KASARGOD (KERALA): The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Sunday has taken a youth into custody after raids conducted at his house in connection with the coordinated Easter blasts of Sri Lanka.
Riyaz Aboobacker, 28, of Kollengode, Palakkad, who was taken into custody, has reportedly been moved to Ernakulam for further questioning.
NIA personnel are said to have conducted the search at Riyaz's house for three hours and gone through the books being read and sites visited on the internet by him. They have informed the Kollengode police about taking Riyaz Aboobacker into custody.
Riyaz is said to be a trader in skull caps used by Muslims, spray perfumes and other foreign goods. He is also said to be active on social media, said sources.
The residences of two persons, Ahamed Arafat of Kaliyangad and Aboobacker Siddique of Nainmarmoola, were also raided by an NIA Kochi team.
The two persons -- said to be in their late 30s -- are suspected to be following Islamic State (IS) operatives, including Zaharan Hashim, the alleged mastermind of Sri Lanka blasts, on social media, said officials. The raids started at 6 am and went on till noon, said an officer. During searches, a number of digital devices including mobile phones, SIM cards, memory cards, pen drives, diaries with handwritten notes in Arabic and Malayalam, DVDs of preacher Dr Zakir Naik besides untitled DVDs, CDs with religious speeches, books of Dr Naik and Syed Kutheb have been seized from their houses, said a statement from the NIA.
"Digital devices will be forensically examined and analysed,-" it said. After the raid, both were asked to be present at NIA office in Kochi on Monday.
According to the NIA, the names of Aboobacker and Arafat cropped up while interrogating Shaibu Nihar of Koduvally, accused of being an IS sympathiser. He was arrested from Qatar with the help of the Interpol.
"Aboobacker and Ahamed will be interrogated on the basis of information provided by Shaibu. We suspect they maintained ties with the online handlers of the IS," said an NIA official.
According to a report by The New Indian Express, around 60 Malayalees were under the scanner after terror group IS released a video in Malayalam and Tamil claiming responsibility for the terror attacks that left more than 200 persons dead and at least 500 wounded.
The Malayalees from Vandiperiyar, Perumbavoor, Thrissur and Palakkad allegedly attended meetings organised by Towheeth Jamaath in 2016 at Madurai and Namakkal, said the report. After the blasts, Sri Lanka banned Towheeth Jamaath.
The videos on teaching by Zaharan were widely circulated among the youth through social media platforms in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, but were taken off after they came under scanner after the blast, NIA officials said.
An investigation into IS cases registered in south India revealed that radical teachings of Zaharan Hashim were followed by IS sympathisers, they said.
"Whether they had any direct connection with Zaharan has to be probed," an officer said.
In an official statement, the NIA said these persons were suspected to have links with some of the accused persons who exited India to join the IS in 2016.