A special court on Friday awarded seven-year jail term to two Islamic State men after they pleaded guilty, saying there was a need to show leniency as they should get an opportunity to reform themselves and become good citizens.
District Judge Amar Nath convicted Azhar-ul-Islam, 24 from Jammu and Kashmir and Mohammed Farhan Shaikh, 25 from Maharashtra, after both pleaded guilty of criminally conspiring to raise funds and recruiting people for the terror outfit Islamic State, saying "It seems they have realised their mistakes and are willing to repent for their acts and deeds".
"No doubt, they were members of a terrorist organisation and got themselves associated with their activities. That may be their folly either on account of misguidance or lack of maturity of mind and circumstances," the judge said.
He said the court "needs to take into account positive aspects from their act of pleading guilty. It seems the convicts have realised their mistakes and are willing to repent for their acts and deeds.
"In that case, the convicts should get an opportunity to reform themselves and be a good citizen of this country. Keeping in view the aforesaid facts and circumstances, I am of the considered opinion that there is necessity of showing some leniency while imposing punishment upon the convicts but at the same time, it should not be a wrong message to the society," the judge said.
The accused had moved the court following their U-turn more than a month after the court framed charges against them.
The accused had moved an application through advocate M S Khan saying they "are remorseful of the acts alleged against them. There is no prior criminal record against them and they want to join the mainstream and want to be productive for the society and want to rehabilitate themselves".
"The applicants are pleading guilty without any pressure, threat, coercion or undue influence," the plea had said.
The court had last month framed charges against both the accused and 36-year-old Adnan Hassan for allegedly hatching a criminal conspiracy to raise funds for the Islamic State and recruiting people for the terror outfit. The trial against Hassan is continuing separately before the same court.
The court had framed the charges for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy under the IPC) and under provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
The National Investigation Agency had registered a case against the three accused on January 28 last year. They were arrested the next day on arrival here from Abu Dhabi.
According to the probe agency, Hassan and Shaikh had been frequently visiting the UAE in connection with jobs since 2008 and 2012 respectively, while Islam had gone to join them in the UAE in July, 2015.
Hassan was earlier allegedly affiliated to the Indian Mujahideen and later got inclined towards Islamic State, it alleged.
The chargesheet filed by the NIA had claimed that the accused persons, in connivance with other known and unknown associates, had hatched a criminal conspiracy to propagate the ideology, recruit persons, raise funds and facilitate the travel of those recruited to Syria to join the Islamic State and further its activities.
The final report said that in furtherance of the conspiracy, the accused had created multiple email IDs, used multiple mobile numbers obtained from their associates from different countries, formed various online forums and groups on Facebook, WhatsApp, Kik, VKontakte, Viber and Skype, using the internet and invited and associated like-minded persons, residents of different countries.
"The accused had formed a terrorist gang and acted as a frontal group of the Islamic State and incited, motivated, invited and facilitated people of different nationalities to leave their respective countries and travel to Syria to join, support and further activities of the Islamic State," it had alleged.
The agency said the accused persons were actively involved in perpetuating, promoting and propagating ideologies and terrorist activities of the Islamic State.
"They had voluntarily advocated and professed to be the supporters and members of the Islamic State and actively supported, invited support from others, propagated and promoted unlawful activities and terrorist activities of the Islamic State by exhorting, inciting, luring and influencing others to become members of this organisation," the NIA had claimed.
"They had also raised, collected and received funds in the UAE and transferred it to their associates in India, the Philippines and Tunisia to facilitate their travel to Syria to join Islamic State," it had alleged.