THE MAHARASHTRA Anti-Terrorism Squad is counselling two of the Malvani youth who returned after fleeing the city to join the banned terror organisation Islamic State.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the state counter-terrorism agency moved an application in a local court in Delhi, seeking the custody of Mohsin Sheikh who was arrested in February by the Delhi Police Special Cell.
Four youth went missing between October and December last year from suburban Malvani. While Wajid Sheikh and Noor Sheikh ‘returned’ within a month, Mohsin Sheikh was arrested by the Special Cell on February 4.
The fourth youth, Ayaz Sultan, is suspected to have fled to Kabul and joined the Ansar ul Tahwid (AuT) which is currently headed by former Indian Mujahideen member Shafi Armar alias Yusuf.
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AuT has pledged its allegiance to the IS and trying to get Indian recruits in its struggle.
“Wajid and Noor are currently being counselled and are reacting positively,” an official told The Indian Express who refused to share the details on the nature of counselling.
“The decision to counsel them was taken after Noor attempted suicide,” the official added.
In January, Noor took the extreme step as he felt ‘guilty’ of his actions that bought ‘disrepute’ to his family, police sources said.
“Since Mohsin was a wanted accused in our case, we have filed an application with a Delhi court and sought his custody,” said Maharashtra ATS Inspector General Niket Kaushik.
Mohsin’s custody has been sought in the case registered against Sultan under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). While the two other youth have not been given a clean chit yet, their fate still hangs in balance.
According to sources in the state counter-terrorism agency, the decision on whether or not to book them in the same case will depend on the interrogation of Mohsin.
“The two have blamed Mohsin for fleeing claiming that they just acted on his instructions. They claim after Sultan’s parents lodged a missing complaint and kept on inquiring with the two men on Sultan’s whereabouts, Mohsin suggested to go underground as police might trouble them and even arrest them as they had downloaded material pertaining to the Islamic State or IS on their phone which is prohibited under the law. On his advice, they all decided to flee and left their homes on December 15,” said a senior officer from the agency.
“While on the run, they left their cell phones behind so that their movements are not being tracked by the agency. This too they claim was Mohsin’s idea. They also claimed that they had travelled separately and did not know about each other’s movements. We have reasons to believe that all three travelled to Chennai to procure passports but failed to do so for the want of rent agreements. This theory would be clear once we interrogate Mohsin,” added the source.
The agency’s probe has revealed that Sultan, their ringleader was in touch with Rizwan Ahmed Ali Nawazuddin who was arrested during the joint operation carried out by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and six counter-terrorism agencies, including the Maharashtra ATS paid the two Malvani youth a paltry sum of Rs 10,000.
The agencies had started a clampdown against alleged IS sympathisers across the country and arrested 14 people, including Nawazuddin and two more ‘self-styled leaders’ of a home-grown terror outfit, Janood-ul-Khalifa-e- Hind, which claims to support the IS.
“Of the Rs 6 lakh received by module leader Mudabbir Sheikh through their foreign handler suspected to be Yusuf and routed through Mumbai-based hawala operators, Rizwan was given around Rs 1.50 lakh. Rizwan had met the Malvani youth twice while visiting Mumbai and handed over Rs 10,000,” added the official.