Three Hyderabad-based cousin brothers were arrested at the Nagpur airport on Saturday following an alert that they were trying to leave the country to join the Islamic State (IS) terrorist outfit.
The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) and Telangana police jointly arrested the trio, between 20 and 25 years, months after they were put under watch for being influenced by online IS propaganda.
Later, officials said the three youth —identified as Umar Hassan Farooqui, Abdul Wasim and Zamir Farooqui — were reportedly planning to board a flight to Srinagar from Nagpur after arriving from Hyderabad on Friday.
“We got information that the youth would be boarding the early morning flight,” an official said. “The youth, who came to Nagpur by cab, were handed over to the Telangana counter-intelligence cell.”
The trio travelled to Nagpur on state road transport bus and went to the airport to board an Indigo flight to Srinagar from where they had planned to leave for Afghanistan to join IS.
Among the three, two were earlier held in Kolkata in September 2014 where they were allegedly planning to cross over to Bangladesh and proceed to Iraq. The duo, reportedly engineering college dropouts, told investigators that they were lured by IS propaganda on social media.
They were released and sent home after detailed counseling because they had not committed any crime. However, both were under strict police surveillance since then.
Officers immediately started a hunt after parents of the three young men informed neighbourhood police stations that the “boys” were missing since Thursday morning and their cell phones switched off.
Before travelling to Nagpur, they had gone to the Nalgonda home of a SIMI activist who had died in a road accident in 2014, officials said.
So far, around 20 young men, mostly from Telangana, have been prevented from travelling to Syria, ostensibly to join IS.
Indian security establishment suggests that around 20-odd Indians are currently fighting for the banned outfit in Iraq and Syria. They include two youth from Kalyan on the outskirts of Mumbai, an Australia-based Kashmiri, one from
Telangana, one from Karnataka, one Oman-based Indian and another Singapore-based Indian.
In 2014, a youth from Kalyan returned home after spending about six months with the IS. He was arrested on arrival in Mumbai.
Among the six Indians, who fought alongside IS and got killed were three Indian Mujahideen terrorists, including Sultan Ajmer Shah and Bada Sajid, who joined its ranks after being in Pakistan, two from Maharashtra and one from Telangana.
On September 15, the UAE deported four Indians for their suspected links with the IS.
The UAE also sent back in September a 37-year-old woman, Afsha Jabeen alias Nicky Joseph, who was allegedly involved in IS recruitment drives.
In January, Salman Mohiuddin of Hyderabad was arrested at Hyderabad airport when he was preparing to board a flight to Dubai on way to Syria via Turkey.
Last week, a 16-year-old college girl, who was allegedly in touch with arrested Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) executive Mohammed Sirajuddin, was put under surveillance for her suspected links with the IS in Pune. The IOC executive was held in Jaipur this month for “working for the Islamic State”.
(With agency inputs)