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Bharti Jain| TNN | New Delhi | Oct 6, 2016:: Manseed alias Omar al-Hindi, the chief of terror group Islamic State’s (IS) module busted by the NIA on Sunday, had worked for 12 years as part of the intelligence wing of Popular Front India (PFI), reporting on activities of RSS and its functionaries in Kerala.
The module headed by him was plotting Nice-like attacks on community events, particularly an all-religion gathering in Kochi, and had even been transferred Rs 380000 from abroad through Western Union to buy a second-hand heavy vehicle to be driven into the crowd, killing and maiming a large number of people, sources said.
A link with controversial cleric Zakir Naik has also surfaced with all six members of the al-Hindi module speaking of the televangelist as a source of inspiration, saying they were motivated by his speeches and social media posts.
Al-Hindi’s association with PFI ended after the organisation expelled him for marrying a woman from the Philippines, he revealed to his interrogators. The 30-year-old Manseed relocated from Kerala to Qatar around eight years ago and was working as a sales executive in Doha.
Around 12-18 months ago, he started following online jihadi activity and would surf the internet for pro-IS blogs and posts. While interacting with jihad-minded people on social media, he encountered his Afghanistan-based handler Abu Aysha, who helped him put together a Facebook group called ‘Ansar-ul-Khilaaf’ comprising IS-leaning youth from Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The group communicated using telegram and Tutanota encryption and would keep changing names to avoid detection. Abu Aysha would regularly send material against RSS and motivate the group to target Sangh workers.
The module’s plans included targeting three top RSS members of Kerala, two Kerala high court judges with “progressive views on Sharia law”, rationalists and activists of the Muslim community and Jews based in Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu. The group also planned to procure arms and materials for explosives to execute their terror plans.
The accused revealed that four members of the module travelled to Kodaikanal on September 12 to conduct a recee for a possible attack on Jews there. But they met with an accident en route and aborted the plan and then scheduled the attack for the first week of October.
The NIA, while scanning electronic devices seized from the accused, found material, including details on procuring material for explosives, making explosives from fireworks powder and bomb-making manuals.
Abu Aysha, intelligence sources said, told al-Hindi that he had met some of the 21 Keralites who left India to join IS as they transited through Tehran in July. He claimed all 21 were now based in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.
The module led by al-Hindi was being tracked by intelligence agencies for almost four to five months. In fact, the accused came on the radar while the NIA was tracking some youths discussing travelling to Turkey for onward journey to Iraq-Syria. As their plan to leave India to join the IS became apparent, the agencies intervened and alerted their parents. Finally, the youths were dissuaded from travelling abroad.