A document titled ‘Bomb banane ka asaan tarika (Easy way to make a bomb)’ posted on the website justpaste.it, with instructions on how to make bombs using household materials like matchsticks, was shared among suspected Indian recruits of the Islamic State (IS), security agencies have found.
Instructions to access the nearly 12-page document were sent to several suspected recruits through secure messaging platforms like Kik, investigations by agencies such as the NIA into the activities of those arrested from across the country for alleged IS links have shown.
NIA investigations of the December 28, 2014 bomb blast at Bengaluru’s Church Street, following the arrest of former activist of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) Alamzeb Afridi this January, have revealed that he assembled the bomb with the help of this document. It was allegedly provided to Afridi by an unidentified person he was in touch with on Kik, investigators found.
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The document outlines methods of using substances like firecrackers and matchsticks as sources of explosives, and two small bulbs — one with its filament exposed — as detonators, apart from giving multiple options for containers for the bomb, ranging from cookers to GI pipes.
Afridi allegedly told investigators that he shaved off the tips of matchsticks to generate explosive material and mixed it with substances such as sugar (also listed in the manual) to create the bomb that exploded on December 28, 2014, killing a woman who was out for dinner with her family.
Since Afridi’s arrest, the bomb manual has been retrieved as evidence in the case. “The document has been created by someone in the Middle East. The link to the document was sent to Afridi via Kik messenger by an anonymous person,” said sources familiar with the probe.
“The document is a step-by-step guide on making an IED with details of the kind of pipe to be used and household materials that can serve as explosives,” said sources.
The mixture of potassium chlorate and sulphur that goes into tips of matchsticks is an explosive material when used in large quantities, according to forensic experts. A forensic report soon after the blast in Bengaluru had revealed the presence of potassium and sulphur as residual material.
The document was also found in the possession of Mohammed Nafees Khan, 22, a youth from Hyderabad who was arrested by the NIA in January this year for allegedly being part of a group of Indian IS supporters called the Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind, sources said.
Investigations have shown that Afridi allegedly shared know-how on making bombs with Khan. Sources said Khan also received links to the same document from an anonymous source, suspected to be former Indian Mujahideen operative Shafi Armar, who is now believed to be in Syria with the IS.
Investigations found that Khan, at the time of his arrest, had begun the process of attempting to create an IED using the instruction manual he accessed online. He is alleged to have purchased a GI pipe and got a hole drilled in it as specified in the manual. Khan was also found to have been collecting matchsticks to allegedly derive explosives for a bomb.
The instruction manual was also found to have been used by another alleged member of the Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind group, arrested in January and identified as Mumbai-based Mudabbir Shaikh. Home-made detonators described in the manual and matchbox cartons were seized from his residence, too.
Four youths arrested in Uttarakhand in January for alleged links to the IS — Akhlaq ur-Rehman, Mohammed Osama, Mohammed Azim Shah and Mehroz — were also found to be in possession of a large quantity of matchsticks with the intent of extracting explosive material.
One of the common links to emerge among the over two dozen Indian youths, investigated for their close links with the IS in recent months, is their association with a man who has used multiple online identities, said sources. He is suspected to be former Bhatkal resident Shafi Armar, 29, whose older brother Sultan Armar, 39, was reported by IS websites to have been killed in Syria in 2014, said sources. Shafi Armar is alleged to have been the provider of the bomb instruction manual to Afridi and Khan.
Prior to the recent arrests of youths linked to the IS, the use of matchsticks to generate explosives for IEDs was known to have been attempted by a group of SIMI fugitives who escaped from a prison in Madhya Pradesh in 2013. On September 12, 2014, there was an accidental explosion at the gang’s hideout in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh.
Investigations of the hideout after the blast revealed two unopened cartons of matchsticks, apart from a pile of matchsticks that had been stripped of the potassium chlorate and sulphur tips. A large amount of the inflammable material was found reduced to ashes in the accidental blast.
During interrogations following their arrest in February this year in Rourkela, Odisha, three of the alleged SIMI fugitives revealed that they were initially trying to use LPG cylinders and oxygen to create an IED but switched to matchsticks and firecrackers when this failed, said sources.