Mangaluru, Nov 21: The accused in the autorickshaw blast in coastal Karnataka's Mangaluru was "inspired by ISIS terror group" and used dark web to contact his handlers, the police said today, claiming a big breakthrough.
The police said Mohammed Shariq worked under multiple handlers, one of them from Al Hind, a terror outfit influenced by ISIS.
A resident of Shivamogga district, Shareeq was carrying the improvised explosive device (IED) in a pressure cooker in an autorickshaw on Saturday when it exploded, leaving him with severe burn injuries. He is currently undergoing treatment in a city hospital.
"...Our priority is to see that he survives, we have to take him to a stage where we can question him," ADGP Alok Kumar said.
The police had termed the blast "an act of terror with intention to cause serious damage."
The accused made bombs at home and even conducted a "trial blast" on the banks of a river, the police officer added.
"Shariq's immediate handler was Arafat Ali, an accused in two cases. He was in touch with Mussavir Hussain who is an accused in Al-Hind module case. Abdul Matin Taha was one of the main handler of Shariq. Another 2-3 handlers also worked with Shariq but they are yet to be identified," Mr Kumar said.
So far, the police have conducted searches at five locations across Karnataka, including his home in Mysuru where materials used to make bombs were seized, he said.
"Shariq was driven by ISIS ideology and made bomb at his home. On September 19, Shariq along with two other accomplices carried out a trial blast in a forest on the banks of a river in Shivamogga," the police officer said.
The police arrested two his accomplices the next day but Shariq managed to escape and took a house on rent with stolen Aadhaar card in Mysuru and continued to make bomb, the police added.
"We have formed five different teams and they're working on it. Four locations in Thirthahalli town of Shivamogga district and one place in Mangaluru city were searched this morning. Yesterday two places were searched. So, we have searched seven places and seized some electronic devices," the senior police officer said.
A man has been detained in Coimbatore for his alleged links with Shariq. The man, Tamil Nadu police sources said, stayed with Shariq at a dormitory and also gave him his Aadhaar card to procure a sim card.
"We have probed him and verified the circumstances under which he stayed with him. He appears to be innocent. We have shared the information with Mangaluru Police," an investigating officer said.
The Tamil Nadu police has also launched investigations after it emerged that Shariq visited several places in the state days before the blast. From Tamil Nadu, Shariq went to Kerala, where he allegedly received a consignment via Amazon, it is learnt.
Special teams have been formed to investigate if he had met or had links with Jameesha Mubin, the prime accused in the recent car blast case in Coimbatore. The police have invoked sections of the stringent anti-terror law UAPA in the Coimbatore car blast after 75 kg of explosive raw materials were seized from the residence of Jameza Mubin who died in the blast.
Though the police have confirmed that Shareeq and Jameza Mubin were ISIS sympathisers, they have not found any link between the two.
Shariq is reported to have suffered 45 per cent burn injuries in the blast in the autorickshaw. Though he is out of danger, the police say he is not well enough to give a statement.
The police said he was carrying a low-intensity Improvised Explosive device or IED. A burnt pressure cooker fitted with batteries was found inside the vehicle.