Deported from the UK in 2007 after his elder brother had carried out a suicide attack, now based in Saudia Arabia, a doctor once based in Bengaluru is among a dozen “missing” Indians accused of being part of a plot to establish the al-Qaeda in the subcontinent.
The Delhi police special cell, which is investigating attempts to establish AQIS, the al-Qaeda’s Indian subcontinent wing, in India has named Dr Sabeel Ahmed and 11 others as missing accused. A fast-track court in Delhi had issued a proclamation seeking the presence of the missing men in the court by May 16. Delhi police released a media advertisement earlier this month.
This is the second terrorism case against Sabeel, 33, in India since he was deported as a 25-year-old by British authorities for a suicide attack by his elder brother Kafeel Ahmed at Glasgow Airport on June 29, 2007.
Last February, the National Investigation Agency had named Sabeel as an accused in an alleged 2012 plot by the Lashkar-e-Toiba to recruit Indian youths for terrorism. A non-bailable warrant has been issued against Dr Sabeel Ahmed in the NIA case and a look-out circular issued at airports in India.
Sabeel, known to be working at King Fahd Hospital in Saudi Arabia, has in the past denied allegations on the 2012 LeT recruitment plot. “I am given to understand that the allegation against me is that I have been part of some meetings in Riyadh and Dammam, where these plots were hatched. I categorically deny having attended any such meetings,” Sabeel had stated in a communiqué from Saudi Arabia in 2013. “I am also given to understand that I am accused of financing and giving logistical support to the plot. It is ridiculous… I have never had any excess finances to distribute… without having knowledge of what is done with the money.”
His suspected links to the current AQIS recruitment plot emerged in statements reportedly given to police by a key accused in the case, Abdul Rehman Khan, 38, from Cuttack. Khan was arrested last December for allegedly being at the centre of efforts by AQIS-India and its local chief Mohammed Asif, 41, a resident of Deepa Sarai in Sambhal region of Uttar Pradesh, on the directions of suspected AQIS chief Maulana Asim Umar.
Umar has now been identified as being the same person as Sambhal resident Sannaul Haq, who fled India for Pakistan in 1995. He was named AQIS chief by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a video broadcast in September 2015. Umar is among the persons named as wanted alongside Sabeel.
According to Khan’s statements to the police, he met Sabeel in Bengaluru in 2009 when the doctor was living in the city after being deported for his failure to disclose his brother’s plans to attack Glasgow Airport.
After Sabeel took up a job in Saudi Arabia in 2010-11, Khan reportedly went there in October 2012 and met him. Sabeel allegedly sought Khan’s services for the recruitment of Indian youths for jihad. Khan is alleged to have sent a Hyderabad youth, Mohd Umar alias Umar Hyderabadi, to Pakistan via Saudi Arabia. Umar Hyderabadi too is among the 12 missing persons named in the AQIS case.
According to statements attributed to Khan, he travelled to Saudi Arabia in January 2015 en route to Pakistan and was informed by Sabeel that a few Indian recruits had been sent to Pakistan. In Pakistan in 2015, Khan is alleged to have undergone arms training at the instance of LeT military operative Sajid Mir and other LeT leaders accused in the 26/11attack on Mumbai.
Sabeel is being linked to the AQIS plot also through fiery preacher Maulana Anzar Shah Qasmi, 50, arrested by the Delhi special cell this year. Sabeel and an associate, Mohd Shaheed Faisal alias Ustad, 32, and several others who were named or arrested in 2012 in an LeT recruitment conspiracy case are said to have been deeply influenced by the religious bayans given by Maulana Qasmi in mosques in south Bengaluru.
Qasmi, Khan and AQIS-India chief Mohammed Asif are among the persons arrested so far in the alleged AQIS recruitment plot. The three had apparently met in Bengaluru last year in August-September to chalk plans for the AQIS.
Apart from Sabeel, two other absconders from the 2012 Lashkar-e-Toiba recruitment plot — a case in which 25 persons are accused and 17 have been arrested — figure in the new AQIS plot: Shaheed Faisal and Farhatullah Ghori, a veteran LeT-linked operative. Among the other accused declared as missing in the AQIS case by the Delhi special cell are Mohammed Sarjeel, Syed Akhtar alias Qasim, Usman alias Asad, all hailing from Deepa Sarai and alleged to have taken training in Pakistan.