Just three days after the Karnataka Police claimed to have busted a terror module in the state, fresh revelations have sprung up on the group's links with dreaded terrorist organisations and its sinister designs to carry out attacks in the state. Home Secretary RK Singh told NDTV today that the terror suspects had "links with Lashkar-e-Taiba and people from Saudi Arabia", adding that "two of them had been to Pakistan for training." It has also emerged that the group was reportedly planning to target "vital installations" in the state.
The crime branch of the Bangalore Police had, on Wednesday, arrested 11 persons - six from Bangalore and five from Hubli - with alleged links to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) and claimed to have averted a "big catastrophe" by foiling their plan to target politicians, legislators and mediapersons. All of them have been sent to 14 days in police custody and are currently being questioned.
"The Bangalore Police has done a great job. The interrogation has revealed that the targets and the nature of threat was serious. They were in touch and had links with the LeT and people from Saudi Arabia. Two of them have been to Pakistan for training," Mr Singh said. However, it is not clear yet whether or not any involvement of the Pakistani establishment has been established.
Sources have told NDTV that even though the identity of the Saudi Arabian link is not clear yet, emails and communications through Skype - a popular internet phone and video call service - clearly establishes the connection between both parties. Sources further add that the Bangalore module had been asked to target foreigners in India. Indian agencies will be sharing the details with their concerned counterparts.
Interrogations have also revealed that a nuclear installation and a key defence establishment were on the radar of the suspects. "They have also plotted to attack vital installations such as the Kaiga nuclear power plant (about 500 km from Bangalore) and the Sea Bird naval base at Karwar (in Uttara Kannada district on the west coast of the state)," Bangalore Police Commissioner Jyothiprakash Mirji said.
Sources say that the questioning suggested that the group was self-radicalised and is deeply influenced by US-born Al Qaeda terrorist Anwar-al-Awlaki and the Al Qaeda's mouthpiece "Inspire". Awlaki was killed in a US drone strike in western Yemen last year. The arrested group is believed to have been galvanized together by the brother of Sahid Bilal, the HuJI operative who was suspected to be responsible for a series of strikes in India between 2006-07. He was killed in Pakistan in August 2008.
The revelations came on a day when the Bangalore Police, as part of its continuing crackdown, arrested another man - the twelfth in the case - in Hyderabad today for suspected terror links. Obaid-ur-Rehman, 26, was picked up from the old city area on the basis of information provided by the 11 terror suspects. The police claim that he was allegedly planning to target a leader of a right-wing Hindu outfit. He has been brought to Bangalore for questioning. (Read
"We have learnt from some of the accused that Rehman was plotting to assassinate a prominent leader of a Hindu organisation in Hyderabad and two corporators of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in the city," Mr Mirji said.
The arrest in Hyderabad coincides with four more arrests in Maharashtra where the Anti-Terrorism Squad picked up four people in the Nanded district for suspected terror activities. (Read
Meanwhile, the Karnataka Crime Branch has set up a special team to probe the case. As part of the investigation, the cops have sent materials seized from the suspects for forensic analysis for further evidence. A 7.65mm pistol, seven cartridges, 16 mobile handsets, eight SIM cards, three pen drives, four ATMs, seven laptops and one bike were recovered from the 11 men and their hideouts in the state.
"In addition to arms and ammunition, incriminating materials, including jehadi literature, two maps of Chennai and India, a map of Iran, Urdu newspaper cuttings and religious books were seized in Bangalore and Hubli," Mr Mirji said, a day after the families of the accused cried foul over the arrest of their relatives.
The suspects - including a journalist, doctor and a scientist with the Defence Research Development Organisation - have been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Arms Act.(With inputs from Agencies)