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Terror groups citing ISIS crusade to recruit Indian youths

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Terror groups are invoking the name of the Islamic State (IS) as a tool for recruiting youths in India. These youths can be trained in the lawless areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border for carrying out terror strikes in India, officials in the security establishment said.

Intelligence agencies have been on the trail of the IS and recent inputs indicate that the group does not have a presence in India. But, its name is being used as a “proxy” by groups like the Indian Mujahideen (IM) to attract youths who want to be part of the global jehad, the officials told Mail Today.

Officials said this trend is being closely watched as it could be a new ploy adopted by Pakistanbased terror groups that handle organisations like IM. “Groups like IM and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) are using the name of IS to attract youths. There are inputs that they then want to take them to the area along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and after training, send them back into India to spread terror,” said a top official in the security establishment who did not want to be named.

Incidents of some youths in different parts of the country supporting the IS was a “worrying sign”, the officials said. “After a series of arrests of IM members, including its top commander in India Yasin Bhatkal, the group took a beating and now they could be using the IS as a platform in a bid to revive the organisation,” a security official said.

The Intelligence Bureau, in a report sent to the home ministry, cited the example of two men who were arrested by Tamil Nadu Police for openly supporting the group. The two men, Abdul Rehman and Rilvan, were accused of abetting criminal activity as they distributed t-shirts with an IS logo to garner support for the group.

There have also been incidents of youths in Jammu and Kashmir waving IS flags during protests. The home ministry has sought a report from the state government on these incidents.

Four students from Hyderabad, who were recently nabbed by security agencies in Kolkata, claimed they had planned to travel to Bangladesh, from where they were to be sent to Iraq. The students were not arrested but a subsequent probe revealed that they were recruited through the use of propaganda material that featured the IS. Sources said such propaganda materials are being distributed by terror groups on social media to enlist youths.

Intelligence agencies have been tracking social media platforms to keep a check on this trend.

The Sunni militant group, which earlier called itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is responsible for a reign of terror in the two countries.

Indian intelligence agencies have been following the activities of the IS after reports of Indians joining them emerged. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has written to the home ministry to seek permission to register an FIR against the group.

It was felt that an open case under different provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and United Nations Conventions could be filed for brainwashing youths for terror activities.

However, the ministry is not in favour of a case being registered as there is a view that the IS is not active in India and any action could lead to a backlash against Indians in Iraq and Syria.

Some 40 Indians are still being held hostage by the IS in Iraq. Central intelligence agencies have sought details from the states from which young men are believed to have gone to Iraq. “We are trying to identify families who have young men in Iraq. If we get details and suspect that they could be fighting for IS, we will inform the Iraqi authorities,” said an official.

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