New Delhi: Mohammad Shafi Armar, the head and principal recruiter of Islamic State (IS) in India, passed away a few days ago in a US drone strike in Syria, sources said.
Shafi, also known as Yousuf, had reportedly become an important ally of IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and was helping establish the outfit in India. He is learnt to have recruited at least 30 men for the group. According to 23 IS recruits arrested over the past year and a half by the NIA, Delhi Police and police forces of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, Shafi planned to establish an IS unit in every Indian state.
Listed on the Interpol website, Shafi had recently formed Junud al Khalifa-e-Hind (Soldiers of the Indian Caliphate) by dismantling the Ansar-ul-Tauhid (AuT).
It is suspected that Shafi was in touch with at least 600-700 Indian youngsters on closed Facebook groups and messaging platforms like Trillion, Surespot, WhatsApp and Skype over the past one year, and may have recruited some men for the outfit. He even arranged funds – through transfers and hawala transactions – for IS recruits here.
A module of Mudabbir Mushtaq Shaikh, whom Shafi made the ‘amir’ of IS in India received some Rs 6 lakh , while keeping the larger ‘head’ designation with himself. Sources said very few IS recruits have managed to travel to Syria as security agencies have been keeping a close watch on their activities in India.
“We have learnt about his death. We are gathering more details. The final confirmation and details may take time as it is difficult to get information from Syria, where IS has presence, but it’s big news,” said a top official.