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NIA files charge sheet against two IS operatives in Karnataka

Operatives were being paid in cryptocurrencies by their online handler: NIA

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NEW DELHI, March 17 (PTI): The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed a charge sheet against two alleged Islamic State operatives who were found involved in over two dozen incidents of arson and sabotage, including the burning of the national flag in Karnataka, an official said Friday.

Maaz Muneer Ahmad (23) and Syed Yasin (22) of Shivamogga have been charged in a special court under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Explosive Substances Act, and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, a spokesperson of the federal agency said.

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The official said the case relates to a conspiracy hatched to further the activities of the banned Islamic State terror group by carrying out acts of arson, sabotage, and violence in Karnataka. Further investigations against six other arrested accused are in progress.

The NIA took over the case in September last year after it was initially registered by the Karnataka Police after Prem Singh was at Shivamogga on August 15, allegedly by accused Zabiulla and others.

“Ahmad and Yasin, both B Tech graduates, had been radicalized and motivated by an online foreign-based handler to target public and private properties, including warehouses, liquor outlets, hardware shops, vehicles, and properties belonging to citizens belonging to a particular community. In furtherance of a conspiracy hatched by the Islamic State, they had committed over 25 incidents of arson and sabotage,” the spokesperson said.

The NIA said the level of their commitment is evident from their activities.

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“Both of them went to the Agumbe and Varahi River backwaters forest area of Shivamogga district for trekking and reconnaissance for hideouts. They procured explosives and prepared to fabricate an IED. Yasin conducted a trial explosion of one of the IEDs at the Varahi river bank in Shivamogga. He also burned a national flag and recorded a video to establish his anti-India credentials,” the spokesperson said.

The official said the two terror operatives were being paid in cryptocurrencies by their online handler via fund transfers from abroad.

“Investigations have revealed that Ahmad received crypto equivalent to around Rs 1.5 lakh from the online handler into the accounts of his friends, whereas Yasin received Rs 62 K into the account of a friend,” the spokesperson said.

As part of the larger IS conspiracy, the NIA said another accused in the case, Mohamed Shariq, had planned to carry out an IED blast at Kadri Temple, Mangaluru, on November 19 last year, but the device had exploded prematurely due to a timer malfunction, which averted a “potential disaster”.

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