IS planned lone-wolf attacks in Gujarat, two arrested: ATS

ATS officials said the brothers, Vaseem Ramodiya and Naeem Ramodiya, were “guided by an unknown ISIS handler” with whom they were allegedly plotting to attack places which could create “big news”.

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The Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Sunday arrested two brothers from Bhavnagar for allegedly planning an Islamic State-inspired “lone wolf attack” on a temple in Surendranagar. The father of the young men, a retired employee of Saurashtra University and a district-level cricket umpire, said both his sons had bachelor’s degrees in computer application. One of the arrested men is a graphic designer; the other is a scrap dealer in Bhavnagar. ATS officials said the brothers, Vaseem Ramodiya and Naeem Ramodiya, were “guided by an unknown ISIS handler” with whom they were allegedly plotting to attack places which could create “big news”. The brothers were picked up from their homes in Bhavnagar and Rajkot.
Vaseem’s name, the officials said, had emerged after the arrest by the National Investigation Agency in February 2015 of the Rampur, Uttar Pradesh-based Mufti Abdus Sami Qasmi. Call detail records showed Qasmi had been in touch with a mobile number registered in the name of Vaseem Arifbhai Ramodia, a resident of Nehru Nagar, Raiya Road, Rajkot. Surveillance of Vaseem’s phone subsequently revealed that “he was into ultra-radical jihadi ideology as preached by the ISIS,” says the FIR. According to the FIR, “the brothers were planning to conduct a lone-wolf terrorist attack and a blast of Improvised Explosive Device in immediate future”. The brothers’ mother and Vaseem’s wife knew about their alleged “terror plans”, the FIR says. Vaseem has a 1-year-old daughter.
In Rajkot, the father of the accused, Arif Ramodiya, claimed he knew nothing about his sons’ alleged terror links until the time police raided his home in the city’s Nehrunagar area late on Saturday night. “I know nothing about they having any terror links. Both my sons have studied computer science. While the elder Vaseem lived with us and did graphic designing work, the younger, Naeem, lived in Bhavnagar, and was a scrap dealer,” Arif Ramodiya, who retired last year as a senior clerk of the physical education department of Saurashtra University, Rajkot, said.
“Policemen came past midnight and arrested Vaseem. They also seized a knife, an axe and some material which they claimed is an explosive. They have not allowed me to meet my sons,” Arif Ramodiya said. Himanshu Shah, media manager of the Saurashtra Cricket Association, said Ramodiya “has passed an umpiring examination and has been officiating in our district-level matches for the last six-seven years”. “His association with us is like that of a freelancer,” Shah said. Shah also said Vaseem and Naeem could have played cricket at the district level, and SCA was going through its records to verify that.
According to the ATS, the arrest is the first of its kind in Gujarat. The brothers have been charged with conspiracy to wage war against India, and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Explosive Substances Act. Investigators have found PDF files in the brothers’ computers and mobile phones that allegedly describe ways to make bombs with alarm clocks, material extracted from firecrackers, decoration lamps and elbow pipes, etc. A manual on detonation by remote control, and resource manual for guerilla tactics and weapons training have also been allegedly found in their phones.
One “GF 22 9V” battery for transistor radios, 58 grammes of explosive substance (extracted from firecrackers), residue of firecrackers, and 10 firecrackers commonly known as sutli bombs have been recovered. Police said that “various applications are found in the mobile phone from Vaseem wherein chats with other radical elements have been found”. In its 12-page FIR, the ATS has cited several alleged web-based chats between Vaseem and his unknown ISIS handler, where he purportedly said he was ready for “muqammal kaam” or complete work.
Officials said surveillance had revealed that Vaseem was in regular touch with his brother Naeem and, according to the FIR, “both discussed various development pertaining to ISIS. Tone and tenor of the telephonic talks between the brothers clearly indicate that both the brothers are highly influenced by the Caliphate and wish to be part of the so-called crusade against non-believers.” In a seized laptop, 173 files of “bayaans” of Mufti Qasmi were found, the FIR says. “We are investigating everything at this moment,” Superintendent of Police (ATS) Himanshu Shukla said.


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