Mohammad Niaz Abdul Rasheed sat in a box in the courtroom, his long hair tied in a bun, accompanied by four others accused of being part of a group he created for “armed jihad”.
Three other accused outside on a bench. One is absconding. Niaz is the only Indian in the group. All the others are French born. Niaz, 35, was born in Madurai.
He told French investigators that he was part of a group in India called ‘Popular Front of India’ which was earlier known as MNP. French authorities believe Niaz, who doesn’t speak fluent French, worked closely with a man called Saad Rajraji who helped him scout for men, give them basic physical training and indoctrinate them.
Niaz was allegedly in contact with four men in Pakistan via Team Viewer, a software that allows long distance control of one computer by another. Asked by the judge what his future plans were, Niaz said he wanted to ‘develop his career’ and that many French firms wanted to employ him as software engineer.
“I’m in prison and I don’t have Internet but my CV is on APEC (a French jobsite) so they call on my home number” said Niaz. Reading about explosives and rocket launchers was a ‘hobby’, he added. His lawyer Sebastien Bono told HT that Niaz was “lonely” but hasn’t committed any act of terror.
After the news was published, the Popular Front of India sent an e-mail to HT and denied the allegation saying that Niaz was not its member and the group didn’t have any link with him.