NIA links ‘Thirthahalli module’ to IED blasts in parts of Karnataka | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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NIA links ‘Thirthahalli module’ to IED blasts in parts of Karnataka

By, Bengaluru
Mar 30, 2024 07:40 AM IST

Mussavir Shazeeb Hussain, bomber in Bengaluru’s Rameshwaram Café blast, and another alleged key conspirator, have emerged as key figures within this module.

A group once associated with graffiti near a police station in Mangaluru has become the most wanted terror module in Karnataka. Known in police circles as the “Thirthahalli module”, this group is believed to be responsible for a series of improved explosive device (IED) explosions in both Mangaluru and Bengaluru, with aspirations of establishing an Islamic State Caliphate within Karnataka’s forests, according to a charge sheet filed by NIA.

Mussavir Shazeeb Hussain has been dentified as the bomber in Bengaluru’s Rameshwaram Café blast. (PTI)
Mussavir Shazeeb Hussain has been dentified as the bomber in Bengaluru’s Rameshwaram Café blast. (PTI)

Mussavir Shazeeb Hussain, identified as the bomber in Bengaluru’s Rameshwaram Café blast, and Mateen Ahmed Taha, the alleged key conspirator, have emerged as key figures within this module. Interestingly, both were previously associated with another extremist group before the inception of the Thirthahalli (literally, village of holy water) module.

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Their emergence on the radar of investigative agencies dates back to January 2020 when state police uncovered the Al Hind terror module, inspired by the Islamic State (IS), operating in Bengaluru’s Suddaguntepalya. Spearheaded by Mehboob Pasha, affiliated with the Al Hind Trust, Shihabudeen and Khaja Moideen from Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu the module aimed at establishing an IS province through insurgent activities spanning Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

“They formed the Al-Hind module and selected Bengaluru as their base and conducted several criminal conspiracy meetings in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu since April 2019,” NIA said in its charge sheet filed in the Al-Hind module case in September 2021.

“They had propagated the ideology of the proscribed terrorist organization, ISIS and conspired to collect arms and explosives for murdering police officers and Hindu leaders. The investigation has revealed that charge-sheeted accused Shihabudeen was part of the larger conspiracy and as per the directions of Khaja Moideen had collected and handed over arms and ammunitions in Mumbai to other accused persons. These arms were further used in the murder of Special Sub-Inspector Wilson of Tamil Nadu Police (January 2020),” it added.

Its reference is to the 2020 killing of A Wilson, a special sub inspector who was shot dead while on duty at a check post along the Kaliyakkavilai Market Road in Kanyakumari close to the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border.

According to a senior official of the Internal Security Division that initially investigated the case, when Bengaluru police cracked down on this module as part of the investigation into the murder of police officer Wilson, two names came up -- Mateen Ahmed Taha and his distant relative Mussavir Shazeeb Hussain, who had become members of the module. However, they were on the run.

While on the run, the two men ended up in their hometown of Thirthahalli, where the second chapter of the module began. During their time there they began radicalising several youths from their home town to carry out terror attacks, said the officer.

Also read: Bengaluru techie, 26, quits her job to steal laptops from PG accommodations, arrested

The activities of this alleged module first caught the attention of state police in November 2020 when three individuals, Maaz Muneer and Mohammed Shariq from Thirthahalli, and Syed Yasin from Mangaluru were arrested for painting pro-terror graffiti on the walls of a building in the East police station limits and on a wall in the North police station limits.

NIA said that Taha and Hussain indoctrinated the youth and instructed them to write graffiti in support of terror and terror outfits at two places in Mangaluru. Even in this case, Taha and Hussain evaded arrest.

It was two years later, in September 2023 the names of those involved in the graffiti case propped up again. Shivamogga police on September 23, 2022 said that two associates of a person arrested in connection with a stabbing incident during a clash over Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s poster in Shivamogga on August 15 were linked to the Islamic State.

One of the four men arrested in the stabbing told police that Mazz Muneer, who was arrested in the graffiti case was his associate. When police took Muneer into custody, he told police that along with other members of his group, he had conducted trial bomb blasts along the banks of the Tungabhadra River.

An officer who investigated the case said that during raids carried out in 11 locations as part of the investigation police seized 14 mobiles, two laptops, remnants of the experimental bomb found at the site of the blast, materials required to make bombs and a half-burnt Indian national flag.

Explaining the findings of the investigation, the officer said that in the days following Independence Day, the national flag of India was burnt near the spot where the bomb was set off and it was videographed on the mobile phones of Muneer and others.

“The accused profess the ideology of Islamic State. They were of the view that India got independence merely from the British. But the real independence would be achieved only after establishing a caliphate in the forests of Karnataka and enforcing Sharia law.” the officer said.

Further investigation revealed that Hussain and Taha planned and supported the trial blast. Maaz Muneer and Syed Yasin were subsequently arrested in connection with this case, while another associate Mohammed Shariq managed to evade capture.

Shariq, who was on bail in the graffiti case and later on run in the trial blast case resurfaced in Mangaluru on November 19, 2022 with an IED packed inside a pressure cooker. Even though the target was a prominent temple in the city, the IED exploded accidentally inside an autorickshaw injuring the driver and Shariq.

Shariq’s interrogation revealed that Hussain and Taha were the planners . They have been on the run until their involvement in the Rameswaram Cafe blast in the city on March 1, 2024.

On Thursday NIA said Muzammil Shareef, a key conspirator who extended logistic support to Mussavir Shahzeeb Hussain and Abdul Mateen Taha, was arrested on Wednesday after several teams of the federal agency raided 18 locations across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. He, like the other two. is from Shivamogga district in Karnataka.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Arun Dev is an Assistant Editor with the Karnataka bureau of Hindustan Times. A journalist for over 10 years, he has written extensively on crime and politics.

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