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ISIS handler Farhatullah Ghori, suspected chief of Hizb-Ut-Tahrir backed by Pakistan ISI, was raising ‘Maal-e-Ghanimat’ to build a ‘home-grown’ terror network: Report

Ghori was trying to incite Indian Muslims by asking them to eulogise Aurangzeb and Ahmed Shah Abdali as their heroes

Abu Sultan, Abu Suleman, Mohammad@Bhai, Abu, Abu Sufiyan, Sardar Saheb, and Faru. These are some of the aliases which the NIA suspects were donned by absconding terrorist Farhatullah Ghori, who is a key accused in the ISIS terror module case.

According to an exclusive report by the Free Press Journal (FPJ), the National Investigating Agency (NIA) suspects that Ghori was operating as a handler pulling strings for ISIS operations in Delhi, Maharashtra and Kerala under these aliases.

Moreover, it is suspected that arrested terrorist Saquib Nachan, the mastermind of the Maharashtra ISIS terror module case, was linked with ISIS handlers Abu Suleman and Abu Sultan.

Ghori is reportedly perceived as the ISIS handler by all those arrested accused who had taken ‘Bayath’ (oath) through Ghori’s associates. Saquib Nachan was one such associate who used to record the ‘Bayath’ process with a mobile camera.

He then used to send the video through VPN (virtual private network) with several email ids, Telegram, Snapchat, and several third-party apps to Abu Sultan and Abu Suleman.

The NIA is reportedly awaiting data retrieval from Nachan’s phone and other digital devices, along with the VPN recovered from him at the Forensic Science Laboratories, to confirm their suspicions.

In the Pune ISIS terror module case, the mastermind Imran Khan was in touch with Mohammad@Bhai. It is alleged in the NIA charge sheet that Imran briefed Mohammad@Bhai about their terrorist mission, training, IED testing, reconnaissance and other activities.

NIA suspects Mohammad@Bhai too, like Abu Sultan and Abu Suleman, is none other than Ghori.

The India-focused ISIS module was created by Pakistan’s ISI by using Pakistan-based Ghori and his son-in-law Shahid Faisal, according to the probe by Delhi special cell and NIA in the Delhi terror module case.

The NIA found traces of Ghori working as an ISIS handler in terror modules in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.

The NIA found that Ghori held the title of ‘Ameer’ and engaged radicalised youth in terror plans. Moreover, he never affiliated himself with any jihadist group and leveraged personal connections and networks to link operatives to al-Qaeda and ISIS.

He was backed by Pakistan’s ISI and aimed to raise funds through criminal activities (Maal-e-Ghanimat). As per the FPJ report, Ghori’s objective is to represent it as a “home-grown” and “self-radicalised” network.

His focus was largely on Delhi, Pune and other areas in Maharashtra. Before the Delhi terror modules was busted by the special cell, central agencies received input that Ghori shared shared updates about his operation to radicalised groups saying that he is very close to complete his operation.

Ghori also mentioned that his cadre had reached their designated targets to execute such operations. According to sources his plan was linked to Sahahnaz, arrested in the Delhi ISIS terror module case.

FPJ anonymously quoted a senior officer who shared that Ghori was attempting to motivae and radicalise several aggressive youths for lone-wolf attacks.

He shared speeches and literature by radicals. Ghori was trying to incite Indian Muslims by asking them to eulogise Aurangzeb and Ahmed Shah Abdali as their heroes.

He circulated videos of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) on his chat platform on the dark web. He intended to indoctrinate and radicalise the youth to create communal tension and potential riots.

Ghori and his network laced with sleeper cells are currently using gaming apps for communication. Some of their chats have been tracked revealing conversation about “love jihad”-related operations and planning terror activities. He has been using the chat groups to evade security agencies.

The Central Intelligence Agency recently received inputs that Ghori was allegedly inciting motivated and radicalised youth and advising such individuals that they should not surrender if they are apprehended by authorities.

He instructed them to instead launch fidayeen attacks on the police, law enforcement agencies and the government.

As per sources quoted by the FPJ, Ghori is a key member of Lashkar-E-Taiba and Jaish-E-Mohammad. He leads the global Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organisation Hizb-Ut-Tahrir (HUT).

In July and August 2023, the NIA apprehended HUT affiliates in Hyderabad. A total of 16 youths linked to the HUT were arrested in operations across locations including Bhopal, Chhindwara, and Hyderabad.

All accused are reportedly educated professionals working corporate companies, holding designated positions. Some were software engineers and others were associated with international consultancy firms and some were students.

Ghori had resurfaced in 2022 with a series of audio-visual messages and on social media platforms including X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, Facebook and Telegram alarming the Indian security agencies.

Ghori along with two of his associates namely Siddique Bin Osman alias Rafique alias Abu Hamzala and Abdul Majeed alias Chotu from Hyderabad and wanted in several cases are now settled in Pakistan.

The three absconding terrorists executed a blast near Sai Baba Temple, Dilsukhnagar in 2002, a bus blast at Ghatkopar in Mumbai, and a Task Force office blast at Begumpet in 2005. They also attempted to cause blasts near Ganesh Temple Secunderabad in 2004. Ghori was investigated by the Gujarat Police in Akshardham Temple terror attack (2002) case. He was declared an individual terrorist by the MHA in 2022.

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