Fugitive Indian Mujahideen commander Muhammad “Bada” Sajid has been killed while fighting with Islamic State forces in Syria, online jihadist media claimed on Friday.
Isabah Media, the propaganda wing of the Indian jihadist group Ansar ul-Tawhid, announced “the martyrdom of our brother Abu Turab al-Hindi on the forefront of the war for Islam in Kobani”. The statement, in Arabic, identified Sajid by his real name in parenthesis.
The 30-year-old Sajid, from Sanjarpur in UP, had been named by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as one of the perpetrators of the Indian Mujahideen bombings of 2008 that killed at least 166 people and injured hundreds in New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Jaipur.
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Reports have also emerged of the killing in Syria of two other Indians, identified in jihadist media only by the pseudonyms Abu Talha and Abu Muhammad.
Bhatkal resident Sultan Abdul Kadir Armar and Thane call centre employee Saheem Tanki had earlier been claimed by jihadist media to have died fighting in Syria.
One tweet on Sajid said: “Before Abu Turaab [Sajid] got shahadah [martyrdom], three brother[s] dreamt about him marrying a hoor-ul-ayn [virgin in paradise]”. Another tweet claimed that he had been “waging jihad in India since he was 12 years old”.
News of Sajid’s death was also tweeted from a handle believed to be controlled by Fahd Sheikh who, along with Tanki, was among the four youngsters from Thane who were the first Indians to join the IS, as reported by The Indian Express on July 13, 2014.
Indian intelligence officials told The Indian Express that news of Sajid’s death in Kobani had circulated amongst his contacts in India three days ago. “It’s near-impossible to gain on-ground verification but the information we have suggests that the report of Sajid’s death is accurate,” an official said.
Educated at the Madrasa Islah in Azamgarh district, Sajid worked briefly as a diamond polisher in Mumbai. Investigators involved in the 2008 case said he was drawn to the Indian Mujahideen by the head of its north India network, the slain terrorist Atif Amin.
Following the unravelling of the Indian Mujahideen’s networks in 2008, Sajid and Sultan Armar from Bhatkal, who was later killed, is believed to have fled through Nepal and UAE to Pakistan.
Across the border, Sajid is believed to have been part of a group of Indian Mujahideen operatives who parted ways with the organisation’s leader Riyaz Shahbandri, also known as Riyaz Bhatkal. Last year, the rebels formed the Ansar al-Tauhid group, initially based at Tehreek-e-Taliban training camps in Pakistan’s North Waziristan.
Little information has emerged on the identities of the other two Indians claimed to have been killed in Kobani.
However, the alias Abu Talha was known to have been used by Haja Fakkurudeen Usman Ali, a Tamil Nadu-born Singapore resident who left for Turkey along with his family on January 22, 2014, and then disappeared across the Syrian border.
Police in Singapore later claimed that Fakkurudeen had intended to fund a network of Indian jihadists, led by Gul Mohamed Maracachi Maraicar, a resident of Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu who was stripped of his Singapore residency and repatriated to India in February.
Indian investigators have, however, been unable to find adequate evidence to initiate prosecution against Maraicar, who is believed to be cooperating with authorities.