ISIS hitlist had Mum­bai, Delhi as prime tar­gets

For­eign han­dlers told top op­er­a­tives to hire lo­cals for strikes

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Rahul Ma­ha­jani rahul.ma­ha­jani@hin­dus­tan­times.com

MUM­BAI: The top two lead­ers of the An­sar-ut Tawhid fi Bi­lal al-Hind, the In­dian wing of the Is­lamic State (ISIS), were in­structed by their for­eign han­dlers to scout for po­ten­tial tar­gets for ter­ror­ist strikes in Delhi and Mum­bai, sources in se­cu­rity agen­cies said on Wed­nes­day.

As most of the ISIS sus­pects ar­rested as part of a na­tion­wide crack­down ahead of the Re­pub­lic Day cel­e­bra­tions did not have In­dian pass­ports, the in­struc­tion from their han­dlers was to lure as many fresh lo­cal re­cruits as pos­si­ble with a view to car­ry­ing out ter­ror­ist at­tacks when­ever pos­si­ble, in­ves­ti­ga­tors have found.

Mud­ab­bir Mush­taq Sheikh, 33, from Mum­bra, the amir (chief) of IS In­dia, is cur­rently in the Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency’s cus­tody while Khalid Ahmed Ali alias Rizwan, 20, the se­cond-in­com­mand of the or­gan­i­sa­tion ar­rested from UP, is in the cus­tody of the Maharashtra an­titer­ror­ism squad (ATS).

Maharashtra ATS sleuths have re­cov­ered what they sus­pect is a bomb-mak­ing cir­cuit from the res­i­dence of one of the ar­rested ac­cused. “The ar­rests were made in Maharashtra and other places when the sus­pects were in prepara­tory mode to carry out a strike,” a se­nior IPS of­fi­cial said, re­quest­ing anonymity. Sources said the role given to Mud­ab­bir and Khalid was to in­cite young­sters to carry out ter­ror­ist strikes.

Khalid played a cru­cial role in send­ing Ayaz Sul­tan from Mal­wani abroad, the sources added. Ayaz, a call cen­tre em­ployee, left on Oc­to­ber 25 and a miss­ing per­son’s com­plaint was reg­is­tered on Oc­to­ber 30 at a Mal­wani po­lice sta­tion by his mother. The ATS reg­is­tered a case against Sul­tan and oth­ers un­der the Un­law­ful Ac­tiv­i­ties (Preven­tion) Act, 1967.

“Ayaz Sul­tan’s rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion process be­gan on­line in 2014. He also started iden­ti­fy­ing po­ten­tial re­cruits from Mal­wani and tried to rad­i­calise sev­eral young­sters,” a source said, adding he tar­geted at least eight peo­ple. Of th­ese, sources said, two re­fused to agree to his views and op­posed his ide­ol­ogy and in­ter­pre­ta­tion of re­li­gion. Of the re­main­ing peo­ple, Wa­jid Sheikh, 23, Mohsin Ibrahim Say­eed, 26, and Noor Mo­ham­mad Shaikh, 32, left their homes in mid-De­cem­ber. Wa­jid and Noor have re­turned, but the search for Mohsin is on. Three oth­ers were to leave, but aborted their mis­sion af­ter Ayaz’s name ap­peared in me­dia re­ports.

RE­LATED RE­PORT, P2

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