Iran Regime’s Role in Recruiting for ISIS

U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser has called Iran “the central banker of international terrorism” as he laid out a wider strategy for countering Tehran in the Middle East.

John Bolton told reporters on October 4 that the U.S. strategy toward Iran would use both military and nonmilitary means to push back on Iranian-backed militants, and their financial backers.

Bolton made the announcement as part of the release of a new U.S. counterterrorism strategy, the first since 2011.

“Radical Islamist terrorist groups represent the preeminent transnational terrorist threat to the United States and to the United States’ interests abroad,” Bolton said according to a White House transcript.

Iran, he said, had been “the world’s central banker of international terrorism since 1979.”

The Times of India, in an article updated on Nov. 12, 2018 stated:

The use of deportation camps in Iran by Indian recruits to ISIS has been disclosed by Nashidul Hamzafar, the first Indian to be sent back from Afghanistan after he was intercepted by the Afghan forces while on way to ISIS-controlled territory in Nangarhar.

The following is the full text of this informative article:

NEW DELHI: The journey to join ISIS in “Islamic” battlefields like Afghanistan often begins with radicalisation by Tablighi teachers and indoctrination by controversial religious outfits like Zakir Naik’s IRF and leads to deportation camps in Iran for a final cross over.

The use of deportation camps in Iran by Indian recruits to ISIS has been disclosed by Nashidul Hamzafar, the first Indian to be sent back from Afghanistan after he was intercepted by the Afghan forces while on way to ISIS-controlled territory in Nangarhar.

Despite months of planning, Hamzafar’s foray into jihad proved short-lived as he was picked up not long after he reached Kabul. But the transformation of a somewhat vapid youth into a radicalized individual who refused to heed his family’s warnings reveals radical networks operating in the guise of charities that link local mosques to terror launch pads in Iran.

Hamzafar, who was deported to India in September, told NIA that he had travelled on valid documents to Tehran via Oman in October 2017. With the facilitation and contacts arranged by his college-time friends from Kerala Shihas and Ashfaq, both of who had gone to Afghanistan earlier, he managed to reach a deportation camp in Isfahan, some 6 hours from Tehran.

There he posed as an Afghan residing in Nooristan province of Afghanistan. The address was given to him by an Iranian intermediary who took away his baggage and passport in Isfahan, saying that these would be returned to him in Afghanistan. Hamzafar’s biometrics were collected but the camp possibly did not have the facility to match them with the records at Tehran immigration which would have revealed his nationality.

Hamzafar, however, failed to convince the camp authorities of his Afghan credentials and was loaded onto a deportation vehicle for Pakistan. He managed to reach a deportation camp meant for Afghans after he persuaded an officer that he was actually from Afghanistan.

He soon found himself at Nimruz province of Afghanistan. Hamzafar’s ‘hijra’ to ISIS-controlled territory was arranged by Shihas, Ashfaq and Firoz, all accused in NIA case relating to flight of 21 Keralites to Afghanistan in 2016.

While Shihas, Firoz and Hamzafar first turned to religion after a Tablighi member nudged them towards classes at a Ahle Hadees mosque in Bengaluru, Hamzafar’s attraction for IS ideology grew after Shihas reached out to him via Telegram and Whatsapp groups.

The videos on “Khilafat” and audio clips of Abdul Rashid who along with his wife Yasmin Zahid had recruited at least 15 Keralites into IS, had a big impact on him.

Apart from the role of Tablighis — members of an organization with missionary aims but who’s doctrinaire approach has put it under the lens of security agencies — controversial preacher Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and Kerala-based Peace Educational Foundation also pop up in the Hamzafar story.

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