National

IS-inspired group was on radar for 4 months

Police personnel produce the six men held in Kerala for being part of an IS-inspired group, before an NIA court in Kochi on Monday.  

A day after six men, part of an Islamic State-inspired group, were arrested in Kerala, a senior Home Ministry official said the arrival of their suspected ring leader, Manseed alias Omar al Hindi (30), from Qatar four days back was the trigger for the arrests though the group was on the radar for four months now.

The accused, who were radicalised online, had formed a group called ''Ansar-ul-Khilafah Kerala'' (soldiers of the Caliphate as propagated by IS) on Telegram — a web-based application platform, a senior Home Ministry official told The Hindu.

One of the accused, Jasim N.K. (24) — an engineer and the only one with an active Facebook account — was following Islamic preacher Zakir Naik and posted several messages against killings in Syria by the Assad regime and also about children and women killed in Palestine. His social media account also said that he was a keen follower of football and cricket and he last posted a message on May 3.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which made the arrests on Sunday, said the accused were inspired by the IS and had assembled on a hilltop at Kannur in Kerala to plan blasts and attacks against key politicians in Kerala and Tamil Nadu when they were apprehended. However, no explosives were found on them, said the official.

“We had been tracking the group for few months and then Manseed reached Kerala from Qatar four days back. We decided to keep them under watch but then they assembled at a hilltop in Kannur, we suspected that they might carry out some attack immediately, so they were apprehended,” a senior NIA official said.

Manseed, a resident of Kannur, is married and was working in Qatar for the past few years.

Another accused, Abu Basheer (29) alias Rasheed is a mechanic. The third accused, Swalih Mohammed T. (26), works at Club Mahindra in Chennai, and the fourth, Safwan P. (30), works as a designer for a newspaper.

The other two suspects, Jasim N.K. (25) and Ramshad (24), are cousins. Ramshad worked as an accountant.

“We are going through their social media accounts and have confiscated their phones and other electronic devices. They were radicalised online gradually and were brought together by Manseed,” said the official.

The NIA was investigating whether Manseed was getting directions from someone else to carry out attacks here.