August 8, 2016 1:43:41 am
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has made yet another arrest in its ongoing crackdown against alleged Islamic State (IS) recruits, in Parbhani, 524 km east of Mumbai. Iqbal Ahmed Kabir Ahmed (28), a resident of Gulzar colony in Parbhani, was arrested Sunday after the previously arrested accused Nasir Chaus and Shaheed Khan invoked his role in the case during their interrogation.
Iqbal is alleged to be a part of the “Parbhani module” that, as sources had claimed, were planning to carry out an attack on the Aurangabad ATS unit. The group was also planning to target former Superintendent of Police (SP) Navinchandra Reddy, who killed an alleged Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) operative in 2012.
According to sources, Ahmed is a co-conspirator in the case and was involved in the planning of the attack since its inception. “Chaus and Khan have revealed that the Parbhani module was not limited to the two of them and involved a few more local youths. Ahmed was a part of the plan from the very beginning and therefore we have arrested him,” a senior official from the agency told The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, a fourth person has also been detained by the ATS sleuths. “We are interrogating a fourth suspect and we have reasons to believe that he too was a part of the module from the very start. Once the interrogation is competed, we are likely to place him under arrest ,” the official added.
Last month, the ATS arrested Chaus and Khan were arrested from Parbhani. The ATS has booked them for criminal conspiracy under Section 120 (B) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and certain sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
A low intensity Improvised Explosive Device (IED) – prepared using a potent mix of match stick powder, sulfur, charcoal , urea and potassium nitrate (saltpetre) with shrapnel embedded in it ‘to cause extra damage’ – was recovered from Khan’s ancestral home where his grandmother is staying.
They have told interrogators that they were assembling a bomb to carry out a lone wolf attack to avenge the killing of an alleged SIMI operative Khalil Akhil Khilji (20), who was gunned down in an encounter by the Aurangabad unit of ATS in April 2012.
Khilji was the part of the Khandawa module, whose members escaped the Madhya Pradesh prison in October 2013. The group was a part of module floated by alleged SIMI leader Safdar Nagori who parted from the newly formed faction now known as the Indian Mujahideen (IM). Nagori opted for the tradition methods and did not approve of use of technology as adopted by the IM.
For the same, they had recced the Aurangabad ATS office and Aurangabad Rural Police headquarters in June this year. According to sources, Chaus, who was crowned the ‘Amir (chief) of the Parbhani module’, started discussing ‘targets’ with his Syria-based handler Farooque alias Yusuf sometime in December last year and the two used code language to discuss this.
It was one such ‘coded exchanges’ between the two that the ATS sleuths managed to intercept and put Chaus on surveillance. And in June, when the ATS, through its informant network, learnt that Chaus and his arrested accomplice Shaheed Khan had recced the Aurangabad Rural Police headquarters where the then ATS SP, Navinchandra Reddy, who carried out the 2012 encounter is now posted, the ATS arrested Chaus. Subsequently Khan was also arrested,” the official disclosed. For the attacks, Farooque had also transfered Rs one lakh through the hawala route to Chaus.
The statement of the hawala operator has been recorded and he has allegedly told the ATS sleuths that he was not aware that the funds were being transferred for terror related activities.
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