By Abhishek Bhalla
July 1, 2016
The war fronts of Syria were a dream destination for Indian ISIS recruits. But now the indigenous sympathisers are being prepared to unleash terror on home soil.
Recent arrests and intelligence reviews show that the terror group is working on a franchise model and has decided to blood young Muslim youths in carrying out local strikes.
With five arrests from Hyderabad on Wednesday the number of ISIS recruits in custody has gone up to 54. The National Investigation Agency that busted the module says the rookies were in touch with a former Indian Mujahideen member who is now part of Islamic State and were plotting terror strikes and communal clashes.
India has the world's third largest Muslim population at nearly 175 million but only a handful of them have joined the West Asian group. Intelligence officials say the new trend of ISIS aspirants working as "freelance Jihadis" is alarming. "ISIS modules being set up in India is more dangerous than some youth wanting to travel to Syria," said a counter-terror official.
Planning At an Actionable Stage
Sources said the Hyderabad module was targeting VIPs and vital installations apart from other public places. It is alleged that the members were experts at putting together an improvised explosive device.
"They were arrested since it was clear that their planning was at an actionable stage," said an NIA officer.
Hyderabad in particular has become a hub of ISIS-related activity. Several youths have been apprehended and stopped from travelling to Syria to join the group while a number of arrests have also taken place from the city in the last two years.
Security agencies are making efforts to identify more recruits in states like Maharashtra Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.
NIA Carrying Out Nationwide Arrests
The NIA this year busted an ISIS-inspired terror module called "Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind", or the Army of Caliph in India, carrying out countrywide arrests.
Investigations have also revealed the group was making efforts to establish a channel of procurement of explosives and weapons, identify locations to organise terror training camps, and motivate new recruits to target police officers and foreigners in India apart from carrying out terrorist activities in parts of the country. NIA claimed that those arrested were found to be in communication with some active members through chatting applications in order to motivate them to join ISIS.
To Avenge Those Killed In Gujarat Riots
In a video circulated in May, a group of Indian fighters vowed to avenge the deaths of Muslims killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots and elsewhere.
Sources say the ISIS recruits are like a 'B' team of Indian Mujahideen that is being readied by members of the indigenous terror group who crossed over to Pakistan after a series of arrests from across the country following the 2008 Batla House encounter in Delhi where a police inspector was killed.
Some of them later joined ISIS and Shafi Armar, a former IM member, is a key operative who is scouting for Jihadi recruits for Islamic State. His brother, Maulana Abdul Qadir Sultan Armar, now reportedly killed, has also been identified as one of the handlers of Indian ISIS recruits.
To And Fro
Till now, six Indians have reportedly died fighting for ISIS in Syria. According to intelligence reports, 23 Indians travelled to Syria to join the terror group but two have managed to return.