Two years ago, the third of Muhammed Kunhi’s five daughters, her husband and their three children allegedly joined the Islamic State in Syria. Even as the 67-year-old has been spending his days in a harrowing wait, he has been hit by another blow: another of Kunhi’s daughters, her husband and their three minor children have gone missing in mysterious circumstances.
Police have confirmed that Kunhi’s fourth daughter Nafsila, her husband Anwar and their children have moved to Iran, allegedly in a bid to sneak into either Syria or Afghanistan to join the Islamic State. They are among 10 people, including children, from Kannur district who allegedly moved out of the country last month to join the Islamic State. Kunhi is now devastated. “I miss my grandchildren… they filled our home and our lives with joy,” he says at his home in Naluvayal in Kannur city. Kunhi says Nafsila was expecting her fourth baby when they went missing.
He says there was no hint about their plan. Anwar, a driver in UAE, was home in Kerala on a month-long vacation, and had left on November 19 with Nafsila and their three children on the pretext of a holiday to Mysore and Bangalore. “He promised to return after two days. But when they didn’t come back and we didn’t hear from them for several days, I informed police,’’ he says.
What prompted Kunhi to alert the police was the fate of his third daughter, Fousiya. Two years ago, Fousiya, her husband T V Shameer, and their three children allegedly moved to Syria to fight for the Islamic State. Last year, security agencies confirmed that Shameer and sons Safvan and Salman had died while fighting for the Islamic State.
“I haven’t heard anything about Fousiya and her daughter Najila yet. I hope they are alive,’’ Kunhi says.
Police say Shameer and Anwar were activists of the right-wing Popular Front of India and close friends. It was after Shameer who proposed Anwar’s name when Kunhi was looking for a groom for Nafsila.
A few km away, at Anwar’s house in Poothappara near Kannur, his father T O Majeed says his son made a WhatsApp call last Tuesday from the UAE. “Since then, his cellphone has been switched off. I don’t know what happened to him.’’ Kunhi says his son-in-law has been “behaving strangely” of late. “His eldest daughter was supposed to be in Class 1, but this year she was not sent to school but to a madrassa. When I questioned him, Anwar said religious education was enough for the child at her age,’’ he says.
Kunhi says Anwar had also stopped offering namaz at the local mosque. Anwar, Kunhi says, offered no reason for not offering namaz.
Police sources said they had confirmed from other security agencies that the latest batch of missing persons from Kerala, including the children, had reached Iran in their bid to move to either Afghan or Syria.
“So far, we have identified around 100 persons from Kerala who have either joined the Islamic State or have tried to sneak into Afghanistan or Syria. At least 35 people from Kannur have gone. Most of them have got killed fighting for the Islamic State,’’ said a source in the police.