MUMBAI: The Kalyan-based IS recruit, Areeb Majeed, has told the interrogators that it was a woman, with whom he established an acquaintance on a social networking site, who helped him with the contact numbers of the travel agency that arranged for his and his three friends’ travel to Baghdad and a leader of the Islamic State (IS) there.
Identifying the woman as Heena Bhat, he said she had given him the contact number of a person in Bhiwandi, a Muslim ghetto near Kalyan. He turned out to be the owner of Rahat Travels, a travel agency, and it was he who felicitated their journey to Baghdad.
She had also provided the contact number of an IS leader, asking Areeb and the three others -- Fahad Sheikh, Amaan Tandel and Saheem Tanki -- to contact him after they reached there.
A source in Mumbai Police said, Areeeb, 23, has narrated the sequence of his travel from Kalyan to first Baghdad, then Syria and lastly to Turkey. According to the source, Rahat Travels helped him and his friends to reach Baghdad on a pilgrimage, taking advantage of the Iraqi Government’s Jiyarat Visa policy.
“The IS first told the four youths that they required a recommendation letter from an influential person to join the outfit. Areeb then said they were not carrying the same, but the IS recruited them after it was impressed by their determination to fight for it,” the source said.
The IS trained them in handling weapons such as AK-47 at a riverside. However, Areeb, a student of Civil Engineering, was asked to supervise construction of a building. He was injured in an air strike by Syria at the site. The IS shifted him to Turkey and gave him $2,000 for further travel. As he needed better medical aid Areeb preferred to return to the country. He contacted his parents and expressed the desire to return, the source said.
A team of NIA officials then went to Turkey to fetch him back. The Indian Embassy in Turkey issued an emergency certificate to felicitate his travel as Areeb had lost his passport.
Areeb has reportedly told the interrogators that the IS was not working for ‘Jihad’, but involved in butchering men and raping women.
The NIA is likely to conduct narco analysis and lie detector tests on Areeb.