Mohammed Abdullah Basith, 24, who was arrested by the NIA on Sunday for allegedly planning to carry out IS activities in India, had undergone several rounds of de-radicalisation counselling that involved hours of discussions with Telangana police counsellors and his father Mohammed Abdul Arif.
“After he was arrested from Nagpur while he was trying to go to join IS for the second time, he promised me and his mother that he will give up. He assured us that he won’t follow the radical route and be a good son,’’ Arif had told The Indian Express in December 2015. He had said he tried his best to prevent his son from straying, especially after police contacted him in July 2014 when Abdullah applied for a Turkish visa. The Turkish consulate had tipped off Telangana Police who confiscated Abdullah’s passport.
Telangana police detained Abdullah in September 2014 and brought him and five others back from Malda in West Bengal. The youths, led by Abdullah, were on their way to Dhaka from where they wanted to go to Afghanistan “to wage Jihad”. The police had then counselled the youths and let them off.
On December 24, 2015, Abdullah was arrested from Nagpur airport with his cousins Maaz Hassan and Syed Omer Farooq Hussaini while they were trying to catch a flight to Srinagar from where they wanted to go to Syria to join IS. Abdullah was put through a rigourous deradicalisation programme at the Central Crime Station after his arrest.
While out on bail, Abdullah was shown in a purported sting operation by Republic TV, pledging allegiance to the IS and stating that he will do anything to join the group. He was also heard saying that “no one can prevent me from waging Jihad” and that he “rejects democracy” and “fight to establish Sharia law in India”.
According to police sources, Abdullah, a resident of Hafeezbaba Nagar, was 16 or 17 when he started getting radicalised under the influence of his uncle, former SIMI president Syed Salahuddin. Later, he developed an interest in radical Islam after watching videos of Osama bin Laden and Yemeni-American preacher Anwar al-Awlaki. He joined Students Islamic Organisation at Islamic Centre, Chatta Bazar, but he and Maaz were expelled because their ideology was “very extreme”, said an official there.
After being detained in Malda, Abdullah told police counsellors that he was most influenced by al-Awlaki’s speeches.
An official who questioned Abdullah after his arrest in 2015 said, “I think he had read manuals on how to hoodwink counsellors, police and parents. He appeared to repent and regret, but we had doubts. He proved our suspicions right when he was shown pleading alliance to IS in the sting operation.”
From 2000 to 2007, Abdullah’s family lived in Medina where his father worked in a construction firm. They later moved to Hyderabad and Abdullah joined St. Maaz High School at Saidabad. In 2009, he joined Gautami College at Nalgonda to complete Class X. In 2010, he joined Chaitanya Junior College in Vijayawada for first-year intermediate studies and completed his second year from Narayana College at Santoshinagar, Hyderabad. In 2012, he joined Deccan College of Engineering and Technology in the Computer Science and Engineering stream.
According to sources, he stole Rs 90,000 from his father’s locker before attempting to leave the country in 2015. He and his cousins were booked under IPC sections 121 (of waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the government), 121-A (conspiracy to wage war against government), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. A charge sheet was filed against the three at a local court and the trial is still on.
Police sources said the Union Home Ministry had asked Telangana government to go tough on them as they were repeat offenders, but the latter decided to “go soft” as the youths “had not committed any crime”.