A GRAPHIC artist with a right-wing local newspaper, a Malayalee working in Oman for the last five years and an engineering student who dropped out are among the six members of the alleged Islamic State (IS) module busted in Kerala on Sunday, who are suspected to have been engaged in propagating the terror group’s ideology, according to NIA.
The six were produced before a special court in Kochi on Monday and sent to the NIA’s custody until October 12.
NIA sources said the suspects have been active on social media using fake identities and profiles. “They used to frequently change names of social media groups to escape attention of security agencies,” a source said. “In Telegram messenger, the latest name adopted by the group was ‘kudumbam’ (family).”
Among the arrested, P Safwan, 30, was a graphic designer with Malayalam daily Thejas, the mouthpiece of right-wing Muslim outfit Popular Front of India (PFI).
Last year, security agencies had found that Abu Thahir, one of the 17 Indians suspected to have joined the IS, had also worked with Thejas in Palakkad for a short period before moving to the Gulf.
According to information, Safwan lived with his wife, two children and mother Kunhili at Ponmudam in Malappuram. Local people said he was active in SDPI, the political arm of PFI. Reacting to her son’s arrest, Kunhili said she has left everything to God.
NIA sources said Manseed, 30, who hails from Panur, where the meeting was held, was known as the group’s leader. Manseed, who worked as an office assistant in Qatar, came home on leave on Friday and reportedly organised Sunday’s meeting.
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“Manseed came from a lower-middle class family and had led a quiet life in his village. His father is a hotel employee in Bengaluru. He went to West Asia some five years ago and had never shown any political affiliation…we are all shocked,’’ said a local leader, P Hareendran.
Two other suspects — Jassim N K and Ramshad N K — hail from Kuttiadi in Kozhikode and are cousins. An engineering dropout from Cochin University of Science and Technology, Jassim subsequently went to Bengaluru and reportedly attended multiple coaching classes to take different examinations. NIA officials said he reached home Saturday morning to attend the meeting.
Ramshad, a BCom graduate, is engaged in odd jobs at Kuttiadi. He hadn’t taken part in the “secret meeting” and was arrested from his home based on information gathered from the others.
The fifth person, Swalih Muhammed has been settled in Chennai for several years and worked with a private firm, said NIA
sources. He hails from Chelakkara in Thrissur district, where residents said Swalih had left after Class XII and frequently visited his family in Kerala.
The sixth accused, Abu Basheer, is from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.