Instead of Jihadi, Was Used as Labour, Alleged IS Fighter Areeb Majeed Says

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New Delhi:  Areeb Majeed, the 23-year-old from Mumbai who travelled to Iraq to join the Islamic State group,  was not allowed to fight in war zones, he has told interrogators. Instead, Majeed has reportedly revealed that he and the other three men from Kalyan who left their homes in the Eastern suburb of Mumbai, were assigned to labour jobs that left them disappointed. In addition to cleaning toilets, Majeed has said, he was made to work at construction sites since he was studying civil engineering in India. The other three men in his group were used as a car mechanic, at the electronics department and as an accountant.

Majeeb was arrested on Saturday, a day after he landed in Mumbai on a flight from Turkey.  He has been questioned extensively at an undisclosed location by members of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the country's main counter-terrorism body.

Majeed has reportedly told them that he was hit by a bullet accidentally one day. After about a week at a hospital, he phoned his family to say he wanted to return home. He claims the IS allowed him to leave an engineering team and gave him 2,000 dollars which he used to get from Iraq to Istanbul. There, he met with Indian officials who helped arrange his travel home.  His father had, in the meantime, contacted NIA officers, who facilitated his return.

Majeed, according to investigators, says he was surfing the Internet to learn more about the conflict between Palestine and Israel when he began to watch orthodox Islamic preachers online.

"I was studying engineering but lost interest and began thinking about Islamic countries that followed the Shariat," he has reportedly said.

With the other three men from his neighbourhood, he contacted a woman named Tahira Bhatt on Facebook who claimed to be a recruiter for IS. She asked the men to head to Iraq and gave them contact information for representatives who would meet them there.

Majeed and the others told their families they were traveling to Iraq for a pilgrimage and eventually met with IS representatives. When they could not furnish a recommendation, they were asked to return to India but they insisted that they were desperate to join the IS and were then trained in the desert for 10 days and taught how to operate AK47s and other weapons.

Despite allegedly clearing written and oral exam, they were not allowed to join the war.  Majeed claims the three other men from Kalyan are alive.  



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