DAYS AFTER the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) registered a case against Tabrez Tambe (28), a Mumbra-based youth, for allegedly joining the Islamic State (IS), sources in the agency said they believe he is an “active participant” in the banned outfit. “After his family informed us that Tabrez has joined the IS, we carried out a probe and have evidence, mostly in the form of his digital footprints, to believe he has joined the IS and is an active member of the outfit. We then lodged a case under stringent sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against him,” an official said.
Tabrez has been booked under sections 16 (committing terrorist acts), 18 (conspiracy), 18(B) (recruiting person or persons for terrorist acts), 38 (member of a terrorist organisation) and 39 (supporting a terrorist organisation) of the UAPA. “His family members are being questioned and we are in the process of recording their statements,” the official added.
Police also seized hard disks and mobile handsets from the family’s rented apartment in Mumbra and his native place in Ratnagiri. In their statement to the agency, his family alleged the person who brainwashed Tabrez and drew him to the IS fold hails from Saudi Arabia. “His family told us the acquaintance named Ali visited Mumbai along with Tabrez in December last year. During the visit, Tabrez took him to several places in Mumbai and Thane. We are getting his passport details and have approached airport authorities for his picture,” the official added.
Sources said Tabrez hails from Harnai in Ratnagiri and completed his graduation from Mumbai university. Subsequently, he did a diploma course in air cargo management. He has three brothers and a sister. While the brother who lodged the complaint with the ATS works with a private airline as an executive at its booking and reservation centre, one brother works with an IT firm in Hinjewadi, Pune. The other is a student. In 2009, the family moved to Mumbra and has since been staying on rent in the Shibali Nagar area. Tabrez’s sister lives in Harnai, Ratnagiri.
At the Mumbra residence, neighbours did not have much information about Tabrez. “The family didn’t interact much and kept to themselves. Tabrez had been working in a Gulf country and had visited India last year when his father passed away. He had returned to his job earlier this year and since then we haven’t heard from him,” said a neighbour, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It was only on Friday after a slew of cops and media personnel visited our building we learnt that Tabrez has joined the IS,” the neighbour said.
Sources said an ATS team has also reached his hometown to enquire with other family members. Tabrez’s wife stays in her hometown. According to police, Tabrez’s family members said he had been employed abroad for a while now and has visited at least four countries in connection with employment. So when in January this year he left for Egypt, the family didn’t suspect anything untoward. It was only when they received a call around 10 days ago that the family was shocked to be told he had joined the IS, an official said.