The death of a young Islamic State (ISIS) recruit from India in Afghanistan in a drone strike and the first ISIS-related arrests in Gujarat at the weekend have revived fears over the spread of the terror group in the subcontinent.
TK Hafeezuddin, 24, from Padanna in Kasargod was among 21 people who went missing from northern Kerala and were suspected to have joined ISIS in June last year.
His mother Khadeeja received a Telegram app message on Sunday from an ISIS recruit Ashfak Majeed that said Hafeezuddin was killed in a drone attack at Nangarhar on Saturday and that he was buried the same day.
“… we consider him to be a shaheed [martyr] … We are waiting for our turn,” the message read.
Neither the federal National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is looking into the case of the 21 missing young people, nor the Kerala state police confirmed the death of Hafeezuddin.
His father Abdul Hakeem, who runs a business in the Arabian Gulf and Mumbai, was hoping his son may realize his mistake and return home sooner or later.
Most of the 21 missing were educated, soft-spoken and computer savvy members from affluent families and they knew each other.
Six youths were arrested on October 3 last year from Kannur and Kozhikode districts of Kerala for plotting terror attacks across southern lndia.
On October 20, a local newspaper reported of an international manhunt for a key IS recruiter from Kozhikode.
The arrests and the newspaper report deepened fears that Kerala may be coming under the shadow of the dreaded group.
The report of new IS recruits from India heading for training camps in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan appeared convincing as IS militants fleeing their Middle East strongholds were looking for a haven in South Asia.
Sajeer Mangalachari Abdullah, a graduate from National Institute of Technology-Calicut, was said to have recruited the six youths to target Israeli tourists visiting Kodaikanal and also kill pro-Hindu leaders and judges in Kerala for their “anti-Muslim” views or verdicts.
He is also believed to have facilitated the travel of the 21 youths to Afghanistan.
First ISIS-related arrests
In another development last weekend, Anti-Terrorism Squad officials of Gujarat arrested brothers, Wasim Ramodiya and Naeem, from Rajkot and Bhavnagar, respectively, for their suspected links with ISIS.
The pair were planning to attack shrines in Gujarat, record and upload the video of the attacks on social media and escape to Iraq or Syria.
Police recovered bomb-making material, jihadi literature, masks and several mobile phones from their homes.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad had been monitoring Wasim and Naeem for months because of their links with ISIS in Iraq and Syria through social media platforms.
Arif Ramodiya, the father of the two suspects, said he came to know about their activities only after Wasim’s arrest. He said their shameful act has ruined his reputation.