Kerala man convicted for ‘waging war against friendly country’, quantum of punishment on Monday
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Kochi on Friday found a man from Kerala, Subahani Haja Moideen (34), guilty of waging war against a friendly country. His punishment will be announced on Monday. The man is said to have links with Islamic State and recently returned to the country.
Legal experts said this is the first case wherein Section 125 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) - for waging a war against a friendly government - was invoked in a terror case in south India. Besides Section 125, Moideen was found guilty under various sections including 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). For the first time, a senior Indian Foreign Service official was also called as a witness in the case.
Moideen was earlier questioned by French intelligence agencies in connection with the Paris attacks. While in Iraq, he told agencies that he worked with Abdel Hamid Abaaoud, a Belgian-Moroccan militant, who was the mastermind behind the November 2015 Paris attacks. The NIA had arrested him from Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu in 2016 where he was living discreetly after his return to the country.
According to the prosecution, Moideen, who hails from a small town in Kerala’s Idukki district, had left for Jeddah in 2015 and later reached Turkey. Later he was taken to Syrian borders by his handlers before he was moved to Raqqa for an intense arms training.
After three weeks of training, he told investigators that he was sent to Mosul (Iraq) and enrolled in a team led by a French-speaking leader. During one of the attacks, he said he saw one his aides burned alive after which he fled the battle scene but was captured by other IS militants. He told the probe team that he was let off only after assuring the IS leadership that he will carry out terror activities in India. The prosecution said when he was arrested he was planning attacks against some judges and senior political leaders.
According to the NIA, Moideen, belonging to a middle-class family, worked in a family-run cloth shop in Thodupuzha after dropping out from college. When he turned to drinking alcohol, his family forced him to marry. To wean him from alcohol, his wife later advised him to take up religious studies and he turned a small-time religious scholar. He told interrogators that he later was attracted to teachings of Anwar al Awlaki, one of the mentors of Al Qaeda, and started chatting with others through encrypted Telegram app and was soon radicalised. Before his trip to Iraq, he also participated in Kanakamala terror plot in Kannur in 2015.
During the investigation, it was also found that after leaving IS-ruled areas, Moideen came to Turkey and gave a wrong affidavit in the Indian Embassy saying that his travel papers were stolen during a religious trip. The NIA got a whiff of him while it was investigating another IS-returnee from Maharashtra, Areeb Majeed, who is under judicial custody now.