NIA searches 31 locations in Tamil Nadu Telangana in Islamic State recruitment case

The investigation agency is probing an ISIS angle into the blast that took place in Coimbatore in October, 2022; 22 locations in Coimbatore were searched; digital devices and documents seized are being examined, the NIA said

September 16, 2023 08:51 am | Updated September 17, 2023 01:16 am IST - COIMBATORE

NIA sleuths conducting searches in Kottaimedu in Coimbatore city on Saturday, September 16, 2023

NIA sleuths conducting searches in Kottaimedu in Coimbatore city on Saturday, September 16, 2023 | Photo Credit: Siva Saravanan S

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday carried out searches at 31 locations in Tamil Nadu and Telangana as part of a crackdown on a radicalisation and recruitment campaign by the Islamic State (IS) terror group.

The agency seized several digital devices, documents, and incriminating books in vernacular and Arabic languages during the searches, in addition to ₹60 lakh in Indian currency and $18,200. The NIA is in the process of examining the data in the seized mobile phones, laptops and hard discs, it said in a press release.

The NIA teams searched 22 locations in Coimbatore, three in Chennai, one at Kadaiyanallur in Tenkasi district, and five in Hyderabad.

The searches were carried out in connection with a case registered by NIA, Chennai under Sections 120B, 121A of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 13, 18, 18B of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

The case pertains to clandestine operations by a group of individuals to radicalise gullible youth. The radicalisation was being carried out in the garb of holding Arabic language classes conducted through their regional study centres. Such radicalisation activities were being flashed online through social media platforms and mobile applications such as WhatsApp and Telegram, the NIA said.

The NIA investigations revealed that IS-inspired agent provocateurs were engaged in propagation of Khilafat ideology, which is inimical to India’s constitutionally established principles of secularism and democracy, the agency said.

The group of persons involved in the case had entered into a conspiracy to radicalise and recruit youth who were later found involved in terrorist as well as unlawful acts and activities. One such terror attack related to the Coimbatore car bomb blast case of October 23, 2022, it said.

The agency said that investigations in the case were continuing, as part of the NIA’s concerted efforts to thwart the IS attempts to initiate vulnerable and susceptible youth into the terrorist network that is working actively to spread terror in the country with the overarching aim of disturbing and disrupting its peace and communal harmony.

In Coimbatore, the house of a DMK ward councillor, M. Mubaseera, in the Kottai area was among the 22 locations searched by the anti-terror agency. The NIA also searched the residences of Amjad Ali Khan, a Ph.D. scholar, at Bilal Estate, and Ibrahim, faculty member of a private college, at Kavundampalayam.

However, no arrest has been made so far, sources said.

Earlier this month, the NIA arrested Mohammed Azarudeen, who is lodged at the Viyyur High-Security Prison in Thrissur, Kerala in another case linked to the IS module in Tamil Nadu, for his involvement in the Coimbatore blast case.

The bomb blast took place in a car on October 23 in front of a temple at Ukkadam. The prime suspect, Jamesha Mubeen, who was driving the cylinder-laden Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosives Device (VBIED) was killed in the explosion.

The agency has so far filed two chargesheets in the case before the NIA Court in Chennai.

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