The National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted simultaneous searches on the houses of 14 of the 16, accused of raising of funds for setting up a terror module inspired by the ISIS and al-Qaeda across Tamil Nadu on Saturday.
The agency seized over 50 documents apart from digital devices, including laptops and mobile phones.
The 14 men were recently deported from UAE to India on charges of supporting terror outfits and sent to judicial custody.
Officials privy to the investigation said the search was planned even before taking the accused under their custody.
“After the special court granted eight days’ custody for all the 16 accused arrested in connection with the terror module case, the searches started at around 6am in the morning,” the official said.
According to another official in Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu, the searches were part of the probe. In Ramanathapuram district alone, NIA raided the premises of the five men — Rafi Ahamed (55), Munthasir (39), Farooq (26), Mohideen Seeni Shahul Hameed (59) and Faizal Sharief (44), who were all deported from UAE.
“Except Farooq, everyone seemed to be well-off and they had hardly visited their houses in recent years. Except the watchmen, none were there in the house,” the official said.
Farooq’s family was living in a tin-sheet roofed house that accommodated his wife, father and mother. After searching the premises of Farooq, NIA sleuths questioned his family.
“NIA managed to seize a few basic documents of the men, including their school certificate and some Islamic literature books that were available in the houses of five men in Ramanathapuram,” sources privy to the investigation said.
In Madurai, NIA sleuths raided the premises of Mohammed Sheik Maitheen (40) and also interrogated his father-in-law in a village in Madurai apart from questing his family in the residence.
Similar searches were carried out in Theni, Peramballur, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Tirunelveli.
Sources said that the teams would station in the respective districts for a day to collect more details about the accused.
“The agency sleuths with the help of the local police are in the process of collecting their previous case history. Even if a case was not registered, their activities in their mosques and their relationship with the neighbours are being ascertained,” they said.
In the search, NIA seized one laptop, seven mobile phones, five sim cards, three memory card, one hard disc, two pen drivers, one internet dongle, nine DVD/CDs and 50 documents, including Islamic literature.
NIA sources said that the digital devices will be subjected to cyber forensic examination to retrieve digital footprints.