Sunday, Karnataka’s counter-terrorism team and the Domestic Security Division arrested two other people in Gundlupet, Chamarajanagar District. According to police sources, these people were also present at the Pasha and Moideen meetings in Bengaluru. The police refused to reveal the names of the detainees, but said they had links to terrorist modules in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Police investigation into Tamil Nadu revealed that the January 8 gunshot that killed Sub-Inspector Wilson at a checkpoint near Kaliyakkavilai could have been used in retaliation for the arrest of three Pasha men in Bengaluru – Mohammed Haneef Khan ( 29), Imran Khan (32)) and Mohammed Zaid (24).
Police said the two men who were accused of killing police officers Shamim and Thowfic were also part of the Pasha Moideen meetings in Bengaluru. Both were arrested for the 2014 Hindu Munnani murder, and both have fled since last month’s bail, along with their leader Moideen. A manhunt was launched to catch the duo after they were identified on CCTV footage.
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Entries by the Delhi Police
The Delhi police have informed their southern counterparts about the increasing presence of IS sympathizers and the role of local counselors in converting local youth.
A senior police officer confirmed to ThePrint that a warning had been issued to monitor possible terrorist outfits in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, who were also “receiving” instructions from their “foreign traders.”
“Current situation that gives terrorists radicalization”
Counter-terrorism specialists say that the current situation in India is causing terror modules to radicalize and regroup.
“The sleeping cells have always been there, but they are always waiting for an opportunity to raise their heads. The current situation in the country regarding protests may have given them an opportunity to act, ”said Gopal Hosur, former inspector general of Karnataka, who was involved in several terrorist investigations in the country.
Col R. Hariharan (retired), a specialist in South Asian military intelligence, added that Al-Ummah is not active and its members have dispersed.
“With the advances in web and mobile communications, IS is recruiting and staying in touch via social media. Regrouping in the traditional sense may not be possible as ISIS now prefers to attack lone wolves by fewer terrorists, ”Hariharan told ThePrint.
Hariharan, however, agreed that “handlers” and leaders of terror modules take advantage of the situation “when unrest is affecting society”.
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