New Delhi: The three people arrested on Monday over the alleged links with ISIS module, have completed their graduation in engineering and one of them was currently pursuing PhD from Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) here, police said.
According to the police, one of the accused had made IEDs and later tested them at several places in Delhi, Rajasthan and Haldwani in Uttarakhand.
The accused have been identified as Mohammad Shahnawaz Alam alias Abdullah alias Mohammad Ibrahim alias Prince (31), Mohammad Rizwan Ashraf (28) and Mohammad Arshad Warsi (29).
Shahnawaz, one of NIA's most wanted terrorists, did recce some potential areas like crowded places, Mazar/dargah, routes of VIP political leaders in Mumbai, Surat, Vadodara, Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad for planting IEDs and target killings.
Born in Jharkhand's Hazaribagh, Shahnawaz moved to Kota in Rajasthan for engineering coaching and completed his BTech in mining from NIT Visveswaraya, Nagpur in 2016, police said.
Shahnawaz came to Delhi in November 2016 for competitive examination preparations and started staying at Abul Fazal enclave. He was influenced by the ideology of ISIS from his college days, police said.
After that he started following various social media accounts and news channels that professed ISIS ideology, they said.
Shahnawaz met with one Rizwan Ali at Shaheen Masjid in Shaheen Bagh in 2016. Over a period of time, they became good friends as Ali was also inclined to ISIS ideology, officials said.
Shahnawaz and Ali wanted to go for 'Hijrat' and in order to collect funds for their Hijrat, both of them got indulged in crime. Shahnawaz was earlier arrested in Hazaribagh in multiple cases of dacoity and theft in 2019 and remained in jail for eight to nine months, they said.
Later, he started communicating with a foreign-based handler of ISIS. Meanwhile, Ali also established contact with the same handler. The duo visited Lavasa, Mahabaleshwar, Goa, Hubli, Udupi, Kerala, Valsad Wildlife Sanctuary, Nallamala Mountain ranges, and Chandauli, among others to find suitable hideouts for their stay in Western Ghats and to set up a base there, police said.
"Shahnawaz also conducted recce of some potential areas like crowded places, mazar/dargah, routes of famous political leaders in Mumbai, Surat, Vadodara, Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad for planting IEDs and target killings. He also analysed the map of west Rajasthan to find out the IED testing point," Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) HGS Dhaliwal said.
In March 2021, Shahnawaz married Basanti Patel alias Khadeeja Maryam (converted) in Aligarh, UP. After his return from Aligarh, they decided to make some IEDs in Delhi until they found some suitable contacts for Hijrat to Afghanistan, police said.
In 2022, Shahnawaz and Ali met with Imran and Yunus Saaki in Pune. On July 18 during police patrolling, Shahnawaz, Imran and Yunus were apprehended by Pune police while they were stealing a bike, but Shahnawaz managed to escape from there, the officials said.
Since December 2022 on the instructions of foreign based handler, Shahnawaz and Ali, along with their other associates, had started accumulating materials in Delhi for preparation of IEDs in furtherance of their conspiracy to carry out blast in the national capital, the officials said.
Another accused Warsi is a native of Jharkhand. He studied at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Uttar Pradesh and did BTech in mechanical engineering in 2016, police said.
Thereafter, he moved to Delhi in 2016 and studied in Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and completed his MBA in marketing and operations in 2018. Currently, he was pursuing PhD from JMI in Islamic Principles. He also worked as a physics teacher at an institute in Jamia Nagar and also provided home tuition in science and mathematics, police said.
Warsi came in contact with Shahnawaz during the 'Darsh' programmes in Jamia Nagar and he was a participant in planning to carry out terrorist activities in Delhi and adjoining areas along with Shahnawaz and others, they said.
The third accused, Ashraf, was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He completed his BTech in information and technology from a college in Ghaziabad in 2017, the officials said.
Ashraf, an ISIS member, was in communication with the same foreign based handler as that of Shanawaz and Waris. He came in contact with Shanawaz and Waris through a common contact and was involved in the conspiracy to carry out the terrorist activities in Delhi, police added.