The National Investigation Agency on Wednesday claimed to have arrested the suspected mastermind of the Islamic State group’s Tamil Nadu module from the city of Coimbatore.
In a statement, the agency said the accused, identified as Mohammed Azarudeen, was friends on Facebook with Zahran Hashim, the alleged mastermind behind the recent terror attacks in Sri Lanka. Azarudeen is suspected of recruiting individuals from Kerala and Tamil Nadu for carrying out terrorist attacks in south India.
Earlier in the day, the National Investigation Agency conducted searches at seven locations in Coimbatore in connection with the case. The agency said that it seized digital devices, including 14 mobile phones, 29 SIM cards, 10 pen drives, three laptops, six memory cards, four hard disc drives, an internet dongle and 13 CDs/DVDs, besides one dagger, an electric baton, 300 air-gun pellets and a large number of incriminating documents from the houses and work places of those accused.
It also claimed that a few pamphlets of Popular Front of India and Social Democratic Party of India, both of which are under the scanner of security agencies, have also been found. “Accused persons are being questioned regarding the incriminating materials seized during the searches,” the NIA added.
The NIA registered the case on May 30 against the module allegedly led by the 32-year-old Azarudeen and five other residents of Coimbatore. It had also alleged that Azarudeen was the leader of the module and he maintained a Facebook page named “KhilafahGFX” through which he had been propagating the ideology of the Islamic State.
Searches began at 6 am in Anbu Nagar, Podanur, Kuniyamuthur and Karumbukadai areas of the city. The Coimbatore City Police were deployed at the locations where the searches were taking place.
The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the serial bombings in Sri Lanka that left 253 people dead in the island nation. The Sri Lankan government, however, claimed local terror group National Thowheed Jamath carried out the attacks with support from the Islamic State.
A two-member team of the National Investigation Agency had visited Colombo on May 29 to exchange information on suspects of the Easter Sunday attack. The NIA team shared share details of suspects, reportedly from Tamil Nadu and Kerala, who allegedly have links with the National Towheed Jamaath.
On April 29, the NIA arrested a 29-year-old man with alleged links to the Islamic State group for reportedly planning to carry out a suicide attack in Kerala.