KOCHI: In a bid to unearth the roots of Islamic State (IS) module functioning in the state, the NIA on Monday interrogated five persons who are suspected to be part of a group allegedly planning attacks in Kerala. As part of the probe, the agency had on Sunday carried out raids in Kasargod and Palakkad.
According to sources, Riyaz Aboobacker of Kollengode in Palakkad, Ahamed Arafat of Kaliyangad, and Aboobacker Siddique of Naimarmoola in Kasargod - whose houses were raided by the NIA team - were part of the IS module which plotted the attacks. Two other youths also reached the NIA office to give statements as part of the case.
Though the NIA had interrogated them in the IS case related to the migration of 15 persons from Kasargod to Afghanistan, the investigators received information that these persons were also following the videos and preachings of Zaharan Hashim, the mastermind of the recent Sri Lanka blast, through social media. Though direct links with the Lankan attack could not be established, the NIA is looking for people from the state who followed Hashim through social media platforms.
“The interrogation started at 10 am. The investigation in other IS cases registered in the state revealed they were in touch with Kasargod native Rashid Abdullah, an IS operative who is currently in Afghanistan. They were also in contact with Ashfaq Majeed and Abdul Khayoom, who had already migrated to Afghanistan and Syria respectively. The interrogation was based on digital evidence collected as part of the probe,” sources said.
Following the questioning, the NIA recorded the arrest of Riyaz Aboobacker in the evening. A decision on arresting the other members of the group will be taken after further interrogation. “The arrest will be made only if we have substantial evidence against them,” sources said. More people are likely to be interrogated based on the statements recorded by the NIA.
“Rashid Abdullah has been sending propaganda videos and audio messages to many people in the state frequently. Attempts are made to radicalise more youths and recruit them for IS. The NIA has received information about people who are connected with Rashid and their statements will be recorded in the coming days,” an officer said.
During searches carried out in Palakkad and Kasargod, 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 Zakir Naik, besides untitled DVDs, CDs with religious speeches, books of Dr Naik and Syed Kutheb were seized from their houses. A group led by Rashid Abdullah, which follows IS ideology, had left for Afghanistan in 2016.