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From An IIT Aspirant to IS Recruiter, Tracing the Journey of A 24-Year-Old Varanasi Man Now in the NIA’s Net

From harbouring dreams of joining IIT to landing in the net of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the journey of this ‘highly radicalised’ 24-year-old is no less than a potboiler.

Basit Kalam Siddiqui, who was arrested by the agency from UP’s Varanasi for being a key recruiter for the Islamic State (IS), went to Kota for coaching but the pandemic ruined his plans and forced him to return home, sources confirmed to News18.

Despite several attempts, Siddiqui was unable to return to Kota. And this is when the 24-year-old, who possesses good technical know-how, seems to have changed his trajectory. Sources said Siddiqui started various groups on social media apps to radicalise youth after getting in touch with a few people who were working for Islamic State. His aim was to target vital installations like government offices.

For now, the agency is unsure if Siddiqui had plans to work for IS when he went to Kota. However, the NIA said sleuths have recovered handwritten notes related to the fabrication of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) from the accused. Sources said he had knowledge of explosives that he also shared with others in the group. The agency has found that Siddiqui was trying to fabricate an explosive and gain knowledge on other lethal chemicals which can be used to create an IED.

“During investigations, it emerged that one Basit Kalam Siddiqui, resident of Varanasi, was actively involved in radicalization and recruitment of radicalized youth on behalf of ISIS from India. After the busting of the ‘Voice of Hind’ module by NIA and arrest of 6 accused, including the so-called Amir of ISJK, Umar Nisar @ Qasim Khurasani, under a revised strategy, the online propaganda was being pushed through a new online magazine ‘Voice of Khorasan’,” NIA said.
The agency added: “On Wednesday, NIA conducted raids at two locations in Varanasi, UP and Delhi and arrested Basit Kalam Siddiqui, resident of Varanasi in a case. The case relates to the conspiracy by ISIS, a proscribed terrorist organization, to radicalize and recruit impressionable youth in India to wage violent jihad against the Indian State by carrying out acts if terrorist violence.”

The case was registered suo motu by NIA on June 29 last year under sections 124A, 153A, & 153B of IPC and sections 17, 18, 18B, 38, 39 & 40 of UA(P)Act, 1967.

The NIA, in a press release, said Siddiqui was in active touch with IS operational handlers and was indulging in content creation, publication and dissemination of the proscribed outfit’s propaganda through the magazine ‘Voice of Khurasan’.

“On the directions of his IS handlers based in Afghanistan, he was trying to fabricate an explosive ‘Black Powder’ and gaining knowledge on use of other lethal chemical substances to be used for the fabrication of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).”

The agency also said he was imparting training on making explosives through several Telegram groups he operated to “carry out terrorist attacks against vital installations and the civilian population”. He was also preparing to undertake ‘hijrat’ to Khorasan to join active IS terrorists in combat.

“During its searches, NIA has seized incriminating articles such as handwritten notes related to fabrication of IEDs and explosive substances, mobile phones, laptops, pen drives, etc,” NIA added. The agency had earlier filed one main and one supplementary charge sheet in the NIA Special Court, Delhi, in this case against six accused.

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