Armed terrorists attacked a Gurudwara in Shor Bazar Area of Afghanistan on Wednesday. Twenty-eight people lost their lives in the dastardly attack. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, however, the possible role of the Tehreek-e-Taliban backed by Pakistan has not been ruled out. Earlier, it was reported the Islamic State communique claiming responsibility for the attack identified the terrorist as an Indian national ‘Abu Khalid al-Hindi’ who carried out the attack in order to avenge the supposed ‘plight of Muslims in Kashmir’. Meanwhile, Afghan and Western security agencies believe that the attack was ordered by Quetta Shura of the Taliban at the behest of Pakistani intelligence. As per a report by Hindustan Times, the operation was code-named Blackstar and the Haqqani Network led by Taliban’s deputy commander Sirajuddin Haqqani and elements of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba were used to carry out the attack. Now, it has emerged that ‘Abu Khalid al-Hindi’ who attacked Sikhs in Afghanistan was one Mohammed Sajid Kuthirummal who had escaped from Kasargod, Kerala in 2015 to join ISIS, reported ANI.
Four years ago, Mohammed Sajid Kuthirummal had escaped to join ISIS. Before he did, he was a shopkeeper in Kasargod, Kerala. He had joined ISIS along with 14 others from Kasargod itself. Mohammed Sajid Kuthirummal was wanted by NIA in its 2016 Kasargod ISIS module case and had a red corner notice out against him.
The 2016 Kasargod IS module case relates to the criminal conspiracy hatched by terrorists from Kasaragod district of Kerala since Ramadan, 2015, with the intention of joining and furthering the objectives of ISIS. As part of the conspiracy, 14 accused from Kasaragod district had left India or their workplaces in Middle-East Asia between mid-May and early July 2016, before travelling to Afghanistan or Syria, where they joined the ISIS.
During the investigation by Kerala Police, the role of 29-year-old Yasmeen Mohammad Zahid, a resident of Batla House, Okhla Jamia Nagar, New Delhi but originally from Sitamarhi district of Bihar, as a co-conspirator of Abdul Rashid was revealed. She was arrested on August 1, 2016, after she was intercepted at Indira Gandhi International Airport while attempting to exit India for Afghanistan, along with her child. As per the Kerala police, Yasmeen Mohammad Zahid was actively aiding Abdul Rashid in his activities including raising funds to support ISIS. The case was handed over to the NIA after she was arrested.
The NIA investigation revealed that Abdul Rashid, Yasmeen and others from 2015 were involved in activities to further objectives of the ISIS in Kerala and other places of India. 15 people including Sajid had fled from Kerala, India to join the terror group in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan.
The involvement of Mohammed Sajid Kuthirummal was revealed by the NIA after he joined the ISIS. Sajid had left on March 31, 2015 for Dubai from the Mumbai airport. Others had all left on different dates. It was reported that all of them had gone to Iran before going off the radar.
The NIA chargesheet said, “Preliminary investigation in the above cases revealed that the missing persons left India and joined the IS in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. The accused are continuing their anti-national activities by propagating the ideology of and inviting support for the IS, through various means including, but not limited to, Internet based social media platforms”.
The NIA website still has Mohammed Sajid Kuthirummal as one of the most wanted terrorists.
Wilayat Khorasan of Islamic State in Afghanistan (ISIS-K), the group Mohammed Sajid is said to have joined, mainly comprises of terrorists from Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Earlier in 2019, 900 terrorists, some of whom were family members of Indians who had joined ISIS, surrendered in the Eastern province of Nangarhar, where the Afghan national security forces were conducting operations against the ISIS. The operations started on the 12th of November 2019 against the terror outfit. 93 terrorists, that included several Pakistanis, had surrendered only hours after Afghanistan’s offensive against the terror outfit began on the 12th of November 2019.
Interestingly, it was reported that the Khorasan group of ISIS, or the ISIS-K, had attempted a suicide attack in India in 2018. This was claimed by a top US official. The ISIS-K operates in South Asia and according to Russel Travers, Acting Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Office of Director of National Intelligence, ISIS-K concerns the US the most among all of its other branches.
“Of all of the branches and networks of ISIS, ISIS-K is certainly one of those of most concern, probably in the neighbourhood of 4,000 individuals or so,” Travers had said in response to a question from Maggie Hassan, the junior Senator from New Hampshire. “They have attempted to certainly inspire attacks outside of Afghanistan. They attempted last year to conduct a suicide attack in India. It failed,” he had added.