Crackdown on terror suspects: Shafi Armar scouted for recruits on FB

He is the common link between recent IS-linked terror modules busted, says an official

January 23, 2016 03:45 am | Updated November 17, 2021 04:31 am IST - New Delhi

He is described as accused number-26 in a case filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against members of the banned terrorist outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM). Mohammad Shafi Armar, a resident of Bhatkal who left for Pakistan along with his brother Mohammad Sultan Armar, is said to be the brain behind the online recruitment of young men across the country to join the Islamic State (IS). He is said to be operating under the pseudo name Yousuf in the online world.

Armar, a key member of the Ansar ul Tawhid (AuT), an offshoot of the IM, which later on pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State, reportedly operates from Syria.

“We have found that he is the common link between all the recent IS-linked terror modules busted in the country. Armar was in touch with the five men arrested from the town of Ratlam in M.P in April last year. He was also the online recruiter for the four men arrested by the Delhi and the Uttarakhand police a couple of days ago,” said a senior government official.

He operates swiftly at three levels — first he scouts for probable recruits on public platforms like Facebook. He then uses web-based applications for one-to-one contact and then moves to other encryption-free applications like Telegram, said an official.

His brother Sultan Armar was killed in March 2015 while fighting alongside the IS in Syria.

The Armar brothers’ link to the IS first figured during the interrogation of Yasin Bhatkal, who was arrested near the Nepal border in 2013.

It was during his interrogation that the AuT’s links to the IS, who till now operated near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border was revealed. Corroborating this, a charge sheet filed by the NIA in 2014 quoted Bhatkal: “During chat (email), accused A-26 (Shafi Armar) stated that he desired to be dispatched to Syria to work with other jihadis ... he desired that India should also become like Iraq and Syria.”

Among those who were arrested on Friday, Mumbra resident Mudabbir Mushtaq Sheikh was said to have been first recruited by Armar alias Yousuf. “He was in touch with Armar for over two years now and he had been motivated to carry out terror strikes. We have recovered lot of explosives from him,” said a senior NIA official.

The AuT, which was earlier said to be the media wing of the Indian Mujahideen mainly consisted of men from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh and Bhatkal in Karnataka. All of them fled to Dubai, from where they made their way to Pakistan after pressure mounted on them post serial blasts in 2008. Earlier, the group had imprints of the al-Qaeda, while it was being trained on the Af-Pak border but it gradually shifted allegiance to the Islamic State.

Sultan Armar also posted online videos ‘Lions of the Hind’ and ‘Kandahar se Dilli ki taraf’ on YouTube. The video had gone viral till it was blocked by the agencies.

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