Of the nine arrested, six were picked up from Bengal and three from Kerala.
Confirming the arrests, NIA said the terrorists wanted to attack "vital installations with an aim to kill innocent people and strike terror."
The terrorists arrested from Bengal were identified as Najmus Sakib, Abu Sufiyan, Mainul Mandal, Leu Ahmed, Al Mamun Kamal, and Atiur Rehman by TOI.
And the ones picked up from Kerala are Murshid Hasan, Iyakub Biswas, and Mosaraf Hossen. All three of them were residents of Ernakulam.
The operatives were arrested on Friday night, and more arrests are likely, reports HT.
Officials in the know told HT that the terrorists were planning to attack Kochi, Delhi, and Mumbai. The Kochi Naval Base was also on their list, the report added.
They were apparently radicalized by Pakistan-based al-Qaeda terrorists through social media, and were reportedly planning to reach Delhi "to procure arms and ammunition."
The arrested terrorists were actively engaged in raising funds as well.
"NIA had learned about an inter-state module of al-Qaeda operatives at various locations in India including West Bengal and Kerala. The group was planning to undertake terrorist attacks at vital installations in India with an aim to kill innocent people and strike terror," NIA said.
In the statement, NIA added that digital devices, documents, jihadi literature, sharp weapons, country-made firearms, and a locally fabricated body armor were seized from them.
They were also in possession of articles and literature that explained how to make explosive devices at home.
The terrorists will now be taken to courts in Kerala and Bengal, and their judicial custody will be sought.
Leu Yean Ahmed and Abu Sufiyan from West Bengal and Mosaraf Hossen Murshid Hasan from Kerala are among the nine Al-Qaeda terrorists arrested by National Investigation Agency (NIA) pic.twitter.com/jMnRjTIjED— ANI (@ANI) September 19, 2020
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