IS recruit Majeed booked for terror conspiracy

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Nov 29, 2014 16:17 IST

College student-turned-ISIS militant Areeb Majeed was produced before a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court Saturday and sent to NIA custody till December 8.

Six months after he left his suburban Mumbai home to join Islamic State (also known as IS or ISIS or ISIL) militants, 22-year-old Majeed returned from West Asia Friday and was being questioned by the NIA, officials said.

Majeed has been booked under sections 16, 18, 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) relating to conspiracy in a terrorist act, and section 125 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for waging war against a country which has friendly ties with India.

The NIA, however, was not willing to comment much on the case which has raised concerns across the country over the West Asian militant group's recruitment plans.

Hindustan Times was the first to report that Areeb, earlier thought to have been killed in an air strike, was alive and had called his father, Dr Ijaz Majeed, seeking help to return from Turkey.

Sleuths believe Areeb has actively participated in ISIS terror designs in Iraq and Syria.

Areeb and three other young men -- Fahad Shaikh, Saheem Tanki and Amaan Tandel -- from Kalyan in Maharashtra's Thane district went to Iraq in May to join the jihadi group, investigators said. How Areeb managed to escape and go to Turkey is still unknown.

NIA prosecutor Geeta Godambe said the agency wanted to know the truth, and sought to take Areeb into 14-day custody.

Areeb, who was dressed in dark brown Pathani suit Saturday, was asked by the judge why he had not hired any lawyer. "I was in NIA's custody, and did not get the time to hire a lawyer," he said.

The judge further asked if he had any complaints with the agency. But, Areeb said 'no'.

Preliminary questioning of Areeb has made the agency believe that ISIS handlers gave the Kalyan youngster a basic training in handling firearms.

Areeb has also reportedly told the agency about who funded his trip. An NIA source said the agency had zeroed in on a firm.

Areeb was injured in an airstrike in Iraq and suffered a bullet injury. He has no regrets of having joined the ISIS, added police sources.

Sources said Areeb landed at Mumbai international airport at 5:15am Friday and was immediately taken into custody by NIA officials.

According to police, the four engineering students -- radicalised over the internet -- flew to Baghdad as part of a group of 22 pilgrims visiting religious shrines in Iraq. But intelligence agencies later intercepted phone calls where the men were crying and asking their families to seek the government's help for their return.

Maharashtra's anti-terrorism squad (ATS), which earlier questioned the youngsters' relatives, is also in touch with the NIA over Areeb's return, sources said.

Intelligence and security officials have warned that the Islamic State is trying to indoctrinate and recruit young volunteers online from India - home to the world's second-largest Muslim population.

However, national security adviser Ajit Doval said at this month's HT Leadership Summit that no more than 10 Indian Muslims had gone to join IS militants in Iraq and Syria.

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