Al-Qaeda in a Kerala college campus: A radicalised state and why we aren’t surprised

Vicky Nanjappa

Kochi, Dec 30: A video of college students in Kerala carrying out a road show in support of terror groups, Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State has been doing the rounds.

Janam TV put out the visuals showing students of the Varkala C H Muhammad Koya Memorial College holding a show in support of the terror groups by raising their flags.

The visuals also showed Al-Qaeda flags being raised. Further writings on the walls of the toilet colleges in support of the terror groups were also part of the visuals.

The Kerala police has said that it has ordered a probe into the incident. The college authorities say that this is an old video of seven months back. It was part of the annual day, the authorities said while being quoted by various media outlets.

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The visuals showed students dressed up as Al-Qaeda and ISIS activists, with their faces covered and waving flags of the banned organisations. Sloganeering in support of the the terror outfits were also part of the visuals.

The radical hub:

Kerala has been a hub for Islamic radicalisation and this has been proven in a number of cases that have been reported from the state over the past decade.

The politics of the state, the social fabric among a large section in the Muslim community have made the state a happy hunting ground for jihadis. No story on this subject would be complete unless one speaks about a terrorist from Kerala who fought in Kashmir. This is important because this Kerala resident was the first non-Pakistani, non-Kashmiri terrorist who fought in Kashmir.

While the state has over the years seen the influence of terror groups such as the Students Islamic Movement of India, Indian Mujahideen, Base Movement (Al-Qaeda's local chapter), today there seems to be more affiliation towards the Islamic State.

Over the past three years nearly 54 from Kerala went off the radar one day and further investigations went on to suggest that they had joined the Afghan chapter of the Islamic State.

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While the Indian Intelligence Bureau has always warned about the lurking danger of radical groups, now a study in Pakistan too has identified Kerala as the state which has the most affiliation towards the ISIS.

A study titled 'Prospects of Daesh's Expansion in South Asia,"conducted by Abdullah Khan, the managing director of the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies says that Wilayat-e-Hind is the new chapter of the Daesh which is quickly attracting educated youth in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It says the Indian citizens, especially from Kerala find the Islamic State more attractive than another group. This observation comes in the wake of 54 people from Kerala joining the ISIS in the past three years.

The affiliation towards radical and terror groups in Kerala stems out of several factors. This is the state where radical groups such as the PFI and SDPI are extremely strong and enjoy a large amount of political patronage. These groups have played a major role in radicalisation of the youth, which in turn led to the major Wahhabi influx into the state from Saudi Arabia.

Wahhabism:

Several 1,000 Wahhabi preachers came into the state, spread their ideology, pumped in money and then left. They funded the construction of new Mosques heavily, with an intention of ensuring that the ideology was preached from these places of worship.

The newer Mosques that are coming up in Kerala are also constructed in the manner in which they done in Saudi Arabia. This is just one small indicator of how much people of the state are willing to follow the radical style preached by the Wahabi scholars.

Moreover the inflow of funds into Kerala from Saudi is the highest when compared to any other part of the country. It was in Kerala that one got to see posters mourning the death of Osama Bin Laden and also a prayer for Ajmal Kasab after he was hanged. Intelligence Bureau officials tell OneIndia that a large number of youth appear to be attracted to this radical style of Islam, but also add that there are some elders who are trying to oppose it.

Several Muslim youth in Kerala got together and started an outfit called the Ansar-ul-Khilafa KL. This was the feeder outfit for the ISIS and its job was to identify people and send them to the ISIS.

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