A 19-year-old student of mechanical engineering arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has claimed that he wanted to travel to Afghanistan to cultivate poppy so that he could make money for plastic surgery to change his appearance and be with the girl he loved. Ashiq Ahmed is among the 18 men arrested by the NIA since December 2015 for alleged links to the Islamic State (IS). Ashiq has told investigators that he also wanted to convert because the girl, a Hindu, had made it clear that she would not be able to cast aside either her religion or her family for him. \u00a0Ashiq\u2019s confessional statement, recorded under section 164 of the CrPC by a judge, along with statements given by Bengaluru-based Mohammed Abdul Ahad, 46, and Mohammed Afzal, 35, both of whom were arrested on January 22, will form a crucial part of the NIA\u2019s chargesheets in the case, The Indian Express has learnt. The NIA has also gathered electronic evidence in the form of chats. These too will be cited in the chargesheets. In his confession, Ashiq, a resident of Hooghly in West Bengal, is learnt to have said: \u201cWhen I was studying in Class 11 and 12, I had an affair with a girl (name withheld). I loved her with all my heart. One of my friends (name withheld) was also in love with the same girl, and had also proposed to her. I even had a fight with my friend over this. \u201cMy friend then informed the girl\u2019s family about it. Her father came to our school and created a ruckus. After this, she broke off our relationship. She told me that she could not leave her religion or her people for me. I then thought I would undergo plastic surgery, change my name and convert my faith and face the girl\u2019s family. For this, I decided to go to Afghanistan and earn money through opium cultivation. \u201cI visited a fair near the Iranian Dargah and bought a book on Imam Mahdi (the prophesied redeemer of Islam). It said he would come from Afghanistan and Khorasan. It said that he would be the ultimate Khalifa (leader of the Caliphate) and would end all injustice. I then began searching for more on this, and for this I started searching about Afghanistan and Khorasan. During these searches, I also came across speeches of Masood Azhar (chief of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed). \u201cThe book said that the Imam Mahdi would have a black flag. In searches, I saw that that a large number of organisations had black flags. I created a Facebook ID under the name Ashik Pathan, and added a man based in Afghanistan. I chatted with him about Afghanistan, and he told me that Pakistan and Iran were its enemies. I even thought I would join AIMIM through this ID, but didn\u2019t do so as I didn\u2019t get any support,\u201d he said. Ashiq is learnt to have added: \u201cI then created an ID under the name Mujahid Islam, and through this, in March 2015, I came into contact with Mohammed Zahid, who said he stayed in UP. He said Muslims are being subjected to atrocities. He said we should unite and carry out jehad.\u201d Ashiq has also said he was put it touch with Ahmad Ali of Ansar ul Tawhid fi Bilad al Hind (AuT), an alleged India-specific terror group that has pledged allegiance to the IS. Among the transcripts of messages shared by the accused on various platforms are chats from \u201cYusuf al Hindi\u201d, believed to be the former Indian Mujahideen operative Shafi Armar. Armar, who belongs to Bhatkal in Karnataka, is alleged to be the Syria-based handler of the local IS affiliate Junood al Khilafa e Hind, floated by the arrested men. Consider these: * At 11:59 am on September 25 last year, Mohammed Naseer, a 23-year-old computer engineer from Tamil Nadu, allegedly sent a text message from Sudan to his father in Dubai: \u201cAssalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabaralathu. Pray for me, for I will never forget you in my prayer and it\u2019s my hope and prayer that we meet again if not in this world then in jannah (Paradise). I love you all. May Allah grant us understanding and guide us all to the straight path. I have reached to the Islamic State (IS). I know it might sound kind of crazy for you but your son really had to take this bold step to get out of the corrupt system which has democracy first on its list. There is no comeback, my father. Don\u2019t go to police as they will torture you and they cannot find me. May Allah bless you with guidance, hijrah and jannah.\u201d Naseer was deported to India from Sudan on December 10 last year, while allegedly attempting to go to Libya to join the IS. He allegedly stayed at a safe house in Khartoum from September 25 to October 5, 2015, and underwent a preliminary IS training course. After Indian agencies informed Sudan\u2019s government about Naseer\u2019s presence, the information was verified by local authorities, and he was detained on October 5. * On May 10, 2015, Naseer sent an e-mail to a relative: \u201cTake care of mom and I\u2019m very safe here. What you see in news is just propaganda. Life here is wonderful. I want you all to come to Dawlah. I will be always in contact. Soon I will give you a number to contact me. If it takes two or three days in replying you, don\u2019t worry. I will be always in contact. You all are in duas always.\u201d * In a Skype chat with Mohammed Nafees Khan, 24, arrested from Hyderabad on January 22, Yousuf al Hindi allegedly said: \u201cThe world should not be ruled by the laws made by human being, on the country (sic), we ruled by the sharia law.\u201d * In another Skype chat, Yousuf Al Hindi allegedly passed on a link to Nafees Khan: \u201cBomb banane ka asaan tarika\u201d. * In a Skype chat with Mudabbir Mushtaq Sheikh, arrested from Mumbra on January 22, Yousuf al Hindi instructed: \u201cLearn to make timer by the use of mobile phone\u201d. He also allegedly wanted to send money for zakaat.