Islamic State comes to India: Planned to strike Delhi-NCR malls, Kumbh

NEW DELHI: Delhi Police on Wednesday announced the arrest of four members of Islamic State (ISIS) aged 19-23, who were in touch with handlers in Syria and Iraq and were planning a terrorist attack ahead of Republic Day at targets such as the Ardh Kumbh in Haridwar and prominent shopping malls of Delhi-NCR like Select Citywalk, Saket; DLF Promenade, Vasant Kunj and the Great India Place in Noida. 

The arrests confirmed the presence of ISIS in India for the first time, transforming what was till now a concern into an actual security threat. The ISIS cell members, according to the police, said they were close to preparing IEDs and procuring weapons on the instruction of handlers who they were in touch with over VOIP, WhatsApp  

The official word came a day after TOI reported the arrest of three operatives of the terror outfit, which recently staged an attack in Jakarta. The special cell of the Delhi Police announced the arrest of a fourth operative, who was picked up at 1am on Wednesday, and said there was evidence connecting them with ISIS operatives in West Asia. 

Among the four arrested, Akhlaq ur Rehman is a third-year engineering student at a polytechnic college in Roorkee area and was picked up by cops just as he was to enter his college to write an exam. Mohammed Osama and Ajiz are doing BA from a local college while Mehraj is pursuing a bachelors in Ayurvedic medicine. 

Suspects had scouted terror targets 

Apart from targeting the Ardh Kumbh in Haridwar on February 8, the ISIS recruits were keen on bombing popular malls that attract thousands of visitors every day. They had even conducted a survey of their intended targets. 

The quartet came in touch with ISIS recruiters through Facebook and were subsequently communicating through WhatsApp and Hike, sources said. They were then asked to read up ISIS literature on the internet and the outfit's mouthpieces like Dabiq. 

One Yusuf (perhaps a code name) and terror outfit Ansar-ut Tawhid's 'Amir' Shafi Armar, were the persons allegedly handling them and priming them for attacks. The operatives are in 15-day police custody and are being interrogated jointly by the IB and special cell. They will be taken to Chhattisgarh, MP and areas in UP where they were supposed to meet some associates and collect articles needed for IED preparation. 

In the initial interrogation, they have confessed to have been focusing more on the Ardh Kumbh as a blast there would have led to a stampede, causing maximum casualties. They say they were in the end stage of procuring weapons and preparing IEDs and were planning to strike before R-Day, if possible, police sources said. 

A special team led by ACP Alok Kumar and DCP Pramod Kushwah is working with agencies in cracking the entire conspiracy.



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