ISIS' India strategy: Join forces with Maoists and target kaafirs

The plan was to seek arms and ammunition from Maoist groups, train radicalised youths in the jungles of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh

The enemy’s enemy is a friend — so believes the ISIS. Investigations by several anti-terrorism agencies into the conspiracy hatched by suspected ISIS members in India have revealed that to pull off its sinister plan of waging a full-fledged attack against the country, the terror group had allegedly planned to join forces with Maoist groups. The plan was to approach Maoists for arms and ammunition procurement as well as arms training.

ISIS handlers in Syria and Iraq also asked their Indian counterparts to build a force of ‘lone wolves’ to carry out fidayeen attacks. File pic/AFP
ISIS handlers in Syria and Iraq also asked their Indian counterparts to build a force of ‘lone wolves’ to carry out fidayeen attacks. File pic/AFP

Nearly 20 suspected members of ISIS’ Indian wing — Ansar-ut Tawhid fi Bilal al-Hind — have been arrested by various agencies, including the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the anti-terrorism squads (ATSs) of several states, in the last few months. Cases of most of the states, including one of the Maharashtra ATS — lodged in December 2015 after four youths from Malwani fled their homes to join the ISIS in Iraq and Syria — were taken over by the NIA.

Crucial meeting
Investigations by the Intelligence Bureau, the NIA and the Maharashtra ATS into the plans of Mudabbir Sheikh, the chief of Ansar-ut Tawhid fi Bilal al-Hind who was arrested on January 21, and Khalid Ahmed Ali alias Rizwan, the second-in command — arrested the day after — have blown the lid off a significant secret meeting convened in Lucknow late in December last year.

Besides discussing strategies for carrying out attacks, the idea of taking Maoists’ help was also mooted by one of the top members of the group at the meeting, said sources in the Maharashtra ATS.

The meeting was attended by eight members of the terror outfit, including Sheikh and Ali, Akhlaq-ur-Rehman, Mohammed Mehraj and Mohammed Azim — who were later arrested for planning a terror strike during the Ardh Kumbh Mela at Haridwar in January — as well as Mohammed Osama.

“At the meeting, the suspects discussed joining hands with Maoist groups operating in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh to procure arms and ammunition, and also for arms training. Since, the Maoists, too, have an anti-nation ideology, the idea of joining hands with them was strongly contemplated by ISIS members,” said an ATS official. A few top members of the terror outfit had even explored options and identified jungles in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to train radicalized youths, said sources.

Lone wolves
The arrested suspected ISIS members also revealed that they had received instructions from their ISIS handlers in Iraq and Syria on building a force of ‘lone wolves’ who could individually carry out fidayeen attacks in various parts of the country. It was planned that once an attack was carried out, the ISIS from Iraq and Syria would take responsibility for it.

“ISIS members were instructed to not only attack foreigners for global impact, but also ‘kaafirs’ (who don’t follow ISIS’ ideology),” said another ATS official.

Mazgaon bizman chickened out
One of the key suspected members of the ISIS, Mohamed Hussain Jamil Khan, revealed that he had refused to become a fidayeen. The 36-year-old businessman from Mazgaon had been under the scanner of the Intelligence Bureau for over one-and-a-half years before his arrest on January 22. “When one of the senior members in the terror group asked him why he didn’t want to become a fidayeen despite taking the ‘bait’ (oath taken on joining the ISIS), he said he had taken the oath to work towards ISIS’ aims and would do it by contributing to its funds,” said a source. Khan allegedly generated Rs 1.20 lakh for ISIS’ activities and accepted a delivery of explosive pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) in Delhi to make IEDs. Scared of getting caught, he, however, flushed the explosives in a masjid’s toilet in Delhi, said sources.

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