KASARGOD/KOCHI: Days after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday serial blasts in Sri Lanka, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) raided the houses of three persons in Kasargod and Palakkad districts on Sunday for their alleged links with IS sympathisers, taking one of them into custody.
The raids followed reports that 60 Malayalees are under scanner after they allegedly attended meetings organised by Towheeth Jamaath, which the island nation had named as the outfit behind the massacre that reportedly killed more than 350 people and left over 500 injured.
The raids at the residences of Riyaz Aboobacker, Chemmanampathy in Kollengode (Palakkad district) and Ahamed Arafat of Kaliyangad and Aboobacker Siddique of Nainmarmoola (both Kasargod district) lasted for hours.Both Ahamed and Aboobacker are suspected social media followers of IS operatives, including Zahran Hashim, the alleged mastermind of the Lankan blasts, NIA officers said.
While Riyaz was taken into custody and brought to the NIA office in Kochi on Sunday for further interrogation, Ahamed and Aboobacker have been asked to be present at the office on Monday.
The raids came after the agency’s interrogation of Koduvally native Shaibu Nihar, who was recently intercepted from Qatar in an IS case with the help of Interpol and brought to Kerala.
“The raids started at 6 am and concluded before noon. We’ve received digital evidence linking these three persons with IS sympathisers who had left for Syria and Afghanistan. We would decide on recording their arrest only after interrogation,” sources said.
NIA said in a statement the raids were part of the IS Kasargod case in which 16 from various parts of Kasargod and Wayanad had left for Afghanistan in 2016 and 2017.
“During the raid, digital devices including mobile phones, SIM cards, memory cards, pen drives, DVDs of Zakir Naik besides untitled DVDs, CDs with religious speeches, books of Naik and Syed Kutheb as well as diaries with handwritten notes in Arabic and Malayalam were seized. The devices will be forensically examined and analysed,” NIA said.
The agency is also verifying links of Zahran Hashim with IS sympathisers from Kerala. Even though no direct link has been established yet, the NIA suspects that IS sympathisers were following Zahran through social media networks.