The explosives recovered from the house of one of the five Islamic State (IS) suspects, arrested from Hyderabad on Wednesday, could contain chemicals similar to the ones used by the Brussels airport bombers earlier this year, a senior National Investigation Agency (NIA) official said.
Triacetone triperoxide (TATP), recovered from the house of Habeeb Mohammad, can be assembled from chemicals easily available in the market. Officials said it was the group’s leader, Mohammad Ibrahim Yazdani (32), who had tasked Mohammad to prepare the improvised explosive device (IED) at his house. Officials said TATP, most preferred by the IS, was used by the Paris suicide bombers in 2015.
Partially assembled device Mohammad, a school dropout, who was dealing in computer hardware, had partially assembled the “high grade granule chemical” after experimenting on it in a large vessel, the official said. A large number of nails, probably meant to be used as shrapnel, were also recovered from his house, the NIA official said.
Yazdani, an electronics engineer was the only one among the arrested men who was directly in touch with their handler in Syria. The handler, officials believe, is Shafi Armar alias Yousuf Al Hindi, a former Indian Mujahideen (IM) member who had fled the country after the 2008 serial bomb blasts. His name surfaced earlier this year when the NIA arrested 25 men for suspected IS links in a countywide raid in January.
Sole contact “Only Ibrahim Yazdani was in touch with the handler. We have reasons to believe that it is Shafi Armar, as during the chats which we have intercepted, he introduced himself as a resident of Karnataka who travelled to Afghanistan and joined the Ansar ul Tauhid (AuT). He also said that right now he is in Syria to work for the Caliphate,” said the NIA official.
Yazdani, the official said, never spoke to Armar over the phone or ever had a video call with him. They interacted with each other through Telegram — a messaging app — the official said.
“On the directions of his handler, Yazdani showed a You Tube video clip to Mohammad on methods to make the bomb,” said the official.
Yazdani never shared any details about his handler with other members in the group and told them that the information would be given on a “need to know” basis. He did not even share any information about the handler with his younger brother Ilyas Yazdani (24), who is among the five arrested.
Personal contributions The accused had raised Rs 1.5 lakh through personal contributions and most of the money was used in buying explosives and weapons. “It was on the directions of the IS handler that Yazdani sent Mohammad and Ibrahim to Ajmer to procure weapons in June. They were asked to give Rs 65,000 to a contact in Ajmer but they never got the delivery of the weapon, the meeting were fixed by the handler,” said the official. They were then sent to Nanded in Maharashtra from where they procured two 9 MM pistols. Officials said that till now they have not been able to ascertain the source of Rs 15 lakh recovered from Yazdani’s house.
“We recovered a lot of loose money receipts from his house. A notebook containing entries pertaining to financial transactions have also been found and we are scanning the details,” said the official.
Under surveillance Though the group was under surveillance for the past three months, the immediate trigger for the arrests were the phone conversation between the accused which hinted that they were planning to carry out terror strikes at religious places and government buildings.
The other two accused, Mohammed Irfan (27), a mechanic, and Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Amoodi (31), a vehicle painter, were also part of the module. Six others detained for questioning have been released.