Church Street blast accused in NIA net

Rafeeq had stabbed a policeman recently in City

Church Street blast accused in NIA net

More than a year after the Church Street blast, which claimed the life of a young mother and left many injured, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested an activist of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), who is accused of planting the bomb.

The blast occurred in front of Coconut Grove restaurant on the upmarket road in Central Bengaluru on December 28, 2014.

Mohammed Rafeeq alias Jaweed alias Alam Jeb Afridi, a resident of Ahmedabad, was picked up by NIA and Counter-Intelligence Cell of Telangana on January 23 night from a house in Parappana Agrahara on Hosur Road here. Rafeeq stabbed a Telangana police personnel during the operation.

According to the NIA, Rafeeq was asked by his “handler” to plant the bomb in Church Street, targeting an Israeli delegation, which was scheduled to visit the restaurant for dinner that night.

The NIA claims Rafeeq has been living in Bengaluru since last three years and has confessed to his involvement in the blast. He has also confessed that he was behind the minor arson at Israel Visa Centre at Mittal Towers on M G Road on November 25, 2015. The special NIA court here on Friday remanded Rafeeq in NIA custody for 10 days.

According to the NIA, Rafeeq was wanted in a case relating to a terrorist training camp run by SIMI at Waghamon in Kerala which was attended by top leaders of the proscribed outfit. He is a close associate of several top SIMI leaders and also a suspect in the Ahmedabad blast of July 2008.

According to the NIA, Rafeeq has been on the run since the Ahmedabad blast and a reward of Rs 3 lakh was announced for any information leading to his arrest. After coming to Bengaluru around three years ago, he lived on the City outskirts working as a mechanic for air conditioners.

Sources said that apart from his confession, certain vital circumstantial evidence also point to Rafeeq as the planter of the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on Church Street. Investigators analysed Rafeeq's physical features, including his walking style, and found most of the profiling features matched.

The NIA had recently released CCTV footage of the suspect walking on Church Street with a backpack and baseball cap. The officials found that the suspect in the arson at the Israeli Visa Centre also had a similar profile.

“It is learnt that he wanted to plant the bomb inside Coconut Grove restaurant but was deterred by the presence of staff and planted it outside near the wall. He had done so on the instruction of his handler, who had informed him about the probable visit of an Israeli delegation to the café that night.

During preliminary examination, he disclosed that his handler had taught him the technique of making the bomb for which he procured the material locally,'' NIA stated.

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