Shadowy Islamic cult in Thane probe focus

NIA questions members of Islamic Guidance Society, which might have paid for Areeb Majeed and friends’ travel to Iraq.

Written by Praveen Swami | New Delhi | Published:December 3, 2014 3:42 am
Thane student turned IS jihadist Areeb Majeed. Thane student turned IS jihadist Areeb Majeed.

The  National Investigation Agency (NIA) has begun questioning members of the shadowy Mumbai-based religious cult, Islamic Guidance Society, whose members are suspected to have funded and facilitated the travel of four men from the city’s suburbs to fight with the Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East.

The widening investigation comes days after the arrest of Thane student turned IS jihadist Areeb Majeed, who returned home with bullet injuries. NIA sources said the agency on Tuesday questioned IGS activists Anil Dolare, Atif Inamdar and Sufian Sheikh, the last a lecturer who taught Anjuman-i-Islam Kalsekar Technical Campus, where Areeb Majeed was a final-year engineering college student.

The NIA’s investigation seeks to determine how Majeed and the three men he travelled with to Iraq obtained the Rs 60,000 each of them paid for their tickets. Majeed, the sources said, has told investigators he saved Rs 25,000 for the trip over six months, but has said nothing on how the group raised the remaining money, which they paid in cash to local tour operator Shaheen Travels.

Majeed, along with Shaheem Tanki, Fahad Sheikh and Aman Tandel flew to Iraq on May 23 as part of a pilgrims’ group. The four men then caught a taxi to Mosul, travelling through Fallujah.

The IGS, which has an estimated membership of 50-60, has held regular meetings in and around Mumbai for the past two years. Police sources say the group preaches an end-of-times theology, urging members to embrace its neo-fundamentalist conception of Islamic orthodoxy in preparation for the coming apocalypse.

Its core tenets include the belief that the apocalypse will be heralded by the Ghazwa-e-Hind — a prophesied war on India by an Islamic army.
Early this year, investigators say, Majeed was introduced to the IGS by a friend, Mumbra resident Fayaz Khan. He allegedly lost interest in studies thereafter, and began spending hours watching speeches by neo-fundamentalist preachers. Following the rise of the IS, he became increasingly convinced that the end of time was nigh — and decided to fight on the side of the “Caliph’s army”.

From Majeed’s Facebook account, investigators have determined that his contact was made through an account operated by Tahira Bhat, a pseudonym for a still unknown individual. ‘Tahira Bhat’, whose now-defunct Facebook page claimed to offer access to the IS, provided Majeed with contact details for an “Abu Fatima” in Baghdad, would would lead them to the group.

In a statement to the Mumbai Police — which, under Indian law, is not admissible for the purposes of his trial — Majeed  said the group took a taxi to Mosul, and stayed at a mosque. There, an individual named “Ali” put them in contact with the IS.

The group, according to investigators, trained at a camp on the Euphrates, some 40 km from the IS capital of al-Raqqa. They were put through basic fitness drills, taught how to use small arms, and received basic instruction in the operation of area-weapons like rocket-propelled grenades. They were also given kuniyats, Arabic nom de guerre picked from the names of the Prophet’s companions.

Investigators say Majeed has told them that he was named Abu Ali al-Hindi, Sheikh was called Abu Bakr al-Hindi, Tandel Abu Mar al-Hindi and Shaheem Abu Usman al-Hindi. Following the basic training, Majeed was apparently deployed to the Bazwaya region, some 15 km east of Mosul.

Majeed has reportedly told the NIA that he fought Kurdish forces for control of the region’s critical dam east of Mosul, and sustained injuries to his leg during an airstrike. He was then told to drive vehicles filled with explosives.

After being hit in the chest, and later in one arm, however, Majeed was relieved of his tour of duty with a $ 2000 cash reward from his unit commander, investigators say.

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  1. I
    Dec 3, 2014 at 3:57 pm
    India is too diverse and big to absorb host of views and ideologies and tolerant to the limits of its own version of secularist ethos which are ever evolving.What individuals think and then act are necessarily reflection of their communal and socioeconomic moorings which are in conflict with national policies .It needs an objective analysis and a rational ,apolitical management which is not easy.
    1. M
      Dec 3, 2014 at 3:22 am
      So its confirmed now..he's an enemy combatant & a criminal in the eyes of iraqi & kurdish government..Hand him over to iraqi government..let him face a millitary tribunal
      1. T
        Dec 4, 2014 at 2:54 am
        Hand over this criminal to the Iraqi Government & see how justice it done. Our legal system is a vacation time for Criminals.
        1. V
          Vaidyanathan Nil
          Dec 3, 2014 at 5:48 am
          The police should also probe the " Raza Academy" which was involved in the Azad Maidan violence and other activities.
          1. H
            Dec 3, 2014 at 2:19 am
            This cruel terrorist is a lair; In the beginning, he said that he was only made to clean Toilets, supervise construction; now he is coming up with truths; he partited in combat with kurds, with an intention of killing them; so,it is likely that his bullets must have killed some innocent kurds, which amounts to genocide;It is a fake story that ISIS relieved him with $2000 payment; ISIS is cruel terrorist organization and it would never let any one to leave; this terrorist has been sent to organize terror in India and also improve ISIS terror net work here; after a hard line interrogation and extracting all info about local contacts and ISIS, this fellow must be imprisoned for life; he is a national security threat; also IGS members must be arrested and all their activities also should be scrutinized; also, the eng college links and the etaching staff also must be investigated thoroughly
            1. R
              Dec 3, 2014 at 7:38 am
              People with views like you (which I endorse) will only be bed as "communal" in India and Islamophobic in the West (and Wajib ul-Qatal in Muslim lands).Such is the extent of their taqiyya. Dolts and pacfists are too dim to put 2 and 2 together. Like Modi for India's economy we need a few hundred Ajit Dovals to see this and cure India of this malady once and forever. (Not advocating a genocide, just "re-education")
              1. M
                Mahender Goriganti
                Dec 3, 2014 at 4:46 am
                It is just a small speck of ice on the iceberg. the so called misguided muslim kids are misguided but are guided, helped and propagated a set of muslim cultural jihad mind set helped by his parents too. All this will come to surface if through investigation is done.
                1. P
                  Dec 3, 2014 at 10:30 am
                  India will not see peace and harmony for long time to come. What has been done in the last decade in this country under the policy of "divide and rule" just like British, can be cured only by a strong , powerful social and religious reformist. During 6th. century , Sankaracharya reformed the Indian social structure in less than 20 years and Buddhism was no more a practicing religion any more in India. A society which has followers of religions which practice conversions , punish their own who start following other religions, how can be secular? India must debate this openly and frankly to arrive at certain conclusions and action plans. Otherwise , it will break into smaller states. And, smaller states are not viable in this era of fast communication, huge military power, scientific marvels concentrating economic and military power in the hands of few.Peace and harmony is a must for fast national developent.
                  1. R
                    rajani kant
                    Dec 3, 2014 at 6:50 am
                    the pleading of the parents that they along with their wards are innocent and that their son had ignorantly sided with a group (like IGS) is totally baseless and false. How is it possible that the parents did know about their son's becoming a bigot and at times had objected to his sister viewing TV or cinema or even for the dress. This actually shows that the statements of the parents and the son are misguiding the authorities and it is only the tip of iceberg which has come into open. The authorities should not in any way treat it, as 'one of the cases', but must make sure that such growing elements are kept in check and not allow them to spiral into a unchecked solution in trying to please a community for political gains of the politicians and also become a monster at a later stage.
                    1. H
                      Dec 3, 2014 at 6:44 am
                      According to you misguided according to 99% muslims he has full right to go anywhere wherever he likes. If he harmed India then it is a problem, he did not do anything yet. All fake stories generated by the RSS with the collaboration of NIA. If US says IS is a terror organization, India will follow their instructions to appease godfather. IS is not a terror organization, they are fighting to dethrown Bashar Dictator and fighting with Shia. Who ever does discrimination with Muslims they have to face reaction from them. Surface of many organizations proclaimed by government as terrorist, in fact because of BJP and Safrnoist speeches against muslims, control these hatemongers.
                      1. B
                        Dec 3, 2014 at 1:22 am
                        "Its core tenets include the belief that the apocalypse will be heralded by the Ghazwa-e-Hind — a prophesied war on India by an Islamic army. " Need not read anymore. It tells all I NEED to know about the group.
                        1. S
                          Dec 3, 2014 at 8:26 am
                          He is sent back by ISIS to spread terrorism in India. Do not let him get out of the jail & shoot him in fake encounter.
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