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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Probe: Dentist, techie behind Bengaluru doctor’s Syria trip now in Saudi Arabia

Abdur Rahman was arrested on August 17 by the NIA on charges of conspiring with a couple who were held in New Delhi in March for allegedly carrying out activities for the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP).

Written by Johnson T A | Bengaluru | Updated: September 4, 2020 8:24:02 am
Gujarat: 20 kg marijuana and 5 kg charas seized, 5 arrestedIn the second instance, the Ahmedabad Crime Branch arrested a person in Ahmedabad and seized 5 kilograms of marijuana. (Representational)

INVESTIGATIONS HAVE revealed that the Syria trip in 2013-14 of the Bengaluru doctor, who was arrested last month by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for links with the Islamic State, was facilitated by a dentist and a computer applications graduate who are currently working in Saudi Arabia, police sources told The Indian Express.

Abdur Rahman, a 28-year-old ophthalmologist, was arrested on August 17 by the NIA on charges of conspiring with a couple, Jahanzaib Sami and Hina Bashir, who were held in New Delhi in March for allegedly carrying out activities for the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP).

Sami and Bashir are among five persons named in a chargesheet filed Wednesday by the NIA for their alleged association with ISKP and for “conspiring to utilise the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests to instigate Muslims” against the government.

The NIA’s ongoing investigation, meanwhile, has revealed that apart from Rahman, several other Indian youths from Bengaluru in the 18-22 age group travelled to Syria in 2013-14 via Gulf countries, including the two currently in Saudi Arabia.

Last month, the NIA and agencies in Karnataka tracked down and questioned another doctor and an aeronautical engineer who had travelled with Rahman. Statements provided by the duo helped identify to some extent how the youths travelled to Syria, sources said.

Also Read | Bengaluru doctor held by NIA was among 3 friends who visited Syria in 2013-14

“There seem to have been many youths who travelled from Bengaluru to Syria at the time.

Some returned to India after short visits while some seem to have died there. The identities of all those who went are being unearthed now,” a senior police officer said.

Rahman was radicalised into pursuing the IS dream on social media, and was sent to Syria by the dentist and computer applications expert who were in Bengaluru at the time and had established contacts with IS, sources said.

Both have no other cases registered against them, sources said.

A sixth youth identified in the network from 2013-14 is an engineer who is also currently based abroad.

Read| Significant number of ISIS terrorists in Kerala, Karnataka: UN report

According to NIA, investigations following the arrest of Sami in Delhi led them to Rahman. Analysis of Sami’s chats on several social media and messaging platforms revealed he was allegedly in touch with the doctor on the encrypted German messaging platform Threema.

The NIA’s probe found that Sami’s Threema ID was allegedly shared with Rahman by a woman based in Syria. “During interrogation, the arrested accused confessed that he was conspiring with accused Jahanzaib Sami and other Syria-based ISIS operatives on secure messaging platforms to further ISIS activities,” the NIA said last month.

The doctor who lived in south Bengaluru “visited an ISIS medical camp in Syria in early 2014 for treatment of ISIS terrorists and stayed with Islamic State operatives for 10 days and returned to India”, the NIA had stated.

The investigations have found that the two youths, who facilitated his travel to Syria, were also part of a group involved in organising a meeting of the Australian preacher Dr Mohammed Hoblos in 2013 in Bengaluru.

Also Read| IS-Khorasan, which attacked Kabul gurdwara, is led by ex-Lashkar man

Hoblos was reported to be among the preachers that served as an inspiration to Areeb Majeed, who was among four youths from Mumbai who travelled to join the IS in Syria in May 2014 and was arrested on his return that November.

Sami and his wife were also alleged to be in contact with Abdullah Basith (26), a Hyderabad youth lodged in Tihar jail since 2015 following a failed attempt to travel to Syria to join the IS. The NIA had earlier arrested two residents of Pune — Sadiya Anwar Sheikh and Nabeel Siddick Khatri — “for being part of” the ISIS/ISKP conspiracy.

Basith, Sheikh and Khatri also figure in the NIA chargesheet filed in a Delhi court Wednesday under various sections of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for their alleged links with the banned ISKP/ISIS.

The NIA alleged that Sami, Bashir, Basith and Sheikh “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 in a statement.

“Investigation also revealed that accused Jahanzaib, Ms. Hina, Abdullah Basith and Nabeel Siddick tried to make an improvised IED and were planning to carry out mass-killings in crowded places to further the activities of ISIS/ISKP in India. Reconnaissance was conducted by them of certain sensitive locations in Maharashtra which are frequented by foreigners,” it read.

(With ENS/Delhi)

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