Terrorism Monitor: "Islamic State-Inspired Extremist Threat Looms Large in India"
Despite massive territorial losses and military setbacks in the Middle East, the violent ideals espoused by Islamic State (IS) remain resilient and seem to be resonating in the hearts and minds of a section of inspired Indian Muslims. After a brief lull in IS-inspired or directed events in the country, Indian security agencies have unearthed multiple covert pro-IS networks, foiling conspiracies to carry out terrorist attacks targeting vital and sensitive installations and sites in and around the national capital, New Delhi, and places in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra States.
In late December 2018, the National Investigation Agency (NIA)—India’s elite anti-terrorism agency—conducted a major joint operation with Delhi and Uttar Pradesh police to crack down on pro-IS activities in the country. During the operation, authorities arrested at least 10 people belonging to an IS-inspired group called Harkat-ul-Harb-e-Islam (HuHI). The ring leader of the HuHI was identified as Muhammed Suhail (a.k.a. Hazrath), a native of Amroha city in Uttar Pradesh where he is engaged as a mufti (Islamic jurist) in a madrasa located at Hakim Mahtab Uddin Hashmi Road (Rediff.com, December 26, 2018).
Other members of HuHI were identified as Anas Yunus, Rashid Zafar Raq, Raees Ahmad and Zubair Malik. Further investigation of the case is still ongoing in order to unearth the extent of this IS-inspired terrorism conspiracy in the country.
The initial investigations by NIA indicated that Muhammed Suhail—who lives near Delhi—along with his associates from nearby towns mobilized funds and logistics to carry out bombings and suicide attacks at places of importance in and around the national capital.  Police have seized large quantities of explosive materials (Potassium Nitrate, Ammonium Nitrate, Sulphur, etc.), arms and ammunition, including one locally made rocket/grenade launcher; and IS literature while carrying out search and sweep operations in Jaffrabad and Seelampur, Delhi, as well as in Amroha, Lucknow, Hapur, and Meerut, Uttar Pradesh (United News of India, December 26, 2018).
Almost a month after a cell in Amroha was exposed, the NIA and Maharashtra police discovered another IS-inspired cell operating under the banner of Ummat-e-Mohammadiya (UeM) on January 22. The UeM’s networks, which spanned from Thane to Aurangabad in Maharashtra, have been involved in plotting terror attacks across India. Investigations into the case revealed that the group has devised new tactics to poison food and water sources at religious gatherings and to provoke communal violence. There has been suspicion that the UeM’s chemical attack plot would be targeting the Kumbh Mela gatherings (Hindu pilgrimage) in Uttar Pradesh or water pipelines in Mumbai. However, the investigating agencies have yet to verify these theories.
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