Al-Qaeda’s South Asian wing AQIS (Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent) trains its recruits not only to carry out terror attacks but also to radicalise vulnerable Muslim youth in the name of jihad, Delhi police sources said.
Mohammad Asif, 41, the suspected “Indian incharge” of AQIS who was arrested by Delhi Police’s special cell in December last year, had informed investigators about these training modules in his testimony.
Asif’s revelation is part of the chargesheet filed on June 10 by the special cell in Delhi’s Patiala House court against 17 accused, 12 of whom are absconding. They have been charged with allegedly conspiring and recruiting Indian youth and seeking to establish a base of AQIS in the country.
“Askari” and “Deeni” are major training provided to new members of the outfit by AQIS handlers based in Pakistan, the sources said.
“Askari is over month-long rigorous training in weapons and battle modes to carry out terror strikes while Deeni is 45-day religious training provided to AQIS members to motivate and radicalise youth,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.
AQIS was established by Al Qaeda in 2014 to spread its wings in South Asia.
The chargesheet reveals that Asif, a resident of Sambhal in Uttar Pradesh, took “religious training” in Waziristan in Pakistan in 2014. However, due to “his old age”, he was not sent for “rigorous Askari training”. It also states that Asif stayed near the training camp where chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan, Hakimullah Mehsood, was killed in a US drone attack.
The chargesheet states that Asif was made “in-charge” of AQIS in India after completion of training in Waziristan by an AQIS member Sayed Akhtar, who also hails from Sambhal and is learnt to be staying near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
It states that Asif, who reached Pakistan in June 2013, managed to return to India in October 2014. He was arrested in Delhi on Dec 14, 2015, following a tip-off.
Asif informed police that he along with Serjil, another resident of Sambhal, stayed in Miranshah in Pakistan where Akhtar delivered lectures for them on jihad.
Akhtar told Asif and others about formation of “Tanzeem AQIS” for carrying out terrorist activities in India.
The chargesheet states that Asif was among a group of 10 people who were provided Deeni training on the instruction of AQIS’s Amir Maulana Asim Umar alias Sanaul Haq-- who was appointed to the position by AQIS’s overall chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in 2014.
Investigators said that Serjil, Rehan and five other boys were selected for Askari. “One Pakistan national Ustad Sohail taught these new recruits about handling of explosives and IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices), they said.
Another suspected terrorist Jafar Masood, who was arrested by special cell of Delhi Police in December 2015, told the interrogators that he along with other youth was trained in using assault weapons including guns and grenades during Askari training.