Security agencies have confirmed that one of the four Maharashtra men who left India in 2014 to join the Islamic State in Syria had been killed while fighting for the terrorist outfit in Al-Raqqah.
The death of Kalyan resident Aman Tandel, who was renamed Abu Umar Al Hindi in the IS-controlled territory, was reported by various IS-linked websites.
On November 28, an anonymous caller informed Tandel’s family that he had been killed. However, a member of Terrormonitor.org, a Europe-based non-profit watchdog which tracks the online activities of terror groups such as the IS, told The Hindu that the outfit confirmed the death on December 26. The member said Tandel was killed on December 25.
On Wednesday, speaking to The Hindu, at least two officials in the security establishment confirmed Tandel’s death, hours after the IS’s official media wing paid tributes to him in a statement on Telegram, a social networking application.
The Telegram message said Tandel had been killed in Al-Raqqah during clashes with Syrian democratic forces.
“We cannot say when and how it happened, but on the basis of accounts provided by the family and other foreign agencies, it is confirmed that Tandel died in clashes in Syria,” an official said.
The Telegram message said Tandel fought briefly for the group.
“During his brief jihad in Syria, Tandel participated in several clashes with Syrian democratic forces west of Al-Raqqah city. Tandel was killed when these forces attacked the IS’s positions west of the Tabaqa dam in the Al-Raqqah Governorate,” the IS message on Telegram said.
Tandel, an electrical engineer, left India with three other Kalyan men — Areeb Majeed, Fahad Sheikh and Saheem Tanki — on the pretext of going on a pilgrimage to Iraq in June 2014. While Areeb Majeed returned and was arrested by the NIA, it was learnt that Sheikh was running a pro-IS Twitter handle, @magnetgas, which was suspended by the microblogging site on India’s request. Saheem Tanki is said to have been killed in August 2015.
The three men had featured in a 22-minute propaganda video released by the IS in May this year. The video shot along Lake Homs in Syria shows groups of militants on board small motorised boats brandishing Kalashnikovs with an IS black flag in the background. The Arabic-subtitled video, The Land of Hind Between Pain and Hope, was distributed on Web-based applications such as Telegram and Twitter on May 19.
The men called on Indian Muslims to travel to IS-held territories in its “Caliphate” and vowed to return to avenge killings of Muslims.