Why the ISIS menace haunting Tamil Nadu cannot be ignored

Vicky Nanjappa

New Delhi, Nov 01: The raids at Tamil Nadu connection with the Islamic State continued. The National Investigation Agency has been conducting raids in this raids frequently and over a period of time unearthed incriminating evidence of the deeply infested problem of the ISIS in the state.

Tamil Nadu has been a key state for the ISIS. Haja Fakkruddin a resident of Cuddalore, it may be recalled that in early 2014 he left for Syria through Singapore to be part of the ISIS. This was followed by a series of events related to the group and there was an image on the social media that went viral, in which several youth were seen posing with ISIS merchandise.

The threat of the ISIS has been looming large in the state and there are several pockets where the problem is severe. While looking into Haja's case, it was found that he was radicalised by a Cuddalore based group.

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Haja is not the only operative from Cuddalore to have joined the ISIS. A computer engineer was deported recently from Singapore. He said that it was he who had introduced Haja to this organisation, following which he was radicalised.
During the various searches, literature relating to the ISIS had been found. Speeches of the 20th century Islamist thinker Abul Ala Maududi have been found in the possession of several youth.

Further the police have also seized compact discs which had the speeches of radical elements such as Anwar Al Awlaki and Abdul Raheem Green.

In its 2016 chargesheet, the NIA speaks about the role of Mohammad Naseer, a computer engineer in his mid 20s. Naseer was heading to Libya from Sudan, but was apprehended and later deported to India.

He did his computer engineering from the MNM college in Chennai. It was at this time that he would visit a mosque at Chennai which was run by the Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath, non-political Islamic Organisation that preaches a puritanical version of Islam.

This group was founded by P Jainul Abdeen in 2004, when he broke away from the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam.

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The role of the ISIS in Tamil Nadu was unraveled in a big way in 2014. In August 2014, the police arrested Abdul Rahman and Mohammad Rizwan from the Ramnathapuram district on the charge that they were distributing t-shirts with the ISIS emblem. A photo showing 26 youth posing with the t-shirt in front of a Mosque at Thondi had surfaced on the social media. While the police were not able to find any direct link with the outfit, it however showed that the ISIS was gradually being received in the state.

During the various probes conducted by the NIA, one key one would be the one relating to Coimbatore. The investigation into this case began with the arrest of five persons from Coimbatore. The ones to be arrested were Ashiq (25), Ismail (25) from Dindivanam, Salavuddin (25) from Otteri, Jafar Sadiq Ali (29) from Vyasarpadi near Chennai and Shamsuddin (20) from Pallavaram in Chennai.

Ismail in his confession had said that Ashiq had promised them help for their operation.

The NIA says that Ismail had links with the ISIS. The intention was to carry out a major operation on Ganesh Chaturthi. These developments are significant in the wake of the murders in Coimbatore. Munnani spokesperson C Sasikumar in 2016 and an atheist H Farook in 2017 were murdered by radical Islamic groups.

NIA officials tell OneIndia that the problem is a deep-rooted one. These persons are operating under the name of the Islamic State now. They are part of the same radical set up which has been propagating violent Islam.

These operatives have been trying to propagate radical and violent Islam in several places at Tamil Nadu. Coimbatore, Cuddalore and Chennai are some of their key areas of operation.

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Thursday's raid:

The National Investigation Agency has carried out searches in six locations at Tamil Nadu in connection with the Islamic State Coimbatore case.

The case pertains to the criminal conspiracy hatched by 6 persons and their associates with an intention of further the cause of the ISIS. The NIA learnt that these persons had planned on targeting Hindu activists in Coimbatore.

The accused persons arrested by Tamil Nadu Police in this case in September, 2018 and charge-sheeted by NIA in February, 2019 had conducted preparations, including reconnaissance of targets, for launching such attacks, which would have caused communal disharmony and terror in the State.

Investigation revealed that the charge-sheeted accused persons and their associates were radicalised on the violent extremist ideology of ISIS/ Daish by following the speeches and videos of the Sri Lankan ISIS/ Daish leader Zahran Hashim, over social media platforms.

Now searches have been conducted at the houses of the associates of the charge-sheeted accused persons, at two locations in Coimbatore City besides at one location each in Sivaganga, Tiruchirapalli, Nagapattinam and Toothukudi districts. During searches, two laptops, eight mobile phones, five SIM cards, one SD card and fourteen documents have been seized.

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