The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday carried out raids at 44 locations in Tamil Nadu and Kerala in connection with October 23 Coimbatore blast, in which the alleged bomber was killed when there was an explosion in the car, he was travelling in front of Kottai Eswaran temple, people familiar with the development said.
Among the places raided, 43 locations are in eight districts – Chennai, Coimbatore, Thiruvallur, Thiruppur, Nilgiris, Chengalpatu, Kanchipuram and Nagapattinam – of Tamil Nadu and one district – Palakkad – of Kerala.
“According to preliminary investigations, the accused, Jamesha Mubeen, after taking bayah (oath of allegiance) to the global outfit Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, was planning to carry out suicidal attacks and cause extensive damage to symbols and monuments of a particular religious faith and with the intention to strike terror among a particular section of the community,” the NIA said in a statement on Thursday.
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The ministry of home affairs (MHA) had handed over the probe to the federal agency on October 27.
“During the searches conducted on Thursday, digital devices and incriminating documents were seized from the houses of the suspects,” the NIA said.
Six persons have been arrested so far in the case.
“The accused persons had conspired with the deceased Jamesha Mubeen to procure different chemicals and other ingredients for fabrication of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), including a vehicle borne IED, from online shopping platforms to commit sensational terrorist acts,” the NIA statement added.
The agencies have suspected there could be a larger conspiracy in the incident as Mubin and six men arrested by Tamil Nadu police in the case were in touch with Mohammad Azharuddin, who is currently lodged in jail in connection with his links with ISIS and 2019 Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka.
Also, the local cops found 75 kgs of potassium nitrate, charcoal, sulphur and aluminum powder, which was used to make explosives, from the residence of Mubin in Ukkadam.
The NIA had probed a module of ISIS in Coimbatore, headed by Azharuddin in 2018-19 and found that he, along with another associate Sheikh Hidayatullah, was in touch with April 21, 2019 Sri Lanka bombings mastermind – Maulvi Zahran bin Hashim and were planning to carry out similar strikes in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Hashim and another Sri Lanka bomber – Mohammad Azaan had even travelled to India in 2017 and 2018 to discuss the plans of Islamic State. Indian agencies, based on NIA probe into Coimbatore module, had sent three alerts to Sri Lanka security agencies about a plan to carry out a major strike there.
After the Sri Lanka attacks, in which over 250 people were killed, NIA had registered a suo-motu case on May 30 against six persons from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.