The United Arab Emirates, India’s close strategic partner in the Gulf, has not only been formally extraditing fugitives but also quietly deporting Indian-origin sympathisers of the Islamic State (IS) since last year. Beginning last year, UAE has deported a number of IS sympathisers to India including two residents of Jammu and Kashmir. An Abu Dhabi based cell of the IS recruiters run by Indians was busted following close coordination between Indian security agencies and UAE, sources told ET.
The cell comprising three UAE-based Indian youth recruited eight men from Indian state of Tamil Nadu and one from Indian state of Telangana and sent some of them to Syria to join the IS, sources said. The three recruiters identified as Adnan Hussain from Karnataka, Mohammed Farhan from Maharashtra and Sheikh Azhar Al Islam from Kashmir, were arrested and deported to India.
Adnan Hussain, 34, an accountant from Bhatkal town in Karnataka who had been working in the UAE since 2012, came on the radar of Indian authorities after he was found to have transferred funds to the account of Abdul Basith, a youth from Hyderabad who had been recruited to join the IS.
Adnan Hussain alias Adnan Damudi, transferred funds to an account linked to Basith to help him to travel to Syria along with four others recruited from Hyderabad, but the trip came to an abrupt end after the families of the youth got to know of their plan and got help from police to bring them back, sources said.
Adnan Damudi, while working in the UAE, was involved with Shafi Armar in managing two pro-IS media websites run by Al Isabah media and Ansar ul Tawheed, a breakaway group of the Indian Mujahideen, sources claimed.
NIA investigations of the activities of Damudi and two others of the Abu Dhabi module, have revealed that several people had been recruited for IS activities in south India by the module with some also travelling to Syria.
In another instance, a resident Kashmir, suspected to be a sympathiser of the IS, was deported by UAE in August. The 36-year-old Irfan Ahmad Zargar, a resident of Chattatabal area on the outskirts of Srinagar, was deported from the Gulf country on August 14. Zargar, an engineer, is alleged to have been “quite active” on social media.
Zargar was picked up by the authorities in Dubai on April 28 this year when he was entering the country from Oman. He was subjected to intensive questioning by Dubai authorities, sources said, adding, another youth from Ganderbal in Kashmir, Azhar ul Islam, was deported from the UAE last year for being an alleged IS sympathiser.
While UAE has worked with India to hand over terrorists and terror masterminds in the past decade, the counter-terror partnership gathered steam with the UAE choosing India as a key pillar of its Look East Policy amid growing disenchantment with traditional ally Pakistan.
India is now hoping that UAE will deport Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives found guilty of terror activities in India who have taken refuge in the Gulf country, officials said. Over the past few years, Abu Dhabi has voluntarily shared information with Delhi on terror operatives and their networks. UAE has one of the most sophisticated security systems in the region including state-of-the-art cyber capabilities that have helped it to catch terrorists and criminals.
India and the UAE have agreed that resolute and credible steps must be taken to eliminate safe havens and sanctuaries that provide shelter to terrorists and their activities.
The two countries agreed that extremism and terrorism cannot be defeated by the use of force alone and acknowledged the need for a holistic approach, which includes disrupting the use of the internet and social media for promotion of extremist and violent ideologies; preventing the use of religious centres to radicalise youth and recruit terrorist cadres and promoting tolerance.
The growing India-UAE strategic partnership can be gauged from how Abu Dhabi sent out a clear public statement on September 19, 2016, a day after the Uri attacks, suggesting that Delhi should take decisive action against the perpetrators. Earlier, UAE was among the countries that came out in India’s support within hours of the Pathankot attack.