New Delhi/Chennai: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday arrested a key suspect in the murder of a police officer at Chennai airport after his deportation to India from Qatar, the agency said o n Thursday.
The January 8, 22 murder in Kanyakumari was part of a conspiracy by some Islamic State operatives led by Khaja Mohideen to revive the activities of the global terror outfit in the region, officials said.
Shihabudeen alias Sirajudeen, 39, who belongs to Chennai, had fled from India after the killing and been in hiding in Qatar. He is accused of having arranged the gun used by another suspect in the case – Abdul Shameem – to kill special sub-inspector (SSI) of Tamil Nadu Police, Wilson.
NIA, the central anti-terror agency, had taken the over probe of Wilson’s murder from Tamil Nadu police in February 2020.
A charge-sheet was filed in the case July naming Islamic State operative s Mohideen, Abdul Shameem and Y Thowfeek of Kanyakumari; Jaffar Ali (Cuddalore); Mahboob Pasha and Ejas Pasha of Bengaluru.
A separate charge-sheet would be filed later in the case against Shihabudeen, according to an NIA officer who didn’t want to be named.
This officer said Mohideen, a member of the Islamic State who was arrested by the agency in 2017, had radicalised Shameem and Thowfeek on the jihadi (violent extremist) ideology since May 2019, and recruited them into his terrorist gang to carry out attacks against the establishment, especially the police, in Tamil Nadu.
As part of the plan, in October 2019, Mohideen instructed Pasha, Ejas and Jaffer to procure illegal fire arms and prohibited ammunition for carrying out such attacks. After mid-December 2019, on Mohideen’s instructions, Shameem and Thowfeek were sheltered in Karnataka and Maharashtra by Pasha and they were subsequently provided illegal firearms and ammunition arranged by Shihabudeen, said a second officer.
By January 2020-end, when Tamil Nadu police arrested the associates of Pasha in Bengaluru and started pursuing the others, Mohideen instructed Shameem and Thowfeek to attack the Tamil Nadu police at check posts along the inter-state border in Kanyakumari district.
“The assailants travelled to Kaliyakkavilai on January 8 and attacked on-duty SSI Wilson. After the murder, they escaped towards Kerala and concealed the knife and illegal firearm used in the attack near the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus stand in Thriuvananthapuram and Ernakulam, respectively,” said the second officer, who also requested anonymity.
Thereafter, they fled to Kozhikode, changed their appearance and travelled to Maharashtra to live in disguise before returning to Udupi in Karnataka, where they were arrested on January 15, 2020, he added.