Thane engineering student Fahad Sheikh
State has released a new 22-minute Arabic-language documentary on purported
Indian jihadists in its ranks, providing the first interviews with five
fugitive jihadists known to have joined the ranks of fighters in Iraq and Syria
released online early on Friday, is the first propaganda the Islamic State has
produced with content focused on India and South Asia.
engineering student Fahad Tanvir Sheikh who travelled to Syria in 2014 along
with three other men from the city, as first reported in The Indian Express, is
the only individual conclusively identified in the video, in which he uses the
pseudonym Abu Amr’ al-Hindi.
“We will return,” Sheikh vows, “but with a
sword in hand, to avenge the Babri Masjid, and the killings of Muslims in
Kashmir, in Gujarat, and in Muzaffarnagar.”
pays homage to his friend from Thane, Shahim Tanki, who is said to have been
killed in a bomb attack in Raqqa last year.
member of the group, Areeb Majid, is now being prosecuted by the National
Investigation Agency (NIA).
also features several still-to-be-identified members, suspected to be once of
the Indian Mujahideen, whose members are known to have been serving with
Islamic State forces after breaking with their Pakistan-based leadership.
in the Indian state who wish to understand our actions”, says an unidentified
jihadist, “I say you have only three options: to accept Islam, to pay Jizya, or
to prepare to be slaughtered”.
the surviving Thane men, as well as members of the Indian Mujahideen known to
have left Pakistan for Syria, are being contacted to identify the individuals
featured in the video, a government source said.
photographs we have of many of these people we have are from before 2008, when
many of them were just adolescents”, the source said. “It’s hard to be certain
just who is who in the video, though it is possible to make informed guesses”.
of the video, narrated in Arabic, seek to provide context to the presence of
Indian jihadists in the Islamic State – men it describes as jihadists from “Hind
wal’Sindh”, a usage for India and Pakistan. The video begins with medieval
warlord Muhammad Bin Qasim’s conquest of the region, saying it laid the
foundations for Islamic rule.
British, the narrator states, then handed over control of India to Hindus –
people it describes as “cow-worshippers” who have been responsible for violence
against Muslims in many places, including Mumbai, Gujarat, Assam and Moradabad.
striving to convert you Muslims to their faith, O’ sons of Bin Qasim”, one
recruit says, recounting a string of communal riots. “Is there any other
humiliation that you still need to suffer before you will give up chanting that
Islam is a religion of peace, and learn from the Prophet, who fought with the
unidentified IS fighter in stills from the newly released video
most part, the video consists of interviews, mainly conducted at an
unidentified coastal location. There is no combat footage of Indians, bar one
sequence involving several men in two boats, first released by the Islamic
State’s Indian affiliate, Junood Khilafat-al-Hind, last year.
does, however, include one sequence where six men sit together, singing a
jihadist anthem, promising that a new dawn lies ahead.
his personal journey, one jihadist says he was forced to leave Mumbai for the
Khorasan region, or the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderlands, after the 2008
shootout at Batla House in which Indian Mujahideen Commander Atif Amin was
Hijrat, or religious migration, was followed by a second one to Syria, the man
the man who says he fled Mumbai says, “we see that it is that it is the cow,
the trees, the sun, the moon…that is worshipped. Instead of fighting these
things, the Muslims of India trade and maintain social relations with these
though, to return to avenge atrocities against Muslims in India. “Have you
forgotten the train bombings in Mumbai or the bombings in Ahmedabad, and Surat,
and Jaipur and Delhi”, he asks.
assails mainstream Muslim politicians and clerics for compromising with what
the narrator describes as a tyrannical system responsible for massacring
Muslims. Images of the Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen leader Assaduddin Owaisi
and All India United Democratic Front politician Badruddin Ajmal are juxtaposed
with dead bodies of victims of communal riots. Indian Muslim politicians are
attacked for associating with non-Muslim leaders: one image shows the
Congress’s Mani Shankar Aiyar embracing a Hindu priest and Muslim cleric.
acid invective, though, is reserved for Indian clerics who, the video says, are
supporting the forces of Kufr against the Mujahideen of the Islamic State.
A screen grab from the video shows a group of
purported jihadists threatening attacks in India.
that armed jihad “in the way of Allah” is an individual religious obligation
incumbent on every individual Muslim, the video warns clerics that they will
soon meet their reckoning.
listen to those who tell you that Islam is a religion of peace”, one jihadist
says, his face digitally masked over. “Islam was never a religion of peace for
even one day. Islam is a religion of war. The Prophet commanded us to remain at
war until the day the rule of Allah is established”. The video mocks Muslims
protesting against the Islamic State.
jihadists interviewed also praised the quality of life in the Islamic State.
“Here there is Shari’a”, one says. “Here the hands of thieves are cut off.
Here, our religion is safe”.
Mujahideen cadre are known to have travelled to Islamic State-held territory
from 2014, after rejecting the leadership of their Karnataka-born chief Riyaz
Ahmad Shahbandri, also known as Riyaz Bhatkal.
include one-time Mumbai hospital employee Abu Rashid; Shahnawaz Ahmad, a Unani
doctor and the son of a local Samajwadi Party politician in Uttar Pradesh’s
Azamgarh; and students Mohamma‘ ‘Bada’ Sajid, Mirza Shadab Beig. Karnataka
Muhammad Shafi Armar, one of the Indian Mujahideen fugitives, has been named by
the NIA as a key suspect in several recent arrests related to Islamic State.