Indian security agencies infiltrated an Islamic State ring to foil a bid by an Afghan operative of the militant group to carry out a bomb attack in Delhi, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. Indian agencies arrested the Afghan national in September 2017, but officials in diplomatic and intelligence agencies confirmed the details now.
The intelligence agencies were acting on inputs shared by the Research and Analysis Wing,
the country’s foreign intelligence arm, and the United States that said Delhi may be a target.
The Islamic State operative, who lived in Delhi under the guise of an engineering student, was flown to Afghanistan days after he was arrested and is currently believed to be in custody at a United States military base in Afghanistan.
Officials told the daily that an 18-month-long surveillance operation in Afghanistan, Dubai and Delhi yielded intelligence that 12 Islamic State operatives who had completed their training in Pakistan were being sent to carry out bomb attacks. One of them, an Afghan national in his mid-twenties and the “son of a wealthy businessman,” was purportedly asked to target Delhi in a suicide attack.
As part of his mission, the Afghan national got admission at a private engineering college on the outskirts of the capital, along the Delhi-Faridabad Highway. He initially lived at the college hostel and later rented a ground-floor apartment in Lajpat Nagar, unidentified officials told the newspaper.
The officials added that an undercover Indian security official infiltrated the Islamic State group and helped the Afghan find the house in Lajpat Nagar. The Indian officer was tasked by the Islamic State to arrange for explosives for the alleged Delhi attack and purportedly delivered a consignment of explosives and improvised devices without any triggers.
The Afghan national reportedly visited the Delhi airport, Ansal Plaza mall, a mall in Vasant Kunj and the South Extension market among other places during reconnaissance.
The Afghan national is considered to be of “high value” as his confessions and interrogations are seen as one of the possible reasons behind the successes achieved by US forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan, according to the report.
According to the report, his interrogation indicated that the suicide bomb attack on the Manchester arena in the United Kingdom on May 22, 2017, which left 23 concert-goers dead, may have been carried out by a member of the Islamic State group of which the Afghan national was a part.