The terrorists caught in Nimbahera of Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, three days ago dared to offer Rs 20 lakh to policemen after being arrested. They were about to execute a major terror plot to bomb Jaipur, with 12 kg RDX to be transported from Ratlam of Madhya Pradesh to their accomplice in the capital of Rajasthan.
Three Muslims, belonging to an outfit that calls itself al Suffah, were planning the terror attack before the state election to draw international attention to the gang.
Last Wednesday, police in Nimbahera arrested three Muslims associated with the Suffah gang and the ATS of Jaipur has begun investigating their plot.
The arrested terrorists — Zubair, Saifu and Altamas — had tried to bribe the police twice. When their car was intercepted, the suspects made an offer of Rs 5 lakh. The shocked policemen, amused by the audacity, assumed the gangsters might be part of a drug cartel linked to the opium trade, but no contraband could be traced in their possession.
As the police began the interrogation, the terror suspects offered them Rs 20 lakh. The cops located several suspicious items including RDX in the car subsequently. At that point, the terror suspects asked the junior cops to talk to the station officer with the hope that a deal could be struck.
The RDX was camouflaged in brick-like shapes, suspected to have been designed that way to place the explosive under culverts. Another bunch of terrorists, the arrested Muslim men confessed, were going to carry the explosive to place them at vantage points of Jaipur to cause maximum possible damage and destruction.
Terror suspects Zubair, Saifu and Altamas had joined al Sufa in 2013 while the outfit stayed dormant for some time. It became active as the Rajasthan election approaches.
The apprehended car is registered in the name of a certain Imran Ansari, the police told the press. During interrogation, cops found out that Ansari was the terrorists’ ringleader and brother of Saifu aka Saifuddin.
Saifu had been escaping the gaze of the law by masquerading as a property dealer. Zubair is a vegetable retailer while Altamas belongs to a wealthy family, with both vocations being their bid to mislead the police.
Police are interrogating one Armaan too — a suspect arrested from the Sawa village. He says that he does not know much about the terror plot. He had spoken to the gang’s No. 2 called Ameen over the phone three months ago, he confessed. The police suspect Armaan to be involved in the plot.
DGP ML Lather, ATS and SOG IPS Ashok Rathod praised the police team of Nimbahera, congratulating head constable Pramod Kumar, Sunder Pal, constable Naresh Kumar, Harvinder Singh who constitute the group of cops that caught the terror suspects.
Meanwhile, a joint team of police from Ratlam and Madhya Pradesh ATS arrested the alleged mastermind of the Jaipur serial blast plot and two other key accused from the town during a massive roundup on 31 March. The joint team of cops held three more Muslims, including mastermind Imran Khan named above, for plotting the conspiracy to set off serial blasts in Rajasthan. The other two have been identified as the aforementioned Ameen Khan and Ameen Patel.
Madhya Pradesh home minister Narottam Mishra shared the information about the arrests yesterday.
Imran is a hardcore criminal and was already under watch for suspicious activities, Mishra said. “After receiving inputs from Rajasthan Police about the arrest of three Ratlam natives, Madhya Pradesh Police arrested Imran and the two others from Ratlam.” He said that the trio had confessed. They have been handed over to Rajasthan ATS for further investigation.
Rajasthan Police and the ATS of that state, however, have yet to officially confirm if they have received the custody of three suspects from Madhya Pradesh Police.
During preliminary questioning, Imran has admitted to sending the three accused — Zubair, Saifuddin alias Saifu alias Saifulla and Altamas Khan — to Rajasthan along with explosives and other equipment, police in Ratlam say. “Imran’s name had first surfaced in 2015 when he was caught by National Investigation Agency (NIA) while preparing to flee to Syria. A lot of literature related to terror outfits like Isis was recovered from him. On the basis of this, he was booked for treason and sent to jail,” Ratlam SP Abhishek Tiwari said.
A year later, Imran was released on bail, and lay low for a while, say police. Suddenly, in January this year, he started getting involved in suspicious activities through al Suffah. This brought him and those he met back on police radar.
“He was arrested along with two aides on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday,” added SP Tiwari.
Police in Ratlam say they have identified at least six more suspects and are looking for them. “We are trying to trace how they got their hands on the explosives,” said an officer.
“Al Suffah started as an NGO and its members worked for social causes and charity. But, later they started getting involved in violent crime, prompting police to keep it under surveillance. At least 25 to 30 locals, mostly youngsters, are associated with it,” an official said.