The Facebook profile of Areeb Majeed, the 23-year-old civil engineering student from Kalyan who is believed to have died fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (that now calls itself IS), shows his gradual radicalisation and admiration for the organisation.
Another Facebook account created under his alleged nom de guerre Abu Ali Al Hindi claims he got married to a Palestinian girl, Tahira. This girl’s Facebook profile has a picture of Areeb holding a gun and standing in front of an IS flag as well as another picture of his that is labelled the ‘Bird of Jannat (Paradise)’, indicating he is dead.
While the authenticity of the Abu Ali Al Hindi Facebook profile as well as that of Tahira could not be verified, Areeb’s friends have confirmed the Facebook profile in his own name was authentic and created by him when in India.
Tahira’s Facebook profile says she got engaged to Abu Ali Al Hindi on April 1, and that they got married on July 31. Considering Areeb went to Iraq in May, the account does not clarify how they met, or whether they met online.
Incidentally, Areeb’s friends on his original Facebook page are also associated with the profile that is supposed to be of his wife.
Areeb’s original Facebook profile shows that while he was always religious, he started becoming increasingly radicalised in mid-2013. The Indian Express has confirmed that around this time, Areeb, a decent student, also started faltering in his studies.
Areeb’s family has told The Indian Express that the 23-year-old was called Areeb, and not Arif, the name used in both police records and in an online tribute supposedly to him by Ansar ul-Tawhid, an Indian jihadi group believed to be active along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
In October 2013, on his Facebook page, Areeb put up pictures suggesting the community should rise against the “injustices” it was facing. “Ummah Bleeding Ummah Sleeping,” a poster on his page says.
He also posted about the need for a Caliphate and urged the community to unite under a single banner. “Khilafah Unite as one Ummah,” the post states. He also posted pictures of the IS flag.
His last post from India was on March 27, in which he wrote, “All those clothes in your cupboard and you don’t get to choose what to wear in the grave.” The quote was attributed to ‘Abu Walid’. In Islamist militant circles, Abu Walid was an emir who died fighting the Russians in Chechnya.
Areeb was also active on a social platform floated by his collegemates, and in one post, he advises a friend that he could overcome his sexual desires by keeping his mind occupied, praying and keeping the company of pious men. He also advised collegemates to marry early to avoid “sinful thoughts”.
Areeb’s lone picture on Google+, however, shows him as no different from any youngster wanting the good life. He is seen posing in front of a car in the picture.
One of Areeb’s Facebook friends who attended college with him told The Indian Express his “transformation” was surprising. “He was the best human being I knew. His nature and behaviour were worth emulating. I am surprised as to what appeared to be going on in his head, because we were all completely unaware of it.”
The other friends whom The Indian Express contacted did not respond.
Areeb, and three other youth who went missing from Kalyan with him, are believed to have been indoctrinated online. His family has been requesting the government to catch those behind such indoctrination.