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NIA arrests follower of Sri Lanka bombing mastermind

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday arrested an Islamic State sympathizer and follower of alleged Sri Lanka bombings mastermind Zahran Hasim, the agency said.

Riyas Aboobacker was arrested from Kerala after he disclosed NIA investigators that he has been following speeches and videos of Hashim, a radical Tamil-speaking cleric who is believed to have masterminded the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka which left 253 people dead and over 500 injured.

The 29-year-old informed the NIA officials that he has been following Hasim for more than a year and has also followed the speeches of Zakir Naik, an absconding Indian Islamic preacher and the founder of the Islamic Research Foundation.

Aboobacker admitted that he wanted to carry out a suicide attack in Kerala. He was being questioned by the NIA since Sunday when the agency unearthed the Kasargod module of the terrorist outfit in Kerala during multiple raids at the house of three suspects.

Aboobacker alias Abu Dujana, a resident of Palakkad in Kerala, has been arrested on charges for conspiring to commit a terrorist act, an NIA statement said.

The suspect, NIA said, revealed during his interrogation that he had been in online contact with an absconding suspect Abdul Rashid Abdulla for a long time and has been following his audio clips including the clip which he had circulated on social media platform instigating others to carry out terror attacks in India.

Aboobacker revealed that he was also having online chat with Abdul Khayoom, a suspect in Valapattanam Islamic State case, who was believed to be in Syria, said the anti-terror agency.

The NIA had earlier received inputs that a group of four persons has been in contact with some accused identified as Abdul Rashid, Ashfaq Majeed, Abdul Khayoom who had already migrated to Afghanistan and Syria.

After verification, NIA carried out searches at three places (two in Kasaragod and one in Palakkad District) on Sunday.

The agency said three group members have been interrogated for their Islamic State links and their plans and that this case was registered in July 2016 following the disappearance of 15 youths from Kasargod and their subsequent migration to Islamic State (14 persons to Afghanistan and one person to Syria).

Aboobacker will be produced before a special NIA court in Kochin in Kerala on Tuesday, said the agency.


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