Mumbai: One of the arrested accused in the Maharashtra terror module case sent money to an ISIS-linked organisation to support its terrorist operations, according to the charge-sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Accused Sharjheel Shaikh donated $176 (₹14,600) to ‘The Merciful Hands’, a Syria-based organisation, through PayPal, using his Kotak Mahindra Bank account, the NIA said.
The agency claimed that another accused, Zulfikar Ali Barodawala, moved to Padgha-Borivali, a twin village in Bhiwandi Taluka, in May-June 2022 in the belief that it was India’s ‘Al Sham’ (Greater Syria).
Mosques and schools in Padgha-Borivali remained open during the pandemic in the belief that Covid-19 will have no impact in the land of Al Sham, the NIA claimed.
Barodawala and a third accused, Tabish, twice took oath to demonstrate their loyalty to ISIS, it claimed. On July 31, 2016, they sent an email to ISIS, in which Tabish pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the first ‘caliph’ of the Islamic State from 2014 until his death in 2019.
On February 25, 2017, Tabish received a reply from firstname.lastname@example.org stating: “Good job, update your contact details, number and address; we will be in touch.”
After Al-Baghdadi’s death, Tabish again took an oath of loyalty to Abu Al-Hussein Al-Husseini Al-Qurashi, the fourth ‘caliph’ of the Islamic State. He then shared the oath with an ISIS Telegram account.
Accused used apps to evade agency
The NIA claimed to have discovered several apps utilised by the accused to evade the agency. Tabish procured a virtual number through the ‘Cover Me – Second Phone Number’ application, making the payment through a bank account. He used this number for his ISIS Telegram account and WhatsApp, it said.
The NIA said it had found an encrypted communication application used by the accused to contact their ISIS handler. According to the charge-sheet, during the investigation, the NIA recovered several chat groups, Telegram groups, PDF files, email exchanges with ISIS handlers, and numerous videos. These videos included content from various Muslim scholars as well as violent videos from ISIS, all of which were shared among the accused. The charge-sheet claimed that all the accused were radicalised, technically proficient, and had plans to carry out terrorist activities in India.