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Al-Qaeda men nabbed from Kochi, rented homes during lockdown


Thiruvananthapuram: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday busted an inter-state module of Al Qaeda operatives as it conducted raids in West Bengal and Kerala on Saturday morning. Three of the nine Qaeda men were arrested from Ernakulam district.

Kerala Police chief Lokanath Behera confirmed the arrests from Ernakulam that has the highest migrant labourers population in the state. The three were picked from two places in Kochi. Those arrested are Murshid Hassan, Yakoob Bishwas and Morshraf Hussien.

Kerala Police has found out that Hussien was in Kerala for the past one decade and was working in a textile shop at Perumbavoor, near Aluva.

Speaking to the media, a person who was staying with Murshid Hassan said the police came around 2 a.m. and arrested Hassan and also recovered incriminating materials including digital devices, documents, jihadi literature.

“It was during the national lockdown, he started to stay with us. Generally he used to work only for two days a week and rest of the time, he was in the room. We do not know details of him or his family,” said the person who was his roommate.

Police has now taken away the mobile of all those staying with Hassan and have asked them to report at the NIA office.

According to the anti-terror probe agency officials in Delhi, the arrests were made after raids in West Bengal’s Murshidabad, from where six people have been arrested.

The NIA spokesperson said that the agency carried out simultaneous raids at several locations in Ernakulam and Murshidabad after learning about the inter-state terror module operational from various locations in India.

“The group was planning to undertake terrorist attacks at vital installations in India with an aim to kill innocent people and strike terror in their minds,” the spokesperson said, adding that it has registered a case on September 11.

Sharp weapons, country-made firearms, a locally fabricated body armour, articles and literature used for making home-made explosive devices have been seized from their possession.

Those arrested in Kerala are presently under the custody of NIA officials and later in the day they would be produced before a special NIA court here and after that they would be moved to Delhi.

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