The National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a massive crackdown on the globally designated terror outfit ISIS, arrested its 15 operatives on Saturday during multiple raids across Maharashtra and Karnataka, an official said.
The arrested accused included the leader of an ISIS module who was administering 'bayath' (oath of allegiance) to new recruits, a spokesperson of the federal anti-terror agency said.
Huge amounts of unaccounted cash, firearms, sharp-edged weapons, incriminating documents, smart phones and other digital devices were seized during the raids.
Several NIA teams swooped down on as many as 44 locations in Padgha-Borivali, Thane, Mira Road and Pune in Maharashtra, and Bengaluru in Karnataka early Saturday morning, and apprehended the 15 accused for allegedly promoting terror and terror-related acts and activities of the proscribed organisation, the official said.
What did the officials say?
According to an official, the accused, operating on the directions of their foreign handlers, had been actively involved in various terrorist activities, including fabrication of improvised explosive devices, for furthering the violent and destructive agenda of the ISIS.
"The investigations have revealed that the accused, all members of the ISIS Maharashtra module, were operating from Padgha-Borivali, where they had hatched the conspiracy to spread terror and carry out acts of violence across India.
"Pursuing the path of violent jihad (holy war), Khilafat, ISIS etc., the accused had aimed to disturb the peace and communal harmony of the country and to wage a war against the Government of India," the spokesperson said.
The official said initial investigations have revealed that the arrested accused had self-declared the village of Padgha in rural Thane as a "liberated zone" and as "Al Sham".
They were motivating impressionable Muslim youths to relocate from their place of residence for strengthening the Padgha base, the spokesperson said.
The official said Saqib Nachan, the main accused and the leader of the ISIS module, was also administering 'bayath' (oath of allegiance to the Khalifa of ISIS ) to the persons joining the proscribed organisation.