The five suspects, arrested in connection with the recent car explosion in front of the Sangameswarar temple at Kottaimedu in Coimbatore, and Jameesha Mubin, who was killed in the blast, allegedly had a list of places where they planned to launch potential attacks.
A senior police officer said it was suspected that some of the arrested persons were “sympathisers” of the Islamic State (IS), an international terror outfit, and one of them, Firoz Ismail, 27, was deported from the UAE for the same reason in 2020.
The suspected “hit list” included places such as Coimbatore Collectorate, office of the City Police Commissioner, Coimbatore Railway Station, Victoria Town Hall and Race Course, said another senior police officer privy to the investigation.
The police found the list of places from Mubin’s house at H.M.P.R Street in Kottaimedu during a search, following the car blast on October 23. The places were code-named as “tourism places”, the officer said.
The search at the residence of Mubin, an engineering graduate, also unearthed a large quantity of explosive materials such as potassium nitrate, aluminium powder, sulphur and charcoal, which the accused had allegedly procured from different places.
According to an officer, it was found during investigation that Mubin watched videos describing the making of crude explosives. Other known accused — Firoz Ismail, Muhammad Thalha, 25, Muhammad Azharudheen, 23, Muhammad Riyas, 27, and Muhammad Nawaz Ismail, 27 — are suspected to have assisted Mubin at various levels.
“When the police entered the house, a stench of chemicals filled the air,” said the officer. Mubin lived with his wife and two children.
The police are checking whether the accused maintained contact with Muhammed Azharudheen, 32, a ‘Facebook friend’ of the mastermind behind Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bombings, Zahran Hashim, whom the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested in June 2019 for allegedly heading the IS module based in Coimbatore.
As part of the investigation into the alleged module, the NIA had searched Mubin’s then residence.
Responding to journalists on Tuesday, Coimbatore City Police Commissioner V. Balakrishnan said the investigators were checking whether Mubin or his associates visited Azharudheen in a prison in Kerala.
“It is learnt the accused have visited Kerala. We are checking why and when they went to Kerala,” he said, adding that the police were collecting surveillance camera visuals from places around the blast site to examine the movement of the accused.
Mr. Balakrishnan confirmed that Thalha, who is accused of sourcing the car for Mubin, is a relative of S.A. Basha, the jailed founder president of Al-Ummah, which is banned for its involvement in the 1998 serial bombings in Coimbatore.