Long before they were swept away by the apocalyptic ideology of the Islamic State (IS), consuming its nihilistic violence on social media and celebrating their victories in battlefields as the militant group held sway in Iraq and Syria to establish a caliphate, the process of radicalisation for some Indians, accused of setting up an IS-inspired terror group, actually began at home, through religious revivalist movements like the Tablighi Jamaat and the Jamaat-E-Islami Hind (JIH).
The two religious organisations and a Deoband preacher are accused of influencing over half a dozen young men to wage a violent jihad.
The damning disclosure is made by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a charge sheet filed last week against 17 men accused of forming an organisation, Junood ul Khilafa fil Hind, to establish a caliphate in India.
The charge sheet throws light on the motivational factors that incited them to find like-minded associates to help them travel to the land of jihad in Syria, or failing to do so carry jihad at home.
Before IS propaganda videos and magazines appeared on social media websites, the journey of indoctrination of these accused started with institutions like the revivalist Sunni proselytizing movement of Tablighi, lectures in mosques across the country and jihadi literature available online.
In the Islamophobic world after 9/11, Mumbai resident Mudabbir Sheikh - anointed as the emir, chief of the Junood ul Khilafa group - was upset that society had turned against Muslims, who were looked down upon as terrorists and treated as ‘second-class citizens’.
In 2007, Sheikh came into contact with an online group, Mujahid Fi Sabiullah, which directed him to contact the JIH to fulfil his desire to join the jihad. “He started visiting the JIH office in Byculla, Mumbai, attended several programmes and got radicalised,’’ the NIA charge sheet states.
Sheikh is accused of preparing IEDs and timer bombs at home. He also received hawala money and distributed it among other members of Junood ul Khilafa. The JIH is an offshoot of the Jamaat-e-Islami (now in Pakistan), founded in 1941, and works as a religious organisation with a secular outlook.
In 2013, its Mumbai chapter slapped the Maharashtra state with a defamation suit of Rs 10 crore for alleging that it was training and radicalising Muslim girls for jihadi activities.
A resident of the western Indian state of Rajasthan, Abu Anas, Mohammad Shareef Moinuddin Khan from Hyderabad and Asif Ali from Bengaluru had all joined the Tablighi movement before they were recruited as cadres of Junood ul Khilafa. After finishing class 10, Asif entered the chillah, where one spends 40 days with members of the Tablighi and learnt about Islamic theology, how to offer namaz and how to bring back the misguided into the religious fold.
Following this, the 21-year-old stone polisher became a ‘fully transformed man.’
“It was the time spent with the Tablighi that made Asif a religious bigot with a narrow understanding of religious scriptures and a narrow world view,’’ the charge sheet adds.
IT expert and ethical hacker, Anas and Moinuddin, were also influenced by the Tablighi movement and the former tried to recruit pro-IS cadre in Pune. He found the support of like-minded people associated with the Tablighi movement, who, although did not take part in any terror activities, gave a zakaat (donation) of Rs 20,000 to the cause of the Caliphate.
The NIA accuses Delhi-based Mufti Abdus Sami Qasmi, alumni of Darul Ulum Deoband, of inciting, motivating and instigating Muslim youths who sought his guidance to wage a jihad through a number of sermons in the Indian states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.
The NIA investigations found the speeches to be “incriminating, vitriolic, and explicitly and unequivocally supporting the IS.”
At least five accused contacted or met Qasmi during his lectures to discuss about the IS and caliphate. He told them that one must make the hijrah migration to Syria. The radical preacher also held al Baghdadi’s Caliphate as legitimate in the light of Quran and ‘Sunnah’ and helped clear doubts on jihad, ultimately convincing others to join the jihad and gave their full support to the IS.
The NIA has mentioned Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Azhar Masood and its mouthpiece al-Qalam as another influencing source for the IS-accused. Literature like Hijra , Jihad ke Maasail, Al Furqan Wal Mizzan, Afghan Jihad and Wazb e Hind ka Shehbaz and manual guides on IEDs and bomb-making were seized from the accused.