The sessions court at Ankleshwar in Gujarat’s Bharuch district has handed imprisonment “till last breath” to two ISIS-linked terrorists, arrested in 2017, for planning “lone-wolf” attacks and recruiting radicalised youths for terror activities.
The court of additional sessions judge, VJ Kalotra, sentenced Ubed Ahmed Mirza and Mohammad Kasim Stimberwala to imprisonment till their “last breath”, government pleader Paresh Pandya said on Saturday.
The duo, both operatives of Islamic State (IS), were arrested in October 2017 by the Gujarat ATS and were charged under Indian Penal Code sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 121-A (sedition) and 125 (waging war against any Asiatic power in alliance with India), apart from sections 17, 18, 19 and 38 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Stimberwala worked as a laboratory technician at a hospital in Ankleshwar, while Mirza was a practising lawyer at the Surat district court. They were under ATS surveillance since 2014 before they were arrested, Pandya said.
A total of 75 witnesses, pen drives, mobile phones, laptops, surveillance data and digital evidence were considered by the court as evidence which established that the duo planned terrorist activities before fleeing to Syria, Pandya said.
According to the prosecution, Stimberwala and Mirza had recced some targets, including a synagogue in Ahmedabad, and were planning to send radicalised youths outside India to join terrorist activities.
They had also visited Hyderabad, Bengaluru and parts of West Bengal to arrange for weapons to carry out attacks and recruit youths for ISIS.
“They had even recruited four minors for the purpose who were arrested from Kolkata and later turned prosecution witnesses,” Pandya said.
The ATS stated in the chargesheet that Stimberwala and Mirza were ‘highly radicalised by the Jehadi ideology of Islamic State and were actively planning lone-wolf attacks on Jews’.
Abdullah el-Faisal, a radical preacher based in Jamaica, and suspected IS handler Shafi Armar were shown as absconding accused in the chargesheet.
The chargesheet also stated that an unidentified associate of one of the two arrested men had talked about assassinating Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As per a WhatsApp chat between Mirza and his associate, identified only as ‘Ferrari’, on September 10, 2016, Mirza talked about buying pistols.
In response, ‘Ferrari’ said, ‘Yeah, let’s take (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi out with a sniper rifle Insha-Allah,’ as per the chargesheet.