Around 20 youngsters, who were in regular contact with Mudabbir Mushtaq Shaikh, who is believed to be an ISIS recruiter, are being closely watched by investigating agencies
A joint team of National Investigation Agencies and Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad is keeping a close watch on around 20 youngsters from different parts of Mumbai and Maharashtra. These youths were in touch with arrested IT professional Mudabbir Mushtaq Shaikh, believed to be ISIS's primary recruiter in India.
Mudabbir Mushtaq Shaikh was arrested from Mumbra on Friday
The youths NIA and ATS are keeping a tab on are from Mumbra, Kalyan, Bhiwandi, Panvel, Mira Road, Malvani and other parts of Mumbai, as well as from across Maharashtra.
The joint team had conducted a raid at the Mumbra residence of Shaikh on Friday and arrested him. Investigation revealed that Shaikh is the terror group’s primary recruiter in India and was in direct touch with his handler, Yusuf-al-Hindi who was further in touch with Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi, the ISIS chief. Shaikh has been booked under IPC Section 125 (waging war against any Asiatic power in alliance with the government) of the Indian Penal Code and various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Shaikh had started radicalizing youths through social networking websites. “He used to target youths who liked the posts and activities of the extremist group on social networks. Once he gained their trust, he would radicalize them on chat rooms and ask them to spread the message to join the group,” added the officer.
Few things that are very common among all these youngsters are that they pray five times a day, are active on social networking websites and their behaviour has changed within the family that has been noticed by their parents. They are eager to go to Syria. “Shaikh claims that his motive was to target well-educated people, who are familiar with social network and are trustworthy.
During the investigation, Shaikh claimed ISIS offers two options to its recruits. Either become a soldier and join them on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria or become a recruiter.
mid-day editorial: The ISIS threat can no longer be ignored
Though Shaikh wanted to go to Syria, his handler, Yusuf-Al-Hindi, asked him to stay in India and help their cause by providing them with amenities and fresh recruits,” said an officer.
During interrogation, Shaikh also revealed that recruiting youths from Indonesia was their first priority.
“Shaikh claimed their target was to radicalized more and more youths from India, which was second on their priority list after Indonesia. They were preparing a module of youngsters who would be ready to leave their country whenever asked to and spread the ideology of ISIS,” added the officer.
Investigation agencies had been following Shaikh’s activities on social networking websites for more than six months before taking him down and they are doing the same for the suspected recruits.
“If we get in touch with these youngsters we will try to deradicalize them. In most of the cases, their parents are aware of their children’s involvement in some extremist group and they also counsel them to quit. Parents should inform the police, as we can counsel them with help from Muslim scholars, who can prove that Islam is the religion of peace and can never represent ISIS,” said an ATS officer.