The case of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Najeeb Ahmad, who remains untraced for over one year now, is being used by jihadist propagandists as a tool to instigate gullible minds to join them.
A channel on the popular instant messaging application, Telegram, which has around 650 members and is defined as a channel meant to “learn Islamic history with the aim to ‘liberate’ occupied Hindustan so that it becomes a part of ‘Shaam’ (caliphate)”, has been sharing images of Najeeb and his mother Fatima Nafees, stating that “Muslims are disappearing from India” and it was the time for them to “wake up”.
The image, which has the picture of Najeeb and his mother Fatima, and has been shared multiple times over a period, reads, “Fatima Nafees assaulted and jailed by Indian police for protesting the disappearance of her son Najeeb.”
A student of Biotechnology at JNU, 28-year-old Ahmad, who is from Budaun district, Uttar Pradesh, went missing from his hostel on 15 October last year, after reportedly being involved in a fight with a group of students. People who follow and track the cyber footprints of jihadi organisations, including those who have Indian elements, say that the Telegram channel is most likely being operated from India and even if one individual fell to this propaganda, the people behind this nefarious design will be more than happy.
“The jihadi recruiters have evolved and now they are not the bearded, skull wearing preachers anymore. They are more sophisticated than what we think of them. Exploiting situations like the disappearance of Najeeb, a Muslim youth, is something that these people are adept at. This particular channel, as far as can be made out, is being run from India only, which is not a surprise if you consider that one of ISIS’ most followed Twitter propaganda handle (Shamiwitness) was being run from India by an Indian youth,” an independent cyber expert said.
The 650 plus followers, who are a member of this particular channel, have also got worried the counterintelligence officials as even a minuscule number of this 650, if they become radicalised, will pose a problem.
“Out of the 650, it is prudent to believe that 90% of them have joined it because of curiosity. However, if even 10% of them get indoctrinated, it is a big number and it is because of these situations that we use the method of providing counselling to those who we think are getting radicalised, rather than straight away taking action against them or wait for them to do something,” an official with the security establishment said.