Friday's raids put Bhatkal on radar again

Terror arrests: Shafi Armar was behind recruitment, radicalisation of youth, says NIA
Last Updated : 22 January 2016, 21:46 IST
Last Updated : 22 January 2016, 21:46 IST

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Friday’s pan-India arrests of terror suspects by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) again point to the coastal town of Bhatkal in Uttara Kannada.

Sources in the NIA said Shafi Armar, brother of Abdul Sultan Armar, both natives of Bhatkal, was behind the radicalising and recruiting youths arrested and detained on Friday.

According to sources, Shafi Armar heads the Ansar-ul-Tawhid (AuT), a group comprising IS, IM and Tehrik-e-Taliban, and was in touch with youths across the country. Sources suspect that Shafi was in touch with almost all the 14 youths, taken into custody in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Tumakuru and Mangaluru. He had been urging them to do something spectacular.

Sources said Shafi was more into online radicalisation and recruitment and had various twitter handles. Sources also said Shafi has Facebook accounts and interacts with youths on various social networking sites. Security agencies are however not sure about Shafi's whereabouts.

Shafi’s elder brother Sultan, also known as Sult, Mulla and Moulana, had been a close associate of Indian Mujahideen (IM) leader Yasin Bhatkal. Shafi is said to be the second of three children, who all grew up at Haji Manzil at Nawayat Colony in Bhatkal.

Armar's name had come up during the interrogation of Yasin Bhatkal and it was revealed that Sultan Armar had undergone training in North Waziristan in Pakistan. After Yasin's arrest in 2014, some active IM operatives severed connections with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Armar and other IM associates joined the Islamic State (IS).

One crucial evidence of this was IS chief Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi's video declaring Sultan Armar as the leader of the Ansar-ul-Tawhid (AuT). The video that appeared on the social media in 2014, had showed Baghdadi announcing Sultan as the Emir (leader).

Intelligence agencies were on their toes after reports about Armar actively interacting with youths to recruit them for IS operations emerged. Subsequently, Bengaluru City Police busted a terror module by arresting three youths from Bhatkal in January 2015.

The accused, Syed Ismail Afaq, Saddam Hussein and Abdus Subur, were said to be in touch with Sultan Armar. The case is being probed by the Bengaluru City police. A few months after these arrests, intelligence agencies suspected that Armar had died and his younger brother Shafi had taken over the responsibility of leading the AuT.

Sources: Shafi was more into online radicalisation and recruitment and had various Twitter handles...
He has Facebook accounts and was interacting with youths on various social
networking sites.

Published 22 January 2016, 19:52 IST

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