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Current Affairs ( 28 Jan 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Simmering Terror Unit: Bengaluru Police Stumbled Upon the Racket After They Arrested Two Bodo Militants


Stories on this Page:

Bengaluru Police Bust Group Supplying Terrorists with Mobile SIM Cards

Police Say They Have Enough Evidence to Charge Mehdi Masroor Over IS Tweets   

Police Hunt for Satellite Phone Users in Karnataka

Police Identify Shops Selling Explosives


Bengaluru Police Bust Group Supplying Terrorists with Mobile SIM Cards

By Aravind Gowda

29 January 2015

The Bengaluru police have busted a racket involving telecom retailers and distributors, who supplied pre-activated mobile phone SIM cards to terrorists.

The police have arrested eight people so far and also filed a case against mobile service provider Vodafone for overlooking norms while sanctioning new connections.

Srinivasa Reddy (Kushal Enterprises); Venu Kumar, Santosh, Ramesh, Gangaraju, Syed Saifullah (all of Bismillah Mobile Care), Ejaz Ahmed, and another unidentified person, all operating from the tech corridor of the Electronics City, have been arrested by the Bengaluru City Crime Branch (CCB) for selling pre-activated mobile phone SIM cards to the two Bodo militants  - Sanju Bordoloi and Birkhang Narjari - who were arrested recently.

The police are also interrogating them to ascertain whether they supplied such pre-activated SIM cards to any other person using false identities.

The police stumbled upon the racket after they arrested Bordoloi @ Sibigiri (29 years), an organising secretary of the banned outfit NDFB-S (National Democratic Front of Bodoland-Songbo), in Bengaluru on January 26.

Narjari, also an NDFB member, was arrested from a lodge in the Majestic area of the city on January 22. The probe revealed that Bordoloi was using a Vodafone mobile number, which he had purchased the day (January 21) he arrived after fleeing from Assam.

When the police verified the number, they found that it was registered in the name of another person (that turned to be fictitious). This led the police to the retailer, who was detained for questioning.

Bengaluru Deputy Commissioner of Police Abhishek Goyal said: “The SIM in possession of Sanju was activated on the morning of January 21 in the name of someone else. Sanju got the SIM only in the evening but without furnishing any personal details or documents. This is in complete violation of the norms. We suspect that this is a well-run racket involving all the stake-holders.”

Subsequently, the police raided retailers and distributors of leading mobile service providers and detected a large-scale racket of pre-activated SIM cards in Bengaluru. An FIR was registered against all the accused, including Vodafone, at the Electronics City police station, with regard to the case.

The mobile service providers cannot activate a new connection till the credentials of an applicant are verified. After the security agencies found that terrorists were extensively using pre-activated SIM cards across the country, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in 2012 introduced strict norms for verifying new applicants.

The terror suspects of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) arrested earlier this month in Bengaluru too were using mobile phone SIMs registered under different names. The police are verifying whether there is any link between such groups and the mobile phone SIM retailers arrested in the city.

Meanwhile, Vodafone in a statement, said: “In this criminal case of fraudulent SIM activation being investigated by the police, we are extending all cooperation to the investigating authorities. Vodafone is a responsible and law-abiding organisation and adheres to all applicable laws and regulations. All our partners, distributors and vendors too are mandated to respect and follow the law and established code of conduct, as per the company policy. We treat all criminal violations with utmost seriousness and strict action will be taken in case non-compliance is established.”

It is alleged that the retailers and distributors are under constant pressure to meet their sales targets and end up issuing pre-activated SIM cards to people who do not possess proper documents.


Police Say They Have Enough Evidence to Charge Mehdi Masroor Over IS Tweets   

By Aravind Gowda

29 January 2015

The Bengaluru police, who arrested Mehdi Masroor Biswas for tweeting extensively on behalf of the dreaded militant group, Islamic State (IS), claimed that they have sufficient evidence to file a charge-sheet against him in the next 30 days.

The preliminary charge-sheet against him will be filed by the police before February end while the final one will be filed in March, according to officers of the city crime branch, Bengaluru police, who are investigating the case.

Mehdi was apprehended during the second week of December last year after a British TV channel exposed him as the person behind the online campaign of the IS.

He has also been accused of motivating youths from Europe, particularly from the UK, to join the IS jihadi movement.

As per Indian law, the police have to file a charge-sheet against any accused within 180 days of arresting the person. The police have completed the interrogation of Mehdi and he is now in judicial custody.

“It was a laborious process as we had to interrogate him and involve social media experts to analyse his Twitter handle. We have sufficient evidence now. We have already submitted a preliminary report to the court designated to hear cases under the National Investigation Agency (NIA),” said sources in the Bengaluru police.

Mehdi had used his Twitter handle @shamiwitness to praise the IS work in the West Asia region and also to allegedly indoctrinate youth into the militant organisation’s ideology.

The police have completed the analysis of his 1, 24,000 tweets. Of these, 15,000 tweets were directly in connection with the IS – defending their actions, praising their work (including shocking beheadings), inspiring youth to spread the IS ideology and join the outfit war in the West Asia region as jihadists voluntarily.

The police also analysed his laptop and Smartphone and recovered from his laptop 1.5 GB data, including IS propaganda material, such as pictures, videos and other downloads.

“He had carefully hidden this data under a folder named Syria on his laptop. Some of the videos are grotesque in nature and horrifying. He had downloaded the videos of the beheadings of hostages by IS militants from websites owing allegiance to the terror network in West Asia. He would then use an online video editing tool and tweet the video,” police sources added.

According to the police, these are sufficient to file the charge-sheet against Mehdi, who is facing cases under IPC Section 125 (waging war against the government of any Asiatic power in alliance with the government of India) and sections 18 and 39 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Section 66 of the Information Technology Act.

Sources also pointed out that Mehdi was in touch with one of the four youths from Thane that had joined the IS network.

“We cannot reveal much about his interaction with the youth as the probe into that is not yet complete,” the sources said.

Last week, the Hyderabad police arrested a techie from Hyderabad, Salman Moinuddin, another alleged sympathiser of IS.

Apparently, he was in touch with Mehdi, who allegedly inspired him to join the IS. The Bengaluru police are waiting for info from their Hyderabad counterparts, who are interrogating Salman.


Police Identify Shops Selling Explosives

By Mail Today Bureau in Bengaluru

The police have identified owners of two shops in the coastal city of Mangaluru from where the terror suspects of the IM terror module allegedly acquired the explosives. The owners of the two shops have already shared information on the purchase.

“We have made preliminary inquiry. If required, the shop owners will be detained,” sources in the police said. The two shops are licenced to sell explosive materials and other raw material used in agriculture.

“Only registered clients can purchase explosives. These clients may include mine owners, corporate farming firms and government mining companies. We cannot reveal under which quota these suspects purchased the explosives,” the sources added.

It is alleged that the terror suspects used black money to acquire the explosives.

“The accused admitted that they had purchased explosives from these two shops,” the sources said.

The police have registered cases under Sections, 3, 4, and 5 of Explosive Substances Act, Sections 10, 13, and 18 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and Sections 120 (b) and 121 (a) of the IPC against the four terror suspects.


Police Hunt for Satellite Phone Users in Karnataka

By Mail Today

Did any of the five people, who have been accused of setting up a local module of the banned terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM), use a satellite phone to communicate with their handler?

Though the Bengaluru police did not mention about any satellite phone after raiding the homes of the accused in January first week, sources in the police said they used “high-end communication devices”. Consequently, the Bengaluru police have sought info on the registered satellite phone users in Karnataka.

The use of satellite phones is restricted in India and regulated by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. Only INMARSAT satellite phones (British operator) are permitted in India, while Thuraya satellite phones (UAE operator) are banned.

“The DoT and Intelligence agencies have a list of registered satellite phone users with INMARSAT terminals. We want to ascertain whether anybody is using Thuraya satellite phones illegally in Karnataka. Though this is a tough task, we want to ascertain the truth. We also want to know if any of the registered users have lost their satellite phones or handed it over to others for use,” sources in the Bengaluru police said.

Apparently, one of the accused claimed to have used a satellite phone to connect with their handler. But the other four denied the same. It is not clear who among the five is in possession of a satellite phone or whether they disposed it or hid it somewhere.

In the past too, the security agencies were wary of the satellite phones being used by terror suspects.

“If in fact it is established that the terror suspects had satellite phones in their possession, it will add a new dimension to the probe,” the sources said, adding that the matter was already brought to the notice of the central intelligence agencies.

It is alleged that Riyaz Bhatkal (Riyaz Ismail Shahbandri), one of the founders of the IM, is reportedly in hiding in Pakistan and that the terror suspects arrested in Karnataka are in touch with him.

It is being verified if he inspired them to revive the IM network in India and they had planned large-scale terror activities across the country.