National Investigation Agency investigators listened to more than 400 phone conversations between suspected Islamic State sympathizers in Hyderabad who were allegedly planning to execute serial blasts and inflame communal passions across the city.
Five of the 11 suspects were arrested and sent to a day’s judicial custody on Thursday. The other six people are being investigated and will be interrogated on Friday, officials said.
NIA officials said the men talked about successfully testing an improvised explosive device (IED) and preparing ‘Talcum Powder’, code for chemical mixture.
“One of the targets was Hyderabad’s Bhagyalakshmi temple, adjacent to the historic Charminar. The group came on our radar in December while probing another IS related module,” said an NIA official.
The controversial temple has triggered communal tension in the city in the past as it is considered a recent structure encroaching into centuries-old Charminar structure.
“Their IED was tested and perfected. Their action could have taken place anytime,” said the NIA official.
As Hindustan Times reported on Thursday, the group planned to throw meat pieces in temples to incite communal violence.
“The NIA briefed Union home minister Rajnath Singh that at least one accused spoke about plan to target police stations in Hyderabad,” said a home ministry official requesting anonymity.
Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani alias Ibbu, a 30-year-old electronics engineer who has worked in Saudi Arabia is being seen as the leader of the group.
Thirty-two-year-old Habeeb Mohammed didn’t study beyond Class 10 but is trained in dealing with computer hardware. He repairs computers at home. Ibrahim Yazdani’s younger brother, 24-year-old Ilyas, works in a shop making voter ID and Aadhar cards.
One of the telephone conversations pertains to receiving a courier from ‘Amarnath’, a possible reference to the annual Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir. The suspects are being questioned in detail about it.