India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) carried out searches at six locations in Tamil Nadu today in connection with the alleged plot by an ISIS-inspired group to murder leaders of Hindu organisations in the ISIS Coimbatore module case and also for the links of the terror group’s suspects with the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka in April this year.
An NIA spokesperson in New Delhi said that the probe agency carried out searches at the houses of the associates of the charge-sheeted accused persons in the ISIS Coimbatore module case registered in September last year, the IANS news service reported.
The agency carried out searches at two locations in Coimbatore city, one location each in Sivaganga, Tiruchirapalli, Nagapattinam and Thoothukudi districts of the state. He said during searches, two laptops, eight mobile phones, five SIM cards, one SD card and 14 documents have been seized.
“Seized articles would be subjected to forensic examination. And the persons searched were being questioned to verify their association with the charge-sheeted accused persons besides any role in this crime,” the spokesperson said.
According to the NIA, the case pertains to the criminal conspiracy hatched by six charge-sheeted accused persons and their associates, with the intention of furthering the objectives of ISIS by targeting certain Hindu activists in Coimbatore.
According to the central probe agency, the accused persons arrested by Tamil Nadu Police in the case in September, 2018 and charge-sheeted by NIA in February, 2019 had conducted preparations, including reconnaissance of targets, for launching such attacks, which would have caused communal disharmony and terror in the state.
He said investigation in the case revealed that the charge-sheeted accused persons and their associates were radicalised on the violent extremist ideology of ISIS by following the speeches and videos of the Sri Lankan IS leader Zahran Hashim, over social media platforms.
Another NIA official in Chennai said that the NIA was probing the alleged conspiracy to kill Hindu Makkal Katchi leader Arjun Sampath and his son Omkar by the Islamic State-inspired groups. He said that the raids were conducted after the agency got the inputs during the questioning of several arrested terror suspects.
On April 21, serial bomb attacks rocked Sri Lanka and claimed over 250 lives. The killings were claimed by the Islamic State group. The official said that the agency has detained two people from Coimbatore in connection with the case and was questioning them for allegedly being in touch with people associated with ISIS Coimbatore module suspects to carry out terror attacks in India with the intention of establishing Islamic rule.
They have been identified as Nissar from GM Nagar area and Sauridin from Lorrypet area of the city. The central probe agency was alerted by the local police in July about the plot.
Earlier in July, the agency had conducted searches at 14 locations in Tamil Nadu as part of its probe into the ISIS-Ansarulla terror module case.
On September 21, the NIA had conducted a search at the residence of a man in Tirunelveli district in the state for his alleged association with the terrorist gang. On August 29, the anti-terror probe agency conducted searches across multiple locations in Coimbatore in connection with a terror alert issued to Tamil Nadu.
In September last year, a Special Investigation Unit of the Coimbatore police had foiled a plot by seven members of an IS-inspired Islamic group in Tamil Nadu to murder Sampath, Hindu Munnani leader Mookambikai Mani and Sakthi Sena leader Anbu Mari.
Since then NIA has been working and gathering information in South India and looking into activities of suspected radicalised youths. According to NIA officials, Tamil Nadu tops the list of Indian states where anti-terror agencies have unearthed modules of Salafi jihadists over a period of five years since 2014.
The NIA has claimed to have arrested 127 ISIS sympathisers from across India since 2014 and 33 were from Tamil Nadu.