In a fresh twist, investigators in Mumbai have unearthed evidence that the four men who allegedly joined the Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria in May may have been radicalised by a small-time businessman who lived in their neighbourhood.
The businessman, Adil Dolare, reportedly worked for a religious institution named the Islamic Guidance Centre in Kalyan in Thane district. Dolare would reportedly meet the four men every evening. The 35-year-old businessman who runs a private enterprise in Navi Mumbai often gave talks on Islam, Mumbai Mirror reported.
"Adil Dolare, 35, who works with the Islamic Guidance Centre in Kalyan and had organised the tour to Baghdad from where the four never returned, used to meet them every evening at Kalyan's Don Chowk," says the report in Mumbai Mirror.
Four men, Fahad Sheikh, Arif Majeed, Shaheen Tanki and Aman Tandel left for Iraq on 25 May claiming they were headed for a pilgrimage. Next day, Arif's father discovered a note from his son saying he had left to join jihadists in Iraq.
Fahad, an engineer, had actually landed a job in Bandra two days before leaving. He told his family he was going to work and never returned, his family told the Indian Express, unable to fathom why their son took such an extreme step.
After the recent reports of radicalised youth from the city leaving to join the IS, Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria has issued a circular ordering the Anti-Terror Cells at every police station in the city to remain vigilant for terror links among those reported missing.
These cells should look at missing youth in their jurisdictions, as these children are in a vulnerable age group and can easily be influenced, Maria was quoted as saying. "Call Data Records and social media profiles of such children should also be examined to trace any possible links with terror outfits,” the Indian Express quoted the circular as saying.
Simultaneously, the police discovered that another 15 men had left for Iraq from Mumbai in May, but never returned. According to the report in Mumbai Mirror, these 15 seem to have no connection with Dolare.
Further, ATS seized pen drives and laptops from the houses of the four missing Kalyan youth to look into any possible connections with terror organisations.
“While there may have been cases of youth crossing India’s borders to fight a global war earlier, this is the first time that we have a proper record. We need to build on inputs to now look into how they were reached and indocrinated, and how their travel was funded. They were moved between countries before being sent to Iraq, and they appear to have been in touch with people outside India for over eight months,” a report in the Indian Express quotes a senior ATS officer as saying.
Intelligence agencies suspect that the radicalisation of the four men may have taken place online, "through some chatrooms where lot of propaganda material has been uploaded on the recent developments in Iraq," ABP Live reported.
IS, who were criticised by even al-Qaeda for their brutality and propensity to kill almost anyone, including Sunni Muslims, has attracted radicalised youth from across the world using social media. The New York Times reports: "On Twitter, ISIS has hijacked World Cup hashtags, flooding unsuspecting soccer fans with its propaganda screeds. It has used Facebook as a death-threat generator; the text-sharing app JustPaste to upload book-length tirades; the app SoundCloud for jihadi music; and YouTube and Twitter for videos to terrify its enemies."
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant recently renamed itself Islamic State claiming it had declared a caliphate. In a video message, IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on Muslims the world over to declare jihad and migrate to the region so the dream of forming a caliphate could be realised.
ISIL, an offshoot of al Qaeda, has captured swathes of territory in north and central Iraq, taking weaponry from the fleeing Iraqi army.
With inputs from Reuters
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Updated Date: Jul 16, 2014 12:54:34 IST