NEW DELHI: An ISIS-inspired terror module, operating from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, was uncovered and 10 persons arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Wednesday. The module was planning suicide attacks on the country's vital installations and VIPs. It had planned to strike at the Delhi police headquarters and the local office of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on Republic Day, media reports said.
After extensive multi-location searches, 10 people were arrested and six others detained. A country-made rocker launcher, 100-odd alarm clocks, pistols and laptops have been found during the searches. The group, led by an Islamic cleric, got instructions from a handler based abroad, officials said.
“The main gang leader is Mufti Sohail, a Maulvi of an Amroha mosque. The group has a handler in a foreign country. They planned to target vital installations and important people, including politicians. They wanted to explode remote-controlled bombs and even conduct fidayeen attacks. They even tried. making a bulletproof jacket,” NIA IG Alok Mittal said.
The group - which calls itself "Harkat ul Harb e Islam" - was formed four months ago and was planning to carry out suicide attacks in north India, especially in Delhi. Their target list included vital installations, crowded places like markets and VIPs, the senior NIA officer told reporters at a press conference.
Five of the arrested men are from Delhi, the rest are from Uttar Pradesh. Those arrested include a civil engineer, an undergraduate student, a factory-worker well-versed in welding, an auto-rickshaw driver and group leader Mufti Hafiz Sohail. The recruits had received training locally.
Mufti Sohail was arrested from Delhi's Jafarabad. He was receiving instructions from a handler living abroad, whose identity is yet to be established. Four others in the group are also from Amroha, a district in northeastern Uttar Pradesh.
All the men in the module were from middle-class families between the age group of 27 to 30 years.
24-year-old Anas Yunus from Jafrabad was pursuing civil engineering at a university in Noida. He was instrumental in procuring electrical items, alarm clocks & batteries etc. 20-year-old Zubair Malik from Jaffrabad was studying in B.A. third year at a university in Delhi.
Others were into garments business, one worked at a welding shop in Amroha, and another ran a medical shop in Seelampur, Shahdara, Delhi.
Mufti Suhail and his associates mobilized funds and procured weapons, ammunition and explosive material to prepare IED’s and bombs.
The group used to carry out all their internal communications on Whatsapp and Telegram, another messaging service, officials said.
Multiple searches were conducted in various parts of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh since early morning. The areas include Delhi's Seelampur and Jafarabad and multiple locations in Uttar Pradesh, including Amroha, Hapur, Meerut and state capital Lucknow, said Mr Mittal.
The searches yielded a country-made rocket launcher and material for bomb-making - chemicals and more than 100 alarm clocks, which can be used as timers in remote-controlled explosive devices. Besides, 12 pistols were found along 150 rounds of ammunition.
The officers also recovered 100 mobile phone, 135 SIM cards, laptops and Rs. 7.5 lakh in cash. They also found a video that showed an alleged terrorist making a bomb.
The group had funded themselves as well. One of the recruits, Anas, had stolen gold worth Rs. 5 lakh from his own family. The money was used to buy weapons, the NIA said.
All the arrested will be produced before NIA special court on Thursday.