New Delhi: Ever since the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested six men from Kerala this month for allegedly planning terror attacks in the country, the intelligence agencies of India, UAE and Afghanistan have been on the lookout for one man.
According to a report in the Indian Express, the man is Sajeer Mangalachari Abdullah, a key Islamic State (IS) recruiter in Afghanistan.
Given the rapid advance of US-led forces into ISIS bastions in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist group is now focusing on a new target – Afghanistan.
As part of this plan, Islamic State has been telling Indian volunteers keen for military training to make their way to Afghanistan. It has also been pushing them to stage attacks at home, providing detailed do-it-yourself instructions on manufacturing explosive devices. The volunteers are being routed to the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, which has its capital in Jalalabad.
“Nangarhar is about as close as you can get to a black hole,” an Indian intelligence official was quoted as saying. “It’s the perfect place to go if you want to disappear. Even Afghanistan’s intelligence services have next to no on-ground reach there.”
The men alleged to have been recruited by Abdullah were all educated professionals. The key figure in the cell was Doha-based Manseed Bin Mohamed who moved to the Middle East from Panoor in Kerala five years ago. He researched extensively on Hindutva, being a member of the Popular Front of India (PFI), but then decided on direct action, and joined ISIS.
NIA alleges that the men recruited by Abdullah were instructed to plan strikes against Israeli tourists in Kodaikanal, as well as attacks on leaders of the BJP and judges who had delivered “anti-Muslim” verdicts.
Abdullah facilitated the travel of 21 Kerala residents, including eight minors, to Nangarhar, say NIA.
67 Indians are known to have joined ISIS so far, but NIA officials fear the number may be much greater.
Meanwhile, Subhani Haja Moideen, a Tamil Nadu resident arrested this month on charges of planning attacks on instructions from key Islamic State operative Muhammad Sultan Armar, was plotting strikes on foreigners visiting south India, said the report.
Moideen left for Turkey to join ISIS in 2015, but after a fatal attack on his comrades, he fled and was sentenced to 40 days in prison by ISIS. But they allowed him to go home after he paid a fine. Moideen got an emergency certificate allowing him to return home, from Indian consulate in Istanbul. He was not interrogated.
After Moideen returned home to Tamil Nadu however, he re-established contact with Sultan Armar.
The new group in Syria, led by Armar, is believed to include Indian Mujahideen operatives Abu Rashid, Shahnawaz Ahmad and Mirza Shadab Beig, said the report....