In a citywide crackdown, NIA officials busted an ISIS terror module in Hyderabad. The city continues to be the back office of terrorist activities in the country, which has become a serious cause of worry
N Nagaraja Rao from Hyderabad
Hyderabad grabbed the nation's headlines again—At least a dozen suspected Islamic State (IS) sympathisers were taken into custody and a huge cache of explosives was recovered from several locations in the old city and other places of Hyderabad. The raids were conducted by National Intelligence Agency (NIA) following alerts on the entry of IS operatives into the city to execute their destructive plans especially during Ramzan. The operatives are suspected to have entered Hyderabad with the support of IS sympathisers after communicating on Facebook. NIA claimed that the five arrested persons were getting instructions from the ISIS for carrying out terrorist activities in India.
NIA produced the accused Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani alias Ibbu, Habeeb Mohammed alias Sir, Mohammed Ilyas Yazdani, Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Amoodi and Muzaffar Hussain Rizwan before the third Metropolitian Sessions Judge court in Hyderabad which sent them to 14-days judicial custody.
Along with explosive materials, the agency recovered two semi-automatic pistols with ammunition, an air gun with telescopic sight and shooting practice target boards, a large number of digital gadgets including six laptops, about 40 mobile phones, 32 SIM cards, and a large number of hard disks, memory cards, pen drives and tabs during its searches.
Meanwhile, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi in his Friday prayer speech declared that his party had decided to provide legal aid to five youths held over alleged Islamic State links. It has triggered a massive political controversy. A complaint was lodged against Owaisi over his statement by K Karuna Sagar, a practising advocate with Saroor Nagar police in Hyderabad. He sought registration of a case. Sagar alleged, “the stand of Owaisi and his remarks are boosting the morale of anti-nationals and giving oxygen to terrorists.
The handler of the module busted earlier was Mohammed Shafi Armar, the main recruiter for the IS. During the course of investigation, Telangana police came across the names of these five men as the handler for both these modules was Armar. Sources in State Home Ministry reveal that the arrests of five alleged IS operatives, who were planning terror strikes in Hyderabad, may not be a NIA operation, after all. State police claim they had kept all five men, and a few others, under strict surveillance for the last three months. But the TS police chose to give credit to the NIA—apprehending that the KCR-led TRS Government might be branded anti-minority and its Muslim vote bank could take a severe beating.
NIA is continuing its crackdown on suspected Islamic State module in Hyderabad, it conducted simultaneous predawn raids at three locations in Hyderabad reportedly based on the information obtained from the five persons arrested on July 1.The search team seized 17 rounds of live ammunition besides computers and scanners, which were allegedly used for online communication with their handlers. According to the NIA, a computer and scanner were seized from the premises of Ibrahim Yezdani, one of the arrested operatives. These operatives disguised themselves as pilgrims to avoid suspicion, while visiting Rajasthan's Ajmer Sharif Dargah.
A safe hide-out?
‘Hyderabad, especially the Old City acts as a safe hide out for terrorist operatives’, says an Intelligence Bureau official. This place has nurtured several operatives such as Riazuddin Nazir and Shahid Bilal who went on to become major players in this game of terror. There are many in the city who subscribe to the view of the al-Qaeda (AQ) and also the Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT) which have given repeated calls to liberate Hyderabad from the Government of India and restore the rule of the Nizam. Playing Victim card has always been convenient aided and abetted by MIM that uses persecution by local police eventually leading to radicalisation of Youth.
From ISIS to SIMI, what makes Hyderabad the back office of terror activities? In 2014, state BJP leader Kishan Reddy alleged that previous Congress government had made the important bodies like Counterintelligence and Octopus defunct. He demanded that the government should merge Counterintelligence and Octopus and make police department strong. A BJP spokesperson said to Organiser, “CM KCR’s soft approach and minority vote bank politics is making Hyderabad city a safe haven for ISI operatives. Tech-savvy youth are able to establish contacts with their mentors through social media. This actually has become a cause of worry.
By now it should be clear to investigators, intelligence officers and decision makers alike that the logistical and financial supporters of terrorism warrant increased attention, not only because they facilitate acts of terror and radicalise and recruit future terrorists, but because distinguishing between “supporters” and “operatives” assures that the plotters of the next terrorist attack—today’s “supporters”—will only be identified after they conduct whatever attack they are planning now—and are thus transformed into “operatives.” In particular, any serious effort to crack down on terrorist financing, so critical to disrupt terrorist activity, demands paying special attention to these support networks be it ISIS or Indian Mujahideen. With their latest breakthroughs, the security agencies may have scrapped the surface only and the city could be hiding something more dangerous. IS operatives and its fellow travellers, of course, are constantly looking for the means to keep ahead of those who want to stop them. ‘Can the governments fight terror with hands tied appeasing the minority’ is the moot question? n