India's premier terror investigation body charges 16 for being IS operatives, two turn approvers

New Delhi, India Updated: Jul 21, 2016, 07:01 AM(IST)

An IS flag at display during an Indian protest. Photograph:( Getty )

Two persons suspected of being sympathisers of Islamic State (IS) – the banned terror organisation, turned approvers in the supplementary chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a Delhi court on Wednesday.

The NIA claimed that ISIS operatives, in connivance with a few resident and non-resident Indians, have been indulging in identification, radicalisation, recruitment and training of Indians. The counter-terror agency listed 18 accused in the chargesheet, of which 16 were charged and two turned approvers.

The NIA has charged Mumbai resident, Muddabir Shaik, for leading the Indian module and also charged Mohammad Aleem, Mohammad Obaidullah Khan, Nafees Khan, Mohammad Shareef Moinuddin Khan, Asif Ali, Najmul Huda, Mohammad Abdul Ahad, Suhail Ahmed, Syed Mujahid, Mohammad Hussain Khan, Mohammad Afzal, Imran, Abu Anas, Mohammad Azhar Khan and Mufti Abdus Sami Qasmi.

The accused were apprehended from various places across the country, including Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore.

Twice apprehended by the authorities, Mohammed Abdul Ahad, turned approver in the case, along with teenager Ashik Ahmed from West Bengal. Both were granted conditional pardon by the special NIA court at Patiala House on Wednesday.

Ahad, 48, is a green card holder and along with his wife and his children is a citizen of the United States of America. A resident of Bangalore, Ahad had a Master's degree in Computer Science from a Californian University through a correspondence course. Having worked in the US for more than 10 years, Ahad had finally secured a coveted green card.

According to the NIA, Ahad's first brush with radical Islam was in 2014 and in December that year, he along with his family had gone to Turkey on a tourist visa in order to attempt entering Syria. The Turkish authorities detained him while he was trying to enter Syria through a border post. After 23 days in custody, he was deported from Turkey in January 2015 at the behest of the Indian government. Barely months after his return, Ahad initiated contact with ISIS sympathisers and was inducted in the "Junood-ul-Khilafa-Fil-Hind," (JKFH) – an organisation that was created to establish Khilafat (Caliphate) in India. He was arrested by the NIA in January earlier this year.

Approver number 2, Ashik Ahmed,19, based out of Hooghly district, West Bengal, was influenced by Islamic theology and developments in the contemporary world with regard to the Islamic religious movement. Ahmed was instrumental in helping the Indian wing of IS to establish a base in West Bengal and in helping them get in touch with a Bangladeshi arms supplier.

In its chargesheet, the NIA has alleged that Shafi Armar, aka Yusuf al-Hindi, the media chief of IS helped in the establishment of JKFH that was to become a base for the IS in the India.

The charges against the 15 other accused state their complicity in routing money through hawala to further violence and commit acts of terror. The counter-terror agency has backed its charges with scientific evidence; call data records (CDR), literature, explosive devices and other incriminating materials.

The NIA have further alleged that the IS operatives in India had approached Naxals to understand their modus operandi in committing terror acts. The operatives were also planning to buy weapons from the Naxalites.

The NIA had registered a case against IS in December 2015.

In this case, the NIA had earlier filed a chargesheet against 23-year-old Naser Packeer, outlining his modus operandi in identifying, radicalising, recruiting and sending Indians to join the terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

The NIA has charged the 16 accused, including Armar, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act, and the Explosive Substances Act.

Read in App