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Mohd Shafi Amar, Chief of Indian ISIS Cell Killed US Airstrike in Syria

Islamic State cell and principal recruiter for IS in India killed in a U.S. airstrike in Syria.

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Mohammad Shafi Armar(alias Yousuf al-Hindi) Image source: Benarnews

Indian intelligence officials said Monday they were working to verify reports that the alleged head of an Islamic State cell and principal recruiter for IS in India had been killed in a U.S. airstrike in Syria.

Mohammad Shafi Armar (alias Yousuf al-Hindi), who comes from the south Indian state of Karnataka, was killed in a drone strike “a few days ago,” according to a report published by the Times of India on Monday that cited top government sources.

An official at India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) told BenarNews that although it had received an intelligence report of Armar’s death from American intelligence officials on Sunday, the bureau was cross-checking to verify the information.

“Prima facie, it seems he [Armar] is dead. But we can’t say anything for sure until we verify [the information],” said the official who requested anonymity.

“The confirmation process may take some time because getting information from Syria, which is an IS stronghold, is not easy,” the official added.

Common link

Armar, 26 (pictured below), is believed to be the common link among at least 25 people arrested by Indian security agencies over the past year for showing leanings toward the Middle East-based terror outfit, according to intelligence sources.

The Times of India claimed to have confirmed the information about his death from three top government and intelligence sources.

The alleged IS sympathizers told investigators during interrogation that they were radicalized and recruited by Armar through online platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype, sources in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) told BenarNews.

Armar allegedly took over the reins of IS’s India offshoot – Ansar ul-Tawhid (AuT) – after his brother, Abdul Khadir Sultan Armar, 38, was killed in an airstrike in Kobane, Syria, in March 2015.

Armar recently dismantled AuT and renamed it as Junud al Khalifa-e-Hind, which translates to “soldiers of the Indian caliphate,” with an aim to establish an IS unit in every Indian state, according to intelligence agencies.

Following the death of Armar’s brother last year, their mother, Hajira, told The Indian Express that her sons had stopped communicating with her in 2010, five years after the brothers left for Oman.

A police official in Bhatkal, the Armar family’s hometown about 525 km (326 miles) from the Karnataka capital Bengaluru, told BenarNews that Armar’s mother and father, Shabbir Hussain, had relocated to Dubai within the past year. BenarNews was unable to locate Armar’s parents for comment.

A total of 23 Indians have left India to fight for the IS in Iraq and Syria, according to an intelligence report released last year. Of them, six had died in battle before reports of Armar’s death emerged.

While at least 25 suspected IS recruits have been arrested by Indian security forces, more than 150 are under surveillance for showing sympathy toward the militant organization, according to officials. (Benar News)

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Social Video app TikTok Reaches 1.5 Billion Downloads Worldwide

To recall, TikTok crossed the 1 billion downloads milestone in February 2019, taking just under nine months to generate a further 500 million installs

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The logo of the TikTok application is seen on a screen in this picture illustration taken Feb. 21, 2019. VOA

Social video app TikTok has reached 1.5 billion downloads worldwide on the App Store as well as Google Play and India leads the chart with 466.8 million or about 31 per cent of all unique installs.

In 2019, the app accumulated 614 million downloads — six per cent more than it had last year, reported mobile intelligence firm Sensor Tower.

India has been a fast adoptor in 2019, driving up 277.6 million downloads so far this year, or roughly 45 per cent of all global installs.

China generated the second largest amount of downloads with 45.5 million, or 7.4 percent, while the US is No 3 with 37.6 million installs, or about 6 per cent, this year.

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TikTok has over 54 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India. Pixabay

The figure does not include installs from third-party Android stores in the country, said Sensor Tower.

TikTok with 614 million downloads currently is the third-most downloaded non-gaming app of the year, behind WhatsApp at the top with 707.4 million installs and Facebook Messenger at second spot with 636.2 million.

Also Read: Tech Giant Apple Issues Firmware Update for AirPods Pro

Facebook is fourth with 587 million downloads and Instagram at fifth spot with 376.2 million.

To recall, TikTok crossed the 1 billion downloads milestone in February 2019, taking just under nine months to generate a further 500 million installs. (IANS)