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An Iraqi Shiah fighter walks past walls painted with the Islamist State flag in Saadiya in this file picture taken on November 24, 2014. Two men were jailed for fundraising and recruiting fo the IS group in India. — Reuters picAn Iraqi Shiah fighter walks past walls painted with the Islamist State flag in Saadiya in this file picture taken on November 24, 2014. Two men were jailed for fundraising and recruiting fo the IS group in India. — Reuters picNEW DELHI, April 21 — Two men accused of fundraising and recruiting for the Islamic State group in India were sentenced to seven years in jail today, an official said.

Azhar-ul-Islam and Mohammad Farhan Shaikh were arrested by India’s counterterrorism body the National Investigation Agency (NIA) last year after being deported from the United Arab Emirates for illegal fundraising activities.

“Both of them were already in jail, and were today sentenced to seven years in prison by the court,” Alok Mittal, an inspector general at the NIA, told AFP.

The duo, both in their mid-twenties, had pleaded guilty to charges of criminal conspiracy last month “without any pressure, threat, coercion or undue influence”, according to the Press Trust of India.

The men were said to social networks such as WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook to promote IS ideology, enlist new recruits and assist others wishing to travel to the Middle East to link up with the group, the NIA said.

They also raised cash for IS — which controls swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria — receiving and transferring funds in the UAE where the pair frequently travelled for work.

Friday’s verdict comes a day after Indian police arrested 10 suspected IS sympathisers in raids conducted across four states. 

The government insists IS does not have a foothold in India, which has a large but traditionally moderate Muslim minority.

There have been some reports of Indians going to fight for the group in Iraq and Syria but the numbers are low relative to India’s population of 1.2 billion. — AFP

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