Chennai, Jan 23: Videos and speeches of Sri Lankan Islamic State leader Zahran Hashim were used by ‘jihadi’ gang ‘Shahadat is our Goal’ to radicalise youths in Tamil Nadu during 2017-2018 calling for violent jihad to liberate their associates lodged in prisons.
Various social media groups, especially on WhatsApp, were created by the gang which later started disseminating materials advocating violent jihad in the region. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) revealed these facts in its charge sheet filed against 10 arrested members of the gang in a special court in Chennai on Saturday.
Sri Lankan cleric Moulvi Hashim was the alleged mastermind behind the bomb attacks that hit the country’s capital Colombo as well as the towns of Negombo and Batticaloa on Easter Sunday in 2019. Over 250 people, including 45 children and 40 foreign nationals, were killed in the deadly explosions.
Sheik Dawood, 33, Mohamed Rifas,37, Muparish Ahamed, 23, Abubakar Siddiq, 24, Ahamed Imithiyas, 31, Mohamed Rashid, 25, Hameed Asfar, 23, Liyakath Ali, 30, Sajith Ahamed, 23, and Rizwan Mohammed, 26 – all from different districts in Tamil Nadu – are the 10 arrested accused against whom the NIA framed charges under the Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act and Arms Act.
The case was originally registered on April 2, 2018 at Keelakarai Police Station in Ramnathapuram district of Tamil Nadu after the arrest of Mohamed Rifas, Muparish Ahamed and Abupakkar Sithik from Keelakarai. Lethal weapons including swords along with pamphlets pertaining to the terrorist gang ‘Shahadat is our Goal’ were seized from their possession and the NIA re-registered the case on January 10, 2019.
Investigation in the case has established that the charge-sheeted accused persons were radicalised by violent jihadi ideology, said the NIA.
“Prime accused Sheik Dawood and Mohamed Rifas had conspired with co-accused and organised meetings at various places in Tamil Nadu, since Ramadan, 2017, with the intention of radicalising and recruiting the co-accused and others for ‘shahadat’ (martyrdom) to establish Islamic rule in India,” NIA said.
“The accused had created various social media groups, especially on WhatsApp and were disseminating materials advocating violent jihad, including the videos and speeches of the Sri Lankan ISIS leader Zahran Hashim.”
The accused had also prepared pamphlets titled “Shahadat is our Goal” calling for violent jihad to liberate their associates lodged in prisons, said the anti-terror agency, adding Sheik Dawood and Mohammed Rifas had also attempted to carry out terrorist acts by procuring illegal firearms in order to liberate their jailed associates.