Nabbed IS operative radicalized during his stay in Gulf (IANS Ground Report)

By Saiyed Moziz Imam Zaidi
Utraula (Uttar Pradesh), Aug 28 : Just about 10 km from tiny muffasil town of Utraula is Badhya Bhaisayi, where grew up Mohammad Mustaqim Khan, alias Abu Yusuf Khan, an alleged Islamic State operative apprehended by Delhi Police last week.

The little hamlet is in Balrampur district of Uttar Pradesh. It has one primary school, a mosque and a soap factory.

Just about a kilometre off the Assam Road, a national highway, Badhya Bhaisayi, is otherwise a very peaceful village, where most of the folks have moved on to greener pastures — either now a metro dweller or is in the Gulf.

The story of radicalisation of Mustaqim into IS operative Abu Yusuf began in the Gulf. Mustaqim lived in Gulf from 2006 to 2010, and it is during that time he got influenced by the radical preachers of the terror group ISIS over the YouTube and social media.

Prior to 2006, Mustaqim too, like his family and other Badhya villagers, was a follower of Sufi Barelvi sect of Islam. When he returned from the Gulf, he persuaded his family to convert to Ahl-i Hadith, said a villager requesting anonymity.

The villagers say they stopped interacting with Mustaqim’s family because of the sect change.

His old father, Kafil Ahmed Khan, is a farmer who lives in a modest house and owns around 5 acres of land. Half of the land the family tills while the other half is given to vegetable cultivators on partnership. The family mostly grows paddy and wheat or occasionally sugarcane as cash crop as there are sugar mills in the area.

Mustaqim has three brothers and four sisters. Two of the brothers live in the Gulf, while three sisters are married.

His younger brother, Akib, is a safety engineer, who was employed in Hyderabad and has returned due the lockdown. Akib said: “We don’t want to talk on the issue to the media or anyone else.” However, he maintained that the family was unaware about Mustaqim’s inclination towards the radical group.

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Mustaqim, used to run a modest shop of cosmetic in Hashimpara — a small market about two kilometres from his village. His shop is now with another shopkeeper Mujibullah who said: “He used to keep only to himself and would only occasionally talked to others. He was not the social type.”

Kafil Ahmed Khan, however, has this to say about his son. “He was a Class 9 dropout. He first lived in Raipur. Then after returning from the Gulf he started his work of Plaster of Paris.

“One of his work site was in Uttranchal. Once he fell from the terrace and damaged his backbone. He was treated by a leading neuro physician in Lucknow. Following which, we as his family supported him to open the shop in the Hashimpara market.”

This is when he started buying explosives from a local firecracker manufacturer and started storing it at his house. The firecracker manufacturer was also picked up by the police but later released.

Mustaqim alias Abu Yusuf has four children. The family follows strict pardah system. “I did not go to rooms of any children and so did not see what he had stored and he was very strict about religion,” the father said.

“If I had any knowledge, I would have stopped him as the family has lost everything from prestige to social bonding as people avoid coming to our house now,” Kafil Ahmed said.

He also claimed that the material recovered from his room was genuine and the police cooperated with them without any prejudice.

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When asked how Mustaqim reached Delhi? He said that he did not know.

Kafil said his nephew was about to get kidney transplant. So Mustaqim went to look after his cousin in Lucknow and boarded a bus from Utraula to Lucknow. However, when he did not reach Kafil’s sister an application was given to Dubagga police station in the state capital.

Next day he went to Utraula Kotwali for the same, and that is when police came knocking on the door.

The father claimed that the policemen who came from Delhi told them that Mustaqim has cooperated with them and given them all the details. He will be sent to jail, they told him. The family has never been to the national capital and will perhaps visit him.

The Delhi Police Special Cell arrested Abu Yusuf on August 22 with two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) after an exchange of fire with policemen in central Delhi’s Ridge Road area. He was guided and trained by a Pakistani handler Abu Huzaifa on social media, police claimed.

The police said that Abu Yusuf Khan was an active IS operative in India since 2015. Huzaifa had even trained him in making IEDs online. Huzaifa was later killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan last year.

Abu Yusuf was trained by his IS handlers through social media for the last 4 to 5 years. He was planning a lone wolf attack in a heavy footfall area. “He planned to come to Delhi on Independence Day but couldn’t because of heavy security. A terror strike was averted. He also tested the IED in his village in Balrampur,” DCP Special Cell P.S. Kushwaha had said.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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