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Sri Lanka Easter blasts: NIA books six members of Coimbatore-based IS module

Sri Lanka Easter blasts: NIA books six members of Coimbatore-based IS module
Four persons were arrested in a raid on a suspected IS module in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu on 12 June 2019. (Photo | ANI Twitter)

KOCHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered a case against a six-member Islamic State (IS) module that planned terrorist attacks in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, who are also associated with Sri Lanka blast mastermind Zahran Hashim. The key member of the module was a Facebook friend of Zahran Hashim following his online preaching for the past two years.

As part of the investigation, NIA held raids at 7 places in Coimbatore on Wednesday. The FIR was filed before NIA Court in Kochi recently.

The persons arraigned as accused are Mohammed Azharuddin of Coimbatore; Azharuddin T of Nanjundapuram, Podanur; Sheik Hidyathullah, Alameen Colony, South Ukkadam; Aboobacker M of Kuniamuthur; Sadham Hussain of Aasath Nagar, Karimbukadai and Ibrahim Shahin of Mania Thottam. "The accused persons are being interrogated. We also have issued summons to some suspect to appear for the interrogation in the coming days," said a source.

According to NIA, as part of the investigation into Indian links with accused persons in Sri Lanka blast, they received information that an Islamic State (IS) module based in Coimbatore is actively recruiting youth and planning attacks in South India mainly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. "While probing the social media activities of the group and its members, we found that Mohammed Azharuddin was the Facebook friend of Sri Lanka blast mastermind Zahran Hashim. He was the founder of the module. The group held clandestine meetings and were planning terror strikes at religious places in Kerala and Tamil Nadu," said the source.

NIA is also on the search for a youth in Kerala who was associated with Mohammed Azharuddin. "The group had conducted an online drive to recruit youths from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They targeted like-minded persons to further activities of IS in South India," the source said

Earlier, NIA had arrested a Palakkad native Riyas Aboobacker who was also following Zahran Hashim and wanted to conduct a suicide attack. Riyas is currently lodged at Ernakulam Sub Jail. Riyas was radicalised by Keralites who went to Afghanistan and Syria to join IS. His handlers were mentally preparing him Amal-Istishhadi (divine martyrdom).

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