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SOURCE: THE PRINT

Three Indians — not one, as earlier believed — are suspected to have been involved in the Jalalabad prison attack in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province that killed 29 people in August, ThePrint has learnt.

Sources in the security establishment said a group photo of the 11 Islamic State (IS, also abbreviated as ISIS) attackers, released by the terror outfit on social media soon after the attack, eventually led to this revelation.

The attack, claimed by the ISIS, took place on 2 August, when car bombs were detonated at the prison’s entrance by gunmen. Eight of the attackers were killed in a battle lasting almost 20 hours. There were 1,793 prisoners in the Jalalabad prison when the attack took place, most of them Taliban and ISIS fighters. While more than 1,000 prisoners managed to flee, they were re-arrested.

Sources said the three men were from Kerala and go by the pseudonyms Abu Rayyan Al Hindi (the leader of the group), Abu Rawaha Al Hindi and Abu Noah Al Hindi. These names, the sources said, were disclosed in pro-ISIS publications.

India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) is already investigating the alleged involvement of Indians from Kerala in this case.

Two friends from Palakkad
Initially, only Abu Rayyan alias Dr Ijas’s involvement had come to the fore. Ijas, a resident of Padanna in Kasargod district of Kerala, had left to join the ISIS in Afghanistan in 2016 along with a group that included his wife, younger brother Shihas and some friends.

“Ijas had left for Khorasan Province in Afghanistan from Hyderabad along with his family and 14 others between May and July 2016 via Muscat, and has been working with the Islamic State since then. But now, the involvement of two more people from India has come to the fore,” a source in the security establishment told ThePrint.

A second person has been identified as Bexon alias Isa, a friend of Ijas, who goes by the name Abu Rawaha Al Hindi.

Isa is a resident of Palakkad, who had left India in 2016 to join ISIS in Afghanistan with his wife, younger brother Bestin alias Yahya, and other friends. A lot of information about Isa was provided by the pro-IS publication The Voice of Hind.

“Isa was earlier identified from the group photo published immediately after the attack by pro-ISIS media,” the source said, adding that the latest edition of this publication also discloses his details.

“The article mentions that the younger brother of Isa, Bestin, was killed in an air strike in 2017 in Afghanistan, and that these two brothers had converted to Islam from Christianity in 2015,” the source said.

From this narrative, the source added, it was clear that Isa was involved in this attack.

A third Indian allegedly involved
The photo of ISIS attackers that had been circulated led to the identification of a third suspect, Sajad K. from Kannur, by his family and friends in India.

“During investigation, one Sajad K. from Kannur district was identified from the said group photo of the 11 persons, by some of his relatives and friends. We, however, are not sure if he took up the pseudonym Abu Noah. This needs to be confirmed further,” the source said.

According to the source, Sajad had left to join ISIS in Afghanistan in 2018 via UAE, along with his wife Shahina, friends Anvar Athakkan, Nafseela and Nizamudheen — all from Kannur.