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Filed under: Latest News — admin     2:59 pm May 24, 2011

Union home minister P Chidambaram said that Mohammad Niaz Abdul Rashid, the Indian engineer who has been arrested by French police for alleged links with al Qaida, had been involved with the affiliates of the outlawed Students’ Islamic Movement of India in Tamil Nadu.

The home minister also said that Rashid who hails from Trichy was on the radar of Indian agencies, even as he said that there have been other instances of terror attack by home-grown terror modules. Replying to a question at the interaction with media, Chidambaram said the terror attack on German Bakery in Pune had been traced to a local terror module.

Giving details on Rashid, he said that the mechanical engineer from Trichy was already trained when he landed in France on an employment visa. After reaching there, he set up a nucleus of like-minded individuals within six months. He started recruiting volunteers for jihad in Afghanistan-Pakistan and his recruits included three French nationals of Moroccan, Pakistani and Turkish origins. Chidambaram stressed that no Indian national was hired by Rashid.

Initially, Rashid and the rest in the group would meet once a month, but the frequency of interactions increased to weekly conclaves.

Sources in the home ministry told TOI that the parents of Rashid were dismayed by his drift into terrorism. They said that they had warned the engineer to focus on his job and not venture into radicalism when he left home a decade ago — a suggestion he defied.

Chidambaram ruled out any immediate move to seek consular access to Rashid, saying India was awaiting the result of the investigations underway by the French authorities.

Rashid was arrested by the French Police along with six other suspected Islamic militants on May 10 and French authorities suspect that he was recruiting volunteers there for joining a Pakistan-based terrorist outfit.

“It is reported that Rashid admitted that he was part of a network which is recruiting people for jihad in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region,” Chidambaram said.

“Further investigation is underway and we are in close touch with French authorities,” he said, adding France is sharing information with India.

Asked whether India would seek consular access to Rashid, Chidambaram said, “It is too early for all that. Let us see what the investigation in France reveals.”

To a question, he said there is no report yet of Rashid having recruited anyone in India. “He seems to have recruited French nationals of different origins, mostly African origin.”

Chidambaram said the mechanical engineer had reportedly a “militant bent of mind” and had joined a SIMI-affiliated organisation at the age of 21.

Source : The Times of India

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