National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday (29 April) arrested a man, said to be a follower of Zahran Hashim, the Tamil speaking Islamic terrorist said to be the mastermind behind the Sri Lankan Easter Sunday bombing, on the charges of conspiring to commit a terrorist act in Kerala.
The arrested man has been identified as Riyas Aboobacker or Abu Dujana, a resident of Palakkad. He was picked up on Sunday (28 April) in connection with the Kasaragod ISIS module case in the South Indian state.
During interrogation by NIA, Riyas divulged that he has been following speeches/videos of Hashim for more than a year. Riyas also admitted that he has been following the speeches of radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.
Riyas also confessed that he wanted to carry out a suicide attack in Kerala. He admitted that he has been in online contact with absconding accused Abdul Rashid Abdulla, aka Abu Isa, for a long time and has been following his audio clips including the clip which he had circulated on social media platform instigating others to carry out terror attacks in India.
He revealed that he was also having online chat with Abdul Khayoom, aka Abu Khalid, (accused in Valapattanam ISIS case) who was believed to be in Syria.
Zahran Hashim, of whom Riyas is a follower, blew himself up in a suicide attack on a Colombo hotel on Easter Sunday. He appeared in a video released by the ISIS group after they claimed the bombings.
Security forces had been on a desperate hunt for Hashim, believed to be around 40, after the government named the group he led - the National Thowheeth Jama’ath - as its prime suspect.
Riyas will be produced before the NIA court in Kochi on Tuesday (30 April).
The NIA earlier received inputs that a group of four persons has been in contact with some of the accused viz Abdul Rashid, Ashfaq Majeed, Abdul Khayoom etc who had already migrated to Afghanistan and Syria.
After verification, NIA carried out searches at three places (two in Kasaragod and one in Palakkad District) on Sunday.
The probe agency also recovered incriminating evidence from the houses raided.
Mobile phones, SIM cards, memory chips, pen drives and handwritten notes in Arabic and Malayalam were among the material recovered in the raids.
Three group members have been interrogated for their ISIS links and their plans.
The NIA is probing the disappearance of 21 people from the state in May 2016. They are believed to have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the barbaric terror group.
While 17 of them were from Kasargod, four were from Palakkad. Among them were six women and children. Reports say that some of them may have died in the coalition attacks on the terror group that led to its fall.
The NIA raid came seven days after an Islamic State splinter group, National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), targeted three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka killing 253 and injuring around 500. Among the dead were 11 Indians.