A five-member team from a French anti-terror agency arrived in Kochi on Wednesday to interrogate an alleged Islamic State terror operative in connection with the 2015 Paris blasts, that left 130 people dead. The French team will interrogate Subahani Haja Moideen, who is under NIA custody, and presently lodged at Central jail in Thrissur district.
“The five-member team from a French anti-terror investigation agency met us at Kochi today,” PTI quoted an NIA official as saying. He said the team arrived in the country after an NIA court in Kochi granted them permission to interrogate Subahani, who had disclosed to the agency that he knew the terrorists who carried out the attack inside a theatre in Paris in 2015.
This is probably the first time that a European probe agency is questioning an Indian prisoner in connection with a terror attack in a foreign country. “They (the French team) will visit Thrissur and meet the accused Subahani at Viyyur Central Prison, as permitted by the court, from December 5 to 7,” the official said.
Another intelligence official confirmed that Moideen was understood to have been laterally involved with the accused in the Paris attack, IANS reported.
Subahani was arrested from Tamil Nadu in 2016 in a crackdown by the NIA with the help of central security agencies and other state police, foiling designs of IS operatives to target some judges of Kerala and foreign tourists. During interrogation, he had told NIA sleuths that Paris bombers — Abdelhamid Abaaoud and Salah Abdeslam — were in his camp in Iraq when he was fighting alongside the IS.
While Abaaoud was killed in a retaliatory fire during the Paris theatre attack in November last year, Abdelslam is in the custody of the French police.
Moideen, however, had said that he had no clue about the plot then and had returned to India by the time the attacks took place. Moideen told interrogators that he could not withstand the violence and war misery in Mosul and decided to leave especially after he saw two of his friends getting killed.
He left India for Istanbul from Chennai in April 2015 on the pretext of performing Umrah — Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. After reaching Istanbul, he had crossed over with other people from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iraqi territory under control of IS, officials said.