In a joint operation, the UP ATS along with Maharashtra ATS, Delhi Special Cell and Andhra Pradesh CI Cell busted a interstate terror module and nabbed five suspected terrorists.
The operation started in the wee hours from Mumbra near Mumbai, where in a building named Samadhan CHS located in a slum pocket of Rashid Compound, the joint team led by Maharashtra ATS nabbed a twenty-six-year terror suspect named Nazim Shamshad Ahmed.
Two others residing with Ahmed in the flat named Irfan Ansari and Gulfam Ansari have also been picked up by the police team and are being questioned.
According to Maharashtra ATS, Ahmed was carrying out recruitment for the terror module which is suspected to be controlled by a handler affiliated to the Islamic State. The handler, ATS officials said is located overseas and would contact Ahmed and his associates through social media. The module was working on planning attacks and disrupting peace across the country.
India Today spoke to Yahya Khan, a neighbour, who said, "In the morning, around 4 am I saw that a large number of men, all in plain clothes were standing downstairs. There were some police vehicles too. Later, I came to know that the men were policemen and had come to arrest boys staying in our neighbouring flat.
"We have been staying here since a long time, but the boys who were staying in the flat number 302 had recently come here. They were relatives or family friends of the owner of the flat who has shifted to Uttar Pradesh. We had no communication with them ever and most of the times the door remained closed. Once we had seen that they were preparing ice lollies in the flat. The earlier owner was into eggs business. They were all natives of Bijnour district in Uttar Pradesh. We have no idea what kind of activities they were involved into."
Another neighbour, Sameena Khan, said, " We had seen the boys staying in the flat since past few months. They had recently started staying here but never communicated with any of the neighbours. They were into business of ice lollies. It's shocking to know that they were involved into terror activities. They were all young boys and would most of the times return late night. we never got a chance to communicate with them."
ATS sources said Ahmed had formed a WhatsApp group which consisted of eight members and various discussions pertaining to recruitment and execution of terror attacks were being discussed.
His online and social media profile had been under radar of anti-terror agencies after which the operation was finally launched to nab him. He was controlled by his handler who was overseas is also under radar. Interrogation with the various accused held might reveal further information regarding the module.
Maharashtra ATS sources claimed that the module was handled by a ISIS handler and the module was part of the Al hind module formed by ISIS. UP ATS is further trying to ascertain if this module is also associated with earlier module busted by NIA and UP ATS.
Last year, another handler working for ISIS named Mudabbir Shaikh was also arrested from Mumbra from a locality nearby where the operation was conducted on Thursday morning.
Shaikh's arrest had led to arrest of twelve others whom he had recruited across the country to launch terror attacks.