PFI’s alleged links in Turkey and Qatar being probed

The outfit’s alleged links with extremist elements abroad being looked into, says an official

September 30, 2022 02:38 am | Updated 08:39 am IST - NEW DELHI

Security personnel deployed outside a sealed office of Popular Front of India (PFI), in Bhopal, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.

Security personnel deployed outside a sealed office of Popular Front of India (PFI), in Bhopal, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

The enforcement agencies are probing the alleged links of the now-banned Popular Front of India (PFI) with the extremist elements in Turkey, and the others who extended financial support to the outfit from Qatar to carry out its activities in India.

“In search of funding for their organisation, some PFI members had earlier travelled to Qatar and met certain Turkish nationals... there are also reports that its national executive council members E.M. Rahiman and P. Koya were allegedly hosted in Istanbul by an al-Qaeda linked charity organisation,” said an agency official.

The official said several persons linked to the PFI had also joined the ISIS in the past. In a case later taken over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Delhi Police Special Cell had arrested Mohammed Ismail Mohideen, a resident of Kannur in Kerala, along with another person after he was deported by the Turkish authorities in July 2017.

The accused identified himself as Shahjahan V.K. and disclosed that he had issued a passport in the name of Ismail Mohideen after he was deported from Turkey for the first time in February the same year. Shahjahan had allegedly joined the National Democratic Front (predecessor of the PFI) in 2006. He then came in contact with the local PFI leaders and attended its meetings in 2008.

It is alleged that the then PFI divisional president of Valapattanam, Shameer, introduced Shahjahan to the ISIS ideology and motivated him to go to Turkey/Syria after the declaration of Caliphate by Abu Bakar Bagdadi of ISIS. As instructed by Shameer, who was already in Syria, the accused along with his wife and two sons went to Malaysia in October 2016 and then to Iran.

In Iran, another accused named Shajil and his family -- which had reached there via Mangalore and Dubai -- joined them, and went to Istanbul. In February 2017, some persons were trying to cross over to Syria when Shahjahan was detained and deported to India. He then made another failed attempt.

In another ISIS-related case registered in December 2017, the Kerala police got a tip-off that some young men had migrated to Syria and were planning to join the ISIS. “Most of the accused were linked to the PFI. Hamza, a Gulf returnee, was the mastermind behind recruiting youth from Kerala for the ISIS. He befriended some PFI supporters, while Sameer provided the action plan to travel to Syria via different countries,” the official said.

The police later arrested five persons, including Hamza. The NIA later took over the probe and charge-sheeted 17 accused persons. In yet another such case, two of the 15 accused persons -- Omar Al Hindi aka Muthukka and Safvan -- had alleged links with the PFI.

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