New Delhi: Dreaded global terror outfit ISIS appears to have made its debut in India, with its first major terror attack plot foiled by the security agencies. A group of four self-radicalised Islamic State operatives in Uttarakhand had planned to carry out a series of low-intensity blasts in the Ardh Kumbh mela in Uttarakhand and at some strategic places in New Delhi. The four operatives were allegedly directly in touch with ISIS bosses Shafi Armar, who handles recruitment for Ansar-ut Tawhid fi Bilad al-Hind (AuT), the Indian offshoot of ISIS. A former Indian Mujahideen operative, Shafi is the brother of Sultan, who gained notoriety by becoming the first Indian to die fighting for ISIS in Syria last year.
The four suspects, identified as Akhlaq ur-Rehman, Mohammed Osama, Mohammed Azim Shah and Mehroz, were arrested from Manglour town in Uttarakhand’s Hardwar district on Tuesday night and produced in a court here on Wednesday, which sent them to 15 days’ police custody, special commissioner of police (special cell) Arvind Deep said.
Their design was to create panic and mayhem with the blasts, that could have led to the death of a large number of devotees in a stampede at the large religious gathering. The plotters also hoped to spark a communal outbreak given the heavy religious symbolism of the event, top sources said.
ISIS suspect grilled for Pathankot too
Special commissioner of police (special cell) Arvind Deep refused to give any more details, including the specific outfit the suspects belonged to, and said: “The national capital faces a threat until the entire module is busted.”
The Union home ministry is on its toes and has decided to rework its counter-radicalisation strategy as its policy to tackle the growing ISIS threat had roped in only 13 states, that did not include Uttarakhand.
The four suspected ISIS operatives were using social media platforms to remain in touch with ISIS bosses.
One suspect, Akhlaq, is also being questioned over the attacks in Pathankot. Sources said Akhlaq was studying for a diploma in engineering and was weaned towards Islamic State by reading inflammatory ISIS posts on Facebook and its online magazine Dabiq. Later, he is learnt to have got in touch with Shafi Amrar, who radicalised him and three others.
A large number of incriminating material has been recovered, with sources saying these men were making bombs by collecting explosives from matchsticks, among other things. Also, their involvement in all possible ISIS networks is being verified....