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Southern India's Terror Links (31 August 2020)

Southern India's Terror Links (31 August 2020)

Why in News:

A UN report, released last month on terrorism has warned that there are “significant numbers” of ISIS terrorists in Kerala and Karnataka, noting that the al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent terror group, which reportedly has between 150 and 200 militants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, is planning attacks in the region.


The 26th report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team concerning ISIS, al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities said that the al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) operates under the Taliban umbrella from Nimruz, Helmand and Kandahar provinces of Afghanistan. Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, The UN report on ISIS terrorist activities in Karnataka is based on the arrests made by the state police and National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the past year.


In May last year, the terror group (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh) claimed to have established a new province in India, the first of this kind of announcement that came after clashes between militants and security forces in Kashmir.

On July 13, 2020, the NIA had filed a chargesheet against 17 ISIS suspects who had allegedly formed a terror group named Al-Hind to carry “out terrorist attacks in South India, especially in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and for establishing Islamic Khilafat in India”.

More recently on August 18 the NIA arrested a doctor, Abdur Rahman for his alleged links with the banned terrorist outfit Islamic State Khorasan Province, an offshoot of ISIS. 

Summary of the Debate

IS in India:

  • India is always on radar of Jihadi terrorist organisations.
  • India is among 19 regions on the list of Islamic State targets.
  • India has a very large Muslim Diaspora, which makes it major target for ISIS and other terror groups. This provides for a very stable breeding ground for jihadist radicalisation and recruitment.
  • Islamic State is tying up with other anti-India terror groups to establish its base in India.

             VISUAL EDIT: The worldwide threat of ISIS | Daily Mail Online


  • The social media campaign by the ISIS is ideally placed to exploit alienated members of the society.
  • When such incidents takes place, the lack of ability to prosecute people in a respectable time frame gives wings to people to actually continue with such activities.
  • Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and other terror groups providing it a well-established intelligence and logistic network.
  • Intelligence Agencies has warned that India and other neighbouring nations had a lot to worry about, given the reality of the IS in the region.

Way Forward:

  • People, who have been apprehended over the years, their stories need to be told and once their stories are told, it will be a very great demotivator for the rest of the population to join organization like the Islamic state.
  • There has to be a kind of Universal Educational Framework, where every child is taught brotherhood and respect for other religions.
  • Local police should have specialized wings in each district, especially in the states which are badly affected by these kind of activities and they have to identify and they have to closely coordinate with central agencies and investigation agencies so that, whenever there is any suspicion, a quick preventive action can be taken.
  • Vigilance is required in two areas in Kerala; one is Malapuram and the other is Kasaragod. A lot of money is coming in from the Gulf countries.
  • There are so many ISIS sympathisers, who have returned to India, their horror story need to be told through social media.
  • It is very important to co-opt the parents into this entire system because the parents are the one, who do not want their children to get into terrorism, because they know what the consequences are.
  • There should be cooperation between local police and the parents.
  • There is need to improve Criminal Justice System, so that justice is delivered in a quicker time frame, which can act as deterrence to people who may certainly join such movements.

Important points made by the Guests

Navneet Wasan, Former DG, National Investigative Agency 

  • There are lot of people travel to Middle East and other countries from South India for employment for other vocational requirements. They have some kind of shelter or some kind of places available to stay in middle east countries from where they travel to ISIS affected countries and set up their links and there are some people based in South India, who are constantly on lookout for soft target whom they can brainwash, whom they can indoctrinate and then use them within the country to carry out their nefarious activities.
  • India has not been able to start the deradicalization exercise in a big way, which is need of the hour. We have to identify people, who are likely to be brainwashed especially in colleges, in schools and then joined these kinds of group and indulge in these kinds of terrorist activities or support terrorist activities.
  • Most of the western countries have also deradicalization programmes in colleges, because all over the world, some of these operators are coming from very good background and they are not coming from poor or lower strata of the society.
  • There is need to identify such people in colleges and then interact with them and it cannot be done by Police Officer, it is job of teachers, it is job of civil society.

Anil Choudhary, Former Secretary, Internal Security, Ministry of Home Affairs 

  • ISIS reach in India is very limited. Out of 150 in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, much less than 100 are doing.
  • The ISIS agents and sympathizers are in large number in Kerala, mainly Kerala in south is the hub, less in Tamil Nadu, on the rise in Karnataka, Hyderabad is very limited.
  • They are being radicalized. Radicalization is due to a perception of the community being wronged and has been at the receiving end. So, they look for people who are already convinced that this community has been wronged and it can be made right only by the rule of Allah.
  • Karnataka is the IT hub. So, they are doing phishing for potential converts to radical Islam and the perception may be wrong, that the Muslims are not being treated properly, it’s a misconception and this misconception has to be removed by reaching out to those sections and explaining and showing them that how the Muslims have not been wronged.

Maj. Gen. Dhruv C. Katoch (Retd.), Director, India Foundation

  • There is money power which is involved and especially when the gulf oil, when the prices shot up, that was the time when a lot of Saudi money and money from the Gulf actually came in to the region and then there was mushrooming of madrasas.
  • The problem lies within India. When India got independence, there were less than 100 madrasas, which were operating in India, this mushroomed into approximately 3 lakh by 2006 and today the figure is 3 to 4 million.
  • There is no problem per se what a Madrasa is teaches, but when a Madrasa starts teaching Wahhabism ideology, there is a very serious problem and this starts right at childhood. So, the young child who is 6 years to 8 years old goes into Madrasas and he is taught. The fundamental thing which is being taught in the Deobandi and wahhabi school and it is very clearly stated in their books that ‘Our goal is to kill the infidel’ that if a muslim kills a non-muslim, he is so entitled to by law.
  • What happened in Kashmir in 1990 was never a fight for Azadi, atbthat point of time, the Indian Army, CRPF and BSF were not deployed in Kashmir, it was only the J & K Police, which was looking after the situation and what happened in 1990 was a genocide which took place of the minority Hindu population.
  • This was the result of Wahhabi ideology, which has been written in a book called ‘K File’ (Kashmir file).
  • Deradicalization is a very difficult process, so change the education syllabus and teach children right things from a younger age, then there is no reason for them to get radicalized.
  • Most of the people, who are actually getting radicalized, are the people who belonged to the Medical Sciences or to the Engineering Sciences. These are not the people, who are exposed to a composite education of the Social Sciences and whenever people having their education of technological lines, there is no margin for error either you are right or you are wrong, they are more susceptible towards this form.


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