Intelligence agencies are trying to get information on certain Indians who are suspected to have contacted an Arab Spring activist to figure out how they can join the Islamic State. The Indians, officials said, seem to have confused the activist, Iyad El-Baghdadi, with Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They have been sending him emails expressing willingness to join the outfit and asking for ways to reach the ‘Caliphate’.
In a tweet on Tuesday evening, Iyad, a Palestine-born UAE citizen who has been living in Norway ever since he sought asylum, asked how he could get in touch with Indian authorities to report these people.
“If I get emails from India-based accounts asking how to join ISIS, who in India do I report them to?” Iyad tweeted.
In another tweet, he said that he had already reported the matter to the email host, but was yet to get in touch with Indian authorities. “Already contacted the email host and reported. I want to know the security agency to report to as well, just in case,” he tweeted.
He did not reveal the identity of the people or the content of the emails, but mentioned that those who have reached out to him want to “join ISIS”.
Intelligence agencies, which have been tracking online activity of hundreds of individuals vis-a-vis their dalliance with the Islamic State, have taken note of the tweet and are trying to get in touch with Iyad to get more information.
“We have taken cognizance of it and are trying to get more information and verify the same,” said a senior intelligence officer.
A Twitter handle of the Mumbai police also responded to Iyad, saying, “Thank you for bringing it to our notice. We will look into it.”
Curiously, intelligence sources said, a similar message was sent out by Iyad about a month-and-a-half ago. Agencies got in touch with him and got details but the probe did not lead to any suspects. “We have spoken to him earlier. He seemed to have some language issue then. He had then given us details of the messages he had received purportedly from Indians willing to join the Islamic State. But it did not lead us anywhere,” said an intelligence source.
Sources said that in the present case, action can be taken only after the contents of the emails and the IDs from which they were sent are known. “We don’t know who these people are, what is the nature of their query to Iyad, and whether they actually mean to travel to Syria or Iraq. We also have to establish that the emails are not pranks. They seem to have confused Iyad for the Islamic State chief. A lot of verification will have to be done,” said a security establishment officer.
This is not the first time Iyad has been confused for the Islamic State chief. In December 2015, Iyad had claimed that Twitter suspended his account @iyad_elbaghdadi. While Twitter had refrained from commenting at the time, Iyad accused it of “racism”.
“To confuse an Arab man for the IS leader because of his very Arabic common surname is overt racism,” he had said.
Iyad did not respond to an email sent by The Indian Express.