India: Suspected IS Sympathizer Held

Vasudevan Sridharan
Bengaluru, India
160406-IN-IS-1000.jpg Indian Muslims hold up placards condemning terror acts by the Islamic State – also known as ISIS – during a peaceful protest in Ahmedabad, India, Nov. 18, 2015.

Updated at 10:41 a.m. ET on 2016-04-07

Indian security forces said Wednesday they were grilling a suspected Islamic State (IS) recruit who was arrested while trying to begin a voyage to Syria.

The individual had been on the radar of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) since the arrest of 14 suspected members of an IS module in India in January, an official with the bureau told BenarNews on condition of anonymity. “We can’t say much, right now. The NIA is interrogating him. But on the face of it, it seems he was part of the same module,” the official said.

Ismail Musab Abdul Rawoof, 34, a native of south India’s Karnataka state, was arrested Tuesday at the airport in Pune, Maharashtra state, before boarding a flight for Dubai.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is handling all cases related to IS arrests in India, had prior information of Rawoof’s travel plan, Pune Joint Commissioner of Police Sunil Ramanand told BenarNews.

“He (Rawoof) is not in Pune anymore,” Ramanand said, adding the suspect had been handed over to the NIA, whose detectives were questioning him at an undisclosed site.

Rawoof comes from Karnataka state’s Bhatkal town, where at least eight suspected IS sympathizers in Indian police custody hail from, the official said.

Mohammad Shafi Armar, alias Yusuf al-Hindi, who is believed to be heading the India faction of the Middle East-based extremist outfit, is also from Bhatkal.

Rawoof, according to intelligence officials, was involved in raising and transferring funds for the IS module in India.

Investigators said Rawoof was “planning to meet a handler in Dubai” before being taken to Syria to join the militant organization.

Rawoof is the latest to join the ranks of at least 25 Indian Muslims arrested in the country for showing leanings toward the IS since 2014.

According to an intelligence report released late last year, about 23 Indians are believed to have already left for Iraq and Syria to fight for the IS. Of them, six have died in battle.

More than 30 potential recruits have been prevented from leaving India, while over 150 are being closely monitored for showing sympathy toward the organization online, officials said.

‘A good case on merit’: Suspect’s lawyer

One of those facing trial in India is Areeb Majeed, the sole Indian in custody on suspicion of having fought for IS. The Maharashtra state native returned to India in November 2014 after spending six months in Iraq and Syria, the IS strongholds.

The 23-year-old’s bail plea, which has been pending since his arrest, was rejected by the Bombay High Court on Monday.

“We find no merits in the appeal and application seeking bail,” the court said.

Majeed had sought bail citing a matter of right under the Criminal Procedure Code, saying he had been in custody since November 2014 and the investigating agency had already filed a chargesheet.

In his plea, Majeed said his custody was “erroneous and illegal” as his case was being handled by the NIA, and as per law, all proceedings, including orders for extension of custody, must be passed only by a special NIA court.

Majeed has been charged under various sections of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), for being a member of a banned foreign terror group and for waging war against any Asiatic country that has friendly ties with India.

Majeed’s father, Ejaz Majeed, submitted in court: “If my son had committed any offence against India or any other offence anywhere, he would not have returned to India on his own.”

Mubin Solkar, Majeed’s lawyer, said he was confident of procuring bail for his client from the Supreme Court, the country’s highest court.

“We’re pretty confident of getting bail soon. We know that we have a good case on merit,” Solkar told BenarNews.

Rohit Wadhwaney in Jaipur, India, contributed to the report.


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