The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has conducted raids across multiple locations in Tamil Nadu, a day after a special NIA court granted the probe agency eight-day custody of 16 people arrested in connection to the Ansarullah terror outfit case. The raids were carried out in Chennai, Madurai, Tirunelveli and Ramanathapuram district, including one at the home of a Mohamed Sheik Maitheen, who was arrested on July 15 for his alleged links with the case, the NIA said without divulging further details.
Reportedly, a number of mobiles, SIM cards, laptops, and hard disks recovered during the raids have also been seized by the central counter-terrorism agency.
Among the 16 people that were arrested yesterday, 14 were deported from Dubai while two were held during raids at three suspected hideouts in Chennai and Nagapattinam districts, on intel of the accused being allegedly in cahoots with a terror outfit called Ansarullah.
According to the NIA, "The accused had collected funds and made preparations to carry out terrorist attacks in India, with the intention of establishing Islamic rule in India. The accused persons have been actively recruiting individuals to strike terror in India and have also been routinely posting videos and other jihadi propaganda material exhorting their supporters to conduct terrorist attacks using various methods including the use of explosives, poison, knives, and vehicles, as means of attack."
All of them were booked under three sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including under Section 122 (collecting arms, etc. to wage war against the Government of India), and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
On July 15th, the 14 members who were deported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to suspected links to ISIS and Al-Qaeda terror outfits were flown from Delhi to Chennai, according to the NIA. These people, originally from Chennai, Tirunelveli, Theni, Nagapattinam, and Ramanathapuram are said to have been a part of a religious organisation called the Wahdat-e-Islami Hind.
The leader of the organisation had earlier, according to reports, claimed that Wahdat-e-Islami Hind was a strictly religious body that only served to "guide followers of Islam into the right way of religious practice". However, intel from security agencies had claimed that the establishment was, in fact, an offshoot of the banned Islamist organisation Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
The Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency NIA arrested the 16 people on national security grounds. They were remanded in judicial custody after being produced before a special court for NIA cases in Poonamallee, near Chennai.
More details are awaited.