NEW DELHI, Dec 18: In a massive operation, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) carried out simultaneous raids at 19 locations across four States, arrested eight persons and claimed to have cracked the “Ballari Module,” based at Ballari in Karnataka, of the banned terror outfit Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The NIA said it had successfully foiled plans to trigger IED blasts. NIA arrested eight individuals including the module’s alleged leader Minaz alias Mohammed Suleiman from Ballari. In an official statement, NIA claimed that they have “foiled plans by the accused to carry out terror acts, especially IED blasts.”
Several NIA teams swooped down on the 19 locations spread across Ballari and Bengaluru in Karnataka, Amaravati, Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra, Jamshedpur and Bokaro in Jharkhand, and Delhi. The NIA had registered a case against the ISIS inspired Ballari module on December 14, 2023.
Caches of explosive materials, such as sulphur, potassium nitrate, and gunpowder, as well as weapons and documents with details of proposed strikes have been recovered, the anti-terror agency said. The NIA also recovered sharp-edged weapons like daggers, cash, and digital devices.
The terrorists, who used IM apps to communicate with each other, planned to use the explosive materials to create improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to carry out, as yet unspecified, terror acts. They reportedly also targeted college students to radicalise and recruit.
The NIA case against the Ballari module was filed last week. Since then, the agency has been working closely with state police and other central agencies to track down and apprehend the terrorists.
Last week, the NIA raided over 40 locations in Maharashtra and arrested 15 people, one of whom was the leader of a module, and was administering an oath of allegiance to new recruits. There were also raids in Bengaluru in a related case – one linked to radicalisation by a Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist
During the raids, the NIA recovered large quantities of unaccounted cash, weaponry, sharp implements, sensitive documents, and various digital devices. NIA officials said the accused were operating in India at the direction of “foreign handlers” and had been actively involved in terror activities in the country. The agency also raided locations in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Madhya Pradesh, and recovered an Indian Army uniform, as well as arms and ammunition, cash and jewelry, and other incriminating evidence.
It said the arrested suspects were “cadres and sympathisers” of People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI), a banned group and that they were involved in a conspiracy to commit terrorist activities. The NIA said its probe revealed PLFI cadres were extorting money from coal traders and other businessmen in Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Odisha to finance their terror activities.
The Eight alleged ISIS inspired operatives arrested during the raids on Monday have been identified as Minaz alias Mohammed Suleiman and Syed Sameer from Ballari, Anas Iqbal Shaikh from Mumbai, Mohammad Muniruddin, Syed Samiullah alias Sami, Mohammed Muzammil from Bengaluru, Shayan Rahman alias Hussain from Delhi and Mohammed Shahbaz alias Zulfikar alias Guddu from Jamshedpur. “They were actively involved in promoting terror and terror related acts and activities of IS, the proscribed organisation. The arrested were operating under the leadership of Minaz,” NIA said.
The raids also led to the seizure of explosive raw materials, such as Sulphur, Potassium Nitrate, Charcoal, Gunpowder, Sugar and Ethanol, sharp edged weapons, unaccounted cash and incriminating documents, along with smartphones and other digital devices, NIA said.
Initial investigations revealed that the accused had planned to use the explosive raw materials for fabrication of IEDs, which were to be used for carrying out terror acts. Investigations have further revealed that the accused, in pursuance of the path of violent Jihad, Khilafat, ISIS were continuously in touch with one another via encrypted apps, the release said. “They were specifically targeting college students for recruitment, and were also circulating documents relating to recruitment of Mujahideen for the purpose of Jihad,” it added.
“The raids conducted today were part of NIA’s efforts to thwart the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) anti-terror terror conspiracy against India. The searches were carried out through close coordination and the operational assistance of Karnataka Police, Maharashtra Police, Jharkhand Police and the Delhi Police,” said the release. “The anti-terror agency has been conducting large-scale crackdowns and has busted various ISIS modules in recent months. Several terror operatives have been arrested in these raids by the NIA,” the Agency said.