On February 15 morning, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) began raids at over 60 places in Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu in connection with two separate blast cases under investigation as part of an effective campaign against ISIS sympathisers, sources claimed.
The searches are being carried out in connection with last year’s explosions in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, and Mangaluru, Karnataka, which occurred on October 23, 2022, and November 19, 2022, respectively, according to sources in the elite anti-terror probe agency. Sources said that nearly five dozen locations across the three states were raided simultaneously, including those Kodungaiyur in Tamil Nadu and Mannadi in Kerala.
The NIA began a probe on October 27 last year in a bomb blast in a car laden with explosives in front of Kottai Eswaran Temple of Coimbatore district in Tamil Nadu on October 23, 2022.
Eleven accused persons were arrested earlier by the anti-terror agency in the case in which Tamil Nadu Police initially registered a complaint on October 23 last year.
The deceased accused, Jamesha Mubeen, after swearing bayath (allegiance) to ISIS, was planning to carry out a suicide attack and cause extensive damage to the Temple Complex with the intention to strike terror in the community, said the NIA in a statement.
The NIA stated, “Investigations have revealed that the accused persons had entered into a criminal conspiracy in the interior of forested regions of Asanoor and Kadambur areas of Sathyamangalam forest, Erode district, in February 2022”.
“The meetings were led by previously arrested accused Umar Farook and participated by deceased accused Jamesha Mubeen, Mohammed Azharudin, Sheikh Hidayatullah and Sanofar Ali, where they conspired to prepare for and execute terror acts,” it added.
In December last year, the NIA took over the investigation into the pressure cooker blast that occurred on November 19 in an autorickshaw in Mangaluru, where a passenger named Mohammed Shariq was carrying a pressure cooker device manufactured from an Improvised Explosive Device. The autorickshaw exploded, leading to injuries to the passenger, Mohammed Shariq, who was carrying a pressure cooker that turned into an IED, and the autorickshaw driver Purushottam Poojari.
The agency claimed that the cooker bomb was designed to carry out a large-scale attack to fuel communal tensions in the coastal region and the state. Shariq was en-route to a pre-decided location for carrying out the blast when the explosion took place.
Under the provision of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the NIA began its investigation. The investigating authorities then questioned the main suspect, Shariq, as the state police found his links with the Islamic State (IS) during its investigation. It also learned that he had radicalised his schoolmates, Syed Yasin and Muneer Ahmed, and introduced them to IS.
Together, the three of them had experimented and rehearsed the explosion on the banks of the Tunga river in the Shivamogga district, sources said, adding that the practice explosion was also reportedly successful. Further, according to sources, the main accused, Shariq, had a handler who was orchestrating and instructing him regarding all these activities.