Shafi Armar, a native of Bhatkal in Karnataka suspected to be in the Islamic State-held area in Syria, has emerged as the common link between the terror modules operating in the Gulf and those operating in India.
“Three Indians and alleged sympathisers of the Islamic State who were deported from a Gulf country on Thursday and detained by the NIA were also in touch with Shafi Armar, who also uses the alias Yusuf al Hindi,” revealed an investigator on the condition of anonymity.
The trio — Sheikh Azhar al Islam Abdul Sattar Sheikh from Jammu and Kashmir, Mohammed Farhan Mohammed Rafiq Shaikh from Mumbra in Mumbai, and Adnan Hussain Mohammed Hussain from Bhatkal — were deported from the United Arab Emirates for allegedly planning to carry out terror strikes in India and abroad, the NIA said on Friday.
The anti-terror agency registered a case against the three and detained them upon their arrival in Delhi. So far, around two dozen Indians have been deported from the Gulf on suspicion of links with the IS.
The three terror suspects were later arrested and will be produced in court on Saturday. “The trio wanted to recruit Indians here and abroad for terror strikes,” said the investigator.
Prior to the recent revelation, Shafi’s name had first appeared as a mentor of a group of 14 suspects called ‘Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind’, reportedly working to establish a ‘caliphate’ in India. The group was busted by the NIA.
“Earlier, Shafi had also tried to directly or indirectly stitch together small terror modules in Haridwar (Uttarakhand), Ratlam (Madhya Pradesh) and Malwani in Mumbai,” said the investigator.
According to a source, Shafi started off as a member of the Indian Mujahideen and fled from India to Pakistan in early 2009 with other top ranking members of the outfit such as Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, Shahnawaz Alam, Mohammad Sajid and his brother Sultan Armar.
“Later, annoyed with the control exerted by the Pakistani spy agency ISI, Shafi and some others formed a splinter group Ansar-ul-Tawhid to fight alongside Taliban in Afghanistan. As the brand of the IS (grew), in June 2014 Shafi and his group moved to Syria,” said the investigator.
While his brother Sultan is reported to have been killed in Syria, Shafi has emerged as the chief recruiter for the terror group in India and now also in the Gulf countries.