The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has obtained what it calls a “kill list” prepared by handlers of the Islamic State targeting “ethical hackers, software managers” — computer professionals, some of whom are said to have helped security agencies track down ISIS members and potential recruits.
The list has names from across the world and details of over 150 such professionals across Maharashtra, nearly 70 from Mumbai.
WATCH VIDEO | NIA Obtains Islamic State ”Kill-List” Targeting IT Engineers, Nearly 70 From Mumbai
While security agencies are analysing the list and have even contacted some of those named, they also suspect it could be a “red herring” floated by the outfit to divert attention of investigators from the “real targets.”
The list was found on a laptop belonging to alleged IS recruit Nasir Bin Yafi Chaus, a youth from Parbhani in Maharashtra, who has been arrested. This list was shared by his handler identified as Syria-based Shafi Armar alias Yusuf alias Farooque. The “kill list,” sources said, specifies names, designations, companies and email addresses of the “targets.”
“Investigation has revealed that this list was shared by Yusuf who wanted the module to target these professionals who they see as threat to their ideology. Many of these professionals are ethical hackers and some of them are also associated with various security agencies in curbing the IS menace,” a senior security official aware of the case told The Indian Express. “We have visited a few of them and found nothing that they do or have done which could be constituted as anti-IS. However, the list, clearly, has been diligently prepared,” said the official.
This isn’t the such first kill-list. In June, last year the pro-ISIS United Cyber Caliphate hacker group released a list of 8,318 people, including their addresses and email details, on a Telegram. Those listed are mostly military or government workers or people in the public eye, like royalty or celebrities.
“The pro-ISIS hacker group has been sharing such lists on app-based messenger services like Telegram which are difficult to track by counter-terrorism agencies. The US list also had details such as insurance types of targets, their home phone, work phone and cell numbers,” said an official. “The list is shared with the sympathizer and if the target is someone in his neighbourhood, he is egged to carry out an attack to prove his allegiance towards IS,” explained the official. “However, there have been no reported incidents in which an IS recruit has carried out an attack on any individual appearing on these lists,” said the official.
Between July and August last year, the Maharashtra ATS busted a Parbhani-based alleged IS module and arrested four youths from Parbhani and Hingoli: Mohd Raisuddin Siddique, Iqbal Kabir Ahmed, Nasir Chaus and Shaheed Khan.
The agency claims that the module was planning to carry out an attack on the Aurangabad ATS unit. Police claim the group was also planning to target former Superintendent of Police (SP) Navinchandra Reddy who was involved in an operation against a Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) operative in 2012. The quartet were subsequently chargesheeted under stringent sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and those of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The case was then transferred to the NIA. Investigators recovered a low-intensity Improvised Explosive Device (IED) from the ancestral home of Shaheed Khan. The IED was prepared using a mix of matchstick powder, sulphur, charcoal, urea and potassium nitrate.