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16 Tamil Nadu men were planning terror attacks, through knives, vehicles and poison: NIA

The NIA alleged that they had come together to form a terror group called Ansarulla and the accused had also collected funds and made preparations to carry out terrorist attacks in India, "with the intention of establishing Islamic rule in India."

NIA further claimed that it has booked the 16 in a case registered on July 9.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Friday identified the 14 terror suspects, who were deported this week from UAE and alleged that they were associated with varied ideologies of Al Qaeda, Islamic State and Students Islamic Movement of India. Along with the 14 suspects, two others were arrested and have been remanded in NIA custody for eight days. All 16 suspects hail from Tamil Nadu.

The NIA alleged that they had come together to form a terror group called Ansarulla and the accused had also collected funds and made preparations to carry out terrorist attacks in India, “with the intention of establishing Islamic rule in India.” It further alleged that the group members were exhorting others to carry out lone-wolf attacks using knives, vehicles or even poison.

In a statement, NIA said, “Accused persons have been actively recruiting individuals to strike terror in India and have also been routinely posting videos and other jihadi propaganda material exhorting their supporters to conduct terrorist attacks using various methods including the use of explosives, poison, knives and vehicles, as means of attack.”

NIA further claimed that it has booked the 16 in a case registered on July 9, “based on credible information received that the accused persons, owing allegiance to the proscribed terrorist organizations ISIS/ Daish, Al Qaida and SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India), while being within and beyond India, had conspired and conducted preparations to wage war against the Government of India by forming a terrorist gang Ansarulla.”

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Security establishment sources said the suspects were deported from UAE in two batches of seven with the first who arrived on July 13 and the second on July 15. The apprehended individuals were taken to Chennai in a special flight where they were produced in a court.

The 14 deported from UAE have been identified as Mohamed Ibrahim, 58; Meeran Ghani, 33; Gulam Nabi Asath, 37; Rafi Ahmed, 55; Munthasir, 39; Umar Barook, 48; Farook, 26; Mohamed Sheik Maitheen, 40; Ahamed Azarudhen, 27; Toufiq Ahmed, 27; Mohamed Ibrahim, 36; Mohammed Afzar, 29; Mohideen Seeni Shahul Hameed, 59, and Faizal Sharief, 44.

It is suspected the individuals owing allegiance to SIMI are associated with Wahadat-e-Islami Hind, an Islamic organisation in Tamil Nadu.

Last week, NIA conducted raids at premises of three individuals in Tamil Nadu in connection with its probe into activities of Ansarullah. One among them was Chennai-resident Syed Bukhari, who is also the president of Wahadat-e-Islami Hind.

The agency then put two of the individuals — Hassan Ali and Harish Mohammed — both from Nagapattinum, under arrest “based on incriminating facts revealed during searches and subsequent investigations”. They along with Bukhari are already accused in the July 9 FIR against Ansarullah.

While Wahadat-e-Islami Hind (WIH) has maintained it is a religious organisation with no connection to radical Islam in interviews to local media, sources in Tamil Nadu police said that intelligence agencies suspect the organisation was helping fund activities of Ansarullah. WIH was established in 2009 in Chennai as a religious organisation and soon ran into controversy with intelligence inputs suggesting that it was associated with SIMI, an organisation proscribed by the government. WIH had then denied such allegations.

During searches at the residence and official premises of the accused last week, the NIA claimed to seize nine mobile phones, 15 SIM cards, seven memory cards, three laptops, five hard discs, six pen drives, two tablets and three CDs/ DVDs besides documents including magazines, banners, notices, posters and books.