Chennai/New Delhi, June 12 : The NIA on Wednesday searched seven places in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, including the residence of a social media friend of the Sri Lankan terrorist who masterminded the April suicide bombings in the island nation.

The searches are part of a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into a new Islamic State module in India, officials said.

An NIA official in New Delhi told IANS that the case was registered on May 30 against Mohammed Azarudeen, 32, Akram Sindhaa, 26, Y. Shiek Hidayathullah, 38, Abubacker M, 29, Sadham Hussain, 26, and Ibrahim alias Shahin Shah, 28 -- all residents of Coimbatore.

The case was registered after information was received that the accused and their associates were propagating the ideology of proscribed terrorist organization IS Daish on social media with the intention of recruiting vulnerable youth into the group and carrying out terrorist attacks in South India, especially in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The official said one of the persons whose premises were searched was Mohammad Azarudeen, who was a Facebook friend of the mastermind of the Easter bombings, Zahran Hashim, that killed over 250 people in Sri Lanka.

Azarudeen has been the leader of the module and has been maintaining the Facebook page named 'KhilafahGFX', through which he had been propagating the ideology of ISIS/ Daish.

The NIA official said other members of the module have also been sharing radical contents attributed to Hashim, over the social media. The suicide attack was blamed by Colombo on a Sri Lankan Islamist group although the Islamic State claimed responsibility.

The official said that another accused, Ibrahim, has been a close associate of arrested accused Riyas Abubacker in IS Kasaragod module case, who had planned to conduct terrorist attacks in Kerala, on behalf of the IS Daish module.

The NIA had arrested Abubacker on April 29 earlier this year. Abubacker had informed the NIA officials that he has been following Hasim for more than a year and has also followed the speeches of Zakir Naik, an absconding Indian Islamic preacher and the founder of the Islamic Research Foundation.

During questioning, Abubacker admitted that he wanted to carry out a suicide attack in Kerala. He was being questioned by the NIA on April 28 when the counter terror-probe agency unearthed the Kasargod module of the terrorist outfit in Kerala during multiple raids at the house of three suspects.

According to the NIA, as part of the conspiracy, 14 accused from Kasaragod left India or their work places in the Middle East between May and July 2016 before travelling to Afghanistan or Syria where they joined the Islamic State.

Last month, the NIA searched 10 places in Tamil Nadu in connection with the investigation into the Islamic State module where some people allegedly conspired to raise funds to wage war against the state.

NIA officials visited Sri Lanka this month in connection with their investigation. The NIA seized digital devices including 14 mobile phones, 29 SIM cards, 10 pen drives, three laptops, six memory cards, four hard disc drives, one internet dongle and 13 CDs/ DVDs besides one dagger, one electric baton, 300 air-gun pellets and a large number of incriminating documents and few PFI/ SDMI pamphlets from the houses and work places of accused persons.

The official said the accused are being questioned about the incriminating materials seized during the searches.

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