One of the three Islamic State (IS) suicide attackers who stormed a gurdwara in Kabul on Wednesday and killed 25 people is suspected to be a recruit from Kerala. The attacker has been identified by central intelligence agencies as Mohammed Muhsin based on information provided by his family, who now live in Kannur, sources in the security establishment said.
An Islamic State magazine, al Naba, on Friday published a picture of the suicide attackers identifying one of them as Abu Khalid al-Hindi. The picture has been identified by the parents of Muhsin as that of their son.
“Muhsin’s mother has also claimed that she received a message over Telegram from an IS associate of Muhsin’s yesterday that her son had attained martyrdom in the Kabul attack. However, when we asked her to show the message she said she had deleted it out of fear. As of now we have the family’s claim to go by,” a senior central agency official said.
A day earlier, the IS-linked Amaq news agency had issued a statement claiming the attack was revenge for Kashmir.
Central agency sources said there are two Mohammed Muhsins who joined IS from Kerala, and the Kabul attacker should not be confused with the one that was killed in a US airstrike in July 2019. That Muhsin was an engineering graduate from Malappuram who had joined the IS in 2017.
The Muhsin who attacked the Kabul gurdwara, intelligence sources said, belongs to Trikkarippur in Kasargod district, and had left for Afghanistan in 2018 to join IS in Khorasan Province, or ISKP (comprising Kunar and Nangarhar). This was a good two years after some two dozen youths from Kasargod and Malappuram had left for Afghanistan via Iran in 2016.
“He was not part of the first module — a group of 21 members — from Kerala who travelled to Nangarhar in Afghanistan. Muhsin from Payyannur had left home some time in early 2018 in search of a job in Dubai. Later he travelled to Afghanistan from Dubai,” a senior Kerala Police officer told The Indian Express. Trikkarippur (Kasargod) is a small town very close to Payyannur (Kannur) in northern Kerala.
“He (Muhsin) is said to be 28 years old and is a school dropout. He had left for Dubai in 2018, and from there he went to Afghanistan. His family lives in Kannur,” a central intelligence official said.
The official added that intelligence agencies were trying to ascertain if any of the other Kabul attackers too, was Indian.
Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs said a decision on whether to hand over the case to the National Investigation Agency is yet to taken. According to the amended NIA Act, the central agency can take over the investigation into a terror attack overseas if any of the victims is Indian.
With inputs from Arun Janardhanan in Chennai
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