Killing without proof is a dream of terrorists and criminals alike, and to this end IS suspect Md Mussa strongly advocated the use of pepper spray that became popular among many women in India to ward off assaulters, especially after the gang rape incident of December 2012.
He was also about to use one himself, having purchased a few from an online retailer furnishing a fake identity proof, the NIA charge sheet submitted to a court in Kolkata last week claims.
He argued with IS operatives based elsewhere the world that with pepper spray anybody can be blinded for two-three hours and the attacker can use this long time window to stab the target and escape. Since the spray would blind the target for a considerable period of time, he/she will be in no position to see the attacker even if he/she survives the attack by any chance.
Pepper spray contains a chemical that when targeted at the eye causes extreme irritation, the feeling of being ‘set alight’, inflammation and temporary blindness. While its use is banned in many countries, it is legal in India.
On July 5 this year Mussa was picked up by CID and government railway police from Visva-Bharati Fast Passenger at Burdwan railway station. He was subsequently interrogated by sleuths from FBI (in second week of December) and Bangladesh (August) for his involvement in the massacre in Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery.
HT earlier reported that Mussa carried out reconnaissance in Delhi and Srinagar for attacking and executing foreign tourists especially Russians, Americans and the British. He also targeted the Kolkata-based headquarters of Missionaries of Charity.
According to the charge sheet, Mussa purchased pepper spray cans on February 27 this year. NIA sleuths accessed his chat conversation using the app Telegram and found that on March 1, he told other IS operatives why he thinks the item that is popular as an instrument for defence can be employed for lethal objectives.
On July 18, NIA officers seized pepper sprays from Mussa’s house in Labhpur in Birbhum district of South Bengal.
“A-1 (Mussa) discusses how to procure pepper spray through Snapdeal by using fake ID and says that it is dangerous liquid weapon and capable of killing anyone.... A-1 discusses further that by using pepper spray anyone can be killed without proof as it blinds for 2-3 hours.”
Mussa’s conversation with IS operatives accessed by the sleuths revealed that he preferred killing with long knives to using explosives. In fact, when he was arrested one such knife was found in his possession that he would have used allegedly to kill Malay Chatterjee, a businessman from Labhpur in his own district Birbhum.
He was inspired to join IS by none other than Abu Sulaiman, the mastermind of Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery attack. He is now the most guarded man at Alipore central jail.