Bengaluru cleric linked to suicide bombing plot

Bengaluru cleric linked to suicide bombing plot

Suspected al-Qaeda member Maulana Anzarshah Qasmi, who was arrested by the Delhi Police in Bengaluru on Wednesday, allegedly planned suicide bombings in Delhi in which ‘high-profile personalities’ may be among the targets.

Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba is also linked to the plot, the police said on Friday.
Qasmi, 50, has been brought to Delhi on a transit remand and is being interrogated at Delhi Police special cell’s office in south Delhi’s Lodhi Colony. He is being questioned over an FIR registered with special cell police station. The charges are under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Qasmi is the fourth al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) suspect to be nabbed in the past one month. The three earlier arrests were made in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal district. Sources said Qasmi’s name cropped up during the questioning of arrested AQIS suspects Zafar Masood, Mohammed Asif and Abdul Rehman.

Zafar and Abdul confessed to have been in constant touch with Qasmi, while Asif told the police that he met Qasmi at a religious congregation in Bengaluru. The police have recovered incriminating documents from Qasmi and seized laptops which allegedly contained propaganda videos and speeches. According to the police, Qasmi was working with AQIS head Sanaul Haq and had been tasked with setting up AQIS recruitment networks.

The police said the inputs about the terror groups were received by a special cell officer last month upon which he immediately informed his seniors. It is suspected that the groups might also target crowded places in Delhi through suicide bombings and grenade attacks.

“The groups have already infiltrated some terrorists into India through Jammu and Kashmir and other international borders,” a police officer said. The specific inputs also reveal that two suspected LeT operatives, Dujana and Ukasha, will be leading the alleged operation.

The special cell has alerted its sources across India, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir, to launch technical surveillance.

Qasmi was a resident of Iliyasnagar in Bengaluru’s Banashankari 2nd Stage. Qasmi was a cleric at a mosque in Banshankari and had moved to Iliyasnagar last month. He was picked up from his friend’s house at 9.30 pm on Wednesday. On Thursday, a court remanded Qasmi in police custody till January 20.

In July 2015, the special cell had also registered an FIR against unknown persons suspected to be associated with extremist militant group Islamic State (IS) and allegedly conspiring terror attacks in the capital and other cities. In August, the police had also detained a 50-year-old man from outside Iraqi embassy at south Delhi’s Sri Aurobindo Marg over suspected links with Islamic State.

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