NIA charges Kashmiri couple for ISIS links, conspiring anti-CAA protests

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The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday filed a charge sheet against five “operatives” of Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), including a Kashmiri couple — Jahanzaib Sami and Hina Bashir Beigh — for allegedly conspiring to utilize the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests to instigate Muslims against the government and planning to indulge in arson to provoke riots, reported Hindustan Times.

The newspaper reported, quoting the NIA, that the couple was conspiring to create unrest during anti-CAA protests by coining seditious slogans and making graffiti at public places and highlighting the same on social and international media.

The NIA claimed that the couple, along with others, had also conducted reconnaissance at prominent places in Maharashtra frequented by foreigners and attempted to make an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) for carrying out mass killings.

Jahanzaib Sami, 36, and his wife Hina Bashir Beigh, 39, both from Srinagar, were the first ones to be arrested in the case in March this year by Delhi Police’s Special Cell from Okhla after which the probe was handed over to the NIA.

However, M S Khan, Kashmiri couple’s lawyer, told the newspaper: “The agency is making a mountain out of a molehill. There is no evidence in the case. It’s all a bundle of lies”.

Hyderabad-based Abdullah Basith, a key ISIS handler in India per NIA, and two others from Pune — Sadiya Anwar Shaikh (20) and Nabeel Siddick Khatri (27) — were subsequently taken into custody by the central agency.

NIA spokesperson Sonia Narang said in a statement: “Investigation has revealed that Jahanzaib, a B.Tech from Ferozpur, Punjab, got radicalised and inclined towards ISIS/ISKP by reading about it on the internet. He established contact with ISIS handler Huzaifa-al-Bakistani and latter’s father-in-law viz. Abu Usman-Al-Kashmiri (Head of Indian affairs of ISKP) in 2017 on a secure messaging platform.”

“Huzaifa-al-Bakistani further introduced him to Abdullah Basith, another ISIS operative, who is already in judicial custody in Tihar jail in connection with another NIA case (ISIS Abu Dhabi Module 2018 case),” Ms. Narang said.

“Hina Bashir, who had her higher education from Pune, also got radicalized since 2014-15 by reading ISIS-related content on social media. Jahanzaib and Hina got married in 2017 as both supported the ideology of ISIS,” she added.

The agency said Jahanzaib, Hina Bashir, Abdullah Basith and Ms Sadiya were continuously in contact with ISIS operatives based in Khorasan and Syria.

“On receiving instructions from ISKP Head viz. Abu Usman-Al-Kashmiri, accused Jahanzaib and Abdullah Basith prepared a magazine titled ‘Voice of Hind’ inciting Muslims against non-Muslims and exhorting them to rise against the government of India and join ISIS. The magazine eulogises ISIS/ISKP terrorists including Huzaifa-al-Bakistani who was killed in July 2019 in a drone strike in Afghanistan and denigrates the Indian constitution and democratic system,” Ms. Narang said.

“Jahanzaib, Hina Bashir, Abdullah Basith and Sadiya were conspiring to utilize the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests to instigate Muslims against the Indian Government by coining seditious slogans and making graffiti at public places and highlighting the same on social and international media. They were also provoking some gullible youth to participate in anti-CAA protests actively. In case these protests failed to provoke the Muslims, they were planning for arsoning of government buildings and public property so that riots could happen and they could exploit the sentiments of Muslims,” she added.

“Jahanzaib, Hina, Basith and Nabeel Siddick tried to make an improvised IED and were planning to carry out mass-killings in crowded places to further the activities of ISIS/ISKP in India. Reconnaissance was got conducted by them of certain sensitive locations in Maharashtra which are frequented by foreigners,” the agency said.

The agency last month arrested another person – Abdur Rehman alias Dr Brave from Bengaluru in the case, who was in contact with Jahanzaib as part of the conspiracy to promote the activities of ISIS/ISKP and had also visited ISIS medical camp in Syria in 2014. He will be charge sheeted later.

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