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Indian IS Recruits Reportedly Shun Front Line For 'Soft Jobs' In Syria


Two Islamic State (IS) recruits from India are not fighting on the front lines but are employed in civilian jobs instead, according to reports in the Indian media.

The reports quote an unnamed source as saying that the two alleged militants, Farad Sheikh and Shaheen Tanki from Kalyan in India, had told their parents that they were employed in jobs rather than fighting. Sheikh said he was working in an oil refinery and Tanki said he was employed in a hospital, according to the source, who said that India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) had obtained the details from wiretapped phone calls.

Both men have reportedly not been in contact with their families for the past two months, however.

'I Cleaned Toilets For IS'

Both Sheikh and Tanki are thought to have traveled to Syria with a third Indian national, Arif (in some reports named as Areeb) Majeed, who left the Islamic State group in November and returned home to India.

Majeed hit headlines when NIA officials reported the young man had complained that IS militants have given him menial tasks like cleaning toilets, rather than fighting on the battlefield.

Recruited Via The Internet

According to other reports, Majeed was part of a group of 40 radicalized youths at a college in Panvel, India. Majeed reportedly told the NIA that the group had obtained information on radical Islamist groups on the Internet, but all of them except Majeed and three others had stopped short of going to Syria to join the Islamic State group.

Majeed is currently under judicial custody in India. On January 5, the NIA said that it had approached authorities in the United States, Canada and Australia to help obtain cyber evidence against Majeed. The NIA is specifically looking for Internet protocol addresses used by Majeed when he sent and received e-mails from his Islamic State recruiters. Such information could help Indian investigators find out where the recruiters were based. The United States has already provided "preliminary information" to the NIA, reports claim.

According to the NIA, Majeed became radicalized via the Internet and was in touch with an Islamic State recruiter via e-mail and Internet chats.

The 'Shami Witness' Twitter Affair

India's concerns about Islamic State spreading propaganda via the Internet are reflected in the December 13 arrest and subsequent investigation of another Indian national, 24-year-old Mehdi Masroor Biswas, who is allegedly behind the popular pro-IS Twitter account "Shami Witness."

Although Biswas was remanded in custody in Bangaloru during a police investigation into his activities, a January 6 report said that the authorities are "struggling to put together a case against Biswas."

The authorities have, however, asked the government to appoint a special public prosecutor in the case, which will be before a NIA court. Biswas is currently being held under judicial custody until January 16, when there will be a hearing into the case.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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