The 14 men picked up by the NIA for alleged links with the Islamic State (IS) had learnt bomb-making from the internet, officials said. During searches, NIA investigators found pictures detailing bomb-making through use of readily available explosives such as hydrogen peroxide, ammonium nitrate and potassium chlorate.
Sources said these pictures have been downloaded from various jihadi websites, including those connected to the al-Qaeda. Notably, the NIA had Friday recovered five bottles of hydrogen peroxide along with timer devices and wires from the house of one of the accused in Hyderabad. It had also recovered a black powdery substance, suspected to be a low grade explosive.
The agency Saturday made eight more arrests in connection with its open FIR against the Islamic State, bringing the count of total arrests in the case to 14. The agency had already kept these men under detention for the past 24 hours and was questioning them.
The arrests have been made from Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Tumkur, Lucknow, Mumbai and Aurangabad. The agency has also recovered laptops, mobile phones, jihadi literature and pictures and videos linked to the Islamic State from the accused.
The eight accused, along with six others arrested on Friday, had owed allegiance to the Islamic State and were allegedly planning to carry out terror strikes on vital installations, police personnel and foreigners.
While the group was led by Mumbai resident Mudabbir Mushtaq Shaikh, one of the arrested men, Bengaluru-resident Abdul Ahad, has been known to have IS links in the past too. He, his family and two friends had been deported from Turkey last year for attempting to reach Syria to fight alongside IS. He had then been counselled and let off.
The entire group had been radicalised and guided by one Yousuf, who is suspected to be former Indian Mujahideen member Shafi Armar. Under his instructions, Mudabbir not only recruited people for jihadi activities but also formed an outfit named Junud-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind or Soldiers of the Indian Caliphate. While he was the self-appointed chief of the group, he also appointed two members as military commander and finance chief of the group. The group is also suspected to have received Rs 6 lakh from an unknown source for jihadi activities. Rs 2.37 lakh of this was recovered by the NIA on Friday.
Though every member of the group swears by the Islamic State, investigators have not yet got any indication or evidence of the group having been in touch with any active member or recruiter of the terror outfit. Investigators believe the group was self-motivated and only further radicalised by Shafi Armar, who used the name of Islamic State for the pull it generates. Although his brother Sultan Armar is reported to have died fighting alongside IS in Syria, Shafi is suspected to be based in Af-Pak region, said sources.
Investigators are scanning various hard disks, internet communications and laptops seized from the accused to see who all they have been in touch with and more clues to their links with the IS may emerge later, said sources.