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Revealing the details of her husband’s failed attempt to carry out a lone-wolf attack, the statement of the wife of an alleged Islamic State (IS) recruit now forms the main piece of evidence against him. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the case of two Gujarat-based brothers planning to carry out lone-wolf attacks on “kafirs” (non-believers) on the orders of their foreign-based “online handler”, filed a chargesheet at a Rajkot Court earlier in the week.
According to the agency, brothers Vaseem Ramodiya (32) and Naeem Ramodiya (28) were allegedly indoctrinated into the IS fold by their online handler who operated through Telegram messenger service with the ID “Big Cat” and “One Goal”. The duo were assigned with the task of carrying out a lone-wolf attack in their neighbourhood on non-believers.
In pursuit of the said conspiracy, the handler shared links on “how to make a bomb” with the brothers.
During the course of the probe, the NIA questioned Shazeen, Vaseem’s, wife who disclosed before the agency that she was aware of her husband’s activities but failed in her attempts to deradicalise him.
In her statement before the agency, Shehzeen has revealed the details of a failed lone-wolf attack attempt carried out by her husband in January this year. She stated that Vaseem left home armed with a rambo knife and went to Chotila, a temple town around 40 kms from Rajkot.
There, he waited near a hillock to look for “kafirs” with the plan to stab them. However he developed cold feet and decided to give up the plan. In that moment, he phoned her up and told her that he was giving up the plan to kill. She then requested him to return, the chargesheet states.
“Shehzeen was aware of Vaseem’s plan to join IS. Many a times, she even tried to reason out but he was highly indoctrinated. Vaseem used to also show her various videos and audio message, which are a part of the IS media propaganda. He told her that he was inspired by the videos. He had plans to move to Syria and take her along asserting that he wanted to join the real war and serve the Caliphate,” said an official privy to the details.
“In January, on the orders of his handler, he decided to carry out a lone-wolf attack by stabbing devotees outside a famed Hindu temple near Rajkot. However, when he reached there, he chickened out and rang up his wife. He told her that he won’t be carrying out the plan. She then pleaded with him to return home,” added the official.
Vaseem who had downloaded an application that recorded phone calls, ended up recording this conversation with his wife. The said conversation is now a piece of evidence against Vaseem. “We have recovered all the calls recorded that were saved on his phone. This includes the call he made to his wife where he discussed about the plan to attack devotees but developed a cold feet. Along with her statement, the call record forms a strong piece of evidence against Vaseem,” added the official.
According to NIA, Vaseem was the one who brainwashed his younger brother Naeem by sharing the videos and audios shared by his online handler.
In order to show their allegiance, in October, last year the duo told the handler that they will carry out a blast. The duo also promised to record the incident, so that, IS could later claim as a handiwork of its “foot solider” in the event of the blast becoming a success.
The duo made explosives out of a few fire crackers and placed it on a car. Much to their dismay, the “bomb” did not go off as planned and they fled from the premises. “The owner never lodged a complaint as the car was not damaged and since the incident happened close to Diwali, he thought it could be mischief and therefore, the incident went unnoticed. The duo, however told their handler that they were serious about carrying out the explosions. It was then the handler shared the link on “how to make a bomb” and the duo started to gather material to prepare an IED,” added the official.
The duo who were on the radar of the Gujarat ATS for over a year and were apprehended by them earlier this year when they picked up conversations between the two brothers of gathering material to assemble a bomb. “The ATS nabbed them when they were trying to make an IED based on the links shared by their handlers. A few batteries, along with packets of some powder suspected to be gunpowder used in fire crackers was recovered from them,” added the source.
The case was subsequently transferred by the MHA to the NIA and its Mumbai wing was task with the job of investigating the case.