Gujarat ATS arrests four Lankan nationals with IS links on mission to carry out terror activities

ATS apprehended the accused at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel airport in Ahmedabad after they travelled from Sri Lanka's capital Colombo via Chennai on Sunday night.
Gujarat ATS arrests four Lankan nationals with IS links on mission to carry out terror activities

Ahmedabad | The Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) has arrested four Sri Lankans with links to the banned outfit Islamic State (IS) who were allegedly on a mission to carry out terror activities in India, police said on Monday.

Acting on a tip-off, the ATS apprehended the accused at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel airport here after they travelled from Sri Lanka's capital Colombo via Chennai on Sunday night, an official said.

The men travelled to India to carry out terror activities at the behest of IS, Director General of Police Vikas Sahay said.

The ATS team also recovered three Pakistan-made pistols and 20 cartridges lying abandoned at a location in the city's Nana Chiloda area based on geo-coordinates and photographs found on the mobile phone seized from the accused, Sahay said.

The men were allegedly directed by their Pakistani handler to collect these weapons, he said.

The accused, Mohammad Nusrat (35), Mohammad Faarukh (35), Mohammad Nafran (27) and Mohammad Rasdeen (43), took a flight from Colombo and reached Chennai in the wee hours of Sunday.

They then took another flight to Ahmedabad, where they landed around 8 pm Sunday, the official said.

The men informed investigators that they were earlier associated with the banned Sri Lankan radical militant outfit, National Thowheeth Jamath (NJT), and joined IS after getting in touch with Pakistani handler Abu Bakr Al Bagdadi, he said.

They are members of IS radicalised by a leader from Sri Lanka who is living in Pakistan, Sahay told reporters.

"They got in touch with Abu (the IS leader in Pakistan) in February this year and remained in contact with him through social media and were completely radicalised by the ideology," he said.

Their leader ordered them to carry out terrorist activities in India, to which they agreed, and even showed readiness to carry out suicide bombings, Sahay said.

The men were paid Rs 4 lakh in Sri Lankan currency to carry out the activities, he said.

The mobile phones recovered from the accused had photographs and documents showing their association with IS, and an IS flag was also recovered from their bag, and two such flags were recovered from the abandoned parcel containing weapons, the official said.

The men were instructed to leave these flags at the site of their terror activities, he said.

Sahay said the ATS used a translator to interrogate the accused, as they did not understand any other language apart from Tamil.

Interrogations revealed that Abu had informed the accused about the weapons hidden at the given location in Ahmedabad for their use, he said.

The pistols carried star marks, and cartridges were prima facie found to be made in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of Pakistan, he said.

One of the four arrested terrorists, Mohammad Nusrat, also holds a valid visa for Pakistan.

The men were booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Indian Penal Code and Arms Act, and further investigation was underway, Sahay said.

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