THE NATIONAL Investigation Agency on Wednesday conducted raids at multiple locations in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, including the residences of six suspected Islamic State operatives who may have been in touch with the Easter Sunday Sri Lanka bombing mastermind Zahran Hashim. The agency had registered a case against the six on May 30. Later in the day, they put one of the operatives – Mohammed Azarudeen (32) – under arrest.
The suspects are all residents of Coimbatore. Aside from Azarudeen, who the agency claims was the mastermind of the group, the others have been identified as Akram Sindhaa (26), Y. Sheik Hidayathullah (38), Abubacker M (29), Sadham Hussain A (26) and Ibrahim alias Shahin Shah (28).
According to NIA officials, Azaruddin had started a Facebook page called “KhilafahGFX” through which he propagated IS ideology.
“Accused Mohammed Azarudeen has been a Facebook friend of Sri Lankan suicide bomber Zahran Hashim and other members of the module have also been sharing radical content attributed to Zahran Hashim, over social media,” an NIA statement said. Hashim’s attack in the neighbouring country killed more than 250 people.
The agency also claimed that Shahin Shah was a close associate of Riyas Abubackar who was arrested last month by the NIA from Kerala for being in possession of Hashim’s videos and for keeping in touch with 22 youngsters who had fled to Afghanistan from Kasargod and Palakkad in Kerala to join IS.
The raiding team recovered 14 mobile phones, 29 SIM cards, 10 pen drives, three laptops, six memory cards, four hard drives, one internet dongle and 13 CDs/ DVDs besides one dagger, one electric baton, 300 air-gun pellets and several incriminating documents. They also claimed to have also recovered “ PFI/ SDMI pamphlets”.