New Delhi, Nov 17: Target 300 by the end of 2016 is the message that the ISIS had for its Indian recruitment agency, Ansar-ul-Tawhid.
The birth of the AuT took place following the split in the Indian Mujahideen. The IM which was the deadliest home grown terror group had begun falling apart after a series of arrests were carried out which included that of its chief Yasin Bhatkal.
The voices of dissent were clear and a large part of the IM began disagreeing with Riyaz Bhatkal as they felt that he was tilting more towards the ISI when their loyalties should be with the ISIS which is the real protector of Islam.
Leading the voice of dissent was Sultan Armar, the youth from Bhatkal in Karnataka. Joining him was his brother Shafi Armar and together they pledged their support to the ISIS. The chief of the ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Bhagdadi was responsive and realizing that India could be a potential target in the future, he declared Sultan Armar as the emir of the AuT.
We need 300 men:
The AuT focuses largely on recruiting Indians into the ISIS. The recruitments have been slow and the AuT has managed to target just a handful of people. The official count with the Ministry for Home Affairs is around 23. While one could attribute this low rate of recruitments to the excellent job done by the Intelligence Bureau, the officials however point out that the job is only half done.
For now there is no real requirement of Indians in the ISIS and hence they are taking the recruitments slow. It makes not much sense for the ISIS to have several Indians in their fold as of now to fight in Iraq and Syria. Language and logistic barriers is what is coming in the way of the recruitments from India.
However there is a long term strategy that the ISIS and its Indian wing the AuT have in mind. They propose to recruit at least 300 Indians by the end of 2016 and this would indicate that the ISIS is fully ready for Afghanistan. For the ISIS it makes more sense having Indians fighting in Afghanistan when compared to an Iraq or a Syria.
The NIA dossier:
The National Investigation Agency had last year prepared a dossier which spoke about the coming together of the ISIS and the AuT. The dossier stated that the ISIS is targeting 300 Indians. The dossier revolved heavily around the emergency of the AuT.
The NIA stated that the AuT had a deadly combination of three operatives Sultan Abdul Kadir Armar, Gul Mariacar and Shafi Armar. All the three men hail from South India. While the Armars are from Bhatkal, Mariacar is a Cuddalore based operative, the NIA had pointed out.
The NIA had noted that some of the Indians with the ISIS are currently providing technical assistance and also undertaking odd jobs. The ISIS does not want the Indians to fight in Iraq and Syria and would prefer to utilize them to run social media campaigns among other activities.
Intelligence Bureau officials say that when the ISIS makes its entry into Afghanistan in a full fledged manner, it would recruit more Indians to fight the battle in that country.
Meet the AuT chief:
There are contradictory reports on Sultan Armar. While the ISIS has claimed that he had died and his brother is running the show, Indian agencies doubt this. The NIA website still shows him as a wanted criminal as there is no confirmation on whether he had died or not.
He is an important operative and is needed by the ISIS in the long run. The heat on him was extremely high and hence circulating news of his death may have been a ploy to keep the snooping at bay.
The 39 year old Armar a resident of Bhatkal trained at a seminary in Lucknow. He had in fact recently issued a call to the Indian Muslims to join the global jihad. He speaks about the plight of the Indian Muslims and tells them the importance of joining either the ISIS or the Tehrik-e-Taliban.
Armar who started out by recruiting for the Tehrik-e-Taliban is also actively involved in recruitments for the ISIS. The links between the Tehrik-e-Taliban and the ISIS was evident when the former was the first to support the call made by the latter to set up a Global Islamic Council and also declared the Caliphat.