Two men accused of fundraising and recruiting for the Islamic State group in India were sentenced to seven years in jail on Friday (21), an official said.
Azhar-ul-Islam and Mohammad Farhan Shaikh were arrested by India’s counter-terrorism body the National Investigation Agency (NIA) last year after being deported from the United Arab Emirates for illegal fundraising activities.
“Both of them were already in jail, and were today sentenced to seven years in prison by the court,” said Alok Mittal, an inspector general at the NIA.
The duo, both in their mid-twenties, had pleaded guilty to charges of criminal conspiracy last month “without any pressure, threat, coercion or undue influence” according to the Press Trust of India.
In a news release late Friday, NIA said the two of them had acted as a front group for the IS and incited people of different nationalities to travel to Syria to “join and support” the activities of the group.
The men were active on social networks and promoted the IS ideology on WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook to enlist new recruits and assist others to link up with the IS.
They also raised cash for IS — which controls swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria — receiving and transferring funds in the UAE where the pair frequently travelled for work.
“They had also raised, collected and received funds in the UAE and transferred it to their associates in India, Philippines and Tunisia to facilitate their travel to Syria to join IS,” the NIA said in the statement.
A third accused, Adnan Hassan, will face trial starting in June.
Friday’s verdict comes a day after Indian police arrested 10 suspected IS sympathisers in raids conducted across four states.
The government insists IS does not have a foothold in India, which has a large but traditionally moderate Muslim minority.
There have been some reports of Indians going to fight for the group in Iraq and Syria but the numbers are low relative to India’s population of 1.2 billion.