NIA case against Kerala recruits to former al-Qaeda outfit – The Hindu
As many as eight men are suspected to have joined the Jabat al-Nusra.
Around eight men from Kerala and Karnataka are said to have joined Jabat al-Nusra, a former al-Qaeda outfit, in Syria, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) official said.
The NIA has registered a case against the suspects and begun investigations. This is the first time that the agency has filed a case against Indians for joining a terrorist outfit other than the Islamic State in Syria.
A senior NIA official said none of the accused left from India; they travelled to Syria from Qatar, where they were working. “We have information that the accused travelled to Syria in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Some of them died after participating in battles and some are still alive,” said the official.
The official said they got information about the suspects joining al-Nusra and its sub-unit, Jund al-Aqsa while probing a case related to Islamic State that had been registered initially by Kerala Police in October 2017.
Five of the accused have been identified as Midhilaj, Rashid M.V, Abdul Razak K.V., Manaf Rahman and Hamsa U.K — all residents of Kannur district. Hamsa, said to be the mastermind of the group, told NIA officials that he had information about some Indian men joining the Nusra front in Syria.
Hamsa was caught at Mangalore airport when he attempted to exit India in December 2016 with the intention of joining the IS.
“We came across information that some Indians also joined Nusra front. We are investigating; none of them are in India but all have been identified,” said the official.
Another official said many units of Al Nusra had merged with the IS and it was difficult to say anything about the group’s presence in Syria. “Jabat Al Nusra defied Al Qaeda and separated from it; it existed in Syria much before the IS. The period during which they left was probably the first flush of excitement under which when many men left, basically attracted to concept of jihad and Islamic Caliphate,” said a senior government official.