The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has interrogated the seven ISIS supporters who were arrested in Hyderabad a fortnight ago, stumbled upon evidence that a large number of Muslim youth are lured into the trap of the terror network by making them pledge online their allegiance to self-styled Caliphate Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.
Baghdadi is also the chief of the ISIS, which operates from Syria and Iraq. All the five accused who were arrested on 29 June — Mohammad Ibrahim Yazdani, 31, his brother Mohammad Ilyas Yazdani, 25, Habeeb Mohammad, 32, Mohammad Irfan, 27 and Abdullah Bin Ahmed, 31 — have admitted that they had offered the “Baya”, oath of allegiance to the ISIS chief.
Interestingly, those who prompted them to offer the allegiance — Mohammad Ataullah Rehman, 30, and Syed Naimatullah Hussaini, 42 — were arrested later, on Tuesday, though they were among the six others who were detained and let go off with daytime grilling initially. Now it is found that the role of Naimatullah Hussaini in spreading the cult of Caliphate is crucial.
According to Hyderabad counter-intelligence wing officials who are part of the probe team led by the NIA, Hussaini, who is the oldest in the gang, has been encouraging several youth to take the pledge so that their duty as Muslims would be complete and purposeful. Ibrahim and his brother were just experts in bomb making, but Hussaini was their mastermind.
A senior official in the counter-intelligence told The Sunday Guardian on Friday that the process of offering allegiance to the ISIS chief was simple and straight, that the youth would follow no other law or rule except that of the ISIS and that they would be ready to offer any kind of sacrifices, including their lives for the cause of the Caliphate.
The two-minute long pledge would be offered on a video which would be posted online so that the handlers from Syria would watch it and induct them into their team. Any kind of suggestions and assistance would come forth from the handlers only after the youth offer the allegiance to the ISIS.
The indoctrination was so powerful that the five initially arrested youth had offered to donate cash and kind (gold and silver of their parents) for the cause of the ISIS. When Hussaini held a cloth bag and asked the others to drop in it whatever they can donate, Ibrahim and Ilyas are believed to have offered some gold stolen from their homes.
Only after the video of their “Baya” and subsequent donations was uploaded on some sites, the handlers from abroad gave directions from where they can get more money and weapons. The cops found that the accused received around 7,800 Saudi riyals, around Rs 1.39 lakh, through hawala connections. Hussaini, who played a key role in indoctrinating and radicalising the youth, has been referred to Amir in the ISIS module based out of Hyderabad. But Ibrahim, who looked after the bomb making and planning violence in the Old City and some parts of the new city of Hyderabad where shopping malls and the places frequented by Americans, was the leader of the team.
The members of the module who paid their allegiance to the ISIS chief are called themselves as those belonging to Jund Kaliphate fi Bilad al Hind (army of Caliphate in the land of India). There are different Junds in different countries and most of them are banned by the US and the European nations as part of the terror network.
The NIA has found evidence that there are different stages of radicalising the Muslim youth, by different handlers. The local counter-intelligence wing has been alerted over people who were brainwashed by Hussaini and Ataullah Rehman in the city. Approximately, a few dozens of Muslim youth are believed to have been made to pledge their allegiance to the Caliphate.
The NIA had gathered a lot of information from the initially arrested five accused during their interrogation that ended on 12 July. But the interrogation of the freshly arrested two would begin soon as the special court has granted permission on Tuesday.
The NIA has not yet decided on arresting the other four who were questioned but left free.
The local intelligence cops who kept a tab on hundreds of ISIS linked sites and social media accounts are closely monitoring the responses to the killing of Kashmiri militant Burhan Muzaffar Wani last week.
There is a mixed response from local Muslim youth. While a majority of them sympathised with him, there are some comments that sought to take revenge on his killing. The cops suspect that the masterminds play a role in stoking passions among the youth, prompting them to take to the revenge course to such events. “Once they express their desire to take revenge against such incidents, the handlers from abroad get in touch with them and guide them to the path of terror network,” said an investigating officer, while taking to this newspaper.