CHAPTER 15: THE INTERVIEW OF OUR LIVES.

“Good that you considered our condition Junaid. You do really care about yourself more than your organization as you had mentioned earlier.”,I looked in to his eyes, unclear about his ideology.

“Priorities. As I said. Now tell me quick what is your stupid condition. I’m dying to get outta here!”,he seethed in anger.

“We will study in detail JeM stats and other terror world news, whatsoever within 2 days. You’ll help us a bit there. And then, the next day, you guide us to Qureshi Saab of yours. Recommend us. Once we are selected, you’ll be free.”,I briefed him about my plan.

“Oh..I see..”, he reacted.

“And don’t even try to run away when you’re free with us on the way. A device will be attached to your chest. As soon as you try to run away, you’ll be treated with some unbearable bolts of electric shock.”,Abhi warned him.

“This doesn’t sound great.”, Junaid nodded his head in helplessness.

“So you up for it? Well, you don’t have any other option as I see it.”, Adi grinned.

“Um..fine! But what if you guys don’t free me even though you’re selected?  And what if you don’t get selected?”, Junaid put forward his query.

“As we get selected, I’ll handover the remote to the device to you. And if we don’t get selected..”

“You die.”, Adi and Abhi completed my sentence.

“This. Is. Utter. Stupidity.”, he was unhappy with my final condition.

“But there’s no other option either Junaid.”,I put the cello tape back on his mouth.

“By the way, once we get selected, can we get a chance to come back to our homes, take the necessary things and then join the group? Nod your head and reply.”, Abhi asked.

Junaid nodded in affirmative.

“So, tomorrow we’ll start with the stats which we will easily get on the net. Ready guys?”,I blurt out in excitement.

“Yes!” came their reply.

The next two days were spent on Google,Wikipedia and other blogs related to JeM and the actual two organisations Islamic Caliphate of Iraq and Syria (ICIS) and
Lashkar-e-Mujahideen (LeM) that formed it. Watching those online videos which they use for brainwashing people with their ideologies were a real pain to the mind. Even during work hours and the small breaks we got, we mugged the stats. We cross questioned each other to check ourselves. Junaid helped us with the usual questions asked and other minute stuff.

The next day:
I and Abhi skipped our work. Adi had to skip his cricket sessions.

Cautiously, Abhi attached the device to Junaid’s body. For a check, he pressed the button. We were kind and clever enough not to open the tape from his mouth. The painful moans from him clarified that the device did work.

“See Junaid, if you try running away, you’ll get this. So be a good kid.”,Abhi warned him showing the remote.

“I’ll never forgive you bunch of idiots for this.”,he roared in pain as Adi untaped his mouth.

“Did you say anything Junaid?”, Abhi said, playing with the remote.

Junaid didn’t respond to that.

Next, Adi freed him from the tight ropes around his limbs. That made him happy.

“Finally!”, he sighed.

The next moment, he pushed Adi and ran towards the door. But, Abhi clicked the button on time. He felt the shock and fell down.

“I had told you.”, I went ahead and slapped him hard.

“Remember this the next time when you think of escaping.”, Abhi said.

“Fast. Our cab is already waiting.”, I urged him to stand quick.

“I thought we might go via the rail route.”, he didn’t expect this move.

“We can lose you easily in a train Junaid. We are not that dumb as you suppose us to be.”, Abhi clarified.

I took the front seat besides the cab driver whereas, Adi and Abhi took the back one. Junaid was sandwiched between them.

An hour and half later, we reached Kalyan Station Road.

“Is the place near?”, I turned and asked Junaid.

“No. It’s a bit inside. Far from here.”, he answered.

“Can you give the directions?”, Adi asked.

“Yes. I’ll guide.”, he agreed.

About 10 minutes and lots of turns later, Junaid asked the driver to stop.

“This is the place.”,he said.

After paying the cab driver, we waited for further cues from Junaid for the directions.

“Follow me.”, he said as he led us into a maze of lanes.

“Adi you walk ahead of him. Abhi be behind. I’ll walk along.”, I said.

We knew that he can mislead us and escape easily in these lanes. The remote won’t work if the device goes away from its range. We had to be careful of that too.

After many turns, we reached our destination.

“Excel Cybercafé” said the bright green hoarding in front of the small shop.

“This is it guys. Make or break. Be confident. Don’t get nervous while answering. All the best.”, I wished them before entering the shop.

“And Junaid, pray that we get selected.”, Abhi said.

The shop was tiny and had just 6 computers for use. And there was just one lone customer.
A teenage guy was at the counter. Qureshi’s son. Might be.

“ Where’s Abbu?”, Junaid asked, confirming my guess.

He pointed to a small door on the other side of the room.

“Oh yes..Qureshi Saab’s personal room.”, Junaid recalled.

Junaid went ahead and knocked on the door. A man, most probably in his early sixties opened the door. His dark circles, old glasses and long white beard were the highlight of his characteristic face. His eyes scanned Junaid carefully.

“Oh Junaid! Where were you these many days! How’s your campaign going?”

“Going good Saab! By the way I came here to introduce you to some people..”

“Who?”

“Three guys. Interested in joining. Although they are Hindus. Nonbelievers.”

“Terrorism doesn’t have any religion son. Remember,I had said?”

“Yes Saab..”

“And how did you find them?”

“Online. Facebook group. Apparently they came across those videos and got brainwashed easily.”

“Ohk..get them inside.”

Junaid indicated us to come inside.

We were nervous as hell. But we had to curb that emotion as much as possible to succeed here. We went inside to face Qureshi Saab and his questions.

“Come inside boys, fear not!”, Qureshi Saab said as he seated himself in a chair.

We stood opposite to him with Junaid besides us. The air was filled with tension and fake confidence of ours.

“So..tell me your names.”,he started.

“Aditya Shetty”
“Abhishek Pandey”
“Sooraj Nair”

“Qualifications? Job?”

“B.E in IT, Wicketkeeper of Mumbai Ranji Cricket Team.”

“B.E in Mechanical. Working at L&T.”

“B.E in Computer. Working at TCS.”

“Oh! All engineers! Good good. The trend continues.”

We smile coyly on that statement.

“Friends right?”

“Yes Sir”, Abhi replied.

“So tell me, why this field?”,he asked.

“Sir, this nation..is going to hell. The Government is not so serious about development as such. Corruption still exists on a large scale. Inflation still makes living difficult. The ideology of democracy isn’t working much.
Plus, I don’t think their take on JeM and other terrorist organisation is correct. They are working for justice. In their own righteous way. And how can fighting injustice be wrong? I’m tired of my shitty job, confined to a small cubicle, writing codes for a living. The current scenario of our country scares me. Your ideologies are perfect. Way better than theirs.”, I explained.

“And you guys?”

“The same thought as his Sir. Your videos actually made us understand how degraded our system is. How weak our nation is. Plus, as he said, the speeches and ideologies of the group! Hats Off!”, Abhi said.

“Well frankly speaking, I don’t have anything to lose. Neither my career is going good or anything else is.
I’m basically here for thrills. I already know my life and even my nation is already screwed up. I need a channel to remove my frustration. That’s when these two told me about this. I watched your videos and read your ideologies and basic principles and was impressed.”, Adi put forward his point of view.

“Impressive.”, Qureshi said as his fingers went through his soft white beard, playing with it.

Junaid looked at us, and gave a wry smile.

“So, you may easily know that JeM was actually..”

“..formed after Iraq war. Amalgamation of ICIS and LeM.”,Adi completed Qureshi’s statement.

I looked at Adi and smiled at his eagerness and spontaneity.

“Yes. So let me ask you some stats regarding them. Prove your mettle here, you get selected. But what department you go in JeM if you pass depends on further tests. Ready?”

“Yes, Sir.”, we said in unison.

“When did ICIS establish it’s caliphate?”

“June 29, 2014 Sir. They also shortened their name to IC instead of ICIS that day.”, pat came the reply from Abhi.

“Perfect! Now tell me when was ICIS found?”

“1999 by Abu al Zabab”, I answered.

“Great. Name some regions where ICIS is mainly based on and is highly
active.”

“Iraqi governorates of Baghdad, Al Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salah al- Din, Nineveh, and certain portions of Babil; Certain Syrian territories of Al Barakah, Al Kheir, Ar – Raqqah, Al Badiya, Halab, Idlib, Hama, Damascus, etc.” , I answered it in a single breath since I had literally rut that part.

Junaid had mentioned this was a common question. I looked at Junaid after answering. He was all smiles.

“Was ICIS related to Al Zorawar- the once most wanted terrorist’s organization in any way?”

“Yes. 2004-2006.”, Adi answered this one.

“Fine. That means you’re well verse with ICIS. Let’s see if that holds true for LeM as well!”

“Sure Sir.”, we nodded our heads.

“Name the two most famous attacks by LeM.”

“That’s a easy one. 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the 2008 Mumbai attacks.”, Abhi said.

“Nations that have banned LeM as a terrorist organization?”

“India, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Russia, and there’s one more..”,I was doubtful about the last name.

“Australia.”, Adi guessed it right.

“My last question then..Tell me the 8 ancient objectives of LeM.”

“Ending persecution against Muslims, establishing Islam as the dominant way of life in the world, forcing infidels to pay jizya,i.e.taxes, fighting for the weak and feeble against oppressors.”,I said.

“Exacting revenge for killed Muslims, punishing enemies for violating oaths and treaties, defending all Muslim states.”, Abhi said.

“..and recapturing occupied Muslim territory.”, Adi completed the answer.

Qureshi was instantly impressed by our knowledge regarding JeM.

“You’ve trained them well for the interview I guess!”, he laughed looking at Junaid.

“Nah Saab. I met them today for the second time. All the efforts are theirs. Not mine.”, he smiled.

“I’m seeing a bunch of such highly interested people after a long long time. Mostly the guys who come are just brainwashed idiots. They know nothing much about the inside world, stats et al, but these guys are really serious about being in this organization.”,he said,looking at us.

All we could do was smile. We’re close to our aim.

“Just one last question. But for that, first close your eyes.”, he said.

“Sure Sir.”, we closed our eyes without further thought.

“Now, open your eyes.”, he commanded after a few seconds.

As I opened my eye, all I could see was Qureshi pointing a gun at my head and Junaid behind him, looking at the floor.

“What’s your last wish?”, Qureshi flashed his evil smile.

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