When did IS terrorist Shafi Armar die: 2019 or 2016?
Shafi Armar used to operate the cyber handle Yusuf Al Hindi to radicalize Indian Muslims towards Islamic jihad. But the cyber character was used after his death by other IS cadre to lure Indians into IS.
Indian counter-terror operatives have “reliable information” that Islamic State terrorist and Ansar-ul-Tawhid founder Shafi Armar died in fighting in Raqqa in Syria in 2016 even though his cyber-alter ego YusufAl-Hindi continued to radicalise Indians to fight against non-believers in West Asian theatre.
At least two top CT operatives who spoke on condition of anonymity dismissed the claim that the Bhatkal, Karnataka born Armar, who was indoctrinated into Indian Mujahideen by brothers Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal now living in Pakistan, was killed last week while making a last stand for the IS in Baghuz, Syria. “We have reliable information from associates that Shafi Armar was killed in 2016. He first used to operate the cyber handle Yusuf Al Hindi to radicalize Indian Muslims towards Islamic jihad.
But the cyber character was used after his death by other IS cadre to lure Indians into IS,” said an intelligence official. After the crack-down on Indian Mujahideen in 2008, Shafi and brother Sultan moved to Pakistan via Nepal and then broke up with mentors Riyaaz and Iqbal to form Ansarul-Tawhid in FATA, Pakistan before moving to Iraq to fight for IS.
Although the IS has now lost all its territory in Syria and Iraq, around two dozen radicalized Indians from Kerala are still living in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan which they continue to call the Islamic State of Khorasan.
According to IS watchers, a group comprising 21 Kerala men, some with their wives and children went to Afghanistan via Iran in 2016 . Then, two more families joined them in 2018 taking the total to 31. According to intelligence officials, around eight of them have died either fighting or due to illness.
Since the rise of IS in Iraq and Syria post 2006, only around 110 Indians were attracted to the SunniSalafist ideology of Al Baghdadi. Despite India’s large Muslim population, the rabid IS ideology hardly found any traction in the country - barring small pockets in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, UP and Assam. This was largely due to efforts of the community, clerics and the security agencies who dissuaded young men from joining the group.