The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad has arrested a Mumbai-based software engineer, who reportedly admired the Middle-East terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, for allegedly conspiring to blow up American establishments in Mumbai, including a school.
Anees Ansari, 24, who worked at a multi-national software company, was apprehended from his office in suburban Andheri and produced before a court yesterday, which remanded him in police custody till October 26, an ATS official said today.
The online chats of Ansari, whose office job involved designing navigation maps, allegedly hinted at a plot to target US establishments including a school in suburban Bandra, the official said.
Mr Ansari was booked under section 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) read with 302 (murder) of Indian Penal Code, and relevant sections of Information Technology Act.
He allegedly sympathised with ISIS fighters and described, in his online conversations, the Americans as 'tormentors'. The ATS also seized his computers, a mobile phone, and has obtained 'mirror images' to extract the data.
"Our team that keeps a close watch on online posts some time ago got the wind of his shady activities which suggested that he had been chatting with two persons based in United Kingdom and Australia, who have been indoctrinated to believe in the extremist ideologies," the ATS official said.
The online discussions, allegedly about a plan to target an American school in the city, alerted the ATS, which led to his arrest.
The ATS officer claimed that the agency had gathered enough evidence to suggest that Mr Ansari had been chatting -- through a Facebook account under a fake name -- about punishing Americans and defending the ISIS, which, according to him was the victim in the current turbulence in Syria and Iraq.
"A lot of Jihadi material, videos and literature related to ISIS and its leaders was shared with him by the two people who were chatting with him for nearly two years," the officer said.
"His online interaction clearly indicated his ill-intentions but we are verifying how well he has prepared himself to execute the plot. Our interrogation would focus on the places he had visited, the persons he had met and the reasons therefor," the officer said.
Mr Ansari lived in suburban Kurla with his parents and two younger siblings, and according to sources, he had applied for a passport a month ago, which has led the investigators to suspect that he planned to leave the country to support or join the ISIS.