A recently released 22 minute ISIS propaganda video in Arabic and Hindi shows atleast 5 jihadis from Bharat who have joined ISIS ranks, threatening to “return” to “avenge killing of Muslims in India”.
2 of the 5 jihadis from Bharat in the video have been identified as Fahad Shaikh and Aman Tandel from Kalyan, Mumbai – they were part of the group of 4 college graduates/students who had suddenly disappeared in May 2014 from their homes in Kalyan; one of them, Arif Majeed, later returned to Bharat and was arrested by NIA, while Shaheen Tanki is believed to have been killed in Syria. The others are believed to be ex-Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorists from Azamgarh, UP.
According to a DNA report –
“Two years after a few Indian youth fled to the frontlines of Syria to fight jihad alongside Islamic State (IS), the militant group has released a video showing the Indian fighters in its troops. Dressed in military fatigue, a boat full of Indians — streaming on the Orontes river in Homs, western Syria — are depicted carrying Kalashnikovs (see pic), and amongst them are members of Indian Mujaheedin, an unidentified fighter with a stutter and boys from Kalyan, Aman Tandel and Fahad Shaikh. All fighters vow to take revenge against atrocities unleashed against Muslims in Kashmir, demolition of Babri Masjid, communal riots in Gujarat, Assam and Muzaffarabad.
This is the first time the IS group has released a propaganda video confirming presence of Indian fighters among its troops of foreign fighters from at least 86 countries. Although references to ‘Hind’ and ‘cow-worshipping’ Hindus have been consistent in IS literature and mouthpiece Dabiq, it is paramount to note that the group has directly addressed the Indian Muslim community, admonishing their passiveness for living amidst ‘polytheist idolators’ and coercing them to migrate to the Caliphate or fight jihad.
Titled ‘Bilad al-Hind, between pain and hope’, the video was released by the media office of Wilayat Homs on late Thursday evening. The video was shot last year and a few still images were posted by IS supporters on social media. It is, however, the first time that the 22-minute-long video was released officially by IS-related Khilafah news on Telegram channel and YouTube (from where the link is now removed). The timing of the IS video preceded a few hours earlier by its rival al Qaeda in Indian sub-continent AQIS as it re-upped its propaganda video ‘Shariah or democracy’ narrated by chief Maulana Asim Umar (identified as Sanaullah Haq from Uttar Pradesh), with English sub-titles, indicating the turf war between the two global jihadi groups to attract higher recruits.
Narrated in Arabic, the video features five Indian nationals recognised by their kunya — Arabic aliases given to fighters: Abu Talha al-Hindi, Abu Umar al-Hindi, Ahmad Farouqe al-Hindi, Abu Taraab al-Hindi (Tandel) and Abu Salman al-Hindi. All sport nascent beard and long hair, singing nasheed (songs of glory), eating food, smiling and walking in the territory captured by IS and speak on camera in Urdu, with one exception of an accented English. There is also a snapshot of Abu Turaab al-Hindi or Mohammad Sajid, IM commander who died fighting in Kobane, Syria in 2015 and Fahad Shaikh buying food in a bakery at an undisclosed location in Homs.
“After the Batla encounter (operation launched by Delhi special cell in 2008, Jamia Nagar against IM members living in Batla House), our lives were agonised. Intelligence agencies, the ATS and police hunted us and made our life difficult. It was with Allah’s grace we managed to escape,” says Umar al Hindi believed to be an IM member.
According to Indian intelligence agencies, 23 Indian nationals are enrolled with Jabhat al-Nusra front, affiliated to al-Qaeda, in Syria and IS. Some of them have fled from India, others are believed to be diaspora residents, but a majority of this number includes members of IM who escaped to Pakistan-Afghanistan region after the leadership was dismantled here. The video confirms this narrative.
Umar says he and a few other brothers came to Khorasan (a historical term for a region overlapping modern-day Afghanistan, Iran and Turkmenistan) where they stayed and fought alongside mujaheedin. It was here in 2014 that the IM leadership headed by Bhatkal brothers once again split, with some members remaining loyal to al-Qaeda and Taliban, and others choosing to join IS. The latter faction came to be known as Ansar-ut Tawhid fi Bilad al-Hind (AuT) and some of its members travelled to Syria.
Talha al-Hindi, who is a part of this group and made the hijrah (religious migration) to the battlefront of jihad in Syria, confirms this. “We are fortunate to pledge allegiance to IS for the second time. We first gave bayah (oath) when we were in AuT in Khorasan,” he says calling other Indian Muslims to obligate and migrate to the land of Caliphate or support the Islamic State in whatever way.”
“You might be a rich businessman or have a high-paying job in a company, but at the end you are still living in Dar ul Kufr (land of infidels),” mocks Aman Tandel, alias Tarab al-Hindi. He further confirms that Saheem Tanki, from the group of four who travelled to Syria from their locality in Kalyan, Mumbai, was martyred in an operation.
A third fighter, Ahmad Farouq al-Hindi, who has masked his face, and speaks angrily with a stutter says that the rulers in India for years have slaughtered the Muslim community, sometimes for a reason like consuming beef. “Don’t listen to those who say Islam is a religion of peace. It was never so even for a day. It’s always been a religion of Qitl (actual war),” says Ahmad.
Their message to Indians
Abu Talha al-Hindi, IM/AuT member
I condemn all those Muslims who are living among the shirk (idolators). If you want a life of dignity and success, then you must follow the road of qitl (actual war) against them.
Abu Umar al-Hindi, IM member
Don’t you remember the serial blasts in Mumbai, Gujarat, Delhi and Jaipur? We will cause bigger destruction that this. We will fight with you till the end
Abu Tarab al-Hindi, Aman Tandel
As far as propaganda is concerned by the government of India and its media, that we three are worried here and want to come back (home), let me tell you we are happy living a life of dignity and honour and are not returning to the land of disgrace. “Yes, we will return, with swords in hand to take revenge against Babri masjid, Godhra, Kashmir and Muzzafarabad.”
Abu Salman al-Hindi
If Indians think they are smart and intelligent and are spending immense money through research trying to find what we want. Listen. We want three things: either accept Islam, pay jiziya or prepare to be slaughtered.
Ahmad Farouq al-Hindi
Don’t listen to those who say Islam is a religion of peace. It was never so even for a day. It’s always been a religion of Qitl (actual war).“
Coming on the back of the spate of recent arrests of ISIS terrorists and sympathizers across Bharat, the threat posed in the video is credible, and should be taken seriously by investigative agencies.