Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Kashmiri member of ISIS claims to be working for 'NGO'

NAME: Adil Fayaz
AGE: 26
FROM: Srinagar; last living in Australia
STATUS: Family says working with NGO in Turkey
It was a tip-off from the Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation on youths there lured by the Islamic State that first put authorities on the trail of Adil Fayaz.
In 2010, his family had taken a Rs 20 lakh loan to finance his MBA from Queensland University. They say it was the search for a job, when he didn’t get one in Australia after the course, that took him to Turkey. He has the distinction of being one of the few Indian-origin jihadis to have entered Syria via Jordan.

“He is working with an NGO. He often calls home, he is in regular touch,” insisted Adil’s father Fayaz Ahmad Vaid, overseeing the repair of his home in an upscale Srinagar colony, damaged in last year’s floods. The family is from Jawahar Nagar, Srinagar. Inclined towards religion since child, Adil worked in a call centre in Mumbai immediately after passing his Class XII exams to make it big in the life.

It was only briefly that they lost contact with him, Vaid added, and that was during the flooding of the city. “Our house had got damaged and we had to leave here. Later, he called us,” Vaid said.
Since the allegations against Faiz surfaced in August 2014, bringing officials from various security agencies to their doorstep, Vaid said, he regularly asks his son about the charges. “His reply is he is working with an NGO and hasn’t joined the IS.” He said he doesn’t know which NGO.

“Security officials visit us regularly. the last time some people from intelligence came, we told them Faiz is in Turkey and that we don’t know anything else.”
Vaid said the 26-year-old, who graduated in business administration before doing an M Com from Kashmir University, never showed any interest in the conflict in Syria or Gaza, or discussed it with his family. While he was very religious, saying namaz five times a day, he wasn’t rigid about it, relatives said.

After doing his MBA from Australia, he visited the family in Kashmir in 2013. “Initially he looked for a job in Australia or Malaysia but couldn’t get one. He also applied for jobs in countries like Qatar, Dubai and Turkey. He told us he had got a good job in Turkey,” Vaid said.
Their last conversation with Adil before he left the Valley, the father added, was about marriage. Now he can’t come back home any time soon, Vaid fears. “Not until his name is cleared.”

Senior home ministry officials say Adil was radicalised by Islamic fundamentalists in Australia. He then, they say, left for Turkey and entered Syria via Jordan to join jihadists in the civil war in June 2013. Although his family claims Adil is working for an NGO in Turkey to help Syrian refugees, they don’t have the name of the NGO or its phone number. Their son talks to them on voice over internet protocol (VoIP).

Adil’s family — his father is a businessman and the family runs a local supermarket — denies his involvement in any jihadi movement. “He is working in Turkey and is in regular touch with us. Even last night we were speaking to him on Skype till 3am,” a family member told HT, requesting anonymity.
“If the home ministry has such information, why weren’t we told? Adil is not missing, neither is he a jihadi. If the government has proof, they should show it,” he said.
“Besides, if he is involved in any such activity, we wouldn’t know. One can’t vouch for people living at home, Adil lives so far away.”
Born on March 1, 1989, Adil attended an English medium school in Srinagar. After completing his BBA, he went to Australia in 2009, where he did his MBA and masters in commerce. The family last saw him in June 2013, when, according to them, he left for Malaysia to join an Australian NGO working with Syrian refugees in Turkey. “He has promised to return this October,” his relative said. As of December 2015 he has not.

In November 2015, he had a conversation with his brother in which he said, "I may not return immediately. Maybe, one day, I will Inshaallah (God willing). He (Adil) always wanted a secure job. He would say he would travel business class in flights rather than economy class one day,” recalls Kamil, who is in a denial mode that his brother has joined the IS ranks.

Kamil said Adil still prefers to wear Western outfits and comes across as “calm with no signs of desperation whatsoever” when he contacts his family on the Skype once in a while. “Though he has grown serious in his conversations and keeps advising on praying five times a day and returning to the Quran,” said Kamil.
He said there was nothing that makes the family believe that Adil is an IS recruit, as the security agencies informed them in 2014.

“He (Adil) says he is working with an NGO and functions from Turkey and did help people in Syria with medical aid,” recollected Kamil from a conversation the family had with him after he was declared an IS recruit.
However, the family admits that he does not keep a permanent cell phone and uses Internet cafes from different locations to reach the family on the Skype. Besides, he did mention travelling to Ar Raqqa, IS’s capital situated in Syria, to the family.

“He (Adil) seems to be changing places. Mostly, he says he is in Turkey. Once I saw kids playing on his lap, whom he introduced his friend’s. He loves kids and makes it a point to wish on festivals like Eid,” said Kamil. There are pointers to Adil working with the International Aid for the Syrian People, which is a non-combatant group functioning in Syria but with sympathies for the IS.
The family said “introvert, shy and religious” Adil moved more towards Islam in Australia between 2009 and 2012. 

“Once he returned from Australia, he was sporting a flowing beard as per Islamic teachings,” said Kamil.
Security agencies believe that Adil was radicalised during his association with the Australian Street Dawah, which promotes Islam in Australia. Once when Adil’s mother and father broke down and made an emotional appeal to him to return, Adil retorted: “People here (Syria) need help. You have a son to take care of [you]. They have none here. I work like a doctor and provide medical care.”

The family claims Adil, a voracious online reader of news and views, went to Malaysia too but the security agencies believe that he travelled to Jordan and Turkey before entering Syria in June 2013. What gives the family a sinking feeling is the fact he never talks about returning to Kashmir and defends what is happening in Syria and Iraq. “The Western media is lying about what is happening in this region. No one is zaalim (barbarian) there,” he told the family once.

Another enigma that the family grapples with: “He could have joined the militant groups in Kashmir. He never did that. He never showed interest. In fact, in Kashmir, he always wanted a secure job.” The enigma is true of the security agencies too in Kashmir, which remain on the edge with the IS flags coming up frequently during street protests.

As General Officer Commanding (GoC), 16 Corps, Gen. R. R. Nimbhorkar on Thursday ruled out “signs of presence of IS in Jammu and Kashmir”, the police too have no pointers to believe that the group is able to make any recruitment from the conflict-ridden Valley after Adil.

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