The Islamic State’s (IS) body shoppers are still voraciously pushing more cannon fodder into the war theatre’s furnace, Indian intelligence has discovered.
IS sympathisers are active in Indian metros, hunting for potential recruits among the youth attracted to the jihadi group’s ideology - and are on the radar of the intelligence agencies.
Nearly 35 self-radicalised jihadis have been identified as spreading the venomous dogma of the IS, a new intelligence dossier suggests.
A group of men was seen wearing T-shirts carrying the ISIS emblem in Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu. Two of them were later arrested in August 2014 after the photograph went viral on social media
Some elements seen as “IS sympathisers” and mentioned on the Intelligence list are on a recruitment spree in fertile grounds in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Based on the inputs from the Intelligence Bureau and state intelligence units, a dossier has been shared with the Union Home Ministry on those now under surveillance.
It has been accessed the list of these suspects, but the names are being withheld since the agencies are working on these inputs to develop more information and track the suspects.
“A group active in many cities is looking for people attracted to the IS ideology and then indoctrinates them,” a government official said.
Sources said the number of active supporters in this network could be higher. The group is working on the ground and not in cyber space as its members fear they could be easily tracked, the gathered inputs reveal.
Three out of the four Kalyan boys who were suspected to have joined IS. (From left): Arif Majeed, who has returned to India, Aman Tandel and Shaheen Tanki.
The dossier mentions that the IS sympathisers are physically moving around to find recruits.
“The campaign is being carried out by word of mouth, not through the internet,” an intelligence official said.
After the arrest of Mehdi Masroor Biswas, a Bengaluru-based executive who was allegedly posting material online in favour of the IS, the intelligence agencies began monitoring cyber space, which has become the favourite recruitment hub for terror groups.
The urgency towards cracking the network of IS propagandists started soon after British intelligence last month warned its Indian counterparts of possible attacks by the terror group.
The Sunni militant group, which earlier called itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been running a reign of terror in Iraq and Syria to establish a caliphate and install its commander as the supreme Muslim leader of the world.
Though the Government has been maintaining that India faces no major threat from the IS, sources said the incidence of youth supporting the IS in different parts of the country was a worrying sign.
There’s also the possibility that outfits like the Indian Mujahideen and Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) could be using the name of IS to recruit Indian youth.
There have been stray incidents of the IS sympathisers trying to garner support in India, but it is the first time that the intelligence agencies have drawn up a list of suspects.
Earlier, two youths from Tamil Nadu were arrested by the state police for openly supporting the group. Abdul Rehman and Rilvan were accused of abetting criminal activity after they distributed T-shirts with an ISIS logo to garner support for the group.
There have also been incidents of youths in Kashmir waving IS flags to show solidarity with the group.
Similarly, four youths from Hyderabad were nabbed in Kolkata. They claimed they were going to Iraq via Bangladesh. These students were not arrested, but investigations revealed that they were recruited in the name of the IS.
The Intelligence agencies have been tracking Indian support for the IS after four men from Kalyan, Maharashtra, joined the jihadi group while on a pilgrimage to Iraq.
While one of them, Arif Majeed, has returned and is in the custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Aman Naeem Tandel, Fahad Tanvir Shaikh and Sahim Farooq Tanki are still said to be active IS members.