Four Sri Lankans linked to ISIS are being held at the city’s airport

Cover story of Ahmedabad

Four Sri Lankans linked to ISIS are being held at the city’s airport

Police recover pistols, live ammunition and an ISIS flag belonging to Nana Chiloda based on the coordinates they found on their cellphone; they were ordered by Pakistani proxies to carry out terror activities in India

Gujarat ATS arrested four Tamil Sri Lankan nationals with alleged links to banned terrorist organization ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) at Ahmedabad airport on May 19. The suspects are Mohammed Nushrat, 33, from Negombo, and Mohammed Nafran, 27, Mohammed Faris, 35, and Mohammed Rasdeen, 43, all from Colombo.

The four suspects were produced before the court by Gujarat ATS late on Monday evening. All four suspects have been remanded in police custody by the court for 14 days.

ISIS connection
DGP Vikas Sahay stated that the suspects are committed to ISIS ideology and prepared for suicide attacks. The ATS suspects that more ISIS sleeper cells are active in Gujarat. Weapons intended for use were found hidden on the highway from Nana Chiloda to Himmatnagar. Four pistols, including two loaded star-marked 7.65mm Norinco type-54 pistols with 13 live bullets and 7 live ammunition, and an ISIS flag were recovered. The ammunition is believed to have been manufactured in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan.

Arrival and arrest
The suspects arrived at Ahmedabad airport on May 19 on an Indigo flight from Chennai. “The ATS teams had prior information and arrested them as soon as they left the airport,” DGP Sahay said. He added: “During interrogation, it was revealed that they were led by a Sri Lankan national named Abu Bakr Baghdadi, who is currently living in Pakistan. The suspects were tasked to target Muslims as well as Jews, Christians and BJP-RSS members.”

Background and evidence
Among the suspects, Mohammed Nushrath has a valid Pakistani visa and may have previously visited Pakistan. The Gujarat Police will inform the Sri Lankan Embassy about the arrests. One suspect is a car driver in Colombo, and another is a cloth merchant who regularly visited Ahmedabad.

High alert due to IPL and elections
With the IPL play-offs starting on May 21 at the Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium and two more phases of the general elections underway, a nationwide alert has been issued. “We are on high alert due to the failure of the ISIS module and the suspected presence of ISIS sleeper cells in the city,” DGP Sahay said.

ATS efforts and findings
The ATS had been working on a tip-off for 15 days and scanned more than 2,00,000 names of travelers from Chennai by train and flight. “We finally discovered that all four terror suspects had booked the same ticket from Colombo to Ahmedabad via Chennai. We have confirmed that the suspects will depart from Colombo on the morning of May 19 and will reach Ahmedabad Airport around 9:00 PM on Indigo Flight No. 6E 848. Teams have been sent to the airport and as we have photo evidence, all suspects arrested. said a source.

Proton encoded message from Pak handlers
A message from ISIS henchmen was found on Mohammed Nushrath’s phone, instructing them to target those who harm Muslims. Proton encrypted emails and Rs 4 lakh in Sri Lankan currency were also sent to the terrorists.
Weapons intended for use were hidden on Nana Chiloda Road. The suspects’ Proton Drive contained five photos, including one of a canal at Nana Chiloda and another showing a pink parcel stuck in a hollow space between stones, accompanied by an Arabic message and three pistols. Geo coordinates were also included in the Proton email, sent by their handler in Pakistan.

Link to Easter bombings
Evidence on their phones shows that the suspects were previously associated with National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), involved in the Easter bombings, which was banned by the Sri Lankan government in April 2019. In February 2024, they came into contact with ISIS handler Abu Bakr.

Grounds for pre-trial detention
TS has requested pre-trial detention of the suspects on the following grounds:

  • Identify other employees in Gujarat or other states.
  • Trace the origin of the email ID.
  • Determining when and by whom the weapons were placed near the Nana Chiloda highway.

The suspects are committed to the ISIS ideology and prepared for suicide attacks. The ATS suspects that more ISIS sleeper cells are active in Gujarat.
​​​​​–DGP Vikas Sahay