New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has sought the assistance of social networking giants like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, to identify the activities of the ISIS and its members promoting the ideology of the terror group.
According to the NIA, the agency has sent requests to various social media sites including, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, KIK and Surespot, to obtain the data under Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT).
This was revealed today by the probe agency before a Delhi court while seeking extension of NIA's custody of three terror suspects -- Sheikh Azhar Ul Islam, Mohammed Farhan Shaikh and Adnan Hassan, who were arrested after being deported from UAE for their alleged ISIS links.
NIA claimed that the accused and their associates were extensively using the internet and social networking sites to identify and facilitate the recruitment of members for the Middle East-based terror outfit.
"During investigation it has surfaced that accused persons in pursuance of larger criminal conspiracy and in connivance with other associates have extensively used Internet and many other Internet based services and various social media sites/forums including, but not limited to WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, KIK, Surespot etc to identify and facilitate recruitment of members and promote the activities and ideology of banned terrorist organisation namely Islamic State," it said.
"The data and contents of the same are required to be obtained. The request for obtaining this data is being forwarded to internet service providers (ISPs) under Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) for criminal matters," the NIA said in its remand application moved before the court during an in-camera proceeding.
The agency further said that various electronic gadgets, including laptops, mobile phones and SIM cards, have been seized from the possession of these arrested accused and have been sent for forensic examination.
The court, after hearing the submissions, extended the NIA custody of these three accused by another 10 days.
The NIA claimed that these accused were using electronic gadgets for communicating with their associates and, during interrogation, they have disclosed that they were active ISIS supporters and were in close contact with several members of the terror outfit.
"Many electronic gadgets including laptops, tablets, mobile phones, SIMs, SD cards, pen drives etc used by the accused for communication between them with their associates have been seized from the possession and personal search of belongings of accused at the time of their arrest on January 29," the agency said.
"These electronic gadgets were forwarded on February 4 to CERT-in for forensic analysis and retrieval of data, if any, stored in it. The report of examination is still awaited," it said.
While seeking extension of custody of these accused, the NIA said they were required to be quizzed further to verify the facts emerging from the forensic reports.
"The presence of accused is required to verify the facts that emerged out of the contents of these internet based services used by the accused for communication with their associates in the crime and also for recovery of data to facilitate the investigation," it said.
NIA had lodged the case on January 28 this year for the alleged offences under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Adnan, who hails from Bhatkal in Karnataka, Farhan who is a resident of Thane in Maharashtra and Sheikh Azhar from Jammu and Kashmir were arrested on January 29 by the NIA after being deported from the UAE.