On Tuesday, May 9, the Madhya Pradesh anti-terrorist squad dismantled a Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT) module and arrested 16 Islamic jihadis. The Intelligence Bureau and the police of Telangana state also coordinated with the squad in this operation. In two parallel raids conducted early morning that day, authorities apprehended five individuals in Hyderabad, Telangana and eleven from Bhopal and Chhindwara city in Madhya Pradesh. The accused were under the surveillance of intelligence agencies and police since they got intel about HuT’s intention to establish a base in India from international agencies.
This operation, once again, frustrates the popular narrative that lack of education drives a misguided Muslim to the path of terrorism. Officers have confirmed that out of the accused, one is a professor teaching in a Hyderabad college, and another is a computer engineer from Bhopal. Other offenders were employed as fitness instructors, tailors, vehicle drivers, computer technicians, and laborers. Reportedly, one among them was managing a coaching facility in Bhopal. Despite having access to education and income sources, they picked terrorism and were preparing to wage war against India.
According to a police statement, pieces of jihadi literature and instruments including laptops, hard drives, pen drives, cash, and other items have been recovered from their possession.
The MP Police has lodged a case under IPC sections 13, 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, against the accused individuals. A special court has sent them ATS custody until May 19.
The last time this outfit was known to be active in India was in 2010; its sudden resurrection in the secular country is a surprise. As per reports, it has been covertly recruiting and training new militants in Madhya Pradesh.
Investigators reveal that the apprehended men were practicing shooting and were given combat training at camps in remote jungle locations. Various jihadi materials were provided, and provocative lectures were delivered during regular religious gatherings.
They would also identify young individuals eager to sacrifice their lives for the cause of Islam and recruit such individuals to their mission. These jihadis would exchange messages using several encrypted applications like Rocket Chat, Threema, and other programs which resemble those used by the Islamic State and different terror outfits on the dark web.
While intelligence sleuths have already apprehended eleven, the hunt is still on for one more fugitive. In 2018, Md Saleem, known by his Hindu alias, Saurabh Raj Vaidhya (41), was employed as the head of a private college’s pharmaceutical biotechnology department and moved to the region from MP from Hyderabad. He established connections with the other men and radicalized them over time.
He would often meet the other five jihadis, Sheikh Junaid (32), a dentist; Md Abbas Ali alias B Venu Kumar (36), an auto driver; Abdur Rahman alias Devi Prasad Panda (33), a cloud service engineer and native of Odisha, Md Salman (27) and Md Hameed (30), both daily wage earners to discuss the concepts and strategies employed by the MP contacts deliberate over the path of establishing an Islamic state in India. “The Hyderabad module wanted to start on their own to spread jihadi ideology,” shared a police officer.
According to sources, HuT has expanded its doctrine and created a support base in at least 50 nations, has an estimated membership of tens of thousands to one million. It is banned in 16 countries. The Islamic outfit has trained its recruits in chemical and biological warfare while circumventing international inspection.
Hizb Ut-Tahrir was founded in 1953 as a political organization in then-Jordanian-controlled Jerusalem by an Islamic scholar Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani, the Hizb ut-Tahrir is an international run on Islamic doctrine and chases the aim of establishing a Sharia-ruled Islamic caliphate globally. During the late 60s, it was allegedly involved in several failed coup attempts in Jordan, Syria and Egypt. The group aims to unify all Islamic countries to form this coveted Islamic caliphate and expand the scope of Sharia by bringing non-Muslims into this fold through “invitation” or military jihad. The outfit has a strong presence in the UK as well. The members meet in small groups in countries where it’s banned and go as far as engaging with media and openly organizing rallies and conferences where it has not been outlawed.
Official texts of the outfit define jihad as “war undertaken for the sake of Allah (swt) to raise high His (swt) word” and building an army for the caliphate. HuT declares the necessity of jihad for carrying out da’wah, the invitation to accept Islam as a religion “to all mankind,” and “bring them into the khilafah state.” They also emphasize “jihad against the kuffar (non-Muslims) without any lenience or hesitation”; and give utmost importance to the need to fight unbelievers who refuse to be ruled by Islam.
By: Ashlyn Davis
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