The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Tuesday arrested a 28-year-old man from Pune for his alleged role in the recruitment of terrorists for the banned outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT) from various states, a senior official said.
The accused, identified as Junaid Mohammed Ata Mohammed, was nabbed from Pune's Dapodi area and produced in a court in that city which remanded him in the ATS custody till June 3.
The suspect was in touch with active members of Pakistan-based LeT's terror network through social media platforms, the official said.
Though originally a native of Khamgaon village of Buldhana district in the Vidarbha region, Junaid Mohammed had been working in Pune in western Maharashtra, around 200 km from Mumbai, since the last few years, he said, but did not disclose his profession.
He was apprehended by the ATS Pune unit after his alleged connection with LeT members came to light, he said.
Junaid Mohammed was assigned the task of recruiting new members for the LeT from various states, the official said, adding that as part of his mandate he tried to take fresh recruits to Jammu and Kashmir to train them to carry out terror activities in the country.
He would receive money from his handlers for completing the given task, he said.
During interrogation it came to light that the terror suspect had received Rs 10,000 from a Jammu and Kashmir-based bank account, the official said.
Junaid Mohammed told the ATS he had used at least 10 SIM cards to establish contacts with his handlers and after every communication he used to destroy the SIM card, he said.
"Accused Junaid was engaged in recruiting members for the outlawed LeT terrorist outfit. They had been tasked to misguide, brainwash and create anti-national feelings among selected youth and recruit them as member for the LeT.
"He used five SIM cards to create five Facebook accounts through which he used to share anti-national posts. He would contact radicalised youth to join the LeT, thereby promoting communal enmity and wage war against the State," an ATS statement said.
On receiving specific information, the Kalachowkie (Mumbai) unit of the ATS had started a probe against four persons in connection with a case related to alleged recruitment of new members for the Pakistan-headquartered terror outfit and sending them to Jammu and Kashmir for training in subversive activities, the official said.
One of these suspects was identified as Junaid Mohammed, following which an FIR under IPC sections 121A (conspiracy to commit offences), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 116 (abetment of an offence) and also the IT Act was registered and he was apprehended by an ATS team led by police inspector Manjusha Bhosle, he said.
Junaid Mohammed allegedly came in contact with active LeT members through a social media group named 'Ansar Gazwat Ul Hind', the official said.
The three other accused wanted in the case are still absconding, he said, adding that further probe was on.
Defence lawyer Yashpal Purohit said in Pune, "The ATS sought custody of Junaid Mohammed on various grounds, including that he was in touch with the LeT, was trying to recruit members for the outfit and also trying to procure arms for the LeT. The ATS claimed he had done recce of some places. On this basis, his ATS custody was granted till June 3."
Asked about Junaid Mohammed getting funds, Purohit said, "As per the remand report, with funds, he was supposed to get arms and recruit more people. He has travelled to Kashmir several times, but the purpose of these trips was unknown and that is why custody has been given. He has been brained washed by LeT recruiters. He was shown videos and pictures to get him into the organisation."