India's elite counter-terrorism agency has busted an Isis module that had planned a Nice-style attack in the southern state of Kerala.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said six youths, four from Kerala and the other from Tamil Nadu, were arrested after credible information was received that they had hatched a plot to launch a terror attack in the state and assassinate political leaders and judges.
Investigations revealed that a 30-year-old radicalised Muslim man who works in Qatar was the kingpin behind the formation of the Kerala wing of the Islamic State group. The module, named Ansar ul Khilafa, was set up to launch a Nice-style attack on a rally in central Kerala.
The operatives had also planned to assassinate a BJP leader and two judges of the Kerala high court who had heard cases relating to Islamic terror.
Active terror recruitment
The NIA said its sleuths infiltrated the module by posing as terror sympathizers. The investigators who tracked the group's Facebook and Telegram accounts found as many as 30 radicalised men were actively recruiting terror sympathizers from across the country.
The most daring attack in the works was a plan to drive a lorry into a rally by the Jamaat-e-Islami group, Nice-style.
Investigators foiled the plan by moving the venue of the rally but the operatives got wind of the mole in the group and closed down the Telegram chat group. However, as many as ten other forums were under the NIA's scanner and the agency tracked down the leaders of the group as they made a secret meeting.
NIA said Isis literature in Arabic translated into the local language was found from the arrested people. "During the searches, incriminating material including electronic devices, have been seized from their possession and search of their premises," the agency said in a statement.
Key operatives abroad
The key operative arrested was Manseed, also known as Omar Al Hindi in Isis affiliate circles, NIA said. He hailed from northern Kerala but had been working in the gulf state of Qatar for more than five years. Local reports said he had married a Filipino woman in Qatar and had her convert to Islam.
After the NIA foiled the nice-style attack the core group decided to meet in person. Manseed travelled down from Qatar, along with his wife, to organise the meeting. The NIA officers arrested the five men who met at a desolate area in the hills. Another associate was nabbed subsequently but the Indian investigators said many key operatives are abroad, mainly in the Gulf Arab states.
Abu Basheer from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, Swalih Mohammed from Thrissur, Safwan from Malappuram and Jasim NK and Ramshad Nageelan Kandiyil from Kozhikode are other in police custody.
Police wings from Kerala, New Delhi and Hyderabad helped in the NIA operation.