Suspected Al Qaeda Terrorists Arrested in Plot to Attack Indian Navy

Cochin shipyard
File image courtesy Cochin Shipyard

Published Sep 21, 2020 12:06 AM by The Maritime Executive

India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested nine men who were allegedly preparing to carry out terrorist attacks on behalf of Al Qaeda - including an attack on Indian Navy facilities, according to local media.

"The NIA had learnt about an inter-state module of al-Qaeda operatives at various locations in India including West Bengal and Kerala. The group was planning to undertake terrorist attacks at vital installations in India with an aim to kill people and strike terror," said the agency in a statement Saturday. 

Indian security forces raided locations in West Bengal and Kerala early Saturday morning after detecting signs that the men were preparing to strike. According to Indian media, the men were acting on instructions from Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan. 

“As per preliminary investigation, these individuals were radicalised by Pakistan-based al-Qaeda terrorists on social media and were motivated to undertake attacks at multiple places, including the National Capital Region . . . the module was actively [engaged] in fund-raising and a few members of the gang were planning to travel to New Delhi to procure arms and ammunition,” NIA said in its statement. 

Most of the suspects are migrant workers from poorer districts, and all are Indian nationals. The men had allegedly procured a quantity of firecrackers, which they intended to assemble into crude improvised explosive devices. They were also reportedly in possession of “digital devices, documents, jihadi literature, sharp weapons, country-made firearms, a locally fabricated body armour, articles and literature used for making home-made explosive devices."

According to Indian outlets Mathrubhumi and Hindustan Times, intelligence officials have suggested that Indian Navy assets in Cochin were on the list of targets, including a naval base and a shipyard.