A mother’s letter to her son questioning his association with terrorists is being used by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as key evidence against an Indian man accused of being an online recruiter for the Islamic State (IS). Adnan Hasan Damudi, 36, accused of aiding youths from around the world in joining the IS in Syria and Iraq from 2012 to 2015, was arrested by the NIA in January 2016 after he was deported from the UAE. A letter written by his mother, Gulshan Banu, questioning his links with radical elements — seized by the police in the UAE at the time of Damudi’s detention — has been cited by the NIA as key evidence in his legal trial, besides details of his online activities and alleged fund transfers to youths around the world to entice them to join the IS.
In the letter, handwritten in Urdu, Banu has expressed her anger, disappointment and knowledge of her son’s “unlawful activities’’. Submitting the letter in court, the NIA has also gathered Banu’s handwriting samples to forensically prove its authenticity. Damudi, who hails from Bhatkal in Karnataka, has been identified by Indian agencies, including the NIA, as being a key figure behind the luring of youths from around the world, including several from India, towards the IS from 2012 to 2015. Damudi, a former Dubai-based accountant, and two others — Sheikh Azhar ul Islam, 24, from Kashmir and Mohammed Farhan Shaikh, 25, from Maharashtra — were named by the NIA as an Abu Dhabi module of the IS involved in recruitment of youths.
Sheikh Azhar ul Islam and Mohammed Farhan Shaikh, who were deported from Dubai with Damudi last year, recently pleaded guilty to the charges against them and were convicted by a Delhi court. Damudi is contesting the case against him and is being currently tried by a special court. The NIA has accused the trio of “criminal conspiracy to propagate ideology, recruit persons, raise funds and facilitate the travel of such recruited persons to Syria for furtherance of activities of the ISIS”. Damudi has been specifically accused of providing 3,000 dirhams to a youth from Hyderabad in 2014 to enable him to travel to Syria/ Iraq to join the IS. He is also alleged to have transferred 1,300 dirhams from his Dubai bank account to Yehlam De Guzman Feira from the Philippines, and 5,000 dirhams to Anand Tahira @Amzz Lycn, also from the Philippines, to enable them to travel to Syria to join the IS.
He is accused of online links with IS operatives from Australia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Serbia, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, UAE and UK apart from India. Damudi is also accused of online association with a Philippines-based IS recruiter, Karen Aisha Hamidon, who was arrested in the Philippines in 2015, as well as Mumbai youths Areeb Majeed and Fahad Tanwar Shaikh prior to their travel to Syria in 2014.
The former accountant is also alleged to have been part of a network that helped eight youths from Tamil Nadu to join the IS and a separate investigation is being carried out by the NIA in this regard.
Damudi has been identified by Indian agencies as being linked to a faction of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) outfit suspected to have joined the IS. He is reported to have had close links on social media with the Armar brothers — Sultan and Shafi — from Bhatkal, linked first to the IM and later to the IS. Sultan Armar, alias Maulana Abdul Khader, was reported by IS websites to have died in Syria in 2014 while his brother Shafi Armar’s name has emerged in many IS recruitment cases in India. According to the NIA, Damudi was involved with Shafi Armar in running two pro-IS media websites. Following Damudi’s detention in Dubai in 2015, his father, Hussain, had said that Damudi only tweeted pro-IS messages and liked Facebook pages linked to the IS but was not involved in any illegalities.