If 31-year-old Subahani Haja Moideen, trained by IS’s military wing for three months, had his way, he would have been the first “lone wolf” attacker in India.
Prior to Moideen’s arrest, West Bengal-based Mohammad Masiuddin, alias Abu Musa, was the only would-be “lone wolf” arrested by Indian agencies. Musa had tried to carry out solo attacks in Srinagar and Kolkata but failed.
According to top sources in intelligence agencies, Moideen, arrested by the NIA on Wednesday from Tamil Nadu, had been a lone operator since his return to India last September and was in regular touch with his Islamic State handlers, discussing over the Internet what kind of attack he should carry out.
“He followed all ISIS activities around the world and would study the modus operandi of other lone wolf attackers. He remained unnoticed for a long time because he was operating alone. It’s only a few months ago that his activities came on our radar. He could have proved very dangerous as he was trained in everything,” said an official.
It is only recently that Moideen decided to join hands with members of the newly formed Kerala module of the IS, sources said.
Officials said Moideen has a vast knowledge of computers and may have used the Internet extensively to give shape to his plans.
Meanwhile, counter-terrorism experts see Moideen’s return from the ISIS war zone as a good sign as it is another attestation of the fact that it is not an easy life for those travelling to IS territory to fight for the so-called caliphate.
Moideen has told the NIA that “he couldn’t stand so much violence” and wanted to leave the organisation. He claimed he had been jailed for 40 days despite a bad knee injury. Before him, another Indian fighter for the terror organisation, Areeb Majeed, found it difficult to stomach the feeling that they were being treated as second- and third-class fighters by the ISIS.
“Their bubble of living in an area ruled according to the Sharia bursts very quickly as there is nothing Islamic about the violent activities of Islamic State. Recruits are punished for even small mistakes, or if they try to defy IS,” said a senior government official.
In the past, too, it has been seen that fighters from the UK, US and mainland Europe who left in 2013-14 have returned to their homes utterly dejected because of the manner in which the ISIS had treated them; they were forced to recite Quranic verses as proof of loyalty, were made to abuse women and made to kill co-fighters even for small infractions.
“And when they try to escape, they are killed by IS,” said an official, adding that when they return home, the agencies are anyway waiting for them.