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Uttar Pradesh

Attack on Ram Mandir averted, Al Qaeda terrorist arrested says UP ATS

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An Al Qaeda unit was busted in Uttar Pradesh on 11th July by the ATS (Anti-terrorism squad) in Lucknow, Uttar Prades (UP). Two men, Minhaj Ahmed (32), and Maseeruddin (50) were taken into custody. A third accomplice, Shakeel, is on the run, said the Police. Both are sent to the remand of the UP ATS for 14 days, starting Tuesday, 13th July.

Minhaj was arrested from a house in Kakori outskirts of Lucknow, his associate Masiruddin, alias Mushir was picked from his house in Madiyaon at the former’s instance.

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According to sources, the prime accused is well educated and holds a diploma. Earlier working as a lab technician and then ran a battery shop, the main accused came in contact with the handler a year and a half ago and had been asked to assemble bombs with commonly available ingredients.  

A 9mm country-made pistol and explosives were seized at Minhaj Ahmed’s house in the Kakori area of Lucknow. A large number of explosives and an Improvised explosive device (IED), ie. a cooker set to be used as a crude bomb was recovered from Maseeruddin’s house.  

Besides these, laptops, documents, and burnt papers were also seized by the ATS.

According to investigators, the plan included suicide bombings at UP crowded areas of Lucknow and other cities.

ATS sources have said that the target of Al Qaeda terrorists was the grand Ram temple being built in Ayodhya. Apart from this, the religious places of Mathura and Kashi were also on target of these terrorists as maps of these places among other major target locations were recovered from the accused. 

“Our Anti Terror Squad has arrested two terrorists related to Al Qaeda’s Ansar Ghaswat-UL-Hind. Explosives and a pistol were seized from these terrorists. The prominent members of this module are Minhaj, Maseeruddin, and Shakeel. These terrorists planned to carry out explosions using human bombs and other methods, in various cities across UP, especially the crowded areas in Lucknow ahead of August 15,” said Prashant Kumar, Additional Director General of Police, Law and order, Uttar Pradesh, in a press conference. 

“This unit had members from Lucknow and Kanpur. We had information that this unit could be used to carry out terror attacks in UP at any time,” he added.

As soon as the news was announced, the Bihar State Police Headquarters on Sunday issued an alert in all districts and railway stations. “Bihar State Police Headquarters issued an alert in all districts and railway stations after two al-Qaeda terrorists were arrested in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow,” the Special Branch of Bihar Police and CID said.

Reportedly, the module was being run by Umar Halmandi, a listed Al-Qaeda operative based somewhere along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The duo was reached by Al Qaeda terrorists via the internet (through Telegram app) and on Umar’s directions, was planning blasts in the state. 

The ATS is now monitoring the Telegram and WhatsApp chats of the nabbed terrorists. Besides foreign handles, the duo was also in touch with other people in various districts of Uttar Pradesh.

Al Qaeda’s India sub-continent module was announced on September 3, 2014, by Al Zawahiri and was being run under Maulana Asim Omar, who had roots in the Sambhal district of Uttar Pradesh and was killed in 2019 in Afghanistan. Thereafter, this module was being run by Umar Halmandi from Peshawar/Quetta area. 

The operation was telecast live on the TV and the ATS was not happy with the live telecast of the operation on several news channels. AGD Prashant Kumar said that the Police would share the disclosable information as soon as the operations were over.“There are guidelines that restrict everyone from telecasting live feeds of operations that are of national security,” he added. The Police will share more information if they feel it can be shared.

Disbelief among opposition parties

The arrest comes after the accusation of the massive land scams against the Ayodhya trust members which have rocked the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party ahead of the 2022 state assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh. The UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is also under criticism for mishandling the COVID-19 surge. 

The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, in response to a question by the media, said that he has no trust over the actions of state police and the Bharatiya Janata Party government while referring to the arrest of the Al Qaeda members. 

“I can’t trust the actions of the Uttar Pradesh police and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in the state,” he said.

A BJP minister from UP, Mohsin Raza, responded by calling Akhilesh’s statement ‘unfortunate’. “One can only expect such a statement from the Samajwadi Party. Akhilesh Yadav trusts terrorists, but not the police of his state. The morale of the UP Police has witnessed a boost under the Yogi government,” Raza told the media. 

According to investigators, the plan included suicide bombings at UP crowded areas of Lucknow and other cities.

Written By

Saad Ansari

Saad Ansari is a Mass Media and Journalism student with a deep interest in analysing domestic and global newsworthy incidents. Inquisitive extroverted and a writer at heart, he loves understanding things and then forming a perspective to intrigue over. Currently, he is pursuing BA in Multimedia and Mass Communication at Bunts Sangha's SM Shetty College, Powai. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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