Kochi: The special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Kochi has sentenced five people who have been found guilty of conspiring to carry out terror strikes in south India.
Prime convict Manseed Mehmood was given a prison term of 14 years, while others were given prison terms ranging from three to 10 years. Swalih Mohammed has been given 10 years' jail term, while Rashid Ali 7 years, Safvan 8 years and Moinudeen Parakkadavu 3 years. One of the convicts Ramshad N K has been let off with a fine.
The NIA Court on Monday found six accused guilty under different sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). They include offences for associating with a terrorist organisation, raising funds, and holding camps for the terrorist outfit. They were also found guilty under Section 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
The court had acquitted the seventh accused Jasim.
The NIA had busted a terror module and nabbed IS sympathisers from Kanakamala in Kerala's Kannur district in October 2016.
They were plotting to carry out attacks in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The NIA also found that they had conspired to kill two High Court judges and one police officer. The accused had also planned to attack the Jamaat-e-Islami event in Kochi by ramming a vehicle into the crowd. The accused also planned to kill a BJP leader.
The NIA had arrested 15 people, including those who were part of the meeting at Kanakamala and those who participated via social media platforms. A chargesheet was filed against eight of these at the NIA court in Kochi.
The accused were also slapped with the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Fifth accused Mohammed Fayas turned approver in the case. The NIA filed the charge-sheet against the accused in March 2017.
The NIA had revealed that Subahani Haja Moideen had waged war for the IS. After reaching Iraq in April 2015, he was given weapon training. He then allegedly fought for the terror outfit at Mosul, the NIA informed the court.
Seventh accused Shajeer Mangalassery had used social media platforms to incite youths to carry out attacks. He was later killed in an air-strike carried out by the US in Afghanistan, as per reports.
About 70 witnesses were cross-examined in the case.
The probe team had been tracking the gang from Madhya Pradesh after getting a tip-off on their allegiance to the IS. Though the sleuths got information that the gang had reached Kerala, they were not aware of the conspiracy to carry out the attacks.
The sleuths further got information that the gang was planning to meet at Kanakamala. Then around 20 officers, in mufti, nabbed five of the accused.
Proxy names, discreet groups
The NIA also found that the accused used proxy names such as Kabali, 8GB, Innova, and 916 in social media platforms to hold discussions. This was revealed during the trial in the special court.
The attacks were planned by a group on the Telegram app. It was also revealed in court that the accused had planned to target BJP leader M T Ramesh. They referred to Ramesh as Rameez in their chats on Telegram app. They also maintained a group called 'The Gate' to propagate IS ideologies.
To fund the terror activities in Kerala, the accused had reportedly planned to carry out ATM robberies, abduction and hacking. These were also discussed in the groups. However, some stayed away from the attack by claiming to be ill or by citing reasons such as not knowing how to drive.
During custodial interrogation, it was disclosed that they had communicated with co-conspirators within and outside India over online social media platforms like Facebook and Telegram and had also collected funds to wage war against the Government of India, the agency said.