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Is the Islamic State being run at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI in India?

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New Delhi, Apr 30: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is hot on the trail of Islamic State modules down South, in the wake of the Sri Lanka bombings.

While Kerala and Tamil Nadu, considered to be hubs of the Islamic State are high on the radar, it all began with the NIA busting a major module in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

Is the Islamic State being run at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI in India?

The NIA said that the module was inspired by the Islamic State and functioned under the name of Harkat-ul-Harb-e-Islam.

ISIS operative plotted Sri Lanka styled bombings in Kerala

The tracking of this module began sometime in October last year after the intelligence agencies picked up chatter online. The handler who was running this module goes under the name of Abu Hufaiza al Bakistani. A further look into the activities of this handle suggested that it was the new name for the old handle Yusuf Al-Hindi, which was being run by a Bhatkal native, Shafi Armar.

Shafi and Sultan Armar, the two brothers were initially part of the ISI sponsored Indian Mujahideen.

They are said to have had a falling out, following which they joined the ISIS. Several Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials that OneIndia spoke with say that this was entirely stage managed by the ISI.

With the death of the Indian Mujahideen, Pakistan had lost a major home grown outfit. It needed another outfit to function in India on the lines of the IM. However over the past few years, Pakistan has found it hard to install a home grown outfit in India due and hence restricted its proxies only to Kashmir.

IB officials say that if one were to look at the ISIS inspired modules that have been busted up north, they bear the signature of Pakistan. The radicalisation through the madrasas, manner in which funds are raised and the kind of bombs they are preparing, all these show clear signs that there is a big Pakistan hand in it.

Followed speeches of Colombo bombing mastermind, Kerala ISIS operative to NIA

Moreover, no other country would want problems in India as much as Pakistan would. Officials say that they would not rule out the possibility of a Pakistan hand being behind all these ISIS inspired modules.

If one traces the birth of the ISIS in India, it can be linked to a group called the Ansar-ul-Tawhid, which was a break away faction of the Indian Mujahideen. It was in the month of August 2014 that the Ansar pledged support to the ISIS and promised to recruit at least 300 from India.

The outfit was at first headed by Bhatkal resident, Sultan Armar and following his death in 2016, the mantle was taken over by his brother Shafi Armar. Reports suggest that even Shafi was killed last year, following which one of his aides if running the group.

The brothers, who were residents of Haji Manzil, Nawayat Colony, Bhatkal, Dist-Uttar Kannada, Karnataka-581320, had ventured into the Indian Mujahideen at first at the behest of Yasin Bhatkal.

While breaking away from the Indian Mujahideen, they said that they did not want to be stooges of the ISI. They even said that for an Islamic Caliphate to be set up in India, they could rely only on the ISIS. Many within the intelligence circles feel that this was a completely stage managed drama by the ISI. It wanted to use members of the Indian Mujahideen to set up the ISIS in India.

Since the ISIS is an Iraq-Syria based outfit, any attack in India would not be blamed on the ISI. This was done intentionally so that Pakistan could play on the deniability factor, officials also point out.

From this point onwards the Armar brothers began the propaganda for the ISIS through their various handles- @Sult, @Mulla, @Moulana, @Nakhwa, @Pandit, @Shekhu, @Sheikh-Ul-Hadees and @Pujari.

Following this a video was circulated in which the chief of the ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Bhagdadi was heard declaring Armar as an emir. It was found later on that the video was fake. The brothers kept their focus on India and in the early stages recruited youth from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The ISI through the Ansar was setting up a home grown outfit for India. Even after the breakaway, the Armar brothers kept in touch with Riyaz Bhatkal, who is said to be hiding in Karachi along with his brother Iqbal Bhatkal. These are very clear indications that the ISI is behind the operations of the ISIS in India, officials also point out.

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