They are being assisted by Pakistan-based groups, says Home Ministry official

Indian security agencies — who are questioning 16 men held by Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh — say the men received instructions from Saudi Arabia-based handlers to identify possible targets for attack, including important political leaders, journalists, and strategic defence establishments, a senior Union Home Ministry official has told The Hindu.

“Recovery of photographs of politicians and sketches of some Army and Navy locations points [to the fact] that they were plotting something big,” the alarmed official said. “They were constantly in touch [with] their Saudi Arabia-based handlers and had passed on information to them after doing reconnaissance of a few places.”

The official said the available information suggested members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia were involved.

“Terrorists from Pakistan and India across various outfits have set up base in Saudi Arabia,” he alleged, “and they are being assisted by the Inter Services Intelligence [ISI] and other Pakistan-based terror groups.”

Pointing out that at least two of the terror suspects arrested in Bangalore had visited Pakistan, the official said: “Before spending two weeks with the ISI, they had even visited Tehran. Pakistan’s ISI is now actively supporting Saudi-Arabia-based modules.”

The official said India was awaiting the deportation from Saudi Arabia of Fasih Mohammed, a suspect in the Bangalore Stadium blast case and the 2010 shooting near Jama Masjid in Delhi. It earlier secured the deportation of 26/11 suspect Zabiuddin Ansari.