New Delhi: One of the bombers involved in the Jalalabad jail attack in Afghanistan last week, which left 29 people dead, could be a man from Kasargod in Kerala.
Sources in the security establishment suspect that Kalukettiya Purayil 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.
“It is a possibility that one of the attackers was Ijas. We are trying to confirm the same,” a source in the security establishment said.
Ijas was booked by the NIA along with 14 others in 2015, and was charged with criminal conspiracy, waging war against the nation, commission of unlawful activities, and offence related to membership and support given to terrorist organisations.
On 29 September 2016, an arrest warrant was also issued against Ijas by a special court in Ernakulam, Kerala.
In the Jalalabad attack, there were 1,793 prisoners in the jail at the time of the incident — most of them Taliban and IS fighters. While more than 1,000 prisoners managed to flee, they were re-arrested. According to reports, at least 300 of them are still on the run.
The attack, claimed by the Islamic State (IS, also abbreviated as ISIS), began Sunday evening 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.
Not the first time
This is not the first time that the Indian agencies have suspected the involvement of a Kasargod man in attacks carried out by the Islamic State.
In March this year, one of the three gunmen, who stormed the gurdwara in Kabul, where hundreds had gathered for prayers, and killed 27 people, including Indians, was also suspected to be an Indian national from Kasargod.
He was identified as Muhammad Muhsin, also known as Abu Khalid Al-Hindi.
The attack was claimed by the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP), the Afghanistan outfit of the Islamic State.
After this input came to the fore, the NIA in April this year registered its first overseas case to probe the terror attack.
An amendment of the NIA Act, which came into effect in August last year, has vested the agency with the power to probe terrorist activities against Indians and Indian interests abroad.
“According to preliminary investigation, Muhsin, a resident of Thrikaripur town in Kerala’s Kasaragod district, and others who had joined the ISKP, are suspected to have been involved in the attack. Muhsin went to the UAE in 2018 from where he is believed to have joined the ranks with the global terror organisation in Afghanistan,” an official had told ThePrint.
A doctor by profession
According to a 2016 Interpol document, Ijas was born on 10 May 1984 in Kasargod and was a doctor by profession.
He hails from Padne, about 50 km from Kasargod. His wife Ruhela and their child are said to be currently lodged in the Kabul jail along with three other women, all of who are wives of the men who left Kerala four years ago.
“He is fluent in Arabic and has traveled to many regions in Afghanistan,” a second source in the intelligence agencies said.
Sources also said that Ijas’ brother was allegedly killed in Afghanistan two years ago.
According to the Interpol document, Ijas’ extradition will be sought on his arrest in conformity with the national laws.
“The Indian authorities had also sought provisional arrest of Ijas,” the first source said.