A 20-year-old woman from Pune, who wanted to be a suicide bomber, used to be de-radicalised twice in three years by Indian intelligence agencies, but she kept going back to embracing jihadi ideology, according to a charge sheet by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Sadiya Anwar Shaikh, a resident of Yerwada in Pune, used to be de-redicalised once in 2015 and alternatively in 2018, when she used to be a minor, the agency said in its charge sheet, filed in the first week of September. She used to be arrested in July in a conspiracy case linked to the Islamic State (IS) after the second one de-radicalisation effort failed.
According to the charge sheet, she has been in touch with terrorists of more than a few groups such as the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), Islamic State in Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK), al Qaeda, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGH) in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, among other countries, on social media since 2015.
She used to be also in touch with a key IS “online motivator” from the Philippines, Karen Aisha Hamidon, who radicalised several Indian youngsters. NIA officials even travelled to Manila in April 2018 and questioned Hamidon.
Sadiya came under the radar of intelligence agencies in 2015, when she used to be just 15, for radical satisfied on her Facebook account. One of her inspirations used to be wanted Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik, who is hiding in Malaysia,according to the charge sheet.
It said the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of Pune tried to de-radicalise her and let her go. Alternatively, she again created more than one fake accounts on Facebook and other social media platforms. Later, in January 2018, she went to Kashmir and used to be examined by Jammu and Kashmir police. “After de-radicalisation, she used to be handed over to her mother,” the charge sheet said.
It said she once asked Jahanzaib Sami (named in the charge sheet along side her) whether she can procure a suicide vest in Pune. She also learnt how to prepare an IED (improvised explosive device) the use of picric acid. “She used to be not only inclined towards ISIS (Islamic State) but used to be even in a position to offer her enhance in the form of turning into a suicide bomber,” the charge sheet said.
On one occasion, the NIA charge sheet said, she even asked one of her IS contacts whether they are able to explore the potential for the use of the coronavirus to wreak havoc on India. “She desired that corona pandemic must be used to destroy the country, which shows her anti-national mentality,” the NIA said.
A senior counter-terrorism official, who did not want to be named, said: “There used to be mean from her side to realize whether they are able to spread the virus by sending infected persons in crowded places or through other means. There used to be no implementation of the plan.”
Professor David Stadelmann from University of Bayreuth (Germany), who is an expert on terror, told HT that terrorist groups have discussed organic attacks up to now. “While planned attempts to contaminate people with corona may induce fear, it is slightly unclear how this kind of systematic transmission of the virus would work because people get infected with the virus anyhow,” he said.