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UP ATS arrests Islamic State suspect Abu Zaid from Mumbai airport

Abu Zaid, who allegedly ran the terror network from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, was closely associated with four other suspects arrested from Bijnor and western Uttar Pradesh.

india Updated: Nov 05, 2017 15:58 IST
Rohit K Singh, Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh ATS,ATS,IS
Islamic State suspect Abu Zaid was arrested as soon as he landed in Mumbai on Saturday.(ANI Twitter)

The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) arrested an alleged Islamic State operative from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on Saturday.

Abu Zaid was allegedly involved in the recruitment of potential terrorists from western Uttar Pradesh.

Inspector general of police (ATS) Asim Arun said Zaid – hailing from Azamgarh district in Uttar Pradesh – was in constant touch with four terror suspects who were arrested in April this year. Zaid’s name surfaced during the interrogation that followed, and a lookout notice was issued.

Zaid was arrested as soon as he landed in Mumbai from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, where he had set up base. He had allegedly formed a social media group to radicalise disgruntled youngsters and lure them into the Islamic State’s fold. “The suspect will be brought to Lucknow after a transit remand is obtained from a Mumbai court, and he will be further interrogated,” Arun said.

The police officer identified the four terror suspects arrested earlier as Umar and Mufti (both residents of Bijnore); Ghazi Baba from Unnao; and Zaqwan from Narkatiyaganj in Bihar. They used to communicate through a special application on the Internet, and Zaid was the key operator in the group.

Arun said the four were arrested in a joint operation with police teams from five other states. “The four were involved in recruiting youths, generating funds and arranging arms and ammunition to carry out terror activities,” he added.

Questioning of the arrested suspects revealed that they wanted to eliminate six targets, including Pakistan-born Canadian writer Tarek Fatah, as part of a plan to showcase their presence as a domestic terror module. Umar, who was employed in Mumbai, had even allegedly conducted a recce to target the writer during one of his visits to India. “The suspect used to watch the writer’s television show on a popular channel and keep tabs on his movements in India,” the inspector general said.

Fatah figured in their hitlist because he opposed the shariah, and propogated a liberal and progressive form of Islam. “The suspects, however, realised that targeting the writer was no easy task. So, they prepared an alternative plan to attack other people and places,” the officer said.

Among the new targets was a Shia shrine at Amroha’s Naugawa Saadat; a crowded area at Haridwar, Uttarakhand; a sugar mill at Narkatiyaganj, Bihar; and a gas cylinder shop at a congested area in Uttar Pradesh. They also allegedly planned to eliminate a police officer in Mumbai, among others.

First Published: Nov 05, 2017 13:40 IST