PFI linked ISIS module busted in Maharashtra: Republic Day attack thwarted

Vicky Nanjappa

Mumbai, Jan 23: Nine persons have been detained in Maharashtra for alleged links to the Islamic State. The raids were carried out by the Maharashtra ATS, following specific inputs about the ISIS link.

The ATS picked up four suspects from Aurangabad and 5 from Thane. ATS sources said that these persons had formed a group and were planning on leaving India for Syria. The ATS also said that those arrested in Thane had alleged links with the Popular Front of India.

Officials also said that they had inputs that the members of this module was also planning on carrying out a big strike ahead of Republic Day, before fleeing the country.

During investigation, it was also revealed that they were planning to go to Syria and were to undergo training for fidayeen strikes. The ATS source also said that the suspects arrested in Thane were in touch with a PFI member of the Aurangabad branch who goes by the name Salman.

Officials said that those arrested also included a minor, who is 17 years of age. The others to be arrested include, Salman Khan, Fahad Shah, Zamen Kutepadi, Mohseen Khan, Mohammad Mazhar Shaikh, Taki Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Zahid Shaikh.

Sheikh is a mechanical engineer by profession, while Khan is a civil engineer. Shah on the other hand is an architect.

ATS officials are now on the look out for Salman, who they suspect was the main link. He is said to have coaxed these persons and also was trying to help them get out of the country and reach Syria.

The ATS said onn receipt of a very reliable input about a group aligned with the proscribed international terrorist organisation ISIS, ATS Maharashtra mounted watch on the suspects and gathered all relevant information about the members of the group for several weeks.

The ATS in a bid to nab these persons formed several teams and also carried out search and seizures at five different locations in Mumbra, Thane and Aurangabad during the intervening night and early morning of January 22.

The ATS has seized SIM cards, mobile phones, hard drivers, acid bottles and sharp knives.

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