Missing Mumbai youth indoctrinated online: ATS

July 27, 2014 02:45 am | Updated November 16, 2021 05:32 pm IST - MUMBAI:

The Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad is investigating the case of four missing youth from Kalyan here — Aarif Majid, Fahad Shaikh, Aman Tandel and Saleem Tanki — and are probing the possibility of their recruitment by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) on the basis of a letter written by Aman Tandel.

The four had left for Baghdad on a pilgrimage on May 25 along with 40 other persons.

The families of the four lost contact with the young men after June 10 when the city of Mosul fell to the ISIS forces. Tandel in a letter to his father before he left, said he was going away to fight for a larger cause in the name of Allah and that no one should look for him.

On June 2, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) learned about the case and started questioning the family members and the agency that organised the tour. But they have not made any substantial headway in the case, a senior police officer told The Hindu on condition of anonymity.

However, the official said there were clues that the youth had been indoctrinated online.

“It looks like they were indoctrinated by a local non-registered Muslim organisation to volunteer for jihad. They had enrolled with the organisation a couple of months ago. They were also very active online and their chat data show that they were brainwashed,” he said.

He also said the behaviour of the young men had undergone a marked change before they left for Iraq.

“Before enrolling for the pilgrimage, the boys lived a life of austerity and professed the tenets of Islam to their families. They were against their sisters dressing in western outfits. One was against his sister practising medicine,” the police official said.

The probe has hit a wall on crucial details like the identity of the person who paid for the tickets to Iraq.

Each of the young men reportedly paid Rs. 59,786 in cash for the tour. Also, there are no details yet on the identity of the people with whom they interacted online, the official said.

Isolated issue

A senior official from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) told The Hindu that this seems to be an isolated case.

“Other than the four missing boys, we have not learnt of any such cases in Maharashtra,” he said.

Meanwhile, the families of the young men are clinging to the hope that the probe will exonerate them. Aarif Majid was a student of civil engineering at a college in Navi Mumbai.

“My son can never join such an organisation. I only pray that he calls us one day,” says his father, Dr. Ejaz Majeed.

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