NIA conducts searches in Coimbatore over terror alert

NIA conducts searches in Coimbatore over terror alert

NIA searches were conducted at the residences of five people in the city to ascertain if they had any links with Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists. (Image for Representation)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday conducted searches at five locations here in connection with its ongoing probe into the IS Kerala-Tamil Nadu module.

The premises belonged to five associates of Mohammed Azarudheen and Shiek Hidayathulla, who were arrested in June, for their alleged links with IS.

Azarudheen was not just friends with Zahran Hashim, one of the suicide bombers of the deadly Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, on Facebook but was actively involved in propagating the messages of the suicide bomber on the social media.  

"During searches today (Thursday) at the houses of five associates of the accused persons, digital devices, including 1 laptop, 5 mobile phones, 4 SIM cards, 1 memory card and 8 CDs/DVDs, and a large number of incriminating documents have been seized,” a statement from the NIA said.

The suspects were being questioned about their association with the arrested persons and their involvement in the conspiracy aimed at furthering the objectives of the Islamic State (IS), the NIA said. The raids came a week after Coimbatore and other cities in Tamil Nadu were put under red alert following reports that six LeT terrorists had infiltrated into Tamil Nadu by sea from Sri Lanka

Azarudheen and his aides were questioned by the NIA in June following lodging of a case against them for allegedly propagating the ideology of terror outfit, ISIS, on social media to recruit new members for carrying out attacks in South India.  

Azarudeen is the leader of the module and has been maintaining a Facebook page named “KhilafahGFX”, through which he propagated the ideology of ISIS and has also been sharing radical contents attributed to the Sri Lankan suicide bomber, the agency said.

However, Azarudeen’s direct connection with the blasts in Sri Lanka have not been established so far. National Thowheed Jamaat, a little-known organisation in Sri Lanka, had claimed responsibility for the attacks that shook the tiny island nation on April 21. The NTJ is a splinter group of Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamaat, an offshoot of Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamaat, an organisation based in Chennai.

The TNTJ has denied any links with the NTJ and condemned the blasts as well. Speaking about the arrests, NIA officials said the six persons were propagating the ideology of proscribed terrorist organization ISIS on social media with the intention of recruiting vulnerable youth into the ISIS for carrying out terrorist attacks in South India especially in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.