The messages told Haris not to believe media and intelligence reports, and extolled the virtues of Jihad.

Keralas missing 21 seek more IS recruits Kasaragod man gets WhatsApp messages urging jihadIsa, Ishia and Merrin
news Terrorism Sunday, May 07, 2017 - 16:25

As news reports about Kerala’s missing 21 – who went to Syria last year to join the Islamic State – pop up on mainstream media, it seems that IS representatives are taking to WhatsApp to push their propaganda in Kerala.

On Thursday, Haris Masthan from Anangoor in Kasargod, suddenly began to receive WhatsApp messages regarding IS, seemingly from some of the missing 21. After noticing that he had been added to a group called ‘Message to Kerala’, Haris found that the group was purportedly being run by a man named Abu Isa from Afghanistan.

Abu Isa was the name taken on by Bexen, who along with his brother Yahiya alias Bestin and their wives, had gone to Syria to join the IS. Yahiya was recently reported to have been killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan.  

Among the messages Haris received from the group, some extolled the virtues of extremist Islamic  thought.  When Haris replied asking what the group was about, he received voice messages urging him to take up the path of jihad.

Haris then asked what had happened to Rashid Abdulla, the leader of the missing 21, and whether it was true that he had been killed in Syria. This time, he received a reply from a man claiming to be Rashid himself. “The NIA and many other agencies will publish all kinds of news. But people should understand that they don’t have any sources. They just release information without any reliability. No idea where the news came from about the death of Rashid Abdulla. I was surprised to hear it because I am Rashid Abdulla,” the message read.

What stumped him, Haris said, was why he had been added to the group since he did not have any connection with any of the missing 21 Keralites. “When I asked why they added me to the group, I did not receive any reply. By that time, many other members who had been added to the group like me began saying that this group is dangerous and that we should leave it at the earliest. That is why I immediately called the police,” Haris told media.

Soon after Haris’s complaint on Thursday night, NIA officials took statements from him as well as all evidence from his phone. The police, however, said that they doubt that the group administrator, claiming  to be Abu Isa, is the same Bexen who went from Palakkad along with his brother and their wives – Nimisha from Thiruvananthapuram and Merin from Ernakulam.


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