NIA verifying how close Kerala came to ‘suicide attack’

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Agency examines whether the suspect had attempted to fabricate an explosive device

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is reportedly verifying how close Riyaz Aboobacker, the 29-year-old youth from Palakkad, has come to carry out a suicide attack in Kerala.

The NIA had claimed that it had thwarted a home-grown terror plot following his arrest on Monday.

Officials privy to the contours of the probe said the agency would examine whether the suspect had attempted to fabricate an explosive device, scouted for potential targets, made dry runs, experimented with timer devices or endeavoured to recruit any person as a possible suicide bomber.

They said the NIA could be looking at Riyaz’s contacts and political affiliations in a bid to find out whether any individual or entities had supported him.

Riyaz’s arrest comes barely 10 days after the Easter suicide bombings in Sri Lanka and following inputs from various security agencies that Zahran Hashim, the architect of the attacks, had direct links with at least two persons from Palakkad.

State police officers said the agency may issue them a detailed advisory after the probe. They said the Sri Lanka attacks could have motivated radical elements to carry out similar attacks in south India.

The NIA said that Riyaz appeared to have been radicalised by the slick online propaganda of the Islamic State (IS) and Internet videos of charismatic orators who argued for violent jihad to establish a global caliphate-based on Sharia. It has also stated that the accused had protracted contact with at least three men who migrated to Syria and Afghanistan via Colombo to purportedly join the IS in 2016.

Meanwhile, the State police have sought information from Central and international agencies involved in the Sri Lanka probe on the suicide bombers and their links, if any, with south India.

It has also sounded an alarm against the illegal stocking of explosives, particularly gelignite and detonators in quarries, both legal and illegal. The suspected murder-suicide of a man and woman in Wayanad using a gelignite charge has necessitated a special operation to make it difficult for stockists and manufacturers to divert conventional explosives for unknown purposes illegally.

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