Thursday, 5 May 2016

Delhi ISIS Cell Busted, Planned to Avenge Anti-Muslim Riots

Delhi: Islamic State-inspired jihadist cell busted was plotting strikes, say police

Updated: May 5, 2016 12:13 pm 

The Delhi Police have arrested three men they say are suspected of having set up an Islamic State-inspired jihadist group plotting to carry out bomb strikes to avenge the 2013 riots in Muzaffarnagar, and anti-Muslim violence elsewhere in the country, police and intelligence sources have told The Indian Express. Ten other men have been detained for questioning.

Even though the Intelligence Bureau had been monitoring the cell for over a year, a senior police officer said, the arrests had to be moved forward on Tuesday night, after alleged cell member Muhammad Sajid suffered injuries in what investigators believe to have been a bomb-making experiment gone wrong.

Arvind Deep, the Special Commissioner of Police in charge of the Delhi Police’s counter-terrorism Special Cell, said an improvised explosive device had been recovered from the men.

Police sources identified the men as Sajid, a 21-year-old resident of Delhi’s Bhajanpura area who worked at a local tailor’s shop, his associate Sameer Ahmad, and Shakir Ansari, a former seminary student from the Uttar Pradesh town of Deoband.
Bhajanpura residents who spoke to The Indian Express described Sajid as religious, but said they were surprised by police claims that he was linked to terrorism. Sajid, one said, dropped out of Class III, and had started working soon afterwards.

The three men, sources in the investigation said, had met in 2014 at religious meetings held by Abdul Sami Qasmi — a preacher who has been in prison since January, 2015, when he was arrested by the NIA in connection with an investigation into a separate IS-affiliated cell.

In 2015, investigators allege, Sajid phoned a number for the Jaish-e-Muhammad in Pakistan which was posted online on its website, Rangonoor. He was then put in contact with a cyber-entity code-named ‘Talha’, with whom there were several Facebook and Telegram conversations on how the men could set up a jihadist cell in India.
Early last year, the police claim, Sajid even sent Talha a scanned copy of Ansari’s passport, but then dropped plans for him to travel to a Jaish training camp in Pakistan.

Following discussions between group members, and online conversations on jihadist fora, the group was then drawn to calls by both the IS and al-Qaeda to set up independent jihadist groups across the world, investigators allege. The men are claimed to have downloaded a bomb-making manual from the al-Qaeda magazine Inspire.
The arrests in Delhi are the latest in a series of arrests of alleged autonomous jihadist groups. The last series of arrests, involving several men from across the country, was carried out by the NIA earlier this year.

Intelligence Bureau officials estimate the IS’s Indian cell, led by one-time Indian Mujahideen operative Muhammad Shafi Armar, has engaged more than 700 people in conversation, and raised more than 20 identified volunteers.
Meanwhile, the Delhi sessions court Wednesday sent the three arrested men to 10-day police custody for interrogation.

The special cell, which had sought 15-day police custody for the three “suspected Jaish-e-Muhammad operatives”, told Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh that the agency has recovered an IED from Sajid who, the agency suspects, heads the module.

The cell told the court that the three men have been booked under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and criminal conspiracy under the IPC. The special cell also told the court that they have recovered “literature” from Shakir and Sameer.
However, the defence counsel for the three accused, advocate M S Khan, opposed the plea for 15-day custody on the ground that the IED had already been recovered, and that further custody of the accused was not required.

Police took them away in middle of night: Families of men held for questioning

Published:May 5, 2016 6:01 am

Family members of the men, who were detained for questioning Tuesday night over an alleged plan to set up an Islamic State-inspired jihadist group, told The Indian Express they were not involved in any terror activity.

Mohsin Khan: Mohsin, 32, lives 50 metres from the residence of Sajid, who has been arrested. He sells clothes near North Campus and makes about Rs 250 a day, said his father Saeed Khan. “He always urged people to follow the right path… How could he have done something wrong? There must have been some mistake,” said Khan. Mohsin, a Class V dropout, earlier used to work as a tailor.

Mohammed Imran: Imran, 24, sells clothes and bangles along with his father Mohammed Iqbaal, said his family members. Police came looking for him Tuesday midnight, said his family members. “They were in plainclothes and took him away. They said Imran had committed theft and he will be released later,” said his brother Mohammad Akhlaq.

Sakhawat Ali: Ali, 32, works as a manager in a company which manufactures commercial vehicles, said his family members. According to Ali’s aunt, five policemen knocked on their doors Tuesday night. “Ali was asked to get dressed and take his mobile phone with him. The policemen did not give us any reason…,” she said.

Imran Saifi: Saifi, 32, stayed a few metres from Sajid’s house. His family members said he worked with an automobile company and was taken away by police Tuesday night.

Mohammad Tahir: A resident of Loni in Ghaziabad, Tahir used to work at a printing press in Chand Bagh. His wife said, “At 4 am, some policemen knocked on our door. When my husband opened the door, they took him and my brother-in-law (Mohammad Muzahir) with them. They asked me to go back to sleep and not raise an alarm. After
repeated requests, they gave a Lodhi Colony address and a landline number.”

Mohammad Muzahir: Muzahir, 24, is Tahir’s younger brother and the imam of a local mosque. “He teaches young children in the madrasa. Our entire family, including my father, have devoted their lives to teaching. How can they be accused of being terrorists,” said his sister.

Asif Khan: Khan, who has two young daughters, sold clothes, said his family members. “My son was sleeping when police came for him. They did not even let him to take his slippers,” said his mother.

Imran: Imran, 21, lives in Kabirnagar. The Indian Express was not able to speak to his family members.

Investigations following the arrest of three men suspected of having set up an Islamic State-inspired jihadist group plotting to carry out bomb strikes have revealed they were planning to visit Pakistan, said sources Thursday. They had been invited by the their handlers to meet them before executing a Pathankot-like attack in India, the sources added.

Sources in the Special Cell said they have conversation records of WhatsApp and social media between the main suspect, Muhammad Sajid, and Jaish-e-Muhammad handlers in Pakistan.

He was in contact with a cyber entity code named ‘Talha’, who had instructed him to come to Pakistan, said sources.

Since Shakir Ansari, another suspect held in the case, already had a passport, Sajid asked him to go first, said sources. Sajid met Ansari two years ago when the latter was working in a shoe showroom in south Delhi, the sources added. Police are analysing call records of the three and data from a pen drive is being extracted, said a source. Police have also arrested Sameer, a Class VIII dropout, in the case.

IS-inspired jihadist cell busted, 3 held, 10 detained: Police to ask NGO to ‘de-radicalise’ youth

Updated: May 7, 2016 3:57 am

Following the arrest of three men, who are suspected of setting up an Islamic State-inspired jihadist group to carry out bomb strikes in the capital, and the detention of 10 others, sources said the Delhi Police is planning to ask an NGO to rehabilitate the youth and de-radicalise them.

Sources said during questioning, the youths claimed they were highly motivated towards ‘jihad’ and ‘were ready to do anything for it’. Police also claimed to have recovered study material, including books written in Urdu, on “jihadi ideology” from the home of the detained youth.

Sources added that four men told police they were “sad” about the “change in perception” of people towards their religion. Due to their beards, they claimed they were refused jobs. Sources said they got involved in the group soon after meeting the alleged mastermind of the group, Mohammad Sajid.

Meanwhile, sources added a few more names have surfaced during questioning. Sajid was in regular touch with the youth via WhatsApp and Facebook and police have recovered their conversations, said a source.

The arrests took place on the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday from Delhi’s Gokalpuri, and Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad and Saharanpur areas.

Days after Delhi police ‘bust Jihadist cell’ 4 of 10 detained released due to lack of evidence

Updated: May 8, 2016 5:01 am

Four of the 10 persons detained for their alleged links with an “Islamic State-inspired jihadist cell”, which Delhi Police claimed to have busted earlier this week, were released Saturday after being questioned for over 72 hours. The four, including a 17-year-old boy, were released after police failed to get concrete evidence against them, said sources.

Late on Tuesday, police had picked up 13 men from their homes in east Delhi’s Chand Bagh area and Loni in Ghaziabad, and arrested three of them — Sajid, Sameer and Shakir. In an official statement after the arrests, Delhi Police had said, “suspects/ probable sympathisers of the terrorist group have been rounded up and are being questioned”.

A police officer said Saturday, “Of the four men, three are residents of Chand Bagh locality while the fourth hails from Ghaziabad’s Loni area. They were detained for their alleged ideological leaning towards Jaish-e-Mohammad”.

Special Commissioner of Police, Special Cell, Arvind Deep said during questioning, the men had revealed that they were angry with the system, which made them vulnerable targets for terror groups looking for new recruits.

“The four men have been asked to visit a psychologist regularly. He will provide us with a report on their progress,” he said.

Delhi Police have also approached the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), the government nodal agency that deals with cyber security threats. Police have sought its help in decoding encrypted messages and online conversations between the suspects.

Police asked if I knew anything about a bomb, says 17-year-old

Updated: May 8, 2016 5:02 am

The 17-year-old boy, who was among the four persons released Saturday, told The Indian Express that police had asked him repeatedly if he had any connection with prime accused Sajid.

“In the last few days, many people asked me the same question… whether I have any connection with Sajid and if I knew anything about a bomb… I told them I knew nothing… I knew Sajid as we offered prayers together in the same mosque,” he said.

On the three days he spent in detention, the minor said, “Police never hit me or beat me up… they gave me food and tea regularly. They told me that I am like their son and I should not be afraid.”

A member of his family said, “We have not been able to eat anything for the last three day, since he was taken away by police.”

He added that families of the 10 men had visited the Special Cell’s Lodhi Colony office everyday since they were detained. “We would go there together and stand outside the office for 5-6 hours, waiting for some information on them,” he said.
However, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Cell, P S Kushwah claimed all the men had been released “We have released all those who were called for questioning…. a few of them are being de-radicalised,” he said.

Coming soon ‘monitoring’ unit: Delhi Police cell to watch social media

Published:May 10, 2016 3:39 am

Delhi Police Special Cell has decided to open a ‘social media monitoring cell’, which would not be ‘intrusive’ but keep tabs on sensitive and provocative content to check any negative fallout. The decision comes close on the heels of an alleged Islamic State-inspired jihadist cell being busted and the arrest of three persons. The three persons arrested are suspected to have ideological leanings towards the banned Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Arvind Deep said, “The idea of a making a new unit has been approved by the Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Kumar Verma. Our officers will first track down youths who are radicalised through social media and are in the early stages, then they will first start monitoring the activities of these persons and will provide counselling to them.”

“The cell will have counselling facilities We are in touch with several counsellors and cyber experts. Once tracked, the youths will be counselled by experts, including clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and community leaders, in the right way and within the right time,” he added.

According to another senior police officer, “Delhi Police have observed that most of the people were radicalised in the name of religion and their handlers approached them with the help of social networking sites.”

This is not a first attempt by Delhi Police to try and set up a cell to monitor social media content. After communal tension engulfed Muzaffarnagar in western Uttar Pradesh, Delhi Police were in talks with social media monitoring companies, said sources. Bengaluru and Mumbai Police have dedicated centres to analyse content of various social media websites, the sources added.

The Special Cell’s special unit to monitor online content is expected to start in a month, said a source. “The monitoring wouldn’t be intrusive and it will monitor openly available content related to the city,” the source added.

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