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Mangaluru blast case: Who are the men suspected to have aided Mohammed Shariq?

The police are searching for associates of Mohammed Shariq, accused of carry a bomb which accidentally went off in an auto-rockshaw in Mangaluru last week. What is the case, and what do we know about his co-conspirators?

mangaluruCryptocurrency, the police suspect, is the main mode through which the blast was financed. (PTI)

After a bomb blast in an auto-rickshaw in Mangaluru last week, the police are on the lookout for the associates of 24-year-old Mohammed Shariq, who was carrying the bomb. The police suspect that the men were inspired by terror outfit Islamic State (ISIS), and Shariq was taking the bomb somewhere when it accidentally went off.

Shariq is under treatment for the extensive burns he suffered in the auto-rickshaw, while search is on for his co-conspirators.

Mangaluru blast case: Who are the suspected co-conspirators?

Abdul Matheen Taha, Musabbir Hussain and Arafath Ali — all residents of Thirthahalli, around 60 km from Shivamogga, are the suspects in the case.

Taha and Hussain are absconding since 2020, when a case was filed against them in Bengaluru for trying to create an ISIS-inspired gang by drawing in members from southern states. Arafath Ali is suspected to have left for Dubai a few years ago.

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Both Taha and Hussain are wanted by the National Investigation Agency.

A cooker fitted with detonator, wires and batteries found during the investigation after an explosion in an auto-rickshaw in Mangaluru, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. (PTI Photo)

What do we know about them?

According to ADGP (Law and Order) Alok Kumar, Arafath Ali is suspected to be Shariq’s immediate handler, below Abdul Matheen Taha in the hierarchy. Hussain is also part of the group. All of them aided Shariq in preparing the bomb that exploded on Saturday, the police said.

The NIA has intensified their search for the trio, and the agency recently announced a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh for anyone with information about Matheen.

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Ali fled to Dubai post the Mangaluru graffiti case in 2020, in which Shariq and two others — Maaz Muneer Ahmad from Mangaluru and Syed Yasin of Shivamogga — are accused of painting ‘pro-terror slogans’ on a wall.

Mangaluru bomb blast case: Accused Mohammed Shariq in hospital

How was the attack financed?

Cryptocurrency, the police suspect, is the main mode through which the blast was financed.

Kumar said Monday that Shariq had used bitcoins. Among the teams set up for the probe is a forensic unit, which is looking at the digital trail of transactions by Shariq. The police also suspect that there might have been foreign funding, possibly channeled by Arafat, to help the accused carry out these activities.

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Many of the equipment used in the bomb were procured from online stores.

What was the device used for the explosion?

Investigations by the Karnataka State Police have revealed that Shariq had used an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) for the blast.

According to the police, around 500 gm of gunpowder was the main ingredient of the IED. However, the low-intensity bomb was prepared by “inexperienced persons”, they said.

Earlier this year, Shariq along with Yasin and Maz had carried out a trial blast along the banks of River Tunga in Shivamogga, The bomb was prepared by referring to easily available literature on IEDs. Shariq had been accused of radicalising the other two.The three were members of a Telegram channel called Al Hayat run by ISIS, through which, the police suspect, they received basic information on making bombs.

Is there any link to the Coimbatore blast?

As of now, the police said, no direct link has surfaced to the Coimbatore blast of October this year.

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One common thing, however, is that the accused in both cases had past terror links. The 29-year old Jamesha Mubin, who was killed when his car loaded with gas cylinders exploded near a temple in Coimbatore, had been questioned by the NIA in 2019.

First published on: 23-11-2022 at 08:00 IST
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