Minor among nine held for ‘IS links’
They were produced in court, in Aurangabad, on Wednesday while the minor was produced before the juvenile justice board. All nine have been remanded in police custody till February 5.Updated: Jan 23, 2019 22:31 IST
Nine people, including one minor, were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) on Wednesday for allegedly being linked to the terror group ISIS and for planning to carry out a chemical attack in India. Multiple teams of ATS raided eight locations in Thane and Aurangabad on Tuesday. The accused were charged with criminal conspiracy under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, said an ATS official.
They were produced in court, in Aurangabad, on Wednesday while the minor was produced before the juvenile justice board. All nine have been remanded in police custody till February 5.
ATS officials said they had received “very reliable input” about a group had aligned with ISIS and initial investigations led them to Ummat-e-Mohammadia. All nine accused are members of this group and were under surveillance for several weeks prior to their arrest. According to the ATS, three of the nine – Salman, Mohseen and Taki Khan – are brothers and were influenced by ISIS sympathisers. Mohseen was monitoring members from Mumbra as the head of the local module. Aside from being indoctrinated by a handler from Syria whose credentials are being verified, Mohseen was also in touch with ISIS’s propaganda module, said officials.
The others arrested are Fahad Shah, Zamen Kuttepadi, Mohammad Mazhar Shaikh, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Zahid Shaikh and a 17-year-old. Shah, a civil engineer, and Shaikh, a computer engineer, met the Khan brothers last year in a mosque in Mumbra. The ATS believe Shah, who has a valid visa for Saudi Arabia, has been radicalised along with the minor, who has a diploma in electronics and cyber science. Kuttepadi was inducted because as a medical representative, he would have an understanding of how to use chemicals for biological warfare. Members of Ummat-e-Mohammadia used social media to connect with one another.
During their search, the ATS carried out raids at eight separate locations in Aurangabad and Mumbra in Thane. Apart from several bottles of chemical and powder, six knives, six pen drives, 24 mobile phones, six laptops, six wifi routers, six memory cards, SIM cards among other things were seized. All seized items were sent to forensic science laboratory for chemical analysis. The ATS believe the group was planning to carry out an attack at a public place by mixing chemicals in food and water. The ATS said it was investigating their chats on WhatsApp, emails and probing any possible foreign transactions.