A 24-year old terror operative allegedly linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) was on Sunday arrested in Maharashtra’s Parbhani district by anti-terrorism squad officials. This is the second major ISIS-linked arrest in the state in the past few weeks.
ATS sources said the suspect has been identified as Shahid Khan, and that he was in the process of planning a strike very soon.
ATS officials also seized a kilogram of low-intensity explosives and improvised explosive device (IED). They suspect there are more operatives in this module, radicalised by foreign handlers of the ISIS.
Officials are also trying to find out what the module was planning and where they were going to carry out their strike.
“Khan’s name cropped up after the ATS earlier arrested Naser Bin Yafai Chaus – a civil contractor from Parbhani. Khan was linked to Chaus and this led to his arrest,” sources said.
From the probe so far, the ATS has found both operatives were radicalised by foreign handlers and were in touch with them for the past year through chat rooms.
Investigators found Chaus used various social media to stay in touch with one Faroque from Syria. Chaus also created multiple IDs to enter various chat rooms the foreign handlers use.
Officials suspect Khan’s role was to collect explosives from several places and assemble the bomb. The ATS’ Aurangabad unit that is investigating the case has filed a first information report (FIR) under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.
Areas like Beed, Malegaon and Parbhani have always been in the news for the wrong reasons and have been under the focus of anti-terror agencies since the early 2000s as alleged terror operatives such as Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, Zulfikar Fayyaz Kagzi and Mirza Himayat Baig have emerged from these regions.