A witness told the police that the car blew up soon after Jameesha Mubin, whom the NIA had interrogated in 2019, stopped in front of the Sangameswara temple at Kottaimedu at 4am on Diwali-eve. He stepped out of the vehicle covered in flames before slumping on the ground a few feet away, a source privy to the probe quoted the witness as saying. The body was charred before anyone in the vicinity, including cops at a nearby checkpoint, could react.
Rows of houses along the road leading to the shrine could have been affected had the explosion, caused by one of two LPG cylinders in the vehicle, occurred in the manner it had been planned, investigators said.
The hypothesis they are going by is that Mubin was radicalised after being exposed to IS literature, but hadn’t received training in terrorist tactics. Whatever he knew about handling explosives was by reading material available on the internet about bomb-making.
Based on the interrogation of the six alleged IS sympathisers arrested in the case so far, Mubin thought his suicide bombing mission would devastate an area with a radius of 50 to 100 metres, including the temple and some residential buildings in the vicinity.
Late Saturday, Mubin and two of his alleged accomplices – Mohammed Azarudheen and K Afsar Khan – placed three steel drums stuffed with potassium nitrate, aluminium powder, sulphur, charcoal, nails and ball bearings in the car along with two LPG cylinders. CCTV cameras captured the act, an official said.
Footage from other cameras purportedly shows the movements of Mubin and his alleged accomplices prior to the explosion.
The trio did a recce of Koniamman temple on Big Bazaar Street as well as the Puliyakulam Mundhi Vinayagar shrine, the official said.
Mubin and the arrested duo also visited an LPG booking centre at Gandhi Park, where they procured the two cylinders found in the damaged car. The booking centre issued an invoice against their purchase. The trio then visited the old market area of Lorrypet, where they procured he three steel drums. Former NIA officer Sivakumar, currently with Coimbatore city police, was instrumental in piecing together the bits of information that gave investigators a whiff of the terror plot. “The ex-NIA officer had questioned Mubin in 2019 about his suspected links with radical elements,” a source said. “He initiated the search of Mubin’s house, leading to the seizure of 75kg of mixed material used to make explosives.”