City-based IS handler operates from Tihar through smartphone

Propagating IS ideology from his jail cell

Hyderabad-based Abdullah Basith (26), an alleged key Ismalic State handler in India, currently lodged in Tihar jail as an undertrial, is proving time and again that jail is no bar to radicalise young minds and carry out his operations.

Popular as Khattab Bhai or Khurasani among militant groups, Basith has turned his confinement cell into a broadcasting centre where he is preparing highly explosive messages to indoctrinate young minds from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to sympathise with IS, sources in the National Investigation Agency said. He is a resident of Gulshan Iqbal Colony of Chandrayangutta in Old City.

“The arrest of a few sympathisers recently has revealed that Basith is using a smartphone inside the central prison and is in constant touch with his ‘friends’ in the outside world. Basith using a mobile phone from prison was mentioned in a recently filed charge-sheet and the same was informed to jail authorities as well,” a senior NIA official said. The engineering drop-out is also believed to be in contact with radical elements in neighbouring Bangladesh.

“He is in touch with them on various secure messaging applications and deliberating with people on how to propagate the ISIS ideology and its activities in India. He is also trying to build up a cadre of ISIS in the country by recruiting gullible youth for terrorist activities,” the official said, adding that the alleged IS handler’s main channel of communication is WhatsApp. He is also very active on other social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.

His role fomenting trouble in the backdrop of protest against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) came to light after the NIA arrested a Kashmiri couple, Jahanzaib Sami and Hina Bashir Beigh, the operatives of Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), for allegedly making use of the protests to instigate Muslims to indulge in arson and riots.

Basith, Sami, Hina and two others were charge-sheeted by the agency for their alleged affiliation to the banned ISIS and ISKP. The charge-sheet was filed in the NIA Special Court at New Delhi, recently.

Two youngsters, Nabeel S. Khatri (27), a gym owner and Sadiya Anwar Sheikh (22), a Journalism student, who were arrested by NIA in Pune in July for planning terrorist attacks in India were in touch with Basith.

The investigators said they were propagating the ISIS ideology as part of the activities of the outlawed ISKP.

Basith was arrested by the NIA in August 2018 in connection with the 2016 Abu Dhabi module and his name was included in several IS-related cases.

In 2014, Basith along with three others from Hyderabad en route to leave Syria via Bangladesh to join the IS were arrested in Kolkata. At that time, the city police had counselled and warned the youth before they were handed over to their parents.

However, in December 2015, Basith and his two cousins Syed Omer Faruq Hussaini of Chandrayangutta, and Maaz Hussain of Mehdipatnam, were apprehended by the Special Investigation Team of Hyderabad police at Nagpur airport. They were planning to go to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and to Afghanistan via Srinagar. This time, they were arrested by the Hyderabad police, who filed a charge-sheet in a local court in December 2017.

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