The investigation into the explosion of a car in front of the Sangameswarar temple in Coimbatore on October 23 has revealed that the accused conducted multiple recces of three temples on the list of targets before the suspected mastermind and IS-sympathiser, Jameesha Mubin, carried out a possible ‘lone wolf attack’, sources privy to the probe said. [The Tamil Nadu police have maintained that Mubin died following the explosion of an LPG cylinder in the car.]
The interrogation of the six accused who have been arrested so far revealed that Mubin and his relatives-cum-accomplices Muhammad Azharudheen, 23, and Afsar Khan, 28, conducted reconnaissance of the Sangameswarar temple, the Mundhi Vinayagar temple and the Koniamman temple, sources said.
The Sangameswarar and Koniamman temples are within a 1 km distance from Mubin’s rented house at H.M.P.R. Street, and the Vinayagar temple is around 4 km away. The police are collecting all available surveillance camera visuals from the stretches connecting these temples to verify the claim of the accused, who told investigators that Mubin carried out a lone wolf attack. Muhammad Thalha, 25, Muhammad Riyas, 27, Firoz Ismail, 27, and Muhammad Nawaz Ismail, 27, are the other accused in the terror plot. Though Mubin was charred to death in the explosion, the police named him the first accused.
The investigators found that Mubin, Azharudheen and Khan sourced the LPG cylinders from a booking centre at Gandhi Park. They also arranged the three metal cans, which were filled with mixtures of explosive materials along with nails and marbles, from a market near Lorry Pettai at Ukkadam, the sources said.
The accused told the investigators that a combination of explosive materials, LPG cylinders, nails and marbles was used to create a high-impact explosion. However, only one LPG cylinder exploded in the attack, and no serious damage was reported to the temple or other properties nearby.
109 articles recovered
As per the First Information Report registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), 109 articles, including potassium nitrate, black powder, matchbox, cracker fuse for a length of about 2 m, nitro glycerin, red phosphorus, pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) powder, aluminium powder, portable oxygen cylinder, sulphur powder, glass marbles, gas regulator, batteries, wires, iron nails, switch, insulation tape, packing tape, gloves, notebooks on Islamic ideology and details about jihad, were recovered from Mubin’s house.
The sources added that an inspector attached to the Intelligence Section of the Coimbatore City Police, who earlier worked with the NIA on deputation, was part of the agency’s team which questioned Mubin in 2019, suspecting his involvement in activities in support of IS. This helped the police act quickly and search Mubin’s residence after he was identified as the person killed in the car blast.