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NIA expedites chargesheet against suspected ISIS operatives working in India

Sadiq Naqvi | Updated on: 27 July 2016, 17:20 IST

So far

  • ISIS has claimed responsibility for attacks across Europe
  • In India so far ISIS sympathisers have been nabbed before they could carry out attacks

Those in India

  • ISIS sympathisers in India are connected to the Salafi brand of Islam
  • Zakir Naik is known for his preachings on the Salafi faith

More in the story

  • Those named in the NIA chargesheet
  • The network of ISIS sympathisers in India

As Islamic State or Daesh, the terror group with audacious aims to establish a 'Islamic caliphate', spreads its wings in Europe and South Asia, it has claimed that its operatives are behind the assaults in France, Germany, Dhaka, Kabul etc.

The latest addition to the list is the ghastly attack on a 84-year-old Priest in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray on Tuesday.

Indian security agencies, too, have been active in investigating the ISIS related cases.

Most of the suspected recruits or sympathisers of the terror group in India have been nabbed before they could carry out any attack in the country.

The National Investigative Agency (NIA), the premier outfit formed to investigate cases of terror, is keen on investigating the case of missing youths in Kerala, suspected to have traveled to the Middle East, through Tehran, to join the ISIS.

Taking account

It recently filed a chargesheet against three members of the Abu Dhabi module of the ISIS. Last week, it had filed another chargesheet against 16 other operatives in another case.

The agency, with help from the Telangana police, had recently claimed to have busted a module of the ISIS in Hyderabad and arrested several people, even as many others were let off after interrogation.

In another operation, two other alleged recruiters for the group were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti Terror Squad and the Kerala police. While Rizwan Khan was picked up from Kalyan in Thane, Arshi Qureshi, was arrested from Navi Mumbai.

Finding the connections

Arshi Qureshi, interestingly, worked as a guest relations officer for controversial preacher Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation.

The police says he is involved in the hatching of a plan to get Merin alias Mariam, one of the missing women from Kerala suspected to have joined the ISIS, to convert to Islam along with Bestin Vincent alias Yahya, her husband.

While some of the missing persons have reportedly written to their families claiming that they are in ISIS territory, their exact whereabouts are still unknown.

The Salafi commune

Zakir Naik is known for his preachings on the Salafi brand of Islam.

The missing youths from Kerala, those arrested from the module in Hyderabad and earlier from Tamil Nadu, are all reportedly followers of the Salafi ideology.

Interestingly, a Salafi commune in Mallapuram, established at a distance from the nearby town and villages, has been in the news after reports of some of the missing youths reportedly visiting the commune to learn the Salafi way of life.

This commune of 18 houses, established for the followers regards others as false Muslims and wants to live life like Prophet Mohammad did in the seventh century.

It reportedly has links with other Salafi groups in other countries including Yemen and Sri Lanka.

Even in the case of Mohammed Nasir, another suspected operative who had abruptly disappeared from UEA and traveled to Sudan to join the banned organisation, he was said to be initially associated with Tamil Nadu Towheed Jamath, according to the NIA chargesheet in the case.

Attack on the faith

ISIS, too, have called for attacks targeting other faiths and even sects, mostly Shias, like the recent attack on a Hazara protest in Kabul which left over a hundred dead.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Anzar ul Islam from Ganderbal in Jammu and Kashmir, Adnan Hassan from Bhatkal in Karnataka, place which has been in the news in the past for operatives linked to the Indian Mujahideen, and Farhan Sheikh from Mumbra, part of the Abu Dhabi module, were allegedly in touch with the IS in as many as 24 countries, and were planning attacks, according to the NIA.

The three operatives were deported from the UAE in January this year after agencies suspected that they were planning something big.

They were arrested on their arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport on 29 January.

India and the Gulf kingdom of UAE have been lately working closely on threats from terror groups.

The chargesheets

The chargesheet has been filed under Section 120B (Criminal Conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 18 (Punishment for conspiracy, etc.), 20 (Punishment for being member of terrorist gang or organisation) 38 (Offences relating to membership of terrorist organisation) 39 (Offences relating to the support given to a terrorist organisation) and 40 (Offence of raising funds for the terrorists organisation) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

"Investigation revealed incriminating chats, posts, videos, images and comments on Facebook, WhatsApp, Kik, Vkontakte and Twitter, shared and circulated in groups and channels on various social networking sites, during 2014-15," NIA says.

The agency says that the trio was also involved in raising funds for others to travel to Syria. They were also involved in funding the Hyderabad module of the ISIS, claims the agency.

According to the NIA, the three accused persons were also allegedly in touch with other operatives of the ISIS in India.

These operatives include Shafi Armar, said to be the principal recruiter from India and based in Syria, Areeb Majeed, Mohammed Naser and Mohammed Sirajuddin.

The three accused "shared with them many common online contacts of ISIS operatives including Karen Aisha al Muslimah and Madmullah."

All the channels

Interestingly, the supplementary chargesheet the agency filed in the case of Mohammed Nasir, which charges 16 others, also notes how many of them were in touch with Shafi Armar via the internet-based applications.

They were using Facebook, WhatsApp, Trillian, Skype, Surespot, Twitter, Chat Secure, Nimbuzz and Telegram etc, "for the purpose of recruitment, preparation of IEDs, identifying places for training and hideouts and, finally, committing terror strikes at various public places and vital installations in India."

Among other charges, the agency says this group also sought the help of Maoists.

This group of suspected operatives arrested from various places in the country including from Mumbai, Hyderabad, Tumkur, Bengaluru and Aurangabad, in December last year, were not only engaged in recruitment but also in deciding the leadership of the terror group in India, claims the NIA.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

Also Read: NIA busts another ISIS module. Here's why we should be concerned

Also Read: NIA clears four detained Hyderabad men of ISIS links

Also Read: Hyderabad cell may have sent money to IS in Syria: NIA

First published: 27 July 2016, 17:20 IST