Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Kerala 21: #10 and 11# Sonia (Ayesha) and Abdul Rashid



Name           : Sonia Sebastian
Alias            : Ayisha Abdul Rasheed
Provenance : Vyattila, Kochi, Kerala (NRI from Bahrain)

Sonia, alias Aisha, an engineering graduate — who is missing with her husband Abdul Rasheed, an engineer, and their two-year-old daughter Sara — was a Christian who converted to Islam about a year ago.

Sonia, whose family is from Vyttila in Kochi, was born in Bahrain, where her parents were employed. She came to Kerala for her engineering studies, during which she met Abdul Rashid, a resident of Kasaragod.
According to sources, Sonia was not in touch with her family after she converted to Islam. Intelligence sources said Sonia had become a preacher, while Rashid is suspected to be the local organiser of the missing group from Kasaragod.

This is just one of a series of videos of Malayali women who have converted from Christianity and Hinduism to Islam. But Ayesha's case is different. Born Sonia Sebastian to a family of Roman Catholics, she is an MBA from Christ University in Bengaluru. Ayesha is also one of the 21 people from Kerala whose mysterious, simultaneous disappearance has come under the scanner of various intelligence agencies. While none of them has so far revealed where they are, there is wide speculation that they are somewhere in the vast swathes of West Asia controlled by the global terror outfit called the Islamic State (IS).
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Name        :  Abdul Rasheed
Origin       : Palakkad, Kerala
Age            : 29
Profession : Trainer of teachers at Peace International School
Address:  Al Noor, Opposite Juma Masjid, Udumbunthala P.O.,Chandera Police Station, Kasaragod district, Kerala. (NIA Release)

Yasmin Ahmed met Rashid at the Peace International School, where he used to train teachers. Rashid soon befriended the couple, and a relationship grew between him and Yasmin after her husband fell out with her and left the country. Yasmin is proficient in English, and has a religious bent of mind. As such she got immediately attracted towards Rashid’s ultra-radical teachings, investigators said.

Rashid used to conduct the sessions in the guise of Quran classes, where he briefed the recruits about the IS. He regularly read the IS magazine, Dabiq, and used material from online propaganda to radicalise youth, an SIT source said.

He went to Afghanistan later to become a lynchpin of the IS recruitment drive. Yasmin, in the meantime, kept in touch with him through text messages. She was arrested after police intercepted her communication with Rashid.

“Yasmin is not cooperating with the investigation. She often argues that she hasn’t done anything wrong in the country and her aborted trip to Afghanistan was part of her religious duty,” the source said.

At Udumbinthala village in Trikkaripur, Abdulla, who has been employed in the Middle East for nearly 30 years, says he still has no idea why his eldest son Abdul Rasheed left with wife Ayisha and little daughter Sara.

Rasheed is an engineer and Ayisha has BTech and MBA degrees. They left home for Mumbai on May 28. The last time they contacted us was on June 17. A few days later, we got a message in Arabic saying, ‘We are going’. Then there was another telegram message which said ‘we are safe’,” said Abdulla.

“Rasheed married Ayisha five years ago. They met during various inter-college events at engineering institutions. She was a Christian from a well-settled family. She was a modern girl in every respect. During an inter-college event, Rasheed objected to the dress she wore and her lifestyle in general. She then started learning about Islam to defend her way of life. But soon, she got converted to Islam. That was before their marriage,” said Abdulla.

From 'Iron Maiden' and 'Scorpions' to the IS way


KASARGOD: “Apart from us, no one misses him here,” said Abdul Rashid Abdulla’s younger brother. Rashid, 29, a software engineer, is missing and facing charges of terrorism.

Sitting at his home at Udumbunthala in Trikaripur, his brother said, Rashid has no friends here. “All his friends are with him,” he said, referring to the other 20 persons missing from Trikaripur, Padna and Palakkad.

Yet, today, everyone knows Rashid’s address. “Right adjacent to the Juma Masjid. Their properties share a border,” said a resident, when asked for direction.
Sitting next to the imposing Juma Masjid in Udumbunthala, a tiny village with five other mosques and a temple, is Rashid’s simple house. His brother, a dentist practising in Trikaripur, agreed to open up on condition of anonymity. “I am renovating my clinic now but took time to meet you to clear my brother’s name from the slander,” he said.
Even as his family was getting back to their lives, another bomb hit them. Police told reporters that Rashid had a second wife, Yasmin Ahmed, who worked with Peace International School at Kottakkal, and that she was arrested while trying to flee to Kabul to join him.

emotionally shattered my mother once again. She was almost coming to terms with the initial shocker of Rashid joining the Islamic State,” said the dentist, five years younger to Rashid. His third brother is living with autism, and is dependent on their mother. Their father, who runs a furniture shop in Oman, had returned to take up his business. He said no one in the family believed the police story and could prove them wrong.

‘A puritan not a hypocrite’

The brother, who asked not to be named, said his family was hearing the name of Yasmin for the first time. “If Rashid had married or had an affair with her, he would have told us,” he said. Even if he did not want to tell the family, he would not leave her behind if he loved her, he said. “He is too much of a puritan to abandon her, but never a hypocrite,” said the younger brother.

Police say Rashid is the central figure in the group of 21 persons missing from Kerala. “If he is the one who took everyone, why would he leave Yasmin behind,” he asked.
Rashid left home with his wife, Ayesha (earlier known as Sonia Sebastian), and their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Sara.

‘Gradual change’

Rashid, the eldest was born in Payyannur, and grew up with his two brothers in Oman. “Rashid is the one who introduced me to Iron Maiden and Scorpions. But after he turned religious, I always use headphones to listen to music,” the brother said.

After completing his schooling at Indian School Darsait, Muscat, he joined an engineering college in Pala, Kottayam, to study electronics and communications. During inter-college events, he met his future wife Sonia Sebastian, who was in an engineering college in Ernakulam.

After their BTech, Rashid joined Al Rostamani Communications in Dubai as pre sales engineer and IT consultant; and Sonia joined an MBA course in a college in Bangalore.
The two were in touch over internet, says a friend of Rashid’s father. “He was very open about his friendship with Sonia. He used to chat with her and his father knew about it,” the family friend said.

That was also the time Rashid veered towards religion. He quit his job in Dubai as it was not his field, and took up a job with a private company installing telecom tower. As its operations manager, he had to interact with government officials, who sought bribe to give clearance to set up towers. “He abhorred corruption and quit it. It was against his values,” the brother said.

‘Slave of Fashion’

During the same time, Sonia Sebastian was taking a serious interest in Islam. In an audio clip uploaded by Salafist televangelist M M Akbar on YouTube, Sonia said she was introduced to Islam by a woman when she was pursuing MBA in Bangalore. Sonia, a Catholic Christian, grew up in Bahrain. In her own words, she was a “slave of fashion” and wore what was in vogue. The brother who spoke to Express agreed to it.
“When I met bhabi in Bangalore she was very fashionable,” he said. He was with a dental college in Bangalore then. But Sonia found liberation in hijab first and then in purdah, she said in what appears to be an event organised by Akbar’s Niche of Truth.

Mumbai: NIA files charge sheet in ISIS Kerala youth case

 Mumbai: The NIA on Thursday filed a charge sheet against two persons in connection with its probe in the alleged indoctrination of Kerala youths to join terror group ISIS.

The agency filed the compliant in a special court here against Arshi Qureshi (47) alias Arshid, a resident of Thane who has been arrested by the agency, and Abdul Rashid Abdulla (30), hailing from Kasaragod in Kerala, who is absconding.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said it has charged the two for "their involvement in unlawful activities and in spreading hatred against India and for providing support to the proscribed terrorist organisation ISIS by furthering its activities", under various sections of the Unlawful Activity (Prevention) Act. The NIA took over the case from Mumbai police which had registered an FIR at its Nagpada police station.

"The case relates to the indoctrination of complainant's son Ashfak Majeed and his associates into extreme jihadi ideology by a group of like-minded youths from Kasaragod district of Kerala and some members of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) Mumbai who motivated and radicalised Ashfak and his associates to join the ISIS.

"Investigation by the NIA has established that Qureshi was involved in unlawful activities and in spreading hatred against India and was furthering the activities of the ISIS," it said. Wanted accused Abdulla, it added, was the main conspirator behind the offence of "motivating Ashfak and a number of other youths from Kasargod and Pallakkad districts of Kerala to join ISIS".

"He professed and furthered the activities ISIS by showing them videos of the ISIS and also gave them lectures on violent jihad. He also financed the travel and stay of some of the missing youths," NIA said. Taking cognisance of the case, the court fixed the next of hearing in the case on February 17. The agency said it is trying to apprehend Abdulla even as the probe in this case is on.

Kerala youth who joined ISIS with 20 others, killed in Afghanistan

Feb 26, 2017, 3:19 pm IST (Deccan Chronicle)

Kasaragod: A youth from Kerala, believed to have joined the ISIS has been killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan. The message was received by a distant relative of Hafesudheen Theke Koleth in Kasaragod, Kerala, who was from the missing 21-member group who have left the nation.
The message went on to say that the killed youth had been buried in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is already probing the ISIS nexus in Kasaragod, has been informed of this development.

At least four out the 21 individuals, who belong to Christian and Hindu families, had converted to Islam over a year ago, reports state. Two of the individuals had reportedly sent text and voice messages to their families confirming that they have moved to a remote location. Earlier, the NIA had arrested two people in connection with the criminal conspiracy hatched within and outside India, with the intention of furthering the objectives of the Islamic State(IS) and for joining and supporting the organization.

Accused Abdul Rashid Abdulla, resident of Kasaragod district and Yasmeen Mohammad Zahid, resident of Sitamarhi district, Bihar were booked under under sections 120-B and 125 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), besides sections 38, 39 and 40 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967. The NIA probe established that accused Abdul Rashid was the main conspirator behind the offence of motivating youth, hailing from Kasaragod district to exit from India along with their families, to join the terrorist organisation.

According to officials, Rashid had conducted classes at Kasaragod and other places in support of the terrorist organization and its ideology of violent jihad. He motivated another set of 14 co-conspirators, including another arrested accused Yasmeen Mohammed Zahid, to join the proscribed organization and plan for Hijrah to the Caliphate announced by the ISIS. The investigation revealed that the conspiracy had been in operation since the month of July, 2015.

Rashid Abdulla tried to lure more people to ISIS, says NIA

Updated: Mar 12, 2017  (Hindustan Times)

Abdul Rashid Abdulla,wanted in connection with the Kerala Islamic State (IS) case, had tried to induce more people to join IS even after he left India, witnesses who were in touch with Rashid told investigating agencies.
After reaching ISIS camps, Rashid contacted his friends and classmates to talk about a course on Islam that he had attended in Sri Lanka. These people are now witnesses and their statements are part of the charge sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as part of the case registered by the father of one of the 22 missing young people.
In his conversations with these witnesses, Rashid tried to coerce them to join ISIS said he could tell them how to get there.
One of Rashid’s close friends, whose identity has been kept a secret for security reasons, told the agency Rashid contacted him after he left India. “Rashid invited me to join him within two weeks. He told me that he would give me information about the route. However, I was uninterested and did not reply to him,” said the witness.
The charge sheet contains the statements of Rashid’s colleagues and staff of Peace Foundation as well as students who had participated in a course on Islam at Ad-dur Salaffiya in Sri Lanka. Sources said Rashid was in touch with 40 students, of which 18 were from India.
Rashid and other members were expelled from the course for propagating ISIS ideology among the students. A witness who knew that Rashid was in touch with some of the students, said Rashid invited one of his friends to join ISIS.
In his statement, he said one of the missing youth who had gone to Sri Lanka with Rashid had told him it was risky to go there and it was difficult to turn back.
One of Rashid’s colleagues said he had tried to induce the foundation’s staff and get them to join training sessions. The witness said Rashid used a browser to search for material that could not be traced by the agency. “I asked him how anyone could go to Syria. Rashid said that when people go to Turkey, IS recruits help them cross to Syria at the border,” he told the NIA.
Rashid, who worked as the head of the other cognitive areas department (OCA) of the Peace Foundation, Kozhikode, was in a key position to influence young people to join ISIS, said the NIA. The agency said he would lecture the youth on Jihad and ISIS ideologies. Members were also shown videos propagating ISIS ideology and violence, reads the charge sheet file by the NIA.

Kerala ISIS case: Accused used farming to disguise group’s activities, says NIA

Updated: Feb 10, 2017  (Hindustan Times)

Abdul Rashid Abdulla, wanted in connection with the Kerala ISIS case, used collective farming as a disguise to bring together and radicalise young Muslim men who allegedly went on to join ISIS. Abdulla had also voiced his support for the attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015, according to the charge sheet filed by National Investigation Agency.

The agency claimed that Rashid had been employed with Peace Foundation, Kozhikode, as head of its ‘other cognitive areas’ department since 2012, and that he would criticise democracy during discussions with colleagues. “They also supported the Charlie Hebdo attack in France and Abdul Rashid argued in support of it,” read the charge sheet.

“Rashid also took the initiative for collective farming for the group on a piece of land at Kavumpuram, Mallapuram district, Kerala, to practice living a pure Islamic way of life. At this farm, after farming work, the group used to read religious book, offer prayer, discuss on debated topic like views on Islamic work, views on ISIS ideologies,” read the charge sheet. It was during this period the men hatched a plan to leave India, the agency claimed.

ISIS using Whatsapp from Aghanistan to talk to friends in Kerala: NIA

May 7, 2017 (Deccan Chronicle)

Kochi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA), while conducting a probe on the suspected ISIS members from Kerala, has discovered a WhatsApp group operating from Afghanistan that has been used to communicate with certain people in Kasargod, Kerala.
According to a report in The New Indian Express, the NIA had interrogated some people who were members of the group.
The group was started by a native of Kasargod named Abdul Rashid, using a mobile number he had taken from Afghanistan. He added his acquaintances from Kerala as well to the group.
Rashid had earlier allegedly transported 21 people to Afghanistan, said the report.
“We have examined a few witnesses at Kasargod and extracted messages as part of the investigation into the IS case being probed by our team," NIA officers were quoted as saying.
An NIA officer said that his family members have identified the Afghan number used by him.
It is suspected that the group may have been created to radicalise more people and invite them to join the Islamic group.
"It might be part of dawah work assigned by the people handling them in Afghanistan," the officer said.
There is also a possibility that the group has been formed to gain information on the conditions and morality of life under ISIS after US MOAB attack on the ISIS-held territory in Afghanistan.
The NIA has however decided not to register a case in this matter as it will include this as part of its investigation against the 14 persons who had migrated to Afghanistan from Kasargod.

Wait, we're coming soon: Kerala ISIS fugitive in Afghan to Indian 'faithfuls'

Published May 18, 2017 (Deccan Chronicle)

Fugitive Islamic State (IS) preacher from Kerala, Abdul Rashid Abdullah, who is wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for leading 23 residents from the state to join the terrorist group in Afghanistan, is now telling his target audience to travel to the war-torn country instead of waging jihad in India.
In an interview to the Indian Express, Abdullah justified his stand by saying that it has become impossible to wage ‘offensive jihad’ in India.
"Today, it is impossible to wage offensive jihad in India. First, we have to consolidate the Caliphate, and then expand its frontiers," he was quoted as saying.
Abdullah said that ISIS in Afghanistan was telling Indian Muslims to ‘wait, the Caliphate is coming faster than you think’. He claimed that the aim was for ‘the whole world to be ruled by Allah, so he alone can be worshipped, not false gods’.
Calling the Narendra Modi government a ‘blessing in disguise’ for ISIS, Abdullah said in the interview that this is because while Muslims face ‘visible’ oppression in some parts of India, in other parts they do not realise they are being oppressed. Abdullah claimed that the Modi government was planning to change the Constitution, and only then, Muslims would truly be awakened and ‘start searching for a solution’.
Lashing out at Muslim scholars for ‘misleading’ the community in India, Abdullah said that while they claim that it is possible for Muslims to practise their faith fully in India - pray, fast, go for hajj etc, they do not mention that there is no scope for ‘offensive jihad’ in the country.
Stating that Islam seeks to ‘fight evil’, Abdullah said there was evil all around in the country. He blamed the Hindus for practicing idol worship, and said evils like alcoholism, prostitution and homosexuality were also rife in the country. However, Abdullah bemoaned that no Muslim could raise his hand to stop these.
Claiming that Islam was ‘spread by the sword, not by peace’, Abdullah said in the interview that the Prophet Mohammad the Caliph Abu Bakr Siddiq, and their followers conquered the world by the sword, not by doing ‘dawah’.
Dismissing the claim of Muslim scholars in India that campaigning to improve the conditions of Muslims in India was more important than global jihad, Abdullah said education and jobs were pseudo-achievements, and the respect for other religions was anti-Islamic.
“Indian Muslim leaders fall into three categories”, he alleged, “those who do not know the truth, those who deliberately obscure the truth, and those who realise the truth, but only wish to work for it indirectly, fearful of the consequences of speaking out," he added.
Abdullah also claimed that 'any Muslim' supported the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, and called the Caliphate in Afghanistan 'a kind of utopia'. He also said that many Indians, 'far more than you can imagine', were travelling to Afghanistan to fight for ISIS.
Decrying even the fundamentalist Taliban, Abdullah claimed their actions were anti-Islamic because they wanted to implement Sharia only in Afghanistan, not the whole world.
The preacher said that Muslim youth had realised that western philosophy and western ways of life 'rested on shaky foundations' and some had turned to atheism. But he said that the advent of the internet and the knowledge of English had 'opened up a new world' for these youth.

How ISIS lures youth with women, meat, chocolates to recruit in Kerala. An India Today exclusive

May 30, 2017 (India Today, contains video)


In heavily-encrypted audio transmissions from the mountains of Khorasan, he's heard extolling jihad, offering chocolates, housing and women to young Indians.
Kerala's Abdul Rashid Abdulla is believed to have started ISIS recruitment and fundraising operations in the southern state in July 2015. In less than two years, he has risen through the terror ranks as the group's recruiter-in-chief for India based out of Afghanistan.
An India Today investigation has cracked open tightly-guarded tools of communications he has been using to lure young men back home into ISIS fold.
Audio signals accessed exclusively by the network shed new light on the Islamist outfit's India module recruiting new insurgents, mostly from Kerala.
INSIDE THE ISIS RECRUITMENT ROOM
A resident of Kasaragod district, Abdulla had led 21 youth from the state to ISIS dens in Afghanistan. Reports suggest two to three of them died in security ops this year.
But the India handler continues to send audio clips back to Kerala via the highly-secure Telegram messaging app in order to fill his rosters with insurgents from India, the investigation found.
His messages in Malalayam aim to radicalise youth in the name of Islam and a ballyhooed promised caliphate.
Highly-places sources in the country's intelligence establishment have confirmed the authenticity of Abdulla's voice on Telegram audio files obtained by India Today.
ISIS AFGHANISTAN TERROR TAPES
"IS has much more territory than you can imagine in Iraq, Sham, Libya, Khorasan, Africa, etc. These lands are ruled by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He is the leader of all Muslims in the world. Therefore, it is obligatory to give bayat (oath of allegiance) to him," he says in Malayalam in one of the transmissions from his Afghan hideout to Kerala.
In tapes, he repeatedly glorifies ISIS as a "normal country" espousing  shariat. "This is just like a country here, just like any other government. We lead a normal life here in Islamic State Khorasan. Everything allowed in sharia is done here and anything not allowed by sharia cannot be done here. There are different departments here under the Islamic State government, such as the Departments of Education, Agriculture, Police, Wealth, Zakat (charity), Finance and Department of Jihad."
Without demanding tough commitments, Abdulla is heard tossing out baits to induce his target audience.
ON OFFER: WOMEN, MEAT & CHOCOLATES
In his messages, he presents housing, meat and even chocolates to future recruits. "There are houses here. All facilities are there including electricity and water in houses. There are individual houses. Most of the houses are owned by the government. There are markets here where everything is available. Everything that is available back in our country is available here also -- chocolates, biscuits, meat, vegetables," Abdulla says.
The ISIS' Afghanistan-based India handler is also heard enticing young men with women, saying guerrillas in the group are encouraged to marry widows of slain militants. "My friend, Murshid, married a virgin woman," he says, "Sajid married a widow with two children and Manjat a widow with one child. So whatever the case is, getting married here is easy."
Indoctrination follows next as he gives his own interpretation of sacred texts and sharia, calling ISIS purely Islamic. In the same vein, he justifies use of brutal violence as part of jihad. "It's a sunnah to do jihad. Islamic state also does jihad - against the mushrikeen, kuffaar, murtadeen and the munafiqeen. Let Allah show the correct path to all and may we all meet in heaven."
According to top security officials, Abdulla took 17 people from Kasargod and four from Palakkad in Kerala to ISIS camps in Afghanistan.
In January, the NIA named him a key motivator for the terror outfit in India. His recruits, security officials say, included professionals doctors, engineers and management experts.
Till March this year, as many as 75 people have been arrested from across India for suspected links with the ISIS.
Of them 21 belonged to Kerala, 16 to Telangana, nine to Karnataka, four to Tamil Nadu, eight to Maharashtra, six to Madhya Pradesh, four to Uttarakhand, three to Uttar Pradesh, two to Rajasthan and one each to Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal, highly-placed officials told India Today.
 

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