Wednesday, 6 May 2015

First Isis Cell in India

First Isis Cell in India? 'Leader of Busted Module was Hired by Indian Jihadist in Islamic State

By Mugdha Variyar Updated: May 6, 2015 15:09 IST

Madhya Pradesh Police have claimed to have busted what could be the first Islamic State module in India.Five men arrested from Ratlam in April are reportedly associated with an Isis-linked cell. The leader, Imran Khan Muhammad Sharif, was recruited by an Indian who is fighting with the Islamic State, police sources told The Indian Express.

The five men were allegedly planning terror strikes in India.
If the claims turn out to be true, this could be the Islamic State's first module in India, where it has already caused security concerns by inspiring youths to leave their homes and fight with the terror group. Scores of Indian youths have left for Iraq and Syria over the last year, to fight alongside the Islamic State militants.
Sharif sought advice from an Indian jihadist fighting in the Islamic State to build bombs and select targets, according to the report.

Muhammad Shafi Armar, a Karnataka-born jihadist known by his code name Yusuf, recruited Khan online to lead the cell, investigators who analysed his Internet and chat conversations said. Yusuf is said to be leading the Indian fighters in the Islamic State. The Central Forensic Science Laboratory will analyse Khan's computer, the report said.

Khan is said to have made contact with the Isis fighter through Facebook pages and discussion forums, much the same way as how several other Indian youths were brainwashed by the terror group. Last year, the Islamic State released a propaganda video with Hindi and Tamil subtitles in a clear attempt to recruit youths from India.

An engineering graduate from Hyderabad, who recently died 'while fighting in Syria', was also reportedly radicalised through social media. Shami Witness, one of the most popular Isis-affiliated Twitter accounts, was being run by a Bengaluru-based engineer, who was arrested in December.
India declared a ban on the Islamic State soon after the arrest.


Muhammad Shafi Armar’s brother, Muhammad Sultan Armar, was killed in combat near the Syrian town of Kobane in March, fighting with Islamic State forces attempting to take the city from Kurdish control. Khan, police sources in Ratlam said, was initially held for possession of chemicals that could be used to fabricate explosives, to which separate terrorism-related charges have since been added. In voice-over-internet and chat conversations recovered by investigators, police allege, Khan sought help from Armar on how to build explosive devices, procure weapons, and select targets for attack.
He was advised, police say, to record each operation — in line with standard Islamic State online propaganda tactics. Fuller details on the conversations, sources close to the investigation said, are expected to become available after the Central Forensic Science Laboratory completes analysis of Khan’s computer.
The son of a clerk in the Madhya Pradesh government’s rural education department, Khan dropped out of an undergraduate business course at Ratlam’s Royal College in 2001, having completed just four semesters.

Sultan Armar died in Kobani.

Khan’s passport shows he made five subsequent visits to Dubai, and one to Saudi Arabia, after terminating his studies in search, his family says, of work.  However, none of the visits seem to have yielded offers of durable employment.
In testimony to police — which, under law, will not be admissible for the purposes of his trial — Khan said he had joined Ahl al-Suffah, an Islamic proselytising and charity group, in 2012. Led by local resident Amjad Khan, Ahl al-Suffah became active after the pre-election communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, working to distribute relief among Muslim victims of the violence.

Khan’s interest in religion, a source familiar with the investigation said, developed in the years of economic frustration that began after he failed to get a job. The term Ahl al-Suffah, or “men of the platform”, refers to a group of believers who took residence in the Masjid al-Nawbai during the Prophet Muhammad’s  years of exile in Medina. Faced with a trade boycott  and military threats by Mecca’s Qurayshi, the group was forced to spend its days foraging for firewood and dates but did not give up Islam despite the hardship.

Following his encounters with victims of communal violence, a source inside Ahl al-Suffah told The Indian Express, Imran Khan became increasingly dissatisfied with what he saw as the organisation’s quietism arguing, instead, for the group to take a more militant stand.

Imran Khan’s increasing radicalism, the source said, led to his expulsion by the mainstream leadership of Amjad Khan. However, investigators claim Imran Khan managed to persuade four other members of Ahl al-Suffah to join him: Wasim Khan, Mohammad Rizwan, Anwar and Mazhar. Imran Khan, police allege, made his first contact with “Yusuf”, while trawling pro-Islamic State Facebook pages run by Islamic State supporters in India, as well as Islamist discussions forums.

In August, Sultan Armar had appeared online in a video released by the breakaway Indian Mujahideen faction, Tawhid-ul-Ansar, calling on Muslims to join it at training camps in the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands. Later, Indian jihadists in Tawhid al-Ansar made their way to Syria, where they formed a group called Ansar-ul-Tawhid fil’Bilad al-Sham. Late last year, several Rajasthan men were arrested for planning acts of terror, allegedly after being recruited online by the slain Armar.

Interestingly, the latest arrests come against a backdrop of escalating communal warfare between Hindutva and Islamist extremists in Ratlam. The city was placed under curfew in September after the killing of a Bajrang Dal activist involved in the cow-protection campaign. Earlier, an attempt on attempt on the life of Yasmin Sherani, a local Congress politician, sparked off riots.


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