A business management graduate belonging to a wealthy Bengaluru family who has been missing for around seven years and was suspected to have joined the Islamic State is now known to have been killed in Syria.
Sources said the death of Faiz Masood had been confirmed by a doctor arrested in Bengaluru recently by the NIA in connection with an Islamic State Khorasan Province case. Abdur Rahman, an opthalmologist, was among the Bengaluru youths who travelled to Syria in 2013-14 to join the IS.
Investigations have revealed that Masood, then 27, who left behind his parents, wife and two young children, was closely associated with the IS in Syria and Iraq and was a key contact in Syria for Bengaluru youths trying to join the terror outfit.
Questioning by the NIA, other central and state agencies of Rahman and an alleged associate — a fellow doctor, also from Bengaluru — has reportedly revealed that the two of them had met Masood at the Syrian border town of Atme, when they crossed over from a Turkey refugee camp in end 2013.
Rahman and his associate, both 22 and medical students at the time, said Masood died in an attack on a camp that left one of them with minor injuries. This prompted them to give up plans of joining the IS and return within days of making it to Syria, seeking financial help of their parents, officials said.
Investigators claimed Rahman and his associate, who went to become doctors after returning to India, admitted that Masood’s death, the injury to one of them, as well as the serious infighting they saw among IS cadre had disillusioned them.
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Another alleged associate of Rahman, an aeronautical engineer, has reportedly also told investigators that Masood had facilitated his travel to Syria to join the IS. He left before the two medical students and stayed longer before suffering an injury to his arm and returning.
Masood had left for Qatar in September 2013 and disappeared soon after. His disappearance was not reported to the police by his family. Security agencies stumbled upon his name in 2014-15, as being one of those from India possibly killed in fighting in Syria, when they began looking closely at identities of IS recruits from India.
Investigations being carried out by multiple agencies have revealed that Masood was part of a group of wealthy Muslim youths from east Bengaluru who met often in 2012-13 and discussed religion. Several from the group later left to join the IS when it was established around mid-2013.
An online blog Masood maintained between 2010 and 2011 shows he was deeply affected by the plight of poor Muslims in Bengaluru. In blog posts in 2010 he sought funds for an orphanage, extolled Muslims to donate blood and narrated stories of a child and a young man in dire need of funds for medical care to save their lives.
In March 2010, he wrote, “The Muslim community might be a minority in this country but when it comes to the population of the slums we are the majority. Many efforts are being made to improve the condition of the people. But unless the realization and awareness of their condition doesn’t spread among the family (Muslims) things will not change.”
Investigations have revealed that the Syria trip in 2013-14 of Rahman and others was also facilitated by a dentist and a computer applications graduate who earlier lived in Bengaluru and are currently working in Saudi Arabia.
Rahman was arrested on August 17 by the NIA on charges of conspiring with Jahanazaib Wani and his wife, held from New Delhi in March, to carry out activities of the Islamic State of Khorasan Province unit in India. In its statement, the NIA said Rahman was “in the process of developing a medical application for helping injured ISIS cadres in conflict-zones and a weaponry-related application for the benefit of ISIS fighters”.
In the first chargesheet filed in the case last week, the NIA alleged that Wani, who belongs to Kashmir, and others “were also provoking some gullible youth to participate in anti-CAA protests actively”. “In case these protests failed to provoke the Muslims, they were planning for arsoning of Government buildings & public property so that riots could happen and they could exploit the sentiments of Muslims,” the NIA said.
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