PFI plotted attacks on Jews in Tamil Nadu hill station, says NIA
The Popular Front of India (PFI) has been extensively using social media for recruiting youths for anti-national activities and one of the modules of the now-banned outfit even had prepared to attack foreigners, especially Jews visiting Vattakkanal, a hill station in Tamil Nadu, officials said.
As per an investigation carried out by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the module comprising about 15 youths and their associates from southern states, mostly PFI members or those attracted to the global terror group ISIS, had also conspired to attack High Court judges, senior police officers and Muslims belonging to Ahmediya sect with the intention of committing terror acts within India.
The module had allegedly entered into a criminal conspiracy to wage war against the government by collecting explosives and other offensive materials to target important persons and places of public importance, the officials said.
The module — Ansar-ul-Khilafa Kerala — was also indulged in a secret campaign of recruiting, motivating and radicalizing Muslim youths to join ISIS/ISIL, they said, adding the associates used various internet-based platforms (both surface and deep web) for propagating ISIS ideology.
Active surveillance mounted by the investigators found five suspects, namely Manseed, Swalith Mohammed, Rashid Ali Safvan and Jasim NK, and they were arrested from Kannur district in Kerala on October 2, 2016 while they were holding a conspiracy meeting as part of their preparation to allegedly wage a war against the government.
Later, searches were conducted at the residence of the accused and materials, including digital devices and documents, were seized. Custodial interrogation revealed that the accused had communicated with co-conspirator within and outside India over social media platforms like Facebook, Telegram, etc to allegedly wage a war against the government, the officials said.
One of the accused, Swalith Mohammed, disclosed about the receipt of funds
from his associates in the UAE for funding their activities.
The accused had conspired and propagated ISIS ideology directly and through social media and recruiting members for anti-national activities. They had created various Telegram groups like The Gate, Bab Al Noor, Play Ground, etc, the officials said.
Investigation has established that the accused had knowingly and intentionally conspired and conducted preparation to attack foreigners, especially Jews visiting Vattakkanal near Kodaikanal, to attack prominent political leaders at Kozhikode, Kerala, and to attack a programme of Jamaat-e-Islami at Kochi, the officials said.
Vattakkanal is a small scenic hill station in Tamil Nadu’s Dindigul district where every year hundreds of Israeli youths arrive for vacation after their compulsory military service in Israel.
The NIA investigations have also found that one Shajahan, a Kerala resident, who was working on the ISIS terror network in India, had earlier visited Turkey/Syria for allegedly carrying out terror activities and was deported from there.
The NIA also found that Shajahan had joined the National Democratic Front, which was the earlier avatar of the PFI, and gradually got indoctrinated by its leaders.
He came in contact with PFI leaders namely Haris, Shabeer, Manaf, Mustafa, Sadik,
Shajil and others.
He used to attend all PFI meetings in 2008 where the discussions were made on atrocities committed on the Muslims by the “non-believers” in India and other parts of
the world, the officials said, adding that particularly, Shameer, the then divisional president of the PFIs Valapattanam unit, indoctrinated Shajahan with the ISIS ideology.
After the declaration of Caliphate by Abu Bakar Bagdadi of the ISIS, Shameer motivated Shajahan to go for hijra as per Hadis and Quran for waging jihad.
As directed by Shameer, who was already in Syria, Shajahan along with his wife and two sons went to Malaysia in October 2016 en route to his final destination Syria, the officials said.
In Malaysia, Shajahan was met by one Rasheed and they moved to Iran from Malaysia. In Iran, Shajil and his family and Midlaj joined this group via Mangalore-Dubai-Iran, then further proceeded to Istanbul, Turkey, they said.
This group was joined by Abdul Manaf PP in Turkey. In February 2017, when Shajahan and Abdul Manaf PP along with their families, attempted to cross over to Syria, law enforcement agencies in Turkey apprehended Shajahan and deported to India on February 10, 2017.
However, Abdul Manaf managed to cross the border. After his earlier failed attempt, Shajahan again planned to go to Syria for hijra in March 2017. He acquired an Indian passport on forged identity of Mohammed Ismail Mohideen with the help of one travel agent Mustafa, the officials said. This time Abdul Khayoom and Abdul Razak also planned to go to Syria with Shajahan for hijra. Shajahan had reached Iran from Bangkok, they said.
While Khayoom managed to cross over to Syria, Shajahan and Razak were apprehended again in Turkey and deported to India on July 1, 2017, the officials said.
(With Agency inputs)