Police say that a joint investigation conducted by the Karnataka, New Delhi and Tamil Nadu Police into alleged terror activities by members of a banned outfit Al-Ummah has unveiled several startling details. After interrogating one of the key suspects Moinuddin Khwaja in New Delhi, the investigators allege that the group was allegedly scouting for a 50-acre plot in a secluded area to set up a headquarters for carrying out activities.
The police have so far arrested seven persons in connection with the case and have booked them under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. On January 7, the Tamil Nadu police arrested Mohammed Haneef Khan (29), Imran Khan (32), and Mohammed Zaid (24) from Soladevanahalli, Vivek Nagar and HSR Layout.
Two days later, the Delhi police arrested Moinuddin Khwaja, Syed Ali Nivas and Abdul Samad. These three persons were arrested in connection with the murder of the Hindu Munnani member Suresh Kumar in 2014. Khwaja was held under suspicion of trying to create communal disharmony by carrying out attacks in Delhi's NCR. The Tamil Nadu Police and Bengaluru Crime Branch sleuths on Monday arrested an arms dealer Azaz Pasha from Ramanagara in connection with the case.
Following this, the Bengaluru Central Crime Branch filed a complaint with Sudduguntepalya police near BTM Layout in Bengaluru on January 11 against a man identified as Mehaboob Pasha, who is allegedly the kingpin of the group. Following the input, the police filed a case against Pasha and 16 of his associates under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Interrogation has revealed that Khwaja, who was arrested in 2014 for allegedly killing Hindu Munnani leader Suresh Kumar had allegedly met two of Pashaâ€™s relatives in jail in Tamil Nadu and they allegedly planned to shift their base to Bengaluru.
After Khwaja got bail in 2014, he absconded from Tamil Nadu. He allegedly got in touch with Mehaboob Pasha via the two relatives he met in jail in Bengaluru in 2018. Khwaja allegedly set up a trust in Bengaluruâ€™s Bannerghatta Road, which the investigators believed was a front created for carrying out alleged terror activities.
â€śKhwaja and Pasha gradually recruited more people since 2018. As of now, they are a 17-member gang including Khwaja and Pasha. These 17 members would meet at Al-Hind space in Banneghatta or at Pashaâ€™s house in Sudduguntepalya. They also had a safe house in Vivek Nagar,â€ť the police source said.
The members of the group allegedly had code words for each of the operatives and communicated via messaging app Signal and via email. â€śThree people were being trained to become suicide bombers and Khwaja had plans of sending them to Syria. He had connections with the SIMI (Students Islamic Movement in India), a banned outfit in Uttar Pradesh, where Khwaja was planning to recruit more people. They were in touch with handlers in a foreign country and were arranging for funds to set up the headquartersâ€™ campus and also buy weapons,â€ť the source said.
The Karnataka police are currently trying to trace Mehaboob Pashaâ€™s movements since he absconded on January 7.