Calls to Saudi Arabia unravelled terror plot

Suspicious phone calls made from a cell phone in Bengaluru to a private phone number in Saudi Arabia and intercepted by the Counter Intelligence Cell of Andhra Pradesh, alerted the Central Crime Branch, City police to the plot to assassinate BJP leaders and right leaning journalists in the state.

The phone calls saw sleuths home in on journalist Mati-ur-Rehman Siddique, formally arrested along with ten others in the city two days ago.

Officials told Deccan Chronicle that Siddique, the man at the centre of the plot was part of the the ‘Hubli module’ of the new terror outfit, that sleuths believe is the banned extremist outfit — the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) — under another guise.

Siddique is reportedly the kingpin behind the plot to eliminate Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and right-wing journalists in Karnataka, said top Intelligence sources, adding his newspaper offices in the heart of the city as well as easy access to politicians made it easy for him to feed information to others in his group. Two of them are reported to have been trained in Saudi Arabia by handlers from Pakistan, insiders revealed.

“We have reason to believe that a middle-aged medical doctor from Hubli, Dr Zakir Mohammed who moved to Saudi Arabia five to six years ago is the alleged mastermind behind the entire conspiracy, and is responsible for the recruitment and radicalization of the youth,” the source said.

“SIMI had a sizeable presence in Hubli before it was banned in 2001. The cadres went underground after the ban but they have always been active and hold periodic meetings. The police arrested over 20 suspect cadres of SIMI in 2008 for reportedly conspiring to target foreign tourists in coastal Karnataka and Goa,” said a top Intelligence officer.

“We had some suspicion and had been investigating for the last two-three months. The suspects used a sophisticated technical modus operandi of using proxies to make and receive phone calls to fox the police,” said an official source, who added that during interrogation.

Siddique, picked up for questioning three days ago, had proved 'mentally very tough' and not easy to quiz.

Terror suspect’s family demands CBI probe

The family of terror suspect and MBA graduate, Wahid Kanakyanavar, arrested by the Bengaluru CCB , has threatened to launch an indefinite fast if it is not allowed to meet him.

Declaring that it had no faith in the investigation by the CCB or any team functioning under the state government, the family demanded that the Central Bureau of Investigation be asked to handle the case.

"Being a peace-loving family that follows the ideals and principles of Mahatma Gandhi, we have decided to observe a silent fast for an indefinite period. We are, anyway, dying every day, having been labelled terrorists by everyone and isolated from the outside world ever since the arrest of my son. We don’t even know where he is,” said Wahid's father, Abdul Munaf Kanakyanavar, a retired Indian Railways mechanic.

His health has deteriorated and his wife has been weeping inconsolably since the arrest of their son. Rebutting charges that handlers in Saudi Arabia had given Wahid money, they said both his bank accounts had a zero balance and he could not even repay his education loan from the State Bank of Mysore which had grown to Rs 5 lakh with interest as a result.

“My brother has never gone abroad for any jihadi training. He only went on a study tour of Malaysia while doing his MBA. But the social stigma we are now facing is worse than a death penalty. My mother is bedridden and my father is losing his mind because of the way we are being treated by our neighbours," said Wahid's brother, Sarfaraz Kanakyanavar.

Meanwhile, the families of terror suspects, Jafer Solapur, Mehboom Bagalkot and Imran Bahadur have left for Bengaluru, hoping to meet them and also attend their trial.

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