The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has named a dentist and a computer applications specialist as key persons involved in sending a group of six to seven youths from Bengaluru to Syria in the 2013-14 period to join the Islamic State.
The NIA registered its case on September 19 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA and named dentist Muhammad Tauqir Mahmood (29) and computer applications specialist Zuhaib Hameed alias Shakeel Manna (28), both of whom earlier lived in Bengaluru but are currently reportedly based in Saudi Arabia.
The two are alleged to have built contacts with IS through a schoolmate from Saudi Arabia — where Tauqir and another NIA suspect, Shihab, studied during their school years.
The existence of the group who travelled to Syria came to light after the August 17 arrest of Abdur Rahman, a 28-year-old ophthalmologist from Bengaluru, on charges of conspiring with a Kashmiri man arrested in Delhi in March, for alleged links to an Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) unit in India. The agency’s investigation of Abdur Rahman revealed that he had travelled to Syria in 2013-14 with the assistance of Tauqir and Hameed.
As part of its investigations, the NIA on October 7 arrested business analyst Ahamed Abdul Cader (40) from Chennai and rice merchant Irfan Nasir (33) in Bengaluru for allegedly funding “the Bengaluru-based ISIS module”.
“Accused Ahamed Abdul Cader, Irfan Nasir and their associates played a very significant role in radicalization of the members of the group and arranged funds through donations and own sources for visit of accused Abdur Rahman and other Muslim youth of Bengaluru to Syria to join ISIS. Two of such youth got killed in Syria,” the NIA said after the October 7 arrests.
The two killed in Syria have been identified as Faiz Masood, an MBA degree-holder, and Abdul Subhan, who was working in Yemen before joining IS.
Investigations by the NIA and other agencies have revealed that an orthopaedic doctor and an aeronautical engineer were among the youths who travelled to Syria in 2013-14. Both are reported to have returned to India within a short span of their stay in Syria after witnessing heavy violence at close quarters.
A senior police officer said, “There seem to have been many youths who travelled from Bengaluru to Syria at the time. Some returned to India after short visits while some seem to have died there. The identities of all those who went are being unearthed now.”
Investigations since the arrest of Abdur Rahman and the questioning of two of his associates who travelled to Syria have revealed that they met Masood, one of the youths killed, in a town called Atme when they crossed over from Turkey in 2013.