India police bust 'Al-Qaeda cell', three arrested

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Delhi police have busted a suspected Al-Qaeda cell and arrested a founder member of the militant group's India wing, officials said Thursday (Dec 17).

Police said they had arrested "radical extremist" Mohammed Asif, 41, who allegedly led the group's recruitment and training wing in India and was a founder member of Al-Qaeda on the subcontinent.

"Long and intense periods of deploying human sources in the vulnerable pockets of Islamic radicalisation led to the zeroing in on certain suspects," police said in a statement.

"A trap was laid and in a swift and professional operation, accused Mohd. Asif was apprehended" when he went to meet a contact at a flyover in New Delhi, the statement said.

Two others were also arrested in the case, one for allegedly attempting to radicalise students at a madrassa in Uttar Pradesh state and another for financing the group's activities, Press Trust of India reported.

All three have been remanded in custody, according to police and PTI.

In Sept2014 Al-Qaeda announced it had set up a new branch on the Indian subcontinent seeking to invigorate its waning Islamist extremist movement.

India placed several states on high alert after the group launched the new branch to "wage jihad" in South Asia.

Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri said at the time the new operation would take the fight to Myanmar, Bangladesh and India, which has a large but traditionally moderate Muslim population.