Mohammad Shafi Armar, the principal recruiter for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Indian subcontinent has been declared as the ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’ by the US State Treasury Department.
30-year-old Armar, alias Chhote Maula, Anjan Bhai and Yousuf al-Hindi is a native of Bhatkal in Karnataka.
This is for the first time that the US has imposed sanctions against a terrorist originally hailing from India. Shafir Armar is said to be currently operating from Afghanistan or Syria.
“Mohammed Shafi Armar is a leader and head recruiter in India for the Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) and Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) group, ISIS,” the US State Department said in a statement.
“He has cultivated a group of dozens of ISIS sympathisers who are involved in terrorist activities across India, such as plotting attacks, procuring weapons, and identifying locations for terrorist training camps,” the statement said.
“These actions are part of a continued effort to target individuals and entities that willfully provide support to ISIS in order to constrict this violent terror group’s operational reach and shut off its access points to the international financial system,” it said.
Armar, now a key figure on jihadi landscape, earlier worked with the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen. He was said to have left for Pakistan along with his elder brother after crackdown on Indian Mujahideen cadre. Armar is believed to have created a radical Islamist organisation Ansar ul Tawhid, which later pledged its allegiance to ISIS.
Armar became the chief recruiter in India after the death of his brother Sultan Abdul Kadir in March 2015 in a US drone attack in Syria. Now he is considered as the key ally of ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Intelligence agencies suggest that tech savvy Armar has been operating on closed Facebook groups and messaging platforms like Trillion, Surespot, WhatsApp and Skype over the past few years to contact, brainwash, radicalise and recruit Muslim youths from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Reports suggest that he is responsible for forming several ISIS affiliated groups in India in the last three years including Junood al Khalifa e Hind (JKH).
It could be noted that the NIA had chargesheeted Armar for conspiring to carry out terror strikes in Delhi and Haridwar. An Interpol Red Corner notice is pending against him.
Armar came on the radar of Indian investigation agencies when the NIA was probing suspected Islamic State cadre Madhya Pradesh’s Ratlam. Interrogations of Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal by the investigative agencies have highlighted Armar’s association with the ISIS. India had approached the US and the UN to designate Armar as a “global terrorist”.