He appeared online four weeks ago on the Ansar ul-Tawhid website, his face digitally masked, a laptop to his left, religious books to his right, and a Glock 9mm automatic on his desk, delivering the first-ever call by an Indian for Muslims in the country to join the global jihad.
“My beloved brothers,” he said, his voice woven into images of communal carnage, “what has happened to you that, in the sight of god, you do not fight for helpless children, women and the aged, who are begging their lord for rescue?”
He went on: “Rise, like Ahmad Shah Abdali and Muhammad ibn-Qasim, like Syed Ahmad the martyr, like the Prophet and his companions, take the Quran in one hand and the sword in the other, and head to the fields of jihad.”
Sources have now told The Indian Express that the man behind the mask is Sultan Abdul Kadir Armar, the 39-year-old son of a small businessman from Bhatkal in northern Karnataka, and a soft-spoken cleric trained at the respected Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama seminary in Lucknow.
Allegedly a key recruiter for the Indian Mujahideen once, Armar joined a rebellion against its leadership, which is believed to have led more than a dozen Indians to camps run by the Tehreek-e-Taliban in Pakistan so far.
Investigators have linked the voice on the tape to Armar based on questioning of arrested Indian Mujahideen suspects who knew him well. The Indian Express also spoke to two of Armar’s former friends, who corroborated the claim.
The first jihadist group based abroad formed by Indians, the Ansar ul-Tawhid believes terrorism will not achieve anything. Their imagination fired by the Islamic State’s success against better-equipped and trained forces in Syria, its leaders see themselves as the kernel of a full-bown insurgency in India.
In the online address, the man believed to be Armar exhorts, “Listen to the calls rising from the dust in Iraq and Syria… and migrate to the motherland of jihad, Afghanistan, gather your courage, and teach these Brahmins and worshippers of cows, as well as the whole world of unbelievers, that the Indian Muslim is no coward.”
The Ansar ul-Tawhid Twitter feed has put out videotape footage of cadres training in camps on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. As reported by The Indian Express, it recently paid tributes to an Indian, Anwer Husain ‘Bhatkal’, allegedly killed during a raid on an Afghan border outpost. That would make him the first Indian among several known to be training in Afghanistan to be killed.
Armar’s videotape itself, intelligence sources told The Indian Express, was likely produced by his brother Shafi Armar, a 28-year-old who did a visual media course after finishing school in Bhatkal.
According to officials, Shafi Armar runs al-Isbah Media, a media house of continued…