Hyderabad: Intelligence eye on Pak-based suspect helped bust terror plot?

Zahed, who was arrested on Sunday with two others, was allegedly in touch with some persons from Pakistan and Dubai for some weeks.

Hyderabad: The counter intelligence wing of the Telangana police was constantly tracking the city-based terror suspect Farhatullah Ghauri, now believed to be operating in Pakistan, and reportedly stumbled upon a conversation of his with Mohd Zahed, who arrested on Sunday along with Maaz and Abdul Sami.

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Zahed through social media platforms was allegedly in touch with some persons from Pakistan and Dubai for some weeks. He was reportedly planning to recruit cadres for LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) and Jaish-e-Mohammed operations in the country, police sources from Hyderabad said.

Farhatullah is an alleged terrorist recruiter and financer for a Pakistan based terror group Jaish-e- Mohammed (JeM). Farhatullah Ghauri is listed among the 38 individuals as a terrorist by the Ministry of Home Affairs under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (amended in 2019).

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Since the beginning of this year, the Indian intelligence -agencies both external and internal – have been closely monitoring the growth and plan of Farhatullah. Having lived in Kurmaguda of old city Hyderabad, the immediate trigger for the counter-intelligence agencies to mount surveillance on Zahed was his alleged close contacts with Farhatullah.

Intelligence agencies from Hyderabad suspected Farhatullah Ghauri would tap his old contacts or sources to recruit people for his sabotage plans. 

Shahid Bilal, brother of Zahed who was alleged involvement in terror cases in Hyderabad, including the Begumpet Task Force office blast on Dushera in 2005, and other cases, led to Zahed always being kept under surveillance of intelligence agencies.

According to a report by ‘Logically’, an artificial intelligence startup, Farhatullah was using a network of accounts on Facebook, Telegram and YouTube to call on Muslims in India to “revolt” against the country. He created three Telegram channels, two Facebook accounts and three YouTube channel and operated by his group

“The terrorist propaganda has circulated across other encrypted messaging channels on Telegram, including those affiliated with Islamabad-backed proxy terror groups claiming to operate in the Kashmir region, such as the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and The Resistance Front (TRF),” Logically said in a statement.

It further said that a closer scrutiny of the amplification patterns of the videos on Facebook since January 2022 suggests a concerted attempt by malicious actors to post the videos in Facebook groups and pages dedicated to socialism, Islam, and minority rights.

“These groups are frequented by larger, more mainstream audiences of domestic users who are critical of the BJP-ruled government,” said the report.

It further stated that these coordinated online campaigns coincide with off-line incidents of communal violence in the country, revealing how the terrorist groups abroad are using major social media platforms to exploit domestic tensions and radicalize the minority population.

“There are explicit calls by Farhatullah Ghauri to Indian Muslims to revolt and take up arms against the Indian state. Troublingly, an analysis into the spread of the videos on Facebook between January 1, 2022, and July 1, 2022, via CrowdTangle, a social media analysis tool, reveals that videos from Ghauri’s network were amplified across several mainstream Facebook groups and pages devoted to Islam, socialism and minority rights in a bid to help the extremist content accrue a larger audience among a user base critical of the ruling political party, BJP,” the report mentioned.

Also known as Abu Sufiyan, Ghauri is originally from Kurmaguda area of Hyderabad and primarily known for being a terrorist financier. He fled to Saudi Arabia in 1994 and finally settled in Pakistan in 2015. Fahathullah Ghauri is allegedly involvement in several cases in the country for planning and facilitating a series of terror attacks in the country, the report mentioned.

The report also stated that Pakistan-backed proxy terror groups will seek to capitalize on the clash between communal groups in India by incorporating them into propaganda videos to disseminate across major social media platforms.

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