The National Investigation Agency is probing whether or not the December 28 blast that ripped through Bengaluru’s Church Street area in 2014, has a link to dreaded terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The development comes after NIA sleuths were able to crack down on a countrywide network of ISIS sympathisers, eventually arresting 16 suspects. A senior official told dna that the lead on the arrested men was picked up by the agency during the probe into the Church Street bombing which had claimed the life of a woman.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Initially there was no direct evidence that could link the arrested men with any foreign-based terror groups. While probing the Bengaluru blast, we got enough leads which pointed towards a countrywide network,” said sources privy to the investigation. If a connection between the attackers of Church Street and those arrested on charges of aligning with ISIS does emerge, the Bengaluru bombing might as well be an attack on Indian soil by elements sharing their ideology with the dreaded terror group.The NIA official, however, said, “The investigation is underway and officials will be probing both the Church Street bombing and the arrests of the 16 suspects from all possible angles.”A low-intensity bomb had gone off on December 28, 2014, near a restaurant on Church Street, killing a woman and injuring three others.No arrests had been made till date in the attack which was initially probed by the Bengaluru police, who later handed it over to the NIA. Absence of evidence from the spot including CCTV footage at the spot was cited as grounds by the city police for not making any headway in the probe. However, earlier in January, the NIA released video footage of a suspect, who the agency believes to have carried out the attack. Barely two weeks after the video was released, NIA arrested 14 people belonging to ‘Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind’ (Army of Caliph of India) from various parts of the country for allegedly planning to carry out terror strikes at important installations.The group, led by Mudabbir Mushtaq Shaikh, the self-styled ‘Amir’, had owed allegiance to the Islamic State, according to the agency. NIA claimed that the accused were regularly in touch with active members of ISIS in Syria through Internet chatting via ‘Skype’, ‘Signal’ and ‘Trillion’ and were also using the social networking sites to motivate young men to join the feared terror outfit which has captured vast swathes in Syria and Iraq.A senior NIA official also confirmed that one of the handlers of the accused men was Shafi Armar the brother of Sultan Armar who was declared to be the emir of the Ansar-ul-Tawhid a recruiting wing for the ISIS. Sultan was reported to be killed in Syria.

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Bengaluru Church Street bombing led NIA to ISIS sympathisers in India