ISIS admirer was planning Peshawar-like attack on Mumbai school
With striking similarities emerging between the Pakistan school attack and Anees Ansari’s plot to attack a Bandra school, ATS is investigating the possibility of a deeper connection between the cases
Startling revelations emanating from the investigation following the arrest of ISIS sympathiser Anees Ansari by the Anti-Terrorism Squad have pointed to a high possibility of the 24-year-old techie planning to carry out a Peshawar-like attack, which had left 132 children dead, on a city school. And it gets worse: ATS sources say that Ansari’s mentor could be the same as the mastermind behind the Peshawar attack, given the similarities in the plans.
A mourner writes a message on a placard outside the army-run school in Peshawar where 149 people were massacred by the Taliban. Pic/AFP
Ansari, a Kurla resident, was arrested by the state ATS in October, after he was allegedly found chatting online about attacking US establishments, including a school in Bandra. Just like the Taliban terrorists, who had been instructed to target children over the age of 13 in their attack on the army-run school in Peshawar on December 16, Ansari had also planned to target kids over the same age.
College students in Mumbai pay tribute to the victims of the Peshawar attack during a candle light vigil in Mumbai yesterday. Pic/PTI
“In his statement, the accused had confessed that he, too, had planned to kill kids above 13 years of age. And his prime target was a school,” said an ATS officer. The ATS are now mulling the possibility of a larger connection between Ansari’s plan and the Peshawar attack.
“We cannot rule out the possibility that Ansari could have been influenced by the same mentor as the Taliban terrorists. There are many similarities between the Peshawar attack and his plan of action,” said the officer.
ATS chief, Himanshu Roy, however, refused to confirm or deny the Ansari-Peshawar connection. “I believe that by arresting Ansari, we prevented a potential attack on schools in Mumbai,” he said.
No bail for Ansari
Meanwhile, the Sessions court rejected Ansari’s bail application yesterday, taking cognisance of the gravity of the charges against him, said public prosecutor Jyoti Sawant.
“The bail application was rejected on the grounds that it is a serious offence. The chargesheet has to be completed, forensic reports of his computers, CPU and hard disk are yet to come, and if he is given bail, he might tamper with the evidence,” she argued.
During the hearing, Sawant had told the court that Ansari had created bogus email and social networking accounts to instigate others to join him. He had reportedly sent pictures of Shia-Sunni clashes to his contacts on WhatsApp, to provoke them, and had sent over 100 emails to five of his friends, persuading them to join his group, ‘One man like one army’.
Sawant added that he was caught twice in his office for sending such messages, after which he had apologised. “One of his (Ansari’s) friends, who appeared as witness in this case, told the court about receiving WhatsApp messages with pictures of Shia-Sunni clashes,” said Sawant, who also told the court that Ansari had received a message on a social networking site with instructions for making a thermite explosive.
The Anees Ansari case
>> Ansari was allegedly found chatting on Facebook about blowing up an American school in Mumbai
>> He is a software engineer and was working at a private IT company
>> According to cops, Ansari was an admirer of the terror group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
>> He had reportedly applied for a passport just a month before the arrest, raising suspicions that he was about to join ISIS
>> He was booked under Section 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) read with 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code, and relevant sections of Information Technology Act.
>> His lawyers had earlier told the court that he was of unsound mind and needed psychiatric help