New Delhi: Mohammad Shafi Armar, the head and principal recruiter of Islamic State (IS) in India, died a few days ago in a US drone strike in Syria, Indian media reported on Monday.
Shafi, also known as Yousuf, had reportedly become an important ally of IS Chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and was helping establish the outfit in India. He is learnt to have recruited at least 30 men for the group.
According to 23 IS recruits arrested over the past year and a half by the NIA, Delhi Police and police forces of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, Shafi planned to establish an IS unit in every Indian state.
According to top government sources, the death of 26-year-old Shafi, a native of Bhatkal in Karnataka, may have left the Indian unit of IS “headless” for now. His elder brother Sultan Armar, who was heading the outfit’s India franchise till last year, died in March 2015 in the same manner.
TOI confirmed Shafi’s death from three top government and intelligence sources. The agencies are ascertaining the exact circumstances under which he was killed.
Listed on the Interpol website, Shafi had recently formed Junud al Khalifa-e-Hind (Soldiers of the Indian Caliphate) by dismantling the Ansar-ul-Tauhid (AuT). AuT was born out of Indian Mujahideen (IM) after Shafi and Sultan developed differences with Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, the Pakistan-based chiefs of IM, over misuse of funds received for terror activities. AuT had pledged loyalty to IS and Shafi conducted talent-scouting from his Syrian base.