An alleged follower of Sri Lankan bombing leader Zahran Hashim is to appear in a southern Indian court Tuesday after admitting he wanted to carry out an attack in India’s Kerala, investigators said.
The accused, identified as Riyas A, alias Riyas Aboobacker, 29, was arrested Monday by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), which handles counter-terrorism cases.
During interrogation, he allegedly “disclosed that he has been following speeches/videos of Zahran Hashim of Sri Lanka for more than a year”, an NIA statement said.
“He admitted that he wanted to carry out a suicide attack in Kerala,” a southern Indian state, it added.
Hashim was a Sri Lankan Muslim preacher who led the coordinated Easter Sunday suicide attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, killing 253 people in one of the world’s deadliest terrorist attacks.
Military sources have said Hashim was not known to have visited Syria or Iraq, but travelled to Tamil Nadu state — which borders Kerala — and had been in contact with Islamists there.
Hashim also appeared in a video released by the Islamic State group, showing him leading others in pledging allegiance to IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
IS has claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attacks.
India had warned Sri Lanka that suicide attacks were possible weeks before Hashim and the other bombers carried out their slaughter.
The NIA said that it arrested Riyas “for conspiring to commit a terrorist act” in connection with a 2016 case against an Indian man wanted, along with others, for leaving India to join IS abroad.
Riyas has allegedly been in online contact with that suspect and has followed his audio clips including one “instigating others to carry out terror attacks in India,” NIA said.
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