Muhammad Shafi Armar: From Indian Mujahideen to Islamic State Recruiter
Animesh Roul ( Militant Leadership Monitor)
In late January 2016, India’s elite anti-terrorism agency, the National Investigating Agency (NIA), stumbled on an unknown extremist network, the Junood al-Khilafa-e- Hind (JKH), known to be sympathetic to the Islamic State. With the arrest of nearly 14 suspects in a countrywide search and sweep operation, investigators identified its leader, Muhammad Shafi Armar, a 29-year-old Bhatkal town resident of Karnataka state (Press Trust of India/ New Indian Express, January 22).  The NIA managed to apprehend JKH’s core operatives such as its leader Amir-e-Hind (India Chief) Mudabbir Sheikh from Mumbra, Maharashtra. The agency unraveled a sinister plan, ostensibly at the behest of Shafi Armar, to target vital installations, security personnel, and foreigners in the country as part of the Islamic State’s violent campaign in the region (Hindustan Times, February 2).
Shafi Armar is presently holed up in the Iraqi and Syrian war theaters, serving as a recruiter for and fighting alongside Islamic State militants. Armar is proficient in many languages, including English, Kannada, Urdu and Hindi. He is believed to be knowledgeable about Islamic affairs and is considered a good communicator. He is also the spiritual and financial guide to the JKH in India, according to interrogation reports (Times of India, January 28). Armar has a red corner notice against him issued by Interpol in September 2014 for criminal conspiracy against the state, raising funds and recruiting for terrorist acts, among other things.  In mid-2014, the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of the Jaipur Police traced Armar and his brother, Sultan Armar, and their involvement with the Indian Mujahideen (IM) militant group. They were suspected to have played major roles in the IM-led terrorist attacks in the country (New Indian Express, May 8, 2015).
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