The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested nine suspected terror operatives following raids in West Bengal and Kerala on a group allegedly linked to the Pakistan-sponsored Al Qaeda.
An NIA spokesperson said that the agency carried out the simultaneous raids at several locations in Kerala's Ernakulam and West Bengal's Murshidabad after learning about an inter-state module of Al Qaeda operatives at various locations in India.
The spokesperson said the inter-state module has been operational for some time and was planning to carry out terror attacks at vital installations in India.
"The group was planning to undertake terrorist attacks at vital installations in India with an aim to kill innocent people and strike terror in their minds," the spokesperson said, adding that it had registered a case on September 11.
The official said that the NIA has made six arrests from West Bengal and three from Kerala in the early morning raids.
During the raids, large quantity of materials including digital devices, documents, “jihadi” literature, sharp weapons, country-made firearms, a locally fabricated body armour, articles and literature used for making home-made explosive devices have been seized from their possession.
"As per preliminary investigation, these individuals were radicalised by the Pakistan-based Al Qaeda terrorists on social media and were motivated to undertake attacks at multiple places including the National Capital Region," the official said.
Another NIA official also said the group was planning attacks with IEDS, made from potassium procured from firecrackers, and planned to go to Kashmir for weapons delivery.
"During the raids the agency got huge cache of firecrackers. They bought the firecrackers to hide procurement of huge amount of potassium required to make the IEDs," the official said.
The arrested terrorists have been identified as Murshid Hassan, Yakoob Bishwas and Morshraf Hussien, all three residents of Ernakulam. While Najmus Sakib, Abu Sufiyan, Mainul Mondal, Leu Yean Ahmed, Al Mamun Kamal and Atitur Rehman, all residents of Murshidabad. Those arrested from Kerala were originally from West Bengal.
The official said that the potassium present in the firecrackers were taken out and then was used to make the IEDs. The official also said that they have recovered the crude IEDs along with the switches, batteries etc from terrorist Sufiyan's residential premises in Murshidabad.