Disclosures by alleged Islamic State (IS) online recruiter Afsha Jabeen during her questioning have led intelligence agencies to at least nine IS sympathisers in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kashmir who were “active members’’ on her Facebook group.
Jabeen named potential IS recruits in India after she was deported last month by UAE authorities for pro-IS activities and was arrested by Cyberabad police. Sources said the persons she named were under close watch.
Thirty-eight-year-old Jabeen is from a Hyderabad Muslim family and is married to a Hindu real estate dealer. She is a mother of three young girls and was settled in Dubai.
While surfing the Internet for Islamic religious literature, she came in contact with Salman Mohiuddin, a chemical engineer who returned to Hyderabad from the US, and the two allegedly floated several online groups to indoctrinate and recruit youths to join the IS.
Sources said Mohiuddin knew Jabeen as Nikki alias Nicole Joseph, and believed she was a British national living in Dubai who had converted to Islam and was an IS supporter.
According to interrogation reports accessed by The Sunday Express, Jabeen identified six administrators of her Facebook group “Islam Vs Christianity, a friendly discussion”, as well as 14 active members of the group based in India and abroad.
The active members of the group — the names are being withheld by The Sunday Express — include two male youths in Mumbai, one a sympathiser of the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front; two students in Delhi; a Bengaluru-based man; a youth who studied chemical engineering in a college in Hyderabad and another college student in the city; and, two youths from Kashmir, one a cousin of a Kashmir-based administrator of the group whose father was killed in Gaza.
One of the active members named by Jabeen is Hassan Abdul Ghani of Mosul in Iraq, described by intelligence agencies as a “fully radicalised IS activist”.
Among the six group administrators is Mohiuddin who was arrested at the international airport in Hyderabad on January 15 as he prepared to board a flight to Dubai. An unemployed electronics engineer who returned to Hyderabad from the US after his visa was not extended, Mohiuddin planned to go to Syria via Turkey.
The names of the other administrators are being withheld. They have been identified as the Kashmiri student whose father was killed in Gaza, a young woman in Mumbai, a university student in Afghanistan who shuttles between Pakistan and Afghanistan and is suspected to be a “strong jihadist”, and Sana Ahmed, a fictitious profile created by Jabeen to keep tabs on Mohiuddin.
An “active Popular Front of India member” from Kerala employed in Dubai was also an administrator of the group. After he suspected he had been identified by agencies, he disabled his profile and activated a new one as Abu Ayisha.
Jabeen told interrogators that all the administrators of her group “are very strong supporters of IS Caliphate” and that the Kashmiri student and the Kerala man in Dubai “are blind supporters of IS and highly radicalised”.
She said she created the Facebook group under the profile name Nicky Joseph in early 2013 to “attract Christians towards Islam on the pretext of clarifying their doubts and converting vulnerable Christian targets and propagating Islam”.
“Initially, I used to spend a lot of time on this FB group. This FB group got lot of popularity due to potential content. Within a short period, the number of followers swelled to 50,000. After declaration of Caliphate by al-Baghdadi, the response of members was overwhelmingly positive towards Islamic State. They started posting pro-IS news and photographs on this FB group,” Jabeen was quoted as telling her interrogators.
On November 24, 2014, Facebook blocked the group and disabled the accounts of its members. Jabeen immediately started another Facebook group with the same name. She also claimed that she converted four non-Muslims to Islam, including one Mohammad Abu Bakr Omar, an African Christian.
She was also made an administrator of four Facebook groups started by Mohiuddin — Revelations and Hadith (2012), Daula Islamia (second week of August 2014), Moderators vs Liberals (first week of November 2014) and Daula news room (last week of November 2014).
Jabeen said she used to follow the speeches and writings of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, UK-based Mohammed Mizanur Rahman alias Abu Al Bara and controversial preacher Anjem Choudary, American Muslim scholar and writer of Pakistani descent Yasir Qadhi, South African writer and public speaker of Indian descent Ahmed Deedat, Ghuraba al-Muhajir of Pakistan and Mumbai-based Islamic tele-evangelist Dr Zakir Naik.
She said she came in contact with Mohiuddin after she posted a comment on a YouTube video of a speech by Naik.
“On that comment, I forgot to write ‘Ali’ without a suffix of RZ. One person by name Salman Mohiuddin corrected me and told me to write ‘Ali RZ’. The expansion of RZ is Razia Alla Thala. With this incident, I got introduced to Salman Mohiuddin,” she claimed.