In a major anti-terror swoop across the country ahead of Republic Day, the NIA today took into custody 14 people suspected to be ISIS sympathisers for plotting attacks in different parts of the country.
Of the 14 suspects, six have been arrested while eight have been detained for further questioning, the National Investigation Agency said tonight.
A possible attack may have been averted with the crackdown that came at a time when the country was in a state of heightened alert, as investigators questioned the arrested people. Some of them were stated to be software engineers.
The arrests were made following simultaneous searches and raids conducted at 12 locations in six cities--Bangalore, Tumkur, Mangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Lucknow with the support of local police forces. ATS, Maharashtra also conducted raids/ reaches at 2 other locations.
In a press statement, the NIA said that certain incriminating articles, including but not limited to mobile phones, laptops, unaccounted cash, jihadi literature and videos and certain material for preparation of bombs were recovered from these places.
"These individuals were planning and making efforts to establish a channel of procurement of explosives/weapons, identify locations to organize training camps including training of firearms, motivate new recruits to target police officers, foreigners in India and to carry out terrorist activities in various parts of India," it said.
The NIA said it received information that certain individuals from different cities in the country were in the process of organizing themselves to commit terrorist acts in different parts of the country.
NIA gave the names of those arrested as Muttabir Mustaq Sheikh(33) from Thane district near Mumbai, Mohammad Nafees Khan(24) of Hyderabad, Mohammad Shareef Moinuddin Khan(54) of Hyderabad, Najmul Huda(25) of Mangalore and Mohammad Afzal(35) of Bangalore. The name of the sixth arrested person was not yet known.
Family members of some of the arrested people claimed they have nothing to do with any terror plot and that they were innocent.
The verification of the background of the 14 people picked up is in progress, the NIA said.
According to sources, the arrested people were part of a group named 'Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind' (Army of Caliph of India), a terror group which has almost similar ideologies that of ISIS.
Sheikh had designated himself as 'Ameer' (Chief) of the group and Huda as 'Ameer-e-Wyulat' (finance) and they were in touch on Internet with some persons believed to be from ISIS based in Syria, the sources said.
They said the suspects had been under surveillance for quite sometime and the decision to arrest them was taken as the group received 'instructions' for carrying out 'some sensational' attacks in the country.
The group had started receiving money through 'hawala' route and according to Home Ministry spokesman "Sheikh also received funds to the tune of Rs 6 lakh."
All the arrested suspects were being brought to the national capital for detailed interrogation as preliminary enquiry indicated that they were working on evolving a terror outfit with ideologies similar to ISIS.