It was the summer of 1990, and at the peak of the Gulf War, Kuwait had become a battleground, reeling under the Iraqi occupation. Caught in the crossfire, more than 1 lakh Indian nationals were stranded, and the family of Haji Khaleel Ahmed Bakhaid too faced an uncertain future.
After months of wait, the Indian government came to the rescue of Bakhaid and his family, who like many others were airlifted from Kuwait to India.
But 26 years ago, little did Bakhaid, a father of 8 children, realise that one day his youngest son, Jamil Ahmed, would be arrested for conspiring against his homeland.
Ahmed, an alleged Islamic State operative, was arrested by the Rajasthan anti-terrorism squad (ATS) on Wednesday from Fatehpur in Sikar. He was produced in the district and sessions court on Thursday and sent to a 7-day police custody.
The family of Ahmed had been airlifted out of Kuwait in 1990 by the Indian government, ATS officials learnt during his interrogation.
“Bakhaid, the father of Ahmed, used to work in Kuwait at the time of the Gulf War. Ahmed was studying at Class 9 when the war broke out, and their family was eventually rescued through an airlift by the Indian government like many other Indian nationals,” said superintendent of police (ATS) Vikas Kumar.
The Indian government is credited with rescuing around 1,11,711 people through 488 flights of the Air India and Indian Airlines. A Bollywood film about the airlift, starring Akshay Kumar and Neemrat Kaur, was also released this year.
Ahmed was 16-year-old at the time of the airlift. Some of his brothers are also settled abroad in places such as Muscat, officials said.
Ahmed, who used to work in a Dubai-based company, is accused of functioning as a fundraiser for the Islamic State with connections in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon. A strong critic of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, he believes that the only solution to the Syrian conflict is the establishment of a Caliphate by the Islamic State, ATS officials told HT on anonymity.
“During interrogation we have also learnt that Ahmed was in touch with Karen Aisha Hamidon, a Filipino woman who acts as an online recruiter for the Islamic state, radicalising people over the internet,” said an ATS official.
ATS sources said interrogations have revealed Ahmed’s connections with Abu Hurayra al-Hindi, a recruiter of the IS who is also active on Twitter.