India: Oilman Suspected of IS Links Arrested

Adeel Shah and Rohit Wadhwaney

2015-12-11
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151211-IN-propaganda-620 An Indian oil company senior employee has been charged with using social media to spread Islamic State (IS) propaganda. This screen grab from an Islamist propaganda outlet shows Islamic State members parading in Sirte, Libya.
AFP Photo/Ho/Welayat Tarablos

A day after Indian police arrested a senior employee of a state-owned oil firm on suspicion of having links with the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, a court in Rajasthan state on Friday ordered him to remain in custody for 10 days.

Mohammed Sirajuddin, sales marketing manager at the Indian Oil Corp., was arrested Thursday during a joint operation by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the Special Operations Group in Jaipur, the capital of the state in northern India, police said.

Sirajuddin, 30, who hails from the southern state of Karnataka, had been working in Jaipur since April 2014, police said, adding he was “actively involved in spreading the IS propaganda” through social networking sites and apps.

He has been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Sirajuddin allegedly created pro-IS groups on social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram in an effort to recruit Indian Muslims to join the terror outfit, Alok Tripathi, additional director general of the Rajasthan ATS, told BenarNews on Friday.

Sirajuddin’s groups included “several members from India and abroad,” Tripathi said, but he declined to state the number of people who had been radicalized or recruited.

“We are probing the matter and will interrogate him during the course of his remand to get more details,” Tripathi said. “His job was not just limited to radicalizing and recruiting Indian youth.”

Earlier, Tripathi told reporters that Sirajuddin was more than a recruiter. “He is an IS operative,” Tripathi said at a press conference.

“He has confessed he was working for the IS,” Tripathi said, adding that investigators had seized Sirajuddin’s laptop and recovered several issues of IS propaganda magazine Dabiq from his Jaipur residence.

‘Growing vulnerability’

The arrest comes as India turns the heat on IS sympathizers in the wake of the recent attacks claimed by the group in Paris and Beirut.

A recently released e-book, purportedly published by IS, says India has been on its radar for attacks.

Sirajuddin’s arrest underlines India’s vulnerability to terrorism in the age of online social networking, Mumbai-based security expert Sameer Patil said.

“This particular case, if true, demonstrates the smart use of social media for indoctrination and recruitment,” Patil told BenarNews.

“With social media being so popular and ubiquitous in India, this remains a growing vulnerability for India’s national security,” he said.

According to a recently released intelligence report, 23 Indians left the country to fight for the IS in Syria or Iraq. Six of them have died there.

The report states that while about 30 Indian youths have been prevented from leaving the country to join the IS, about 150 are under surveillance for showing leanings toward the militant group.

One such IS sympathizer, who hails from south India’s Tamil Nadu state, is expected to be deported to India on Saturday. Intelligence officials did not reveal his name or the country from where he was being extradited.

The man will not likely be arrested on his return to India but will be detained and questioned at length to determine his level of radicalization, an official said on condition of anonymity.

If the suspect is not highly radicalized, he will be put through counseling sessions, the official said, adding that like other IS sympathizers in the country, he, too, would face round-the-clock surveillance.

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