Investigations by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) have revealed that Saquib Nachan, who was among the 15 people arrested in raids at various locations in Maharashtra and Karnataka on Saturday, was the mastermind of the ISIS Maharashtra terror module and was directly in touch with three foreign-based ISIS handlers: Mohammad@Bhai, Abu Sultan, and Abu Suleman from Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.
According to the NIA investigation, Nachan presented himself as a religious leader administering the ‘bayath’ (oath of allegiance to the Khalifa of ISIS) to the arrested accused in the Maharashtra terror module, including his son Shamil Nachan, and the other accused who have been arrested along with him. They aimed to create a ‘liberated zone’ in India, affiliated to the ISIS Khilafat.
Saquib Nachan Solemnised The Oath For Recruits
The NIA investigation revealed that Saquib Nachan conducted three kinds of ‘bayath’, depending on the seniority of the recruits. Some arrested accused disclosed during interrogation that during the oath, an ISIS flag was displayed in the background and guns were placed with the flag.
Saquib Nachan would solemnise the oath, stating that they had chosen the path of violent jihad for the defence of Islam, ensuring the establishment of Sharia rule. The entire process was recorded with a mobile camera, and Nachan would send the video to foreign-based handlers Abu Sultan and Abu Suleman. In the search operation, the National Investigation Agency seized several ISIS flags, guns, knives, and swords from the arrested accused, including Adil Khot.
Many of the newly recruited accused, upon being arrested, revealed that they had taken the ‘bayath’ under Nachan’s guidance. Nachan would regularly organise Majlis where various topics were discussed, including the Palestine issue, the current situation of Muslims in India, and the alleged threat to Islam. During these meetings, participants would raise their hands, join hands with each other, and collectively take the oath for jihad.
In the third bayath, Saquib Nachan arranged for those suspects who were well-known personalities from different fields in society and did not want to reveal their identities. These individuals were providing financial support.
Links With Ratlam-based Module
According to reliable NIA sources, during the investigation of the Maharashtra terror module case, nine operatives, including Saquib’s son Shamil Nachan, were apprehended. Two of them are with the ISIS Ratlam-based module, Al Sufa.
The mastermind of Al Sufa, Imran Khan, and Mohammad Yunus Saki reportedly took the oath online. Following successful evasion after the NIA raid in March 2022 on the Ratlam-based terror module, both absconding accused contacted Nachan for shelter. It is alleged that Nachan sheltered them in Padgha for a few days. Nachan entrusted the responsibility of arranging a hideout and facilitating their settlement in Pune to Akif Nachan and Zulfiqar Ali Barodawala.
It is alleged that before successfully escaping, Imran Khan and Saki procured explosive material from Ratlam before the NIA raid, which they also hid in Padgha with the help of Nachan. This material was later used during the Pune explosive workshop, where all the Maharashtra terror module accused participated.
All electronic evidence, including mobile phones, laptops, routers, VPN and hard disks have been sent to the forensic lab by the NIA. Nachan was allegedly in contact with hisISIS foreign-based handlers through various means, including a VPN (Virtual Private Network), Telegram, Snapchat and several third-party apps, according to the NIA.
The agency suspects that the ISIS handlers Abu Suleman and Sultan may be the same person using different IDs and the interrogation of mastermind Nachan will continue.