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NIA to file chargesheet in case of Kerala youth who joined IS

While the agency is going to chargesheet the three arrested accused for radicalisation, the probe has not found any common link between the four.

Written by Rashmi Rajput | Mumbai |
Updated: February 9, 2017 3:17:16 am

THE NATIONAL Investigation (NIA) agency by Thursday is likely to file its chargesheet in the case of radicalisation of a Kerala youth who is alleged to have joined the Islamic State (IS). The case pertains to Ashfaque Majeed, a Kerala-based youth who is one of the 21 locals from the southern state who have allegedly fled to Afghanistan to fight alongside IS.

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Among those who are set to be chargesheeted by the federal counter terrorism agency are Arshi Qureshi, the guest manager of the now proscribed Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) , Rizwan Khan, an alleged volunteer of Al-Birr Foundation and Mohammad Haneef, a clergyman from Kerala.

The agency intends to show that Abdul Rashid, a teacher by profession who is hailed as a ringleader of the module, had fled to Afghanistan with his wife and children and Syria-based Shafi Armar alias Yusuf alias Farooque as their handler.

While the agency is going to chargesheet the three arrested accused for radicalisation, the probe has not found any common link between the four.

“While the four accused radicalised Ashfaque, there is no common link connecting them,” said officials.

Sources said that they have not found any evidence to link televangelist and IRF founder Zakir Naik to the case.

“While Ashfaque was a regular at the IRF office in Dongri, we have not found any evidence to link Naik to the case,” they said.
In its chargesheet, the agency plans to mention that Ashfaque was slowly drawn into the IS fold through sustained indoctrination. This included showing him videos of the execution carried out by IS, articles in IS mouthpiece Dabiq and even speeches given by their self-proclaimed Caliph Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

According to sources, Ashfaque, a Barelvi Muslim, was first introduced to Sunni Islam by Rashid who he met at Peace International School in Kerala. Rashid worked as a teacher at the school founded by another prominent Islamic preacher M M Akbar.

In his statement to the agency, Akbar has claimed that he had sacked Rashid after learning of his jihadi leanings. He also revealed that Rashid used to conduct ‘jihadi classes’ at his residence.

Around the same time, Ashfaque, who ran a motel in Central Mumbai, started visiting the IRF office in Dongri. This is where he met Qureshi who started sharing material on jihad and links on atrocities done to Muslims and the need to pledge allegiance to outfits that are fighting for the ‘Caliphate’.

Rizwan was introduced to Ashfaque when his other friends who are part of the module and were from other faiths converted to Islam. Khan helped with documentation and paperwork for a cost.

The chargesheet will have the statements of Ashfaque’s family members including his father who has stated that they saw visible changes in the conduct of his son who started following a ‘purist’ life. Also, the statement of the wife of one of the 21 youths who refused to join him in Afghanistan sensing that her husband was pursuing IS ideology. “The couple was newly wed and her husband pursued her to join him in Afghanistan claiming that he was getting a new job there. However, the witness suspected something untoward and heard her spouse talking about IS which made her wary of joining him,” said an official.

According to the investigation, Ashfaque first travelled to Sri Lanka in February last year at his own expense.

In July last year, he took a flight to Afghanistan from Mumbai International Airport with his wife and toddler daughter. The agency is going to attach the statements of those locals who had visited Sri Lanka with Ashfaque for a Quran learning course but didn’t join the group in Afghanistan.

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