Amzad Khan (37) from Rajasthan, who was arrested by the NIA this week following his deportation from Saudi Arabia, was a virtual mentor in Islamic State ideology to former Indian Mujahideen operative Alamzeb Afridi (31), investigation has revealed. Afridi is accused of carrying out a blast at Bengaluru’s Church Street on December 28, 2014, which killed one person.
Amzad, who operated in the virtual world under the identity of Ayan Khan Salafi, is one of the three persons named by NIA in a chargesheet filed in the Bengaluru blast case last year. His arrest is expected to throw light on the identity of the third accused, who operated in virtual world as Abdul Khan. Abdul allegedly provided Afridi, the main accused in the case, with the knowhow to build a bomb and the impetus to carry out the blast.
Abdul is believed to be Shafi Armar alias Yusuf al Hindi (30), a former Indian Mujahideen operative based abroad who has recruited dozens of Indian youths in the name of the Islamic State and its Indian affiliate the Junood-ul-Khilafa-Fil-Hind since 2014.
NIA has not identified Abdul as Shafi Armar in its chargesheet in Bengaluru blast case. Amzad’s arrest is expected to help in this direction since Ayan Khan Salafi is known to have worked in tandem with Shafi Armar, sources said.
Amzad’s arrest is also expected to strengthen the theory that the Bengaluru blast was the first Islamic State-inspired terrorist attack in India.
The NIA, in a note announcing the arrest on Thursday, said Amzad was a principal character in the conspiracy hatched by Shafi Armar to create the Junood-ul-Khilafa-Fil-Hind, whose members “pledged their allegiance to the ISIS for carrying out subversive activities in India’’.
Sources said Ayan Khan Salafi was in constant touch with Shafi Armar on social media from 2014 to 2016, and even after the NIA arrested 20 members of Junood-ul-Khilafa-Fil-Hind in January 2016 along with Afridi.
According to police, he first got in touch with Ayan Khan Salafi on Facebook around 2012 when Salafi was posting messages on the importance of following the Ahle Hadees sect. Salafi operated two Facebook accounts, one indicated that he hailed from Jaisalmer and the other said he was born in Surat but was living in Delhi.
Afridi has said he was attracted to messages posted by Salafi especially after 2014 when he began posting videos and information regarding Islamic State.
Probe into the Bengaluru blast revealed that it was Salafi who allegedly guided Afridi via social media to join forces with Asghar (23) and Khalid (20), who were arrested for links to Junood ul Khilafa fil Hind.