'Kalyan youth killed 55, then left ISIS because he was not paid'

Majeed Areeb (23) one of four Kalyan youths believed to have joined ISIS was arrested after being brought to Mumbai by an intelligence agency yesterday; an IB official said he is suspected to have killed around 55 people and had decided to come back because ISIS hadn’t paid him

One of the four Kalyan youths who were suspected to have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) landed in the city yesterday and was immediately whisked away for questioning by intelligence agencies.

Areeb 
Areeb (right) has reportedly told officials that he wasn’t happy with how things were going in ISIS

Highly placed sources told mid-day that the youth had killed nearly 55 people as part of the terror group and had decided to return because he had not been paid. After prolonged questioning, he was arrested in the night and will be produced before an NIA court today.

This happened after a case was slapped against ISIS and its operatives under Section 125 of the IPC, which deals with waging war against any Asiatic country which has friendly ties with India, entailing maximum punishment of life imprisonment. The directions to file the case had come from the Union home ministry.

Areeb, who appeared “highly radicalised”, is likely to face action, police said.

Mumbai journey
Based on information from other intelligence agencies and by keeping an eye on 23-year-old Majeed Areeb’s immediate family and close relatives, a team from an intelligence agency travelled to Turkey and apprehended him at Istanbul airport. They brought him to Mumbai via Turkish Airlines flight TK 270, which landed at T2 around 5 am yesterday.

“Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials had also reached the airport before Areeb could land and they interrogated him. He will be kept in NIA custody,” said a senior airport official close to the investigations.

“Areeb’s friends and family were under surveillance since he went missing in May. He told officials that he wasn’t happy with how things were going in ISIS,” he added. A senior IB official, however, told mid-day, “He is suspected to have killed around 55 people as part of ISIS and he returned because he was not paid by the terrorist group.”

Background
Areeb and three other youths from Kalyan town Shaheen Tanki, Fahad Shaikh and Aman Tandel had gone to Baghdad on May 23 as part of a group of 22 pilgrims to visit religious shrines in Iraq. The next day, Areeb had called his family from Baghdad and apologised for having left without informing them.

Upon returning to India, other pilgrims had told the police that, Areeb, Fahad, Aman and Saheen had hired a taxi to Fallujah, a city west of Baghdad, which had emerged as the epicentre of Iraq's deadly insurgency.

On August 26, Tanki had called up Areeb’s family and told them that their son had become a ‘martyr’ and had died fighting for ISIS in Syria.

Families hopeful
Speaking to mid-day before news of the arrest came in, Areeb’s doctor father, Ijaz Majid, said, “I have been informed that my son has been brought to the city and I am going to the NIA office.”

Areeb’s return to Mumbai had also kindled hope in the hearts of the families of the other youths who had left with him. “Arif getting back to India is good news for me,” said Nahim, father of Aman Tandel. - Ejaz Abdul Gani

With Agency inputs

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