SELF-RADICALISED Saifullah was operation head of the module. Intelligence agencies came to know about him and a few others in Jan 2016 but failed to track him down
LUCKNOW The Uttar Pradesh-based self-radicalised Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) organisation was operational in the state for over two years and Saifullah Khan, the killed member of the terror module, was acting as its operation head.
An ATS officer said UP’s self-radicalised organisation was formed in January 2015 and the existence of some founder members, including Saifullah, was known to central intelligence agencies since January 2016 but they failed to track him. He said the organisation brought together a group of men, mainly radicalised by Internet reading related to discrimination and violence against Muslims in India.
He said the central security and investigation agencies came to know about Saifullah and a few other members after arrest of a Mumbai-based web designer Mudabbir Mushtaq Sheikh, alleged chief of an ISIS inspired organisation of Indian jihadis, on January 22, 2016. He said Sheikh was allegedly involved in recruiting youths for ISIS modules online.
The officer said the UP ATS had arrested two alleged ISIS operatives, Mohd Aleem from Lucknow and Rizwan Ahmad from Behraich, on January 23, 2016 on the basis of input provided by central agencies after Sheikh’s revelations. “The agencies, however, failed to trace Saifullah Khan and others. Moreover, there were no further inputs about the group planning any terror activities,” he said.
Saifullah was appointed as operation head of the module over a year ago, he said. “Sheikh had even pushed the name of Saifullah to make him the organisation’s head in January 2015 but his ISIS bosses abroad turned down his proposal and Rizwan Ahmad was asked to lead the organisation. Saifullah, however, was made operation head,” he said.
A senior police official said the central agencies failed to trace Saifullah and his associates but Atiq Muzaffar came on the radar of a Telangana police agency through his online activities around six months ago. He said the Telangana agency tipped off Madhya Pradesh police about Muzaffar after coming to know about his involvement in a Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train near Kalapipal, about 80km west of Bhopal, on Tuesday morning.
The official said Muzaffar’s arrest subsequently led to arrests of other members of the organisation in Lucknow, Kanpur, Etawah and Saifullah’s killing in a 13-hour encounter with ATS commandos in Haji colony of Kakori area in Lucknow in the wee hours on Wednesday.