'Highly educated but equally radicalised': Delhi police on arrested ISIS terrorists

The most wanted was 31-year-old suspected terrorist Shahnawaz Alam. His father, a govt school teacher was hardly aware that his son was getting radicalised along the path.
Delhi police with the suspected ISIS terrorists.
Delhi police with the suspected ISIS terrorists.

NEW DELHI: All three suspected ISIS terrorists were found academically highly qualified, yet, they chose a different way of life ultimately landing them behind bars.

The most wanted 31-year-old suspected terrorist Shahnawaz Alam was born in a simple middle-class family in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. His father, a government school teacher, made his son get the best education, hardly aware that Shahnawaz was getting radicalised along the path.

The highly qualified student-turned-wanted terrorist had also married a girl named Basanti Patel in 2021 in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh. However, before marriage, Basanti converted to Islam religion and opted for a new name as Khadeeja Maryam.

According to the police officials, the suspected terrorist Shahnawaz Alam completed his school in his native place and moved to Kota for AIEEE coaching, like any other normal student. "He is an intelligent man, with a technological bend of mind," a senior Delhi Police official told this newspaper.

Alam, after getting coaching at Kota, Rajasthan, qualified the All India Engineering Entrance Examination and joined a reputed college -- NIT Visveswaraya, Nagpur -- from where he completed B. Tech in Mining Engineering in 2016.

After graduating from the college, Alam came to Delhi in November 2016 and started preparing for SSC competitive examination and stayed at Abul Fazal enclave.

"He used to go to listen to Hizb ut-Tahrir lectures at Shaheen Bagh. This was the time when Shahnawaz decided to leave HuT as he was influenced by the ideology of ISIS. He then started following the concepts of ISIS, various Twitter accounts and news channels that professed ISIS ideology," the official said.

The second suspected ISIS operative Md. Arshad was born in district Garhwa, Jharkhand, in a middle-class family. His father was also a government school teacher.

Academically, Arshad pursued his studies at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Uttar Pradesh, and did B. Tech. in Mechanical Engineering. "Thereafter he moved to Delhi and studied in Jamia Millia University and completed his MBA in Marketing & Operations," the official said.

Presently, Arshad was pursuing PhD from Jamia Millia University in Islamic Principles in Management. Besides his academic pursuits, he works as a Physics teacher at Orchid Institute, Jamia Nagar, Delhi, and also provides home tuition in Science and Mathematics.

The third operative Md. Rizwan Ashraf was born at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in a middle-class family. He pursued his preliminary education at Noorul Huda English Medium School in Fatehpur City, Jamia tul Falah, Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, and completed Alimiyat in Arabic (equivalent to 12th) in 2009.

Ashraf was also an engineer and completed his B. Tech. in Information Technology from a college in Noida in 2017. After completing B.Tech., he returned to Prayagraj and got married.

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