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The Financial Capital of India, Mumbai was set on high alert after the Anti Terror Squad arrested nine suspects including a teenager for alleged terror links from Thane and Aurangabad on Tuesday.
The arrests came during the course of an investigation into the presence of sleeper cells ahead of Republic Day.
#UPDATE 9 persons arrested today post the searches. Certain chemicals, powder, mobile phones, hard drives SIM cards, acid bottle, sharp knives etc seized during searches. Case registered under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967; further investigation underway.— ANI (@ANI) January 23, 2019
Based on "reliable" intelligence inputs, the ATS sleuths gathered "relevant information about them" and started trailing the nine "for several weeks."
Among those arrested are Salman Khan, Fahad Shah, Zamen Kutepadi, Mohseen Khan, Mohammad Mazhar Shaikh, Taki Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Zahid Shaikh and a 17-year-old. Three of the men are brothers whose main task was to recruit and radicalise young men.
“When it was revealed that the group is likely to carry out terror acts, the ATS formed about a dozen teams and carried out searches and seizures at five different locations in Mumbra, Thane and Aurangabad simultaneously during the intervening night and early morning of 22 January,” the source said.
Chemicals, explosives, mobile phones, hard drives, SIM cards, acid bottles and sharp knives have been found during the raids.
A case under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has been registered and further investigation is in progress
According to ATS officials, three of the nine - Salman, Mohseen and Taki - are brothers, and were influenced by ISIS sympathisers and were given the task to radicalise others to join ISIS. Mohseen, the eldest of the trio, was monitoring every member from Mumbra and was connected with propaganda module of ISIS and was head of the local module.
Mohammad Mazhar Shaikh who worked in private firm in Bhiwandi as a computer engineer met Mohseen and Salman during Ramadan in a mosque at Mumbra last year. Mohseen left three days ago for Aurangabad and was picked by the ATS official.
Fahad Shah, a civil engineer, got in touch with Salman during Ramadan at a mosque in Mumbra area and after that, they were in regular touch and often visited together in Aurangabad. He also had a visa for Saudi Arabia. The ATS claimed that Salman had radicalised Fahad.
ATS officials also picked up a minor boy from Mumbra who they said had also been radicalised. He is said to have to have completed a diploma in electronics and cyberscience.
Zamen Kuttepadi was a medical representative has very good knowledge about chemicals and Mohseen allegedly recruited him for any possible chemical attack and logistic support, the ATS said.
Another suspect Sarfaraz Ahmed was helped Salman in identifying youths in mosques and radicalise them, the ATS said.
ATS officials said they were checking WhatsApp chats and emails of the suspects who had deleted several chats from WhatsApp and snap chat.
"The accused had also taken subscription of the darknet and used to chat with each other," officials added.