Bengaluru cafe blast: NIA arrests ex-convict in LeT terror conspiracy case

Shoaib Ahmed Mirza alias Chhotu was previously convicted in a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror conspiracy case.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 24, 2024 | 9:38 PMUpdatedMay 24, 2024 | 9:38 PM

The Rameshwaram Cafe at Kundalahalli

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday, 24 May, arrested one more accused in the Rameshwaram Cafe blast in Bengaluru.

Shoaib Ahmed Mirza alias Chhotu (35), a resident of Hubbali city in Karnataka, who was previously convicted in a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror conspiracy case, became the fifth accused to be arrested in the case.

“Three days after a massive crackdown across four states in the Rameshwaram Cafe blast case, the NIA on Friday arrested one more accused, identified as an ex-convict in a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror conspiracy case,” it said.

A low-intensity blast using an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) at a Rameshwaram Cafe outlet in Bengaluru on 1 March injured at least 10 people.

The probe agency, which took over the case on 3 March, had on 12 April arrested two key accused, including the mastermind Adbul Matheen Ahmed Taha, in the matter.

Related: NIA conducts multi-state raids; Bengaluru techie detained in Andhra Pradesh

The arrest

NIA said its investigations revealed that Mirza got involved in this fresh conspiracy after being released from jail.

“In 2018, he befriended and introduced accused Abdul Matheen Taha to an online handler suspected to be abroad,” it said.

“Mirza had further provided an e-mail ID for encrypted communication between the handler and Abdul Matheen Taha, who was arrested earlier on 12 April from his hideout in Kolkata along with co-accused Mussavir Hussain Shazib,” the probe agency added.

The agency said that during the course of its investigation into the blast, it conducted extensive searches at 29 locations across India.

“Further investigations into the role of handler and larger conspiracy behind the blast, which left several injured and caused extensive damage to property, are continuing,” NIA said.

Developments in the case

On 21 April, NIA had conducted multi-state raids in connection with the case.

The officials also raided the house of a retired headmaster, Abdul, in Rayadurgam town of the Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh.

Abdul’s son Sohail — a techie in Bengaluru — was detained by the police and is currently being questioned by the NIA at Raydurga Police Station.

An official confirmed to South First that Sohail had been under the radar of the NIA and intelligence agencies for a while due to his suspected links with Abdul Matheen Taha.

Abdul Matheen Taha has been using a Hindu identity and forged an Adhaar card under the name of Vignesh. Mussavir Hussain Shazib has been using a driving licence named Mohammed Juned Sayed.

The NIA further acknowledged the support from central investigation agencies, and the state police of West Bengal, Telangana, Karnataka, and Kerala.

On 27 March, the NIA made its first arrest — Muzammil Shareef — who was picked up and placed in custody as a co-conspirator after its teams raided 18 locations, including 12 in Karnataka, five in Tamil Nadu and one in Uttar Pradesh.

Also Read: NIA arrests two main accused in Rameshwaram cafe blast from West Bengal

The blast

NIA, which took over the case on 3 March said it identified these two accused, along with Maaz Muneer Ahmed and Muzzamil Sherif, as the terrorists who had played a pivotal role in the explosion.

“Muzzamil Sherif was involved in providing logistical support to the other accused in carrying out the IED explosion,” the NIA said.

“It was Abdul Matheen who also worked on the escape plans and managed to evade arrest all these weeks for himself and his co-accused. The duo, along with their co-accused Maaz Muneer Ahmed, were also involved in terror cases earlier,” it added.

The NIA had also announced a reward of ₹10 lakh each for those providing information leading to the arrest of the accused.

Soon after the blast on 1 March, the Karnataka Police registered a case under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Explosives Substances Act.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)