New Delhi: Islamic State may have so far failed to create a larger influence in India but the latest estimate of government and intelligence agencies suggests that 400 to 500 Indians have been attracted towards the ideological lure of the so-called caliphate.
These men, mostly youngsters, interact regularly on the web and make efforts to get in touch with someone from the IS and are seeking ways to travel to the region in Iraq and Syria held by the outfit even as they discuss the terror group’s “achievements” around the world.
The government has claimed that IS has had limited sway on Indian Muslims and it is not likely to make much of an impact. But the 500-odd Indians who are ‘attracted’ to the IS have kept intelligence agencies, state police departments and National Investigation Agency on their toes.
Many of them have been questioned by intelligence agencies and let off after counselling for the reason that nothing serious was found against them. Officials say that those who were earlier attracted to Jaish-e-Mohammad, Indian Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and other outfits seem to be gravitating to IS and taking an interest in the damage the outfit is causing.
The analysis of agencies, based on their interrogation of sympathisers, suggests that most Indian youngsters who are trying to engage with IS get attracted to the group’s basic philosophy that it will establish a caliphate based on sharia law. “The idea appeals to them. They believe that Muslims have faced atrocities at the hands of western countries over the years and they should do something about it. They also feel that there are too many social malpractices in the modern world and only IS led caliphate can provide a remedy,” said an intelligence expert.
However, Indian men attracted towards ISIS don’t have many grievances with the system in India. “Our assessment is these men are not bearing feelings of revenge against the Army, security forces or India as such. Many are getting everything – education, jobs and freedom to move anywhere.”
These men, sources say, are spread all over including states like – Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi and use web-based calling, messaging and chat apps like Trillion, Live, Tango, KIK, Nimbuzz, Voxer, Talkray, GroupMe, Viber, Hike, KaKao Talk, IM+ and many others apart from Facebook and Twitter.
Intelligence officials say these men are being tracked in real time. In most cases, law enforcement agencies intervene before they reach a stage where they try to travel to IS territory or attempt an act of violence. The latest example is a module the NIA busted and which was led by Muddabir Sheikh where 18 members were held for IS related activities. The agency is expected to file its first two chargesheets against the module in the first week of June. So far, Indian agencies have arrested 49 IS recruits, all of them at pre-planning stage, before they could either carry out any ‘lone wolf’ attack or travel to Iraq and Syria.