9 Al Queda men held in Kerala and Bengal

Nine Al Qaeda terrorists were arrested on Saturday morning in multiple raids across Kerala and Bengal by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The raids were conducted in West Bengal's Murshidabad and Kerala's Ernakulam. While six terrorists were arrested from Bengal, three terrorists were arrested from Kerala in the early morning raids. The arrested Al Qaeda terrorists had plans to travel to Jammu and Kashmir for weapons delivery along with home-made explosives for their other associates even as they continued to take orders from their Pakistanbased handlers, NIA officials said on Saturday. An official statement by the probe agency said: “NIA had learnt about an inter-state module of Al-Qaeda operatives at various locations in India. The group was planning to undertake terrorist attacks at vital installations in India.”

The Qaeda men have been identified as Murshid Hassan, Yakoob Bishwas and Morshraf Hussien, all three residents of Ernakulam. They were picked up from Kochi. While Najmus Sakib, Abu Sufiyan, Mainul Mondal, Leu Yean Ahmed, Al Mamun Kamal and Atitur Rehman, were all residents of Murshidabad. These men were from diverse walks of life from second year graduate student to farmer, tailor, cook, electrician, computer science graduate. Those arrested from Kerala were also originally from West Bengal.

A man who was staying in the same building as Hassan, said the men came to stay on rent during the pandemic-induced lockdown. “Large quantity of incriminating materials including digital devices, documents, jihadi literature, sharp weapons, country-made firearms, a locally fabricated body armour, articles and literature used for making home-made explosive devices have been seized from their possession,” the NIA said, adding that “these individuals were radicalised by Pakistan-based Al-Qaeda terrorists on social media and were motivated to undertake attacks at multiple places,” including Delhi-NCR.

An NIA official privy to the probe said, “These terrorists were planning to go to Kashmir for weapons delivery to their handlers.” They had amassed potassium nitrate from firecrackers bought in large amounts. "During the raids the agency got a huge cache of firecrackers. They bought the firecrackers to hide procurement of huge amounts of potassium required to make the IEDs," a senior NIA official related to the probe told IANS. The agency registered a case on September 11. "NIA also recovered the crude IEDs along with the switches, batteries etc from terrorist Sufiyan's residential premises in Murshidabad," the official said. The official said Hassan was the main leader of the terror module.

The NIA also recovered sharp weapons, country-made firearms, a locally fabricated body armor, articles and literature used for making homemade explosive devices from their possession. Kerala Police discovered that Hussien was in Kerala for the past one decade and was working in a textile shop at Perumbavoor, near Aluva. Hassan started to live in Kerala since the beginning of the nationwide lockdown.

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