The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has busted a module of the so-called Islamic State (IS) and arrested its two alleged operatives, Ahamed Abdul Cader, 40, and Irfan Nasir, 33, from Bengaluru on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter said. The agency has found at least 13-14 people from Bengaluru travelled to Iraq and Syria in 2013-14. Two of them are believed to have been killed in Syria while fighting for the IS while some returned quietly in 2014, the people said. Many of them are still absconding.
The IS overran swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Iraq declared a victory over the terror group in 2017. In March 2019, US-backed forces in Syria said they have defeated the group in Syria as well and marked an end to the group’s territorial control.
The people said NIA has identified all members of the module and they are being examined to know about those they were in touch with and their activities. They added the returnees from the module in Bengaluru were disillusioned by the life IS promised as there was nothing Islamic about its activities.
Cader, a business analyst with a bank, and Nasir, who runs his family business, allegedly radicalised most of the members of the module and arranged finances for the travel of at least its five members.
A larger 22-member module travelled to Iraq and Syria in 2016 from Kerala’s Kasaragod and Palakkad districts. This is believed to be the biggest group to have ever travelled to the region from India.
Officials said several operatives have travelled to IS-held territories in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan since 2014 but in smaller groups or individually. “Kasaragod module was the biggest module and now this latest Bengaluru module seems to be big as 13-14 people went together,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
Officials said the agency learnt about the Bengaluru module while questioning Abdul Rahman, an ophthalmologist arrested from Bengaluru in August in connection with the case involving Jahanzaib Sami and Hina Bashir Baig, the couple arrested for their alleged links with IS.
They cited Investigations and said Cader, Nasir and some of their associates were members of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT) and later formed a group named Quran Circle and radicalised gullible men in Bengaluru. They allegedly collected funds and funded their visits to Syria to aid the IS and further its ideology and activities.
Officials said Cader allegedly collected funds from HuT and sent them to Syria through his bank account. Cader, Nasir and their other associates arranged funds for facilitating the visit of accused Abdur Rahman and other men from Bengaluru to Syria to join IS, they added.