A group of Islamic radicals had allegedly planned to drive an explosive-laden vehicle into a gathering of religious leaders in Kerala after they were inspired by a similar attack in the French city of Nice, investigators said on Tuesday.
The seven people, arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) two days ago from the state, had also drawn up a hit-list that included two high court judges, a well-known rationalist and RSS leaders of Kerala besides Jewish visitors to Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu.
“We have taken note of the revelations made by the suspects, and have taken appropriate action,” Kerala director general of police Loknath Behera told HT.
The seven people, aged between 24 and 35, were allegedly radicalised by the ideology of the terror outfit Islamic State (IS), which has asked its followers across the world to carry out attacks on people they consider infidels.
The IS has overran vast swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq and has been blamed for several terror attacks in Europe.
An Islamic State-inspired extremist drove a truck through a crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations at Nice on July 14 this year, killing at least 86 people.
Inspired by the carnage, the group had planned a similar attack on the all-religion Jamaat-e-Islami conference at Kochi last month. Several Hindu and Christian leaders were invited to the Kochi event.
Kerala police asked the organisers to move to a closed-door building at the last minute, potentially preventing a carnage. Investigators said a detailed interrogation of the suspects will reveal how close they were to implementing their plans.
The group had picked Justice KT Sankaran as a target because of his tough stand on terror and justice Pasha due to his progressive views. EA Jabbar’s credentials as a rationalist found him a place on the hit-list, investigators added.
The group is being questioned. Four other suspects from Coimbatore and one from Tirunelveli have also been placed under detention, a central counter-terror official said.