Kamaljit Kaur Sandhu
Islamic State (IS) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in raids carried out
by the United States in Syria, Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has said the
terror group is shifting its base to Afghanistan.
In an exclusive
interview to India Today TV, Javad Zarif said the Islamic State poses a common
threat to India, Pakistan, Russia and even China. He said these countries need
to unite to fight the threat emanating from the terror group.
revival of IS (also known as Daesh) is the source of common concern between
India, Iran and Pakistan. The terror outfit is moving its base from Syria and
Iraq to Afghanistan. There are territories within Afghanistan that are of great
concern for everyone. The threat is not faced by just one country, but the
entire region," Javad Zarif said.
there are reports of IS operatives carrying out operations in Tajikistan and
Uzbekistan from its bases in Afghanistan.
[reports] are serious developments. We are routinely engaging with our Indian
friends over relocation of IS and the threat emanating from the move. We are
also in touch with Pakistan, Russia and China. This [fight against terrorism]
is an issue that can unite all of us," Zarif said.
about the role of the US, he said, "The US won't come to our rescue. We
have to help ourselves."
been fighting against the Islamic State for the past several years. Sources in
India say Indian agencies believe that key areas in Afghanistan were on radar
after 21 youth from Kerala went missing in 2016 and later joined IS. Amongst
them, 17 were from Kasaragod district, while four hailed from Palakkad
Of them, at
least three to four have reportedly died in counter-terror strikes.
despite Iran's anti-Islamic State stand, IS operatives in India have been using
the country to escape to neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) had uncovered a modus operandi where it
found that over two dozen IS operatives, mostly from Kerala, used Iran as a
route to hoodwink Indian agencies.
an Is Operative
TV tracked down case of Nashidul Hamzafar, 26, a terror suspect from Kalpetta
in Wayanad district of Kerala. He was the first IS operative from India to be
deported from Afghanistan last year.
September-October 2017, Nashidul left from his hometown Waynad in Kerala and
travelled to Muscat, the capital of Oman. On October 13, 2017, he along with
his accomplice Habeeb, left for Tehran from the Muscat International Airport by
an Emirates flight.
an Iranian SIM card from the airport by using Habeeb's passport. He then booked
a room at the Imam Khomeini Street, where he had to submit copies of his
passport as an identity proof. There he waited to hear from the IS' contact
person on the encrypted messaging application Telegram.
instructions from IS, he was asked to arrange an Afghan Visa. Sources said
following this, Habeeb and Nashidul went to the Afghan embassy, where they were
interviewed. They were later asked to visit the embassy after three days. They
were also informed their visa applications would be processed after getting a
No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Indian embassy.
involved a risk of being apprehended.
Nashidul was determined to go ahead and become an IS operative, his companion,
Habeeb, left for Kerala, after contacting his father.
Nashidul travelled 450 kilometres by taxi to Isfahan in Iran. He told his
interrogators, "After a hectic journey of six hours I reached Isfahan by
night. I paid 100 dollars as taxi fare."
It is here
where he was contacted by an IS operative on Telegram. The operative met him at
night, searched his bags and took away his laptop and passport. However,
Nashidul resisted handing over his iPhone.
guide told him his belongings would be returned once he reached Afghanistan.
For his services, the guide charged him $450 US.
This was to
be Nashidul's gateway to IS territory in Afghanistan. The next day he was
dropped at a deportation camp. There was a long queue in the camp, and Nashidul
joined it. He lied about his identity and address.
the NIA told India Today TV that Nashidul gave his address as "S/o
Muhammed, R/o Nooristan, Afghanistan".
the address given by the Iranian guide. When interrogated by NIA, Nashidul
said, "The authorities interviewed me and collected my biometric details.
They got suspicious about my nationality and I was shifted to another camp.
They deported all Afghan citizens and l was forcefully loaded in a deportation
vehicle for Pakistan, thinking that l was a Pakistani. I told one of the
officers in that vehicle that I am an Afghan and requested him to send me to
Afghanistan. Accordingly, he sent me back to the Afghan camp."
Nashidul was left off by the agencies and he went on to spend a year in
Afghanistan. But as soon as agencies in Afghanistan got a wind of his motives,
he was tracked and detained. He was questioned by Afghan and US intelligence
agencies. Once, it became clear that Nashidul had come to Afghanistan to join
the IS, the agencies deported him to India.
considers Nashidul Hamzafar to be a goldmine of information since he is the
first active terrorist with key links to the 2016 episode when 21 youths from
Kerala went missing to join IS.
Nashidul is not the first IS operative from India to use Iranian soil. Between
2016 and 2018, several IS operatives have tried to hoodwink authorities in a
Rashid Abdullah, from Kerala's Kasargod also travelled to Afghanistan via Iran
in 2016. He was reportedly killed in June this year.
Rehman, another Kerala resident from Wayanad, left for Tehran from Muscat in
October 2017. From Tehran, he travelled to Syria. He was later pardoned.
Vincent, a resident of Palakkad in Kerala, used a Mahan Airway flight to reach
Iran in June 2016, before coming back to Kerala.
Rasak, 34, from Kerala's Kannur district left India on April 18, 2017 for the
UAE. He used Iran to travel to Syria.
24, a resident of Kannur left India on October 13, 2016 and reached Tehran by
Air Asia. He illegally crossed into Turkey through Tabriz and was deported on
January 17, 2017. He has currently been made an approver.
Khayam, 22, from Kannur, left India on April 18, 2017 for the UAE and from
there to Tehran on April 21, 2017. He crossed into Syria from Turkey in May
2017. He was reportedly killed in December 2018.
Sameer MV, a Kannur resident, left India on December 2015 for Saudi Arabia. He
reached Iran in January 2016, illegally crossed into Turkey and then to Syria.
He is said to have been killed in Syria in 2016.
sources in Indian agencies say Iran has been a friendly country and has always
aided India when it comes to legal issues such as Mutual Legal Assistance
Treaty (MLAT) or cooperation on issues of terrorism.
the IS shifting its base to Afghanistan, there is a worry over attempts being
made to revive IS. Besides this, there is the issue of many European nations
refusing to take back IS terrorists who end up in camps being run by Syrian
Kurds in northern Syria after the collapse of IS camps. Sources told India Today
TV that Indian agencies are alert about these developments but are yet to hear
from authorities of any captured Indian fighter.
Headline: Islamic State is relocating to Afghanistan; it's threat for India
too: Iran foreign minister
Source: The India Today