India to reach out to Philippines to Question Suspected IS Recruiter

BenarNews staff
2017.11.03
Washington
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171103-PH-IN-widow-620.jpg Suspected Islamic State recruiter Karen Aizha Hamidon attends a hearing at the Department of Justice in Manila, Nov. 3, 2017.
AP

India’s top counter-terror unit on Friday said it would seek help from the Philippines to question a suspected militant who is in custody on charges that she served as a top online recruiter for Islamic State (IS).

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will send a request to the Philippines seeking access to Karen Aizha Hamidon, who was arrested in Manila last month, either through video conferencing or by sending its team to that country, an official told BenarNews on condition of anonymity.

“It is a long process. I can't give you a time frame as to when and if we will be able to get access to her,” he said. “We want to question her to find out about her links with IS operatives in India who as yet may not have been arrested.”

Hamidon is wanted by the NIA for allegedly recruiting Indians for the Middle East-based terror outfit through online platforms, the official said.

About 70 Indians are in police custody and are facing trial for allegedly being IS operatives or sympathizers.

Hamidon is the widow of Mohammad Jaafar Maguid (alias Tokboy), the suspected founder and leader of Ansarul Khilafa Philippines. He was killed in a gun battle with the police in January, months before IS-linked militants began a five-month battle with government forces in Marawi on May 23.

July 2016 contact

The NIA reached out to the Philippines in July 2016 after discovering that Hamidon had been in touch with more than a dozen IS suspects arrested in India through social media platforms such as Facebook, Whatsapp and Telegram, the agency’s official said.

“We had provided the Philippines with her address in Metro Manila, her phone numbers and her social media IDs,” the official said.

On Oct. 18, Philippine police brought up the allegations that Hamidon recruited Indian nationals to join militants in Marawi. Hamidon’s middle name appears as “Aisha” on social media accounts.

On Friday, Philippine officials said she had posted about 300 messages on the social media accounts calling on Muslims to join jihad, the Associated Press reported. She denied allegations that she recruited for IS.

“I’m just a blogger. I am into journalistic articles, composition ... and social media usage but no more, no more than that,” she told reporters after appearing before a prosecutor at the Department of Justice. “I only use the social media as my avenue to spread the message of Islam for religious purposes, for maximum audiences.”

Rohit Wadhwaney in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh contributed to this report.

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