KOCHI: Kollengode native Riyas Aboobacker, whom the National Investigation Agency (NIA) produced before its court on Tuesday evening, was being mentally readied by Islamic State (IS) operatives from abroad to conduct a suicide attack in the state.
Ahamed Arafat of Kaliyangad and Aboobacker Siddique of Nainmarmoola (both Kasargod district) have been interrogated for the past two days at the NIA office in Kochi, but the agency decided not to record their arrests.
It is also on the lookout for a foreign-based Kollam native, the fourth member of the module against which an investigation has been launched following the Easter Sunday blasts in Sri Lanka.
The NIA has filed a petition seeking the custody of Riyas, 28, for five days from Monday. He was brought to the court wearing a face mask.
“He’s a member of the IS. He has been following the speeches of Zakir Naik and Zahran Hashim, who was involved in Lankan blasts,” NIA prosecutor Arjun Ambalapatta submitted before the court.
NIA Court judge K Sathyan remanded Riyas in judicial custody and decided to hear on the custody petition on May 6.
“Riyas, Ahamed and Aboobacker were made 18th, 19th and 20th accused in an IS case registered in 2015 after 15 persons from Kasargod migrated to Afghanistan and Syria. The Kollam native will be made the 21st accused. Of the 15 exited from India, eight were killed,” sources said.
Following the Lankan blasts, the NIA had raided the houses in Palakkad and Kasargod on Sunday. Riyas’ arrest was recorded on Monday evening after two days of interrogation by a team under NIA IG Alok Mittal.
Riyas and suicide attack
Riyas was radicalised by following jihadi videos and literature after 2014. It was IS operatives from Kerala who migrated to Afghanistan and Syria who motivated him to conduct a suicide attack in the state.
The NIA investigation, however, found he has not procured explosives until now.
“Rashid Abdullah, Ashfaq Majeed and Abdul Khayoom spoke to him frequently for motivating him for a suicide attack. They were providing religious lectures and literature used for preparing suicide bombers. Abdul is suspected to have been killed in Syria. He agreed to conduct the suicide attack. But the clear-cut location wasn’t planned and explosives weren’t procured,” an officer said.
Sri Lankan attack
The NIA has found Riyas, Ahamed and Aboobacker were following videos and messages of Zahran Hashim, the mastermind of the Sri Lankan blasts. “These persons unfollowed Zahran soon after the Lankan attack. They were following his sermons for the past one year. We’re probing whether they had any direct communication with his team in Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu,” an officer said.