New Delhi: The Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested a member of terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS) who was in touch with the mastermind of the 2019 Easter Day bombings, for his alleged links with suspects in the October 23 blast in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore.
The federal agency also arrested another man, identified as Sanofar Ali, for allegedly taking part in plans to carry out terror attacks in the country.
Indian media quoting NIA officials said IS member Sheikh Hidayatullah was allegedly in touch with Zahran Hashim, the mastermind of the deadly Easter Sunday bombings in 2019 that claimed over 250 lives. Both Hidayatullah and Sanofar Ali were arrested in Tamil Nadu.
Investigations have revealed that the accused persons had entered into a criminal conspiracy in Asanoor and Kadambur areas of the Sathyamangalam forest, Erode district, in February 2022.
The NIA said in a statement that the meetings were led by previously arrested accused Umar Farooq and participated by deceased accused Jameesha Mubeen (died in Coimbatore blast), along with Mohammed Azharuddin ,Sheikh Hidayatullah and Sanofar Ali, where they conspired to prepare for and execute terror acts.
Jameesha Mubeen, who was questioned by NIA in 2019 for alleged terror links, was charred to death in suspicious circumstances after the LPG cylinder inside a car he was driving exploded near Kottai Eswaran temple in Coimbatore’s Ukkadam on the 23rd of October.
The incident took place around 200 metres from a police patrol.
The deceased was registered as the prime accused in the blast case. The state police had invoked the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in the case, which was later handed over to NIA.
According to NIA officers cited above, Hidayatullah, who has been propagating IS ideology since 2017, was earlier arrested along with Azharuddin in June 2019.
He was released on bail in 2020. Azharuddin from Ukkadam and leader of Kerala-Tamil Nadu IS module is currently in jail for the Sri Lanka bombings.
It is reported that all the accused were inspired by Zahran Hashim, who masterminded and executed the Sri Lanka bombings — in which 252 people were killed — and planned to carry out similar attacks in two south Indian states at that time.
Prior to the Sri Lanka bombings, Hidayatullah and Hashim were in touch through a Facebook page KhilafahGFX”, according to NIA’s charge sheet filed against Hidayatullah in 2019.