They have also not been able to confirm the exact location in the country that ISI had chosen as a target for Ashraf’s terror attack. Writes Ashlyn Davis
Indian forces have once again foiled a major terror plot by Islamic terrorists targeting the ongoing and nationwide Hindu religious festivities.
Delhi police on Monday, October 11, have detained a Pakistani jihad terrorist from the Laxmi Nagar area in the national capital. The special cell of the Delhi Police working on this case also recovered from the jihadi an AK-47 rifle with an extra magazine, 60 rounds, two sophisticated pistols with 50 rounds, and a hand grenade. This arrest comes three days after Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana’s meeting with top officials, in which he discussed anti-terror measures after they received leads regarding a possible terrorist attack in the national capital, targeting the festive season. On October 9, the top cops held meetings to discuss measures to prevent jihad terrorists from getting support from local Muslims.
The detainee has been identified as Mohd Asraf. A Pakistani national hailing from Pakistan’s Punjab province, Asraf has been residing in Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar under the name Ali Ahmad Noorie, and procured forged Indian identification papers to support his fabrications.
Reportedly, Ashraf, who has been booked under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Explosives Act, Arms Act, and other laws, is associated with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI, the premier intelligence agency of Pakistan) and is a key member of the sleeper cell module of the ISI. On Tuesday, October 12, Ashraf was produced at the Patiala House court before chief metropolitan magistrate (CMM) Pankaj Sharma, and then sent to a special cell for further interrogation. He will be held in the custody for 14 days.
Special cell officers said that Ashraf has confessed to having perpetrated several terror strikes and carrying out espionage activities in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as in some other Indian states. “We are verifying his disclosures, because the claims that he is making are very sensitive and beyond our imagination. That’s the reason we are not revealing details of the terror strikes that he said he was involved in,” said an officer who preferred not to be named, according to a Hindustan Times report.
Delhi Police sources revealed that this man had been providing arms and other logistical help to jihad terrorists entering India and staying stealthily in the national capital for the last fifteen years. During this time, Asraf also married an Indian woman; however, he separated from her within six months of the marriage and moved to a different place in Delhi.
He had also buried the weapons near Kalindi Kunj under the sand on the banks of the river Yamuna, which flows through the heart of the city. Officials have confirmed that the arms and ammunition were being sent to Ashraf by his ISI handler, whom he has identified as Nasir. These weapons were smuggled into India’s territory from Pakistan across the Punjab border. Preliminary interrogation has revealed that Ashraf was recruited by the ISI shortly after he completed his education up through class 10 in Pakistan in 2004. He was trained for six months in Pakistan’s Sialkot by Nasir, who encouraged him to work as an agent of ISI’s sleeper cell in India.
Ashraf had put on the guise of an Islamic cleric while living in Delhi and visiting other cities. He also travelled to Saudi Arabia and Thailand on an Indian passport, around four or five years ago. He mostly used VoIP (Voice over IP) to receive calls from his associates and accomplices; recently he had started using encrypted mobile applications for communicating with his handler. A mobile phone was also found in his possession, and several Pakistani numbers have been retrieved from it.
The 40-year-old terror suspect, who had secured an Indian passport, an Aadhaar card and other relevant documents, was all set to launch a “lone-wolf” attack during the ongoing religious festivities. A terror attack executed during these festivities would translate into enormous loss of life, as the streets are bustling with Hindu devotees, as well as immense destruction of property.
Two major Hindu festivals fall in October and November; Durga Puja is the first, followed by Diwali. Police have not specified whether it was the Durga Puja or Diwali that was Ashraf’s target. They have also not been able to confirm the exact location in the country that ISI had chosen as a target for Ashraf’s terror attack.
“Ashraf claims that he has not been told about the place and the date when the terror attack had to be executed. He only had received coordinates of the place where the weapons and explosives were delivered. We suspect that Ashraf’s handler was sharing information with him on a need-to-know-basis. Ashraf was only told about the delivery of the weapons and explosives but not about the person who was delivering them,” stated Pramod Singh Kushwah, Deputy Commissioner of Police, special cell.
Sources reveal that multiple members of Ashraf’s network are currently living in Delhi, and they will also be apprehended in the days to come.
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