Two terrorists of the Al-Qaeda-supported Ansar Ghazwatul Hind, who were planning explosions, including using "human bombs", at several places in Uttar Pradesh, were arrested from the outskirts Lucknow on Sunday, a senior official said.
Minhaz Ahmed and Maseeruddin were apprehended by the state police's Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) and a huge amount of explosive was also seized from their houses here, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar told reporters.
They were planning to "unleash terror activities before August 15 (Independence Day) in different cities of the state", including Lucknow, Kumar said.
"The ATS has arrested two active members belonging to Al-Qaeda-supported 'Ansar Ghazwatul Hind'. Minhaz Ahmed, a resident of Lucknow's Dubagga area, and Maseeruddin, a resident of Lucknow's Madiaon area, have been arrested. Explosive material has been recovered from them," he said.
Ahmed and Maseeruddin, on the instructions of Umar Halmandi, the head of the Uttar Pradesh module of the Al-Qaeda, along with their associates were planning to "unleash terror activities before August 15 in different cities of the state, especially its capital Lucknow", the additional director general of police (ADGP) said.
"They were planning explosions at important places, memorials and crowded places, and also to use human bombs. For this, they were collecting weapons and explosives," Kumar said.
He also said that members of this module are not only from Lucknow, but also from Kanpur in the state.
Raids are being conducted at different places to apprehend associates of terrorists Ahmed and Maseeruddin, the ADGP said.
"During interrogation, the accused persons said that their accomplices ran away from their house. The ATS team along with the local police has undertaken intensive checking," Kumar said and added that a case has been registered in this connection at the ATS station.
They will be produced before a court, and then taken into police custody.
The official said that an improvised explosive device (IED) was found at Ahmed's house along with a huge amount of explosives and a pistol. Explosives were also seized from Maseeruddin's residence, he said.
The IED is being defused by the bomb squad, the ADGP said.
He said that in 1988, at the time of Soviet-Afghan war, Osama Bin Laden and some of his associates had formed the Al-Qaeda, a militant Sunni Islamic multi-national terror organisation.
The module of the Indian sub-continent was announced by then head of the terror group Ayman al-Zawahiri on September 3, 2014. Maulana Asim Umar, who headed the Al-Qaeda in the sub-continent was killed on September 23, 2019 in an US-Afghan operation, Kumar said.
He had links with Sambhal in Uttar Pradesh, Kumar said.
Umar Halmandi had started the work of recruiting men for the Al-Qaeda in India, and radicalise them, he said.
"For this, he had identified some aggressive persons in Lucknow, appointed them, and built the Al-Qaeda module. This module was made to unleash terror activities under the Ansar Ghazwatul Hind. Prominent members of the module are Minhaz Ahmed, Maseeruddin and Shakeel," he said.