Coimbatore: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested an alleged close aide of Hashim Zarhan — the mastermind of the Sri Lanka Easter attack — from Coimbatore. 

According to the agency, the suspect has been identified as Mohammad Azharuddin. It is claimed that he was in touch with Zarhan through Facebook.

Azharuddin was arrested during a search operation in Coimbatore, which was carried out in seven locations. 

Not only Azharuddin, but five others were also arrested for alleged link to terror organisations.

Also read: NIA defuses plan of Sri Lanka like bombing attacks in India 

"Case was registered by NIA on 30.05.2019 against 1) Mohammed Azarudeen, aged 32, resident Ukkadam, Coimbatore, 2) Akram Sindhaa, aged 26, Tirumarai Nagar Phase-II, Podannur Road, Coimbatore 3) Y. Shiek Hidayathullah, aged 38, resident of South Ukkadam, Coimbatore, 4) Abubacker M; aged 29, resident of Kuniyamuthur, Coimbatore, 5) Sadham Hussain A; aged 26, resident of Ummar Nagar, Podannur Main Road, Coimbatore, 6) Ibrahim alias Shahin Shah, aged 28, resident of South Ukkadam, Coimbatore and others based on information received that the accused persons and their associates were propagating the ideology of proscribed terrorist organization ISIS/ Daish on social media with the intention of recruiting vulnerable youth into the ISIS/ Daish for carrying out terrorist attacks in South India especially in Kerala and Tamil Nadu," NIA said.

The agency said that Azarudeen has been the leader of the module and was maintaining the Facebook page named “KhilafahGFX”, through which he had been propagating the ideology of ISIS/ Daish. "Accused Mohammed Azarudeen has been a Facebook friend of Sri Lankan suicide bomber Zahran Hashim and other members of the module and have also been sharing radical contents attributed to Zahran Hashim, over the social media," NIA added.

Another arrested person, Ibrahim, has been a close associate of Riyas Abubacker, accused in the ISIS Kasaragod case where a terror attack was in Kerala.

NIA had also recovered digital devices including 14 mobile phones, 29 SIM cards, 10 pen drives, 3 laptops, 6 memory cards, 4 hard disc drives, 1 internet dongle and 13 CDs/ DVDs. A dagger, one electric baton, 300 air-gun pellets and a large no. of incriminating documents and few PFI/ SDMI pamphlets have also been seized in the raid.