Areeb Majeed, the 22-year-old college student who is in the custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) after his return from the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIS), has told investigators that his 25-year-old friend Shahim Farooque Tanki also wants to head back to India.
Shahim, who used to work at a call centre, was among the four young men from Kalyan who joined the ISIS’ campaign to create a Caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
Areeb has told investigators that he was in touch with the three other youngsters who went with him to work for the ISIS, and that they were his friends. Areeb said he kept in touch with Shahim, Aman Tandel and Fahad Shaikh through the messenger of a social networking site, while all four were in Iraq.
It was during one of these chat sessions that Shahim expressed his desire to return home, said police sources.
The national anti-terrorism agency, which has been closely monitoring the status of the youngsters, is expected to draw up plans if Shahim or any of the other young men contact their family members and say they want to return, said police sources.
NIA, which is investigating the way in which the four young men were radicalised, has learnt from Areeb that apart from online chat forums where his handler would talk to him about the need for ‘jihad’ to establish a ‘Caliphate’, he was also asked to go through videos containing first person accounts of foreign nationals who had joined ISIS.
ISIS has been making pervasive use of social media platforms in order to publicise its recruitment videos. “These videos portray how young people from countries such as Canada, France, Britain and the United States have let go of their good lives to join ISIS. Laced with slogans, such videos are persuasive enough to attract certain young people,” said a senior police officer, requesting anonymity.
Areeb’s initial radicalisation took place through local contacts, who later introduced him to closed internet groups that indoctrinated him further. NIA will also be questioning men who are under the scanner for having allegedly indoctrinated the four young men.