Mumbra man is India recruiter for ISIS: Cops

Anti-Terrorism Squad claims Muddabir Shaikh was in direct contact with the head of the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi

One of the five suspected ISIS sympathisers arrested yesterday is a 34-year-old IT professional from Mumbra. A team comprising NIA and ATS officials, including eight officers and 10 constables, raided a rented apartment in Mumbra at 3 am yesterday and took Muddabir Mushtaq Shaikh alias Abu Musab into custody.

Cops said Muddabir Shaikh was active on a social networking site when he was arrested at 3 am yesterday
Cops said Muddabir Shaikh was active on a social networking site when he was arrested at 3 am yesterday

Shaikh, accused of being the primary recruiter for the extremist group in India, was later produced in the NIA court for transit remand. He will be produced in Patiala court after three days. A graduate from a Nallasopara-based college, Shaikh is married and has two children.

Shaikh has been booked under Section 125 (waging war against any Asiatic Power in alliance with the Government of India) of IPC along with various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

 ISIS’ Man Friday
Sources close to the investigation claimed the investigating agencies had shadowed Shaikh’s activity for over six months. “Once we secured enough evidence to prove his links with the extremist group, we raided his residence and arrested him,” said an ATS officer, adding that Shaikh would update his mission’s progress directly to ISIS head Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

“We are collating information from his various social media accounts and phone calls with the extremist group’s chief. We also discovered that he was being funded by the extremist group for the past few months, which took care of his livelihood,” added the officer.

Cop speak
Commenting on Shaikh’s arrest, an ATS officer said, “Post-marriage he lived in Nallasopara for nearly two years (2009-2011). Later, four years ago, the Shaikhs shifted into a rented apartment in Mumbra. An IT professional, Shaikh was working for a firm in Goregaon and made around Rs 60,000 a month. He quit his job about 18 months ago and since then has been active on various social networking sites.”

Another officer claimed Shaikh was found active on a social networking site at the time of the raid. “We seized three cellphones from his house. While one was his, the other two belonged to his wife and daughter. We also confiscated a hard disk, wherein we found videos of women being physically and sexually assaulted. We suspect that he was initially lured into watching these videos, so that he could be brainwashed later.

Further investigation is on,” the officer added. Sources claimed cops found codes on his cellphones, which they suspect were meant to set off explosives using the handset.

Wife says
“Around 3 am on Friday, a few officers entered our house and seized the laptop and a few other things. They asked me about his profession and other details, following which they left the home with him. They told me that they were taking him for questioning,” said Ujma, Shaikh’s wife.

Previous link
Being an ISIS recruiter, cops are now investigating whether the four youths from Kalyan — Areeb Majeed, Fahad Shaikh, Shaheem Tanki and Aman Tandel — were in touch with Shaikh. “We are probing whether the four youths, who left Kalyan to joined the extremist group, were in touch with Shaikh. We also suspect that the four Malwani youths, who wished to join ISIS, were in touch with him,” said an officer.

Confirming Shaikh’s arrest, Vivek Phansalkar, ATS chief (Maharashtra) said, “The operation was conducted by a joint team of NIA and ATS, which raided his residence in the wee hours of Friday. The NIA officers immediately took his custody and are probing the matter further.”

Neighbours speak
When mid-day spoke to a few of Shaikh’s neighbours, they were shocked to learn that he is an ISIS recruiter.

“I rarely saw him leaving his house. But a few of us would see him visiting the mosque to offer prayers, five times a day, without fail,” said a neighbour.

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