A 29-year-old engineering graduate who was killed at the wheel of a car that exploded in front of a temple in Coimbatore was potentially a suicide bomber whose lack of competence with explosives spared the area the harm he could have intended to wreak, the National Investigation Agency said after collecting evidence to connect the dots.
A witness told the police that the car blew up soon after Jameesha Mubin, whom the NIA had interrogated in 2019, stopped in front of the Sangameswara temple at Kottaimedu at 4 am on Diwali-eve. The witness, who was informed of the investigation, claimed that the man exited the burning car and collapsed nearby. Before anyone close, including the officers at a nearby checkpoint, could intervene, the body was burnt.
According to their theory, Mubin was radicalised after reading IS literature but had not previously been trained in terrorist techniques. He learned everything by reading articles about manufacturing bombs that were available online. Based on the interrogation of the six alleged IS sympathisers arrested in the case so far, Mubin thought his suicide bombing mission would devastate an area with a radius of 50 to 100 metres, including the temple and some residential buildings in the vicinity.
Mubin and two of his alleged accomplices – Mohammed Azarudheen and K Afsar Khan – placed three steel drums stuffed with potassium nitrate, aluminium powder, sulphur, charcoal, nails and ball bearings in the car along with two LPG cylinders. CCTV cameras captured the act, an official said.
Former NIA officer Sivakumar, currently with Coimbatore city police, was instrumental in piecing together the bits of information that gave investigators a whiff of the terror plot. “The ex-NIA officer had questioned Mubin in 2019 about his suspected links with radical elements,” a source said. “He initiated the search of Mubin’s house, leading to the seizure of 75kg of mixed material used to make explosives.”