By Jai Kumar Verma
Sometime back when the director general of National Security Guard (NSG) cautioned about the looming danger of terrorist activities in India by Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda, the policy planners took the warning lightly. However, if terrorist outfits including Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e- Mohammed, Harkat-Ul-Ansar, Indian Mujahideen join hands on behest of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) or IS and plan terrorist attacks in India the situation will become precarious. These groups have several active and passive supporters including sleeper cells in various cities of India and they can plan multiple terror activities in several cities of India simultaneously.
The IS, which is very active in social media, attracts the young people, both literate and semi literate, from developed as well as underdeveloped countries. Both male and female youth leave their homelands to join this terror outfit.
IS, which has no dearth of money, claims that it has already lured thousands of fighters and sympathizers from all over the world and they are ready to fight for establishment of an Islamic Caliphate.
It is also reported that the Islamic State is not only in the possession of latest weaponry but also has chemical weapons which it used against Kurds in Iraq. IS also claimed that it is trying to procure nuclear warheads from Pakistan.
At present the impact of the IS group is minuscule in India, and according to official figures only 13 Indians have joined IS, and of them six are already killed. According to another report, 25 teenagers from India wanted to go to Syria to join IS but they were restrained from leaving the country.
Nonetheless, a very large number of Indians are working abroad, especially in Middle Eastern countries where the impact of IS is increasing very rapidly. Majority of these Indians are working in Middle Eastern countries without family and living in pitiable conditions, which can make them easily fall prey to the vicious propaganda of IS. They could join the IS and return to India after training and carry out terrorist activities in the country.
Indians by nature are not religious zealots, but there is a great danger from Pakistan where religious extremism is at its zenith. General Zia-Ul-Haq and several other military and civilian rulers have inculcated and nurtured madrasa culture in the country. Quite a few Pakistanis have joined IS and a very large number adhere to the radical ideology of IS.
Recently a document in Urdu captioned as “A Brief History of the Islamic State Caliphate” was in circulation in Pakistan. The manuscript mentions that the IS will attack India and if United States comes to its rescue then all Muslims of the world would come together and fight back.
The IS is dreaming that the Taliban of Pakistan and Afghanistan would join hands and provoke peaceful Muslims of India, and thus all of them would subjugate India. The IS threatens to execute all who will not obey their dictum.
The influence of IS is increasing very rapidly in Pakistan and among Pakistanis residing abroad. According to a report, the ISI which has already waged a low intensity war against India would utilize this opportunity and send more and more terrorists to India in the name of jihad against infidels.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and few other terrorist outfits of the country have already expressed their loyalty towards IS which has emerged a formidable force in the region. The influence of ISI would enhance manifold as the present chief of Taliban, Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, is an old associate of ISI.
In view of use of internet by IS to spread its radical ideology and because of the danger from Pakistan, a high-level meeting under the chairmanship of Union Home Secretary L.C. Goyal was held on August 1. The meeting discussed the ways and means so that IS and other terror ogranisations are not able to radicalize Indian youth. The government would provide counseling to misguided youth, take help of community elders and take immediate steps to stop the young people who want to go abroad to join IS.
Separatists hoisted IS flags for the first time in Srinagar on June 12 along with Pakistani flags, it was an alarming incident, and security agencies must be careful and sincere efforts should be taken to stop its recurrence.
The multiple security agencies of the country should take the threat of IS as indisputable and if remedial measures are not taken now the condition will become precarious. India, which has the second largest Muslim population in the world, is a target of several Islamic terrorist groups, may be because of malicious propaganda of Pakistan.
The home ministry should nominate one security agency as a nodal agency to deal with IS and there is no need to create a new one for this job. Central government and state governments should launch active counter-radicalization as well as de-radicalization programmes urgently. Both these programmes must run concurrently.
As the IS is banned in India anyone hoisting its flag, shouting slogans, propagating its ideology or wanting to join the terror group should be dealt with stringently under existing provisions of law.
Security agencies must strengthen its intelligence wings so that they can collect actionable intelligence. The case of Mehdi Masroor Biswas, a young techie who was operating a pro-IS twitter account for the past few years and was helpful in recruitment of Muslim youth for IS, is a sad commentary on the performance of intelligence agencies of the country.
The union government as well as state governments must strengthen the state police force. There is no dearth of able, competent and honest police officers and subordinates in the state police; unfortunately the police forces are not given the latest weapons, modern gadgets, regular training, refresher courses and freedom to work.
In the latest Gurdaspur terrorist attack, the team of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) commandos killed all three terrorists without suffering any loss of any life because they had the latest weapons and good training, but they were not wearing defensive kit, including bulletproof jackets, which indicates unpreparedness of the State Police Forces.
Religious institutions which preach extremism must be banned and the preachers should be punished severely. Radicalization of Muslim youths will be very dangerous for the country.
Security agencies should also monitor the workers returning to India from terror-affected areas. More than six million Indians are working in Islamic countries and a large number of them are uneducated labourers and can be easily indoctrinated by Islamic fundamentalists. Hence Indian missions in these countries must be assigned the task of monitoring the activities of Indian expatriates. However, the screening should not be anti-Muslim.
Indian security agencies should try to collect the factual data of Indian youths who have gone abroad to join IS or persons who are working for IS in India so that remedial measures can be taken.
Although Government of India has blocked more than 30 websites which were proliferating Islamic extremism but the effort is not enough as these sites can be visited through alternate sites. Experts should try not to block only these sites permanently but block other sites too which are spreading false propaganda and Islamic extremism.
Intelligence agencies should also monitor mosques, madrasas, religious fanatics and places where extremism is preached and propagated. The IS sympathizers would also try to augment Islamic terrorist outfits which have become dormant. The ISI would encourage regrouping of these terrorist outfits.
IS is an international terrorist organization, hence the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) should contact its counterparts in other countries and collect information about IS and its impact on India.