The South India module of Islamic State had some high-profile names in its hit list, including political leaders, judges and police officials. Places of worship too on the IS radar. Officials say Nice attack inspired the group
KOCHI: The growing tentacles of the Islamic State (IS) in Kerala, which finally transformed into action mode from recruitment phase with a hit list targeting top BJP state leaders, High Court judges and a senior police officer, has forced both state police and central agencies to launch an intense counter operation in the state.
Led by the NIA, the state police and IB will chalk out a detailed operative strategy to counter the rising activity of the IS which came to light after the missing of 21 people who reportedly went to Syria to join the terror outfit. Officials said a joint meeting of the enforcement agencies would take place soon and special operative groups would be in place to deal with the situation.
BJP state president Kummanam Rajashekaran, BJP leader K Surendran, two High Court Judges and SP P N Unnirajan were in the IS South India module hit list. They had also prepared a list of 12 targets to strike, including religious places like the Jewish Synagogue in Fort Kochi and mosques in North Kerala to disrupt communal harmony.
According to NIA officials, Kummanam and Surendran were targeted by the IS as they believed these leaders were instrumental in the growth of BJP in the state. HC judges were targeted for their verdicts in some sensational cases while they were serving as judges in sessions courts. Unnirajan became a thorn in their flesh for being a part of the investigation in cases like the palm chopping incident in Muvattupuzha.
NIA recovered these details from the Telegram group maintained by the accused. NIA officials said this group was functioning in different names in social media. They changed group frequently to evade suspicion from the security agencies monitoring cyber space.
“We had given the alert to the state police to beef up the security level of the police officials after evidence in this regard was received. Apart from propagating IS ideology, the accused were looking to disrupt religious harmony and spark off riots by carrying out attacks at religious places, including mosques, in north Kerala,” NIA official said.
NIA officials said the members were inspired by the IS attack at Nice, France, by driving a truck into a public gathering. They had plotted a similar attack in Kochi in September. However, this plan was dropped as security was beefed up following intelligence alerts. “After the failure of the operation, they were planning to procure explosives and master the technique of bomb making,” the official said.
The NIA team and local local police had arrested six persons on Sunday.
NIA takes four more persons into custody
NIA on Monday took four more persons into custody who were part of the IS southern module which was busted following the arrest of six persons from Kannur and Kozhikode on Sunday.
Officials said residents of Tamil Nadu and Kerala were among the arrested
The six persons, who were arrested on Sunday, were produced before the NIA Court in Kochi.
The accused were sent to NIA custody for 12 days till October 14