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Bhatkal's new ISIS recruiter- The journey of Shafi Armar


New Delhi, May 6: Another resident of Bhatkal in Karnataka has shot into the limelight for the the wrong reasons. A year back Abu Bakr-Al-Bhagdadi had announced that Sultan Armar would be the emir of the Ansar-ul-Tawhid a recruiting wing for the ISIS.

Read more: Biriyani to Afghanistan- The transition of Bhatkal

With Sultan Armar dead, it appears as though the pieces have been picked up by his brother Shafi Armar Ahmed.

The journey of Shafi Armar

Shafi Armar who was last heard of in the year 2013 is back in the picture once again with five members of an ISIS module in Madhya Pradesh telling the police that they were in fact in touch with him.

Who is Shafi Armar?

Shafi Armar is the second among the three children of a family that hails from the coastal town of Bhatkal in Karnataka. His elder brother Sultan Armar is said to have taken him along with him and together they had joined the Indian Mujahideen.

Hailing from the same place, both Shafi and Sultan were taken into the IM by Riyaz Bhatkal. While Sultan was active in IM operations, Shafi was more of a second in command for the operations undertaken by his brother.

Shafi does not have any record of taking part in terrorist activities in the real sense. His activities were online and he was in charge of the media operations. A lot of literature concerning the ISIS posted on the Ansar site were said to be the handiwork of Shafi.

Currently his location is unclear. His family members in Bhatkal say that he and Sultan left home around 5 years back and they have no idea about their whereabouts.

The visit to Pakistan and the big break up:

When for the first time, Riyaz Bhatkal had roped in the Armar brothers, they were called to Pakistan. At Pakistan it was decided that the Armar brothers would go to Oman set up a base and then focus on Indian recruitments.

However an argument broke out over certain issues relating to Iqbal, the elder brother of Riyaz Bhatkal. The Armar brothers found that a sum of Rs 60 crore given to the Bhatkal brothers to carry out terror activities was misappropriated and not being put to the right use.

Further the Armar brothers also raised objections about Iqbal being involved in an illicit affair. They felt that this was anti Islam and objected to the same. A fight broke out and the Armar brothers decided to split. These incidents have been narrated to the police by Yasin Bhatkal who is presently in jail.

The Armar brothers then spoke with Yasin who was in India and told him about their intentions of breaking up with the IM. They said that they would want to shift loyalties to either the Al-Qaeda or the ISIS which had real concern about the religious cause.

The journey into the ISIS:

After breaking away from the IM, the Armar brothers decided to join the Al-Qaeda. However at that point in time, the ISIS was growing fast and they felt that this outfit was a better bet. Also the fading prospects of the Al-Qaeda was another reason for them to consider the ISIS.

Both the brothers then went up online and began posting literature for the ISIS. They managed to get the attention of the top rung of the ISIS and one fine day as the Global Islamic Council was announced the Armar brothers became the choice for the ISIS. The Ansar-ul-Tawhid was floated and while Sultan decided that he wanted to battle along with the ISIS, Shafi decided to carry out activities online.

The Madhya Pradesh module:

It is for the first time that the name of Shafi has been attached to such a major case. Around 15 months back when a couple of youth were arrested in Rajasthan, Shafi's name had cropped up briefly and the NIA felt that it was he who had carried out these recruitments.

When the module at Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh was busted a couple of days back, Shafi's name cropped up prominently. The members of the module headed by Irfan Khan said that he was in touch with Shafi and it is together that they planned a series of attacks in India.

The intention was to launch the first dedicated module in India for the ISIS. All these days the ISIS has only been recruiting out of India, but by setting up a dedicated module, they felt that they could boost up the recruitment drive.

According to Shafi, the module would provide the right platform for those youth who believed in the ISIS ideology but did not wish to travel to either Iraq or Syria. IntelligenceBureau officials feel that Shafi has taken the mantle from his brother Sultan who was killed last month in a combat at Kobane in Syria.

The location of Shafi is still a puzzle. In the past five years, he has been traced to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

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