Two al-Qaeda men nabbed from Haryana

Abdul-Sami-al-Qaeda Suspected Al Qaeda terrorist Abdul Sami, arrested by Delhi Polices Special Cell from Nuh town in Mewat, before being produced at a court in New Delhi on Monday | PTI

Two men, suspected to have links with terror group al-Qaeda have been nabbed from Haryana's Mewat district in a joint operation by Delhi Police and a central intelligence agency, Mewat Police on Monday said.

The suspected terrorists have been identified as Mohamad Qasim and Abdul Sami, residents of Jamshedpur district in Jharkhand, the latter believed to be a key operative of the banned terror outfit, who allegedly received arms training in Pakistan.

Qasim and Sami had reached Punhana sub-town in Muslim- dominated Mewat district two days ago and were residing in a mosque situated on Punhana Hodal Road, Punhan Police said.

Following a tip-off Sunday night, a team of Delhi Police and a central intelligence agency reached the place and some youth were rounded up for questioning, a local senior police official said.

"During interrogation, the sleuths found Qasim and Sami hesitant while revealing their identities and their objective of visiting Punhana, after which they were arrested", DSP Punhana Ratandeep Bali said.

A senior official of Delhi Police, however, clearly stated that "only one person has been arrested by them."

"Besides Sami, no other person has been arrested or detained by the Delhi Police," Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Arvind Deep, said on Monday.

"Sami was arrested by Delhi Police's Special Cell from Nuh town in Mewat on Monday. He was brought here and produced before a court which remanded him in police custody till February 1," Deep said.

Sami was allegedly mentored by Abdul Rahman, a madrassa cleric who was arrested from Jagatpur area of Cuttack in Odisha, in December by a Special Cell team, a senior Delhi Police official said.

Rahman's arrest was the second in the ongoing operation. So far the police have identified three persons whom Rahman had inducted in al Qaeda's module in the Indian sub-continent (AQIS) and sent for training.

While Sami has been arrested, the other two—identified as Abu Sufian and Umar Hyderabadi—are still believed to be in Pakistan, the official added.

He further said, Sami left for Dubai in January 2014, he stayed there for a month before moving to Karachi. From there, he went to Mansehra, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, where he received training in handling AK 47 and light machine guns.

Sami's movements were being coordinated by a handler, identified as Yusuf, from Pakistan.

During interrogation, it had earlier emerged that Yusuf was also in touch with Mohammed Asif, who is believed to be one of the founding members and the head (amir) of AQIS's motivation, recruitment and training wing and Abdul Rahman, the official said.

Asif's was the first arrest in the operation. He was nabbed from Seelampur in northeast Delhi, followed by the arrests of Rahman and alleged financier of the module, Zafar Masood, arrested from mohalla Deepa Sarai in UP's Sambhal district in December 2015.

On January 6, the Delhi Police (Special Cell) had arrested Maulana Anzar Shah, a cleric from Bangalore, for alleged links with AQIS. He was allegedly asked to provide logistical support whenever the need arose, police said.

They were all booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

It was in January 2015 that Sami, who was a trained electrician, returned to India via Sharjah and Kathmandu. He then went to his home at Jamshedpur, but soon left without any disclosure of his whereabouts.

However, the police have not yet been able to trace any money trail with regard to Sami, said an official in Special Cell of Delhi Police, adding that two more youths from Jamshedpur are also under their scanner and they are believed to be close to Sami.

"Sami is suspected to have arrived in India with some plans. It is also possible that he is involved in the planning of some high-profile attacks in the country. For details on all that, he is to be subjected to intensive interrogation," the official said.

AQIS was floated by al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahari himself in September 2014 following a meeting somewhere in Afghanistan-Pakistan region which reportedly had in its quorum the entire Grand Council (Arabian Shura) of al-Qaeda, including al-Zawahiri's son-in-law.

Despite several Indians being present at the training camp, Maulana Asim Umar alias Sanaul Haq and Mohammed Asif are believed to be the only Indians present in the council, Delhi Police said.

After Umar was anointed the chief, it is believed that some unexpected visitors met him, including Indian Mujahideen chief Riyaz Bhatkal, who is still at large, and other senior IM commanders like Baba Sajid, who was recently reported to have been killed in Syria, police said.

Asif was Umar's chosen candidate and, with the help of his deputy Qasim, Umar had contacted Asif through a social networking site, a year before he left for Tehran on a 'ziyarat' visa, exclusively meant for visiting a holy shrine in Tehran.

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