ISIS India: How ‘Abu Huzaifa’ is radicalising Indian youth online


NEW DELHI: The self-styled terror module busted by the national intelligence agency on Wednesday was being controlled by an online entity by the name of “Abu Huzaifa al Bakistani” who has been handling close to two dozen youths through various online platforms.

Sources said this entity is recruiting and radicalising youth across south-east Asia to join the “Islamic State”. After initial contact on Facebook, the youths are brought on to closed groups on chat platforms like Threema and Telegram. Sources in an intelligence agency said that deep tracking of this handle has led them to believe that Huzaifa is a highly trained Pakistani national who has been radicalising Indian youths, possibly on behalf of Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI.

The “Abu Huzaifa” handle has cropped up in several investigations and operations conducted by various agencies, including the Telangana police’s counter-intelligence unit which provided crucial inputs for Wednesday’s operation, multiple sources confirmed.

“This handle became unusually active last year after the online ID in the name of ‘Yusuf Al Hindi’ suddenly went dormant. Indian Mujahideen rebel Shafi Armar, who later joined the Khorasan module of Islamic State, was operating that handle and recruiting Indian youth,” an officer explained.

Armar, who belonged to Bhatkal in Karnataka, is believed to have been killed last year in Syria. He is estimated to have inspired around 1,000 youths, mostly from South Asia, to come to Syria and fight. His brother, Sultan Armar, was killed in a drone strike in 2016. Once Al Hindi’s handle went down, there were stray attempts to radicalise youths using that ID. However, the real trouble began when Abu Huzaifa handles cropped up on various platforms and began to successfully brainwash youths.

The Indian intelligence agencies began to track Huzaifa handles — which was operating from behind several proxy servers — in October last year after inputs of it being a credible threat were confirmed. Sources in the agencies say that at least a dozen youths from north India are under the scanner as they are still in touch with this handle and have become part of groups through which jihadi propaganda is spread.

This handle has a very specific style of functioning. “After verifying a target’s loyalty and his inclination towards jihad, the handle asks them to rope in like-minded youths. At the next stage, the handler introduces them to one or two members from another module and motivates them to carry out a strike. They also give a separate name to each module. ln this case, they had christened the Delhi-Amroha module as Harkat-ul-Harb-e-Islam,” an officer explained.

The handler also remains on the lookout for youths with criminal backgrounds and gives them important posts in the module. “In this case, Sohail Mufti was chosen as the head of the outfit because of his past experience in arms dealing,” an officer claimed.


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