Indian Islamic State recruit tells NIA Telegraph app being used to spread terror propaganda

Amzad Khan, a 37-year-old who was recently arrested for alleged Islamic State (IS) links, has told the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that a Germany-based woman was the handler of a pro-IS community on a messaging app, which spreads the terrorist outfit's propaganda.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, NIA is looking into Khan's claims as the interrogation continues to progress on other fronts. The report states that the woman is recognised by her vague chat group name Nau Lee on the Telegram app, which apparently connects a group of IS-sympathisers across the world.

Representational image. Islamic State. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Khan, who operated under a number of aliases online, was popularly known as Ayan Salafi Khan in the online domain. Khan was arrested in April this year, shortly after he was deported from Saudi Arabia for his alleged affiliation to the West Asia-based terror organisation.

Hailing from Rajasthan, Khan had emerged as a major suspect in the case against unknown and unidentified persons involved in Islamic State-related activities in countries at peace with India. He was also believed to be the influencer behind brainwashing several Indians in Kerala to join the terror group.

Khan was the president of Junood-ul-Khalifa-Fil-Hind (JKH), a terror group that has pledged loyalty to IS and is responsible for sending recruits from India to Syria.

Now, Khan's claims about a German woman, if proven true, can establish the penetration of a systematic global network into the Indian social media domain. The NIA says that it may consider approaching the other countries named by Khan, but added that his claims needed to be verified first.

Meanwhile, allegations that Telegram groups are being used as tools to spread Islamic State propaganda are not new. In April this year, reports emerged that a 30-year-old British Muslim Islamic State fighter has been allegedly using Telegram to push out bomb-making guidelines for his supporters, to encourage them to launch bomb attacks in London.

Various media reports, emerging from time to time, have suggested that the Germany-based app, that promises heavily encrypted and secure messaging service, has become the preferred mode of communication for terror outfits.

What makes it even more preferable to radical elements is the fact that unlike Whatsapp, the app offers a range of security features including sending self-destructive messages. It also has scope for much larger communities (up to 5,000 people can join a group chat) as opposed to other similar applications. The app's website touts 'heavy encryption' and fast and limitless media exchange as its key USPs.

According to an article in The Verge, the app is not only popular because of its stringent security messages, but also because it allows any developer to build a Telegram client of their own. This feature not only minimises the chances of hacking attacks, it opens up a slew of local languages to be used as a medium on the channel.

A report in The Quint narrates a personal anecdote of an author, who happened to stumble upon a group where the handlers would single out people based on their religion and geographic location and approach them separately.

In India, too, reports have surfaced that pro-Islamic State Twitter accounts have been dishing out extremist agenda to people with a slightly religious inclination. As long back as in 2014, NIA had busted a young Bangalore-based engineer, said to be behind an anonymous pro-Islamic State Twitter account, according to NBC News.

If Khan's claims find merit during NIA's investigation, it will reinstates the suspicion that terror outfit handlers have already seeped into the India social media space, waiting to vitiate young minds they find to be susceptible, to be reprogrammed to suit the terror group's agenda.

Updated Date: Jun 01, 2017 17:52 PM

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