Kerala youth dead months after joining Islamic State: Father says doesn't want to see son's body

Death of one of the 21 youths, who had left Kerala to join the Islamic State in June last year, has neither shocked the family of the deceased nor the family of those who went missing. According to reports, Hafeezuddin T K, the youth from Padanna village in Kasargod district, was killed in a drone attack at an Islamic State-stronghold in Afghanistan on Saturday. The message about the death was received by Khadeeja, mother of the 24-year-old youth, on Sunday.

BCA Rehman, a close relative of the youth, said that the message was sent by Ashfaq Majeed, who is among the 21 missing youths, from Nangarhar, which is part of Khorosan, a province established by the Islamic State in Afghanistan. "We got the message at 7 am saying that Hafeez was killed in a drone attack and his mortal remains were buried later in the day. When asked about others, Ashfaq said they were all waiting for their turn to become martyrs," Rehman said.

"Allah had purchased the lives and properties of the believers by giving them paradise in return, the message said adding that they were fighting in Allahs’ cause and, hence, they will kill others and get killed. It is a promise in truth which is binding on Him I th Turrat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel) and the Quran. And who is truer to his convenient than alla (Allah)… rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded. That is the supreme success. Tauba 11," the message read.

The state police have not received any official confirmation regarding the death. A senior intelligence official told Firstpost that they had sought help of the foreign ministry to confirm the news. "It is not easy to gather any information from Nangarhar as it is out of bound for even the Afghan agencies. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is trying to collect the details with the help of Interpol," he said.

The family members of the missing youths are not eager to get the confirmation. T K Abdul Salam, maternal uncle of Hafeezuddin, said they had no hope of the youths returning home. They left home saying they were going to heaven. "He had sent his mother a message on 1 July 2016 saying that from hell he had reached heaven. There has been no communication from him since then. His father, Abdul Hakeem, who works in Abu Dhabi, did not even want to see his dead body," Salam told Firstpost.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Hafeezuddin, who was working in Saudi Arabia, had shown an inclination towards Islamic way of life even while studying. He dropped out of his BCom course and left home for religious education. He wanted his father to sell the house and lead the Islamic way of life. He had left his home saying that he was going to Kozhikode to join a Quran study circle. Instead he caught a flight to Dubai and disappeared into Afghanistan.

Hafizuddin was among 17 youths from Kasargod, who left the state to join the terrorist organisation. Four, out of the 21, 21 hailed from Palakkad region in Kerala. All of them were highly qualified individuals. A couple of them were doctors and a few engineers and nurses. The group included six women and two children. The NIA, which took over the case in August 2016, believes that all of them are currently in Nangarhar. The agency’s investigation revealed that they had reached Afghanistan via Dubai and Abu Dhai and received terror training at an Islamic State camp at Nangrahar.

Intelligence sources said that the youths from the state were living in a conflict-free zone and providing support services to the Islamic State. While one person with MBBS degree has started a clinic another is running a shop in the area. However, the family members of the youths have lost hope following reports about intense fighting between Afghan forces and the Islamic State in various districts of Nangarhar province. There were reports that about 50 terrorists were killed and 25 wounded in operations in the last few weeks. The dead included six Islamic State leaders.

The family members of Merrin Jacob, who along with her husband Yahya is among the youths who made it to Nangarhar, is distressed by the reports. The family, which expected Merrin to return home one day, has lost hope in the wake of the death of Hafeezuddin. "We do not want to hear anything about the missing youths. You don’t know our pain. Don’t aggravate it by raking up the matter. Please leave us alone," said Merrin’s father Jacob, who lives in Ernakulam, when Firstpost sought his reaction.

Bindhu, mother of Nimisha who married Yahya’s elder brother and who converted from Hinduism to Islam before crossing the border, has left the matter in the hands of the almighty. Bindhu, who was the first to lodge a police complaint against the disappearance of her daughter, is hopeful that her daughter will reunite with her. "I am a strong believer. I have sponsored a day’s pooja during the annual festival last year in the name of my daughter. I will do it this year also. I am sure God will bring back my daughter," says Bindu.

Most of the members of two groups were reportedly 'radicalised' by Abul Rasheed Abdulla, who was working with Peace International School in Kozhikode as well as members of Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) led by controversial preacher Zakir Naik. The NIA has booked Abdul Rasheed and his first wife Yasmeen Mohammed Zahid and Arshi Qureshi, an employee of the IRF, and his accomplice Rizwan Khan under sections 120-B and 125 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections 38, 39 and 40 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

While Yasmeen was arrested while trying to board a flight from New Delhi airport to Afghanistan along with her minor child on 30 July 2016, Abdul Rasheed is believed to be in Nangarhar with his second wife Sonia Sebastian, a Christian who converted to Islam. Both Qureshi and Rizwan are in prison now.

According to the NIA chargesheet, Abdul Rashid is the main conspirator in the case. He motivated the youth to join the terrorist outfit by conducting classes at Kasargod and other places in Kerala. He channelised funds collected from various sources through his wife for supporting extremist outfits. As far as Qureshi is concerned, the NIA found that he used his job at IRF to persuade people from other religions to embrace Islam. The chargesheet said: “He used to tell them (the youths who went missing) that Hijrat is duty of every Muslim. The teaching influenced the youngsters to leave their homes and join ISIS."

The disappearance of the youths had sent shockwaves across Kerala, which many believed will not be swayed by radical teachings because of its strong secular tradition.


The security agencies realised the threat after four youths were killed in two encounters with Indian Army at Kupwara in Kashmir in October 2008. Subsequent investigation by security agencies revealed that Kerala was a major hub for training and recruiting youths for terror activities. Several youths trained in two camps in Kerala were found involved in blasts in various parts of the country. An Islamic State module, which was active in the state, was busted by the NIA in October last year.

The module, named Ansarul Khalifa, had planned to carry out a series of attacks in south India. Six members of the module were arrested while carrying out a covert meeting at Kanakamla in Kannur.

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Updated Date: Feb 27, 2017 15:31:55 IST

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