New Delhi, June 25: Local police reports from Kerala state that over the past three to four years, over a 100 persons from the state have joined the Islamic State.
Added to this, the agencies are also keeping a close watch on over 2,000 elements who had attempted to join the ISIS, but were caught and de-radicalised. It is a delicate situation says an Intelligence Bureau (IB) official. We need to keep a very close watch on these people and it would take sometime before we are entirely sure that they have returned to the mainstream, the officer also says.
For the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing several cases it would be a long haul in Kerala. NIA officials probing the Kerala ISIS case say that the prime concern is that all those who have left for the ISIS in Afghanistan are educated. The officer says that a person by the name Shihas had played a major role in building up the module. He had managed to rope in several persons including one Nashidhul, who was initially opposed to the ideology of the ISIS.
IB officials say that there are two aspects while dealing with the problem in Kerala. One is to keep a close watch on those who are trying to return. The other is to ensure that those youth who have been de-radicalised do not turn rogue again.
The fear of the returnees stems from an intelligence report that states that these persons could target key installations in Kochi. Further the report also states that after facing losses in Iraq and Syria, there is a desperate attempt being made to set up shop in the Southern part of India. One must also note that the ISIS had recently announced the creation of the Wilayah al-Hind or Indian Province.
IB officials say that the bigger problem is with those who are returning. The agencies are keeping a close watch on those persons returning from the UAE, Turkey and Syria. Most of these persons had left Kerala for Afghanistan and then landed in Syria or Turkey.
This was the big plan says an IB official. He tells OneIndia that the intention of leaving the country was not continue fighting in Afghanistan or Syria. It was largely with an intent of undergoing training and then returning to India, with an intention of carrying out attacks, brainwashing locals and also setting up modules.
The Indian agencies, apart from Syria are also focusing on those persons returning to Kerala from UAE and other West Asian countries. The task on hand is humongous. The problem is that they do not come in batches. They come in as individuals and then go about their business.
The other problem is keeping a track on those who have left from other states. The focus so far has been extensively on those who have joined the ISIS from Kerala. The possibility of those who have left from other states coming to Kerala is also high. This poses a different level of threat all together as monitoring such persons is hard, says the officer.
Officials also add that the ISIS modus operandi is in the procedure of completing a full cycle. It was at first thought that they were recruiting from Kerala so that they could be used in the fight at Afghanistan. However, the coordination with other agencies has suggested that many who had joined the ISIS in Afghanistan had gradually moved out of there for Syria or Turkey. Now these persons are gradually making their return to Kerala and this is worrisome, the official also explained.
The IB terms such persons as silent returnees of the ISIS. This is a new challenge for us and the vigil is high, the IB officer says. There are various routes that these recruits have been using. Those coming into India from Afghanistan had often entered into Nepal before making their entry. In these cases, the recruits are most likely to use the land route to avoid scrutiny. Once in India, it becomes easier for them to travel by road and reach their destination in Kerala.