NEW DELHI - An Indian resident, who was said to have been killed during a battle in Afghanistan between Islamic State forces and American troops six months ago, sent a message to his family last week that he was not dead.
Bestin Vincent, a resident of Palakkad, who converted to Islam and assumed the identity of Yahya, had moved to Afghanistan with his wife, Merrin alias Mariam, and 19 others to live in the IS-controlled territory in the Khorasan province of Afghanistan last year.Both Vincent and Merrin converted after their marriage.
A senior government official said Vincent/Yahya had messaged his mother last week that he was alive.
“Vincent’s mother received the message on Telegram [an Internet-based messaging service]. It was sent from a number that Vincent used when he went to Afghanistan last year. He said the report about him being killed was not true and that he was safe and sound,” said the official.
On April 29, B.C Rehman, a relative of Mohammad Hafeezuddin, another absconding youth, who was allegedly killed in a drone attack last year, received a message that Vincent has been killed during a clash with the American forces. The message sent on WhatsApp by Ashfak Majeed, who was also part of the group that travelled to Afghanistan , said, “Yahya (Bestin), whom you all consider a Jew, have become martyr Inshaallah. It was in frontline of war against American kufrs (Infidels).”
An National Investigation Agency (NIA) official said the agency was yet to hear anything from the Afghan authorities. “This message further creates confusion. We are not taking it at face value,” said the NIA official.
Another Kerala resident Murshid Mohammad is also said to have been killed in drone attacks last year.
While the message sent on WhatsApp in April was in Malayalam, the one sent by Vincent to his mother was in English.
On April 18, an Afghanistan-based news agency had claimed that 13 Indians were killed in the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) attack by the U.S. military in Achin district of Nangarhar province but the claims were neither corroborated by the NIA nor the family members.Vincent's brother Bexon and his wife Nimisha, alias Fathima, who also converted to Islam, had also left for Afghanistan along with others.
Mainly comprising defectors from the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Wilayat Khorasan of Islamic State in Afghanistan came into existence in 2015.