Mohammad Niaz Abdul Rasheed, an Indian national, who was arrested at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in 2011 on the suspicion of running terror recruitment cells in France, was produced in the Paris criminal court on Tuesday.
Seven other men were also arrested for being part of the group that French authorities claim were planning terror attacks. Niaz is supposed to have been the “mastermind” and leader of the group and had been scouting for young people to send to Pakistan for terror training.
Two of his “recruits”, both French nationals, called Charaf-Din Aberouz and Zohab Ifzal were arrested in Lahore in 2010 where they were detained for four months and then deported to France. Their arrest is said to have led to the arrest of Tehrik-i-Taliban member Tahir Shehzad, who in turn led to the arrest of the “Bali bomber” Umar Patek in Abbottabad in Pakistan.
Niaz was arrested on his return to France from Algeria. A software engineer, Niaz was living in France since 2008. He married a French and lived in a quiet north western Parisian suburb called Val-d’Oise. French authorities say he is “extremely radicalised”.
It was his exchanges over the Internet, including Facebook that led to the arrests. French authorities suspect he was involved in the death threats to the Paris Mosque Rector Dalil Boubakeur, whose views have always irked extremists. French daily, Le Monde, reports Niaz hoarded jihadi literature and said “I am inspired by Bruce Lee. To be strong in the head you have to feel good in your body”.