Islamic State group Al-Hind plotted to build province in jungles of South India: NIA charge sheet
An offshoot of IS operating in south India, known as the Al-Hind module planned to establish ISIS Daishwilayah (province) inside the jungles of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala as recently as in late 2019 according to a July charge sheet by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against 17 members of the module.
This is the first time NIA or any investigative agency has unearthed an ISIS plot of this nature in India, although the terror group’s playbook has always revolved around creating Islamic states in areas it controls.
The arrests were made between December, 2019, and January this year.
To understand how to survive inside the deep forest, the 20-member module, led by Bengaluru-based Mehboob Pasha and Cuddalore (Tamil Nadu)-based Khaja Moideen even bought books on famous sandalwood smuggler Veerappan who successfully dodged the police of several states.
Significantly, in November 2019, Pasha, along with four others from this highly radicalised module of IS, even visited the Shivanasamudra area in Karnataka to identify an area in the jungle where they could train, create a suitable hideout for all Al-Hind members and establish the first IS Daishwilayah (province) in the country.
In its charge sheet, reviewed by HT, NIA has further stated that on the directions of Khaja Moideen, module members procured tents, rain coats, sleeping bags, ropes, ladders, pulleys, bows and arrows, jungle boots, knives, arms and ammunitions, as well as large quantity of firecrackers and sparklers with an intention to extract explosive content from them for making powerful IEDs.
The outfit even identified hideouts in Kolar, Kodagu, and other places in Karnataka; Jambusar in Gujarat; Ratnagiri in Mahatrashtra; Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh; and Burdwan and Siliguri in West Bengal where they could hide, according to the NIA chargesheet.
Their plan was to target/murder Hindu religious and political leaders, police officers, government officials and other high profile individuals all over India and then retreat to the forest, the charge sheet added.
Pasha was receiving instructions from an unknown foreign handler called “bhai”, NIA said.
“At its prime in 2014-15, the Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi led global terror outfit Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS) managed to control a significant territory in Iraq, Syria and even Afghanistan. The outfit influenced hundreds of Indian youngsters – some of whom travelled to the held territories, while many stayed here to carry out attacks in different cities. However, never in last six years, have we heard that there was a plan to create a physical territory here in India by the outfit,” said a senior counter-insurgency official who didn’t want to be identified.
The Al-Hind module, which operated from the Al-Hind Trust office of Pasha in Guruppanpalya, Bengaluru, was unearthed by agencies in January this year with multiple raids in Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The NIA charge sheet adds that Khaja Moideen even sold his inherited land in Cuddalore (Tamil Nadu) and gave an amount of ₹5 lakh to buy jungle survival and training items. The outfit members practiced Taekwondo and Kung Fu at the Al-Hind Trust’s premises. On the directions of Pasha, the module members also participated in anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) protests in different cities.
Moideen was arrested in the murder of a Hindu leader KP Suresh Kumar in Tamil Nadu in 2014 but was released on bail in July 2019. Since then, he was in touch with Pasha to create a new module, NIA said.
NIA officials familiar with the case said some members of the module are still absconding.