Bengaluru: In a major headway more than a year after the Church Street blast here, the NIA today arrested the prime accused in the case in which a woman was killed and three others were injured.
The National Investigation Agency said he wanted to plant an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) inside the Coconut Grove Bar and Restaurant as per instruction from his handler who had informed him about the probable visit of an Israeli delegation for dinner on December 28, 2014.
“NIA has today arrested one Mohd. Rafeeq alias Jaweed alias Alam Jeb Afridi, S/o Masukar Ahmad, resident of Ahmedabad, for his involvement in the Church Street Blast Case of Bangalore,” the agency said.
A NIA Special Court here had remanded Afridi to 10-day NIA custody for his custodial examination, it said. A blast was triggered by an IED in front of the popular restaurant located on a busy road in the heart of the city in the night.
NIA said Afridi, a SIMI cadre, was also wanted in a case relating to organisation of a terrorist training camp by Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) at Waghamon in Kerala.
He had been absconding for more than five years and a reward of Rs three lakh had been announced by NIA for any information leading to his arrest, it said in a release. Afridi had been residing on outskirts of Bengaluru for nearly three years and was working as a air conditioners mechanic, NIA said.
During custody, he has confessed to his involvement in the Church Street blast case of Bengaluru, it said. The case was initially investigated by the city police and later handed over to the NIA.
The probe did not see any headway under the police even after they claimed to have zeroed in on some terror groups and sketches of suspects being drawn.
Police had even brought two suspects from Patna, who were charged with the serial blasts at Narendra Modi’s Hunkar rally in 2013 in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, for investigation in connection with the Church Street blast.
NIA said it has learnt that he wanted to plant bomb inside the Coconut Grove Bar & Restaurant but was deterred by the presence of staff and hence planted it outside near the wall.
“He had done so as per his handler’s instruction who had informed him about the probable visit of an Israeli delegation to the said cafe for dinner that night,” NIA said.
In preliminary examination, he had disclosed that his handler had taught him the technique of making the bomb for which he procured the material locally, it added.
Stating that as per the available information, Afridi is also suspected to be involved in 2008 Ahmedabad blast cases, NIA said “He is considered to be a close associate of several top SIMI leaders who are absconding.”
During search of his residence is Bengaluru, the investigators recovered a lot of anti-semitic hate literature, it added. The investigation agency has also said that he has confessed his role in setting fire to Israeli Visa Centre in Bengaluru in November, 2015.
It said IED used in the blast is similar to the ones used in Gandhi Maidan blasts of Patna in October, 2013, Bangalore Guwahati express Train blast in Chennai in May, 2014 and Roorkee blast of December 2014.
“The forensic examination of the IED used in Bangalore had revealed the use of Ammonium nitrate, Sulphur and Potassium Chlorate in the explosive mixture used in preparation of IED, packed in a iron pipe.”