Two Qaeda operatives arrested

One has links to K'taka terror modules: Police

Two Qaeda operatives arrested

The Delhi Police have arrested two suspected al-Qaeda operatives in Delhi and Cuttack in Odisha. Mohammad Asif was arrested in Delhi while Mohammad Abdul Rehman was arrested from Paschimagacha village near Jagatpur on the outskirts of Cuttack on Tuesday night.

According to police, Asif is linked to al-Qaeda’s subcontinent wing al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). He was reportedly present at the grand shura of al-Qaeda in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region when the terror group’s Indian subcontinent wing was established.

Rehman, also a member of AQIS, was arrested by a joint team of the Special Cell of Delhi Police and Bhubaneswar- Cuttack Commissionerate Police. The 37-year-old also has links with several terror modules at home and abroad including those in Karnataka, particularly in Bengaluru. A double PhD holder, including one in Arabic, Rehman was running a madrasa near his village with students drawn mostly from Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Commissioner of Police R P Sharma said a mobile phone, a tablet and a passport were seized during the raid. “Rehman was mostly playing the role of a facilitator, organiser and recruiter for AQIS”, Sharma said.

Adding that the suspected terrorist had links with terror modules in India and abroad, especially those based in Pakistan, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, Sharma said: “He was closely associated with modules in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Karnataka, especially Bengaluru.”

Rehman’s brother Tahir Akhtar was arrested in 2001 for his role in the American Centre terror attack in Kolkata.

In Delhi, Asif’s interrogation helped investigators to establish the identity of Mulana Asim Umar, the self-proclaimed emir of AQIS. Umar had emigrated from India in 1995 and joined terror group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.

In September 2014, Ayman al-Zawahiri established AQIS and put out his plans on social media. Asif is the one who dubbed Zawahiri’s speech in Hindi and Urdu.

His interrogation also revealed that he was motivated to join the group through social media. According to him, some other youngsters from his village have fled to Pakistan and joined the terror outfit.

In 2012 Asif got in touch with Umar who convinced him to come to Pakistan. Asif got two more men with him and the finance was arranged by Umar. They applied for visa under the pretext of ziyarat (visit) at Ayatollah Khomaini’s graveyard in Iran.

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