THE BENGALURU youth who was arrested last week in Himachal Pradesh, for suspected links with the Islamic State (IS), fled home in January this year, afraid that he would be picked up as part of the NIA’s nationwide sweep, according to his elder brother Ayub Khan.
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Abid Khan, 23, was arrested from Kullu on December 17. In January, after several people were arrested from Bengaluru and other places by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and state police teams for alleged links with the IS, “he (Abid) told me that one of his contacts was among those caught. He said he feared his name would also emerge, and that he needed to hide”, Ayub, 25, said.
One day in January Abid “went for a wedding”. He never returned home.
Having dropped out of formal schooling in Class V, since their father, Yousuf Khan, now 62 and a tailor by profession, could not afford his fees, Abid went to a madrassa in Vaniyambadi, in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district.
According to Ayub, who holds a degree in computer applications, a combination of family neglect, the demise of their mother four years ago, and the influence of “radical-minded people through social media and the local religious network” in Bengaluru contributed to Abid’s radicalisation.
Police sources said Abid was in communication with the IS-linked group arrested in January from across the country, and was allegedly preparing to travel to Syria to join the IS.
Of six people arrested from across Karnataka during the nationwide swoop, four were from Bengaluru — and two of them came from Govindapura, the north Bengaluru area where the Khans live. Ayub claimed he is unaware of the people his younger brother was in touch with. “All I can say is that we neglected him, and he ended up being influenced by the wrong kind of people,” he said.
Ayub said his brother was “always a quieter, more religious person than me’’, and that there were arguments on and off between the brothers over the younger sibling’s increasingly religious outlook and failure to earn for the family. “We tried to send him for a fashion design course but he soon came under the influence of some people and said that fashion designing was un-Islamic,” Ayub said.
Ayub said he spoke with Abid, in Himachal Pradesh police’s custody, on Friday. “He told me he regrets his actions. I told him to confess everything truthfully.”
Govindapura, where their father Yousuf Khan moved around 15 years ago from Kuppam in Andhra Pradesh, is a predominantly Muslim area. Many walls in the colony have spray-painted graffiti, declaring, “December 6 is a Black Day’’. “Many youths here are radical and extremely religious-minded,” Ayub said. “They are hot-headed —- like my brother. I try to stay away from them but my brother came under their influence.”