The five alleged ISIS sympathisers, who were arrested from Hyderabad last week, were working to prepare chemical weapons using urea and nitric acid. They were likely to use these weapons in carrying out “lone wolf” attacks, similar to what was witnessed in Dhaka last week.
Officials investigating the case said that the five persons arrested by a National Investigation Agency (NIA) led team, had downloaded tutorials in the form of pdf files and videos on how to prepare bombs using urea and nitric acid.
The information and tutorials, according to the security officials, were being shared with them by Shafi Armar, who heads the Ansar-ul-Tawhid, a group that recruits Indians for ISIS. Shafi is the brother of Sultan Armar, who had broken away from the Indian Mujahideen to launch the terror outfit Ansar-ul-Tawhid. The 39-year-old Sultan Armar was the first Indian to be killed in the battlefields of Syria while fighting for the ISIS on 6 March 2015. Before moving to Syria, Shafi worked from Pakistan until April 2014.
The security agencies that recovered 5 kilograms of urea nitrate from the possession of the ISIS sympathisers, said that the latter were planning to carry out “lone wolf” attacks in malls and famous eateries.
“It is difficult to purchase assault rifles in India and, hence, the best way to carry out an attack that will lead to a large number of casualties is by doing bomb blasts. The ISIS operatives these youths were in touch with were encouraging them to carry out bomb blasts by preparing bombs composed of easily available material. The attacks that they were planning to carry out would have been similar to the one carried out by ‘lone wolves’ in Dhaka recently,” an official said.
According to officials, the threat of ISIS inspired “lone wolf” attacks in India was very real. “It is extremely difficult to stop a lone wolf attack as the indoctrinated youth or youths work in a very small group that rarely goes beyond four or five members and in most cases, their identity is only revealed once they start executing their operation,” the official said.
“Imagine the number of fatalities if the explosion of a chemical bomb, which is virtually undetectable, had taken place in one of the malls of Hyderabad. The mass fear that it would have generated across India would have been diabolical,” added the official.
Last month, the ISIS had issued a new guidebook on how to make bombs and carry out lone wolf attacks after updating a version originally produced by Al Qaeda. It also included advice on what the would-be attackers should do online and offline to avoid being detected.