New Delhi: The ISIS propaganda magazine, ‘Voice of Hind’, was being designed and put together by young graduates and translators in a “call centre like setup” in Karachi and Islamabad, sources in the security establishment told ThePrint.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) in July arrested three people from south Kashmir for allegedly being involved in “a conspiracy” to radicalise and recruit youths in India to join ISIS, for a “violent jihad against the State”, using the said magazine.
According to the NIA, three men — Umar Nisar, Tanveer Ahmad Bhat and Rameez Ahmad Lone — all residents of Achabal in Anantnag have been accused of creating a network to collect and disseminate propaganda material among the youth and recruit them, sources in the NIA claimed.
Following the arrest of the three men, the NIA also recovered incriminating documents including a diary which explicitly spoke about “drawing swords for jihad”. A book named “The truth about Jihad” too was recovered, along with clothes with the ISIS logo.
“The diary clearly talks about waging a violent war, pick up guns and has notes from 2017 onwards,” the source said.
Voice of Hind, an India-centric online propaganda magazine started in 2020 and is published monthly. The magazine adulates Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP) terrorists, including Huzaifa-al-Bakistani, a Pakistani national and a key recruiter for IS, who was killed in July 2019 in a drone strike in Afghanistan.
The first issue had advocate Mehmood Pracha on its cover.
In some of its editions, the magazine also speaks about attacks on Indian security forces, revenge for northeast Delhi riots, and how to use the pandemic situation to attack India while it is at its weakest position, sources said.
Technical help led investigators to south Kashmir link
Interestingly, the investigators initially believed that the magazine is being published and circulated from Afghanistan, till a south Kashmir link was established with the help of technical expertise, including help from a foreign investigation agency, the source said.
“Till now it was understood that the magazine was being made and circulated from Afghanistan, but the creators were traced to south Kashmir. During the investigation, it was found that the material was being sourced from across counties and only sent to Afghanistan. The magazine, however, was being put together in Pakistan,” the source added.
“These are call centre like setups where men and women, who are graduates and know the English language, are working on designing this magazine. These people are also aware of how the digital space works and how the magazine can be circulated for mass outreach,” the source said.
The source also said that these people are being paid a sum between Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 for the job.
Magazine edited in Pakistan
According to the source, the handlers who are responsible for collecting the content for the magazine are based in India and Afghanistan. These handlers, the source said, are also responsible for recruiting ‘content creators’ in Maldives and Bangladesh.
“The job of these handlers is to collect the content from across countries including Maldives and Bangladesh, where they are now recruiting people and send them to their heads based in Afghanistan. Those heads then send the approved material to Pakistan for processing,” the source said.
“The articles that go into this magazine are edited in Pakistan. The pages of the magazine are also designed there. There is one person who is the head of content and clears all pieces that are finally published,” the source said.
“Some Arabic articles that are under circulation are also translated into English,” the source added.
According to the source, there is also area-specific material — like articles in Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam, for which translators have been hired.
In August, the NIA arrested Jufri Jawhar Damudi from Karnataka’s Bhatkal for creating multiple pseudo-IDs on different chat platforms and translating ‘Voice of Hind’ into south Indian languages.
“Damudi was just one of the resources who was hired for translating the content of the magazine in different languages so that it could reach more people. He was also in touch with Umar, who was arrested from Anantnag and was coordinating on the content,” the source said.