IS/ Islamic State/ Daesh and India

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Extent of support for IS in India

Number of IS suspects from various hotspots, state-wise; The Times of India, Jan 21, 2017

2015: Very few Indians recruited

The Times of India, Dec 02 2015

IS has attracted only few Indian youths, says govt 

The government told Lok Sabha that it was keeping a close watch on possible attempts by Islamic State and its supporters to influence Indians online with its jihadi ideology, while claiming at the same time that the outfit could attract only a few of the country's youth. Minister of state for home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary , in reply to a written question in Lok Sabha, said the government has directed intelligence and security agencies to identify potential recruits and keep them under surveillance. “Cyber space is being closely monitored in this regard,“ he added.

According to sources in the home ministry , as many as 150 Indians, mostly located in the southern states, are on the radar of intelligence agencies for actively following IS literature online and engaging with IS cadres or supporters on social media.

As many as 23 Indians have already joined IS, of which two have returned while six have been killed in Syria and Iraq. Around 30 In dians have been prevented from joining the terror outfit.

Chaudhary said IS uses both positive and negative imagery to attract recruits globally. He said the home ministry had held a meeting in August with all central agencies and 12 state governments to assess the threat lev el and to devise a national, cohesive strategy to deal with it.

The government has also notified ISIslamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL)Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)Daesh as a terrorist organisation and included it in the First Schedule of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, Chaudhary said.

68 IS supporters arrested till Nov 2016

UNDER SCANNER - `68 IS supporters arrested in India', Nov 23 2016 : The Times of India

As many as 68 persons have been arrested so far across the country for being sympathisers or supporters of banned terrorist outfit Islamic State (IS), the government in formed the Lok Sabha in nov 2016. Of the 68, 50 were taken into custody by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and different state law enforcement agencies this year.

Giving a state-wise breakup of arrests of 50 IS-inspired suspects this year, minister of state for home Hansraj Ahir said Maharashtra and Telangana accounted for the highest number of arrests at 11 each, followed by Karnataka with seven, Kerala with six, Uttarakhand with four, West Bengal, UP, and Tamil Nadu with two each and Ra jasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pra desh, J&K and Bihar accoun ting for one arrest each..

2017, March: The first IS strike in India

Karishma Kotwal, Pervez Iqbal Siddiqui, Neeraj Chauhan & Bharti Jain, Blast in train a `trial run' by terror module, March 8, 2017: The Times of India

8 Held, Op On In Lucknow To Nab Terror Gang Boss A DAY OF TERROR IN UP & MP AS ISLAMIC STATE MAKES FIRST STRIKE IN INDIA UP Encounter On, ATS Wants Suspects Alive

In the first-ever strike in India by the so-called Islamic State, a module radicalised by the deadly terrorist organisation triggered a low-in tensity blast in a train in Madhya Pradesh, injuring 10 passengers.

The morning blast on the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train near Jabri railway station, the first instance of a terror strike by an IS module in In dia, spurred the Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh police to launch coordinated operations in the two states. Eight members of the group were arrested, while UP's anti-terror squad was engaged in an operation in Lucknow to cap ture its leader Saifullah.

Holed up in a house in the Thakurganj area of Lucknow, Saifullah and another man fired at the ATS personnel who tried to arrest them.An encounter was on at the time of going to press. Sources in central intellice agencies confirmed gence agencies confirmed that the module owes allegiance to IS, but were not clear whether the directive came from an “online handler“. The so-called Islamic State (IS) terror group, which carried out its first terror strike in India by triggering a blast on a Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train on Tuesday , is known for its federated way of functioning where it encourages jihadis loyal to it to select their targets and hit them. So far, intelligence agencies had been able to nip terror plots by ISinspired jihadis before they could be executed.

Sources said all the accused have UP links, and on Tuesday morning, one arrest led to another, before the UP ATS caught up with the gang leader Saifullah.

Sources said three of the accused -Danish, Mir Hussain and Atish Muzaffar were arrested from Pipariya in MP . Two more, Mohammad Faisal and Mohammad Irfan, who are siblings, were nabbed from Jajmau near Kanpur, while another, Alam, was picked up from Etawah in UP .

Another member, suspected to be the courier of the explosives which went off in the train, was injured in the explosion and was arrested from the spot. Police want to take Saifullah alive, which led to the hours-long gunbattle.Equipped with night-vision devices, police were preparing for a night-long stand-off, and to foil any escape bid by the two heavily armed terrorists.

The operation was expected to carry through the night as Saifullah, accompanied by another armed member of the module kept firing at the police personnel.

A top intelligence official told TOI that the blast in the passenger train was a “trial run“ by the module, which was planning major attacks and had made enough preparations for the same. Intelligence agencies who had been trying to locate module members who radicalised themselves by accessing online IS's jihadi propaganda.

In Lucknow, the encounter began after ATS commandos broke into the room where Sai fullah had locked himself up.The police action came after specific inputs from the MP ATS. Not sure if the suspect was alone in the house or with other accomplices and the kind of fire power he had, cops first lobbed chilli grenades and tear gas shells into the premises to smoke out the occupants. However, Saifullah locked himself inside a room and reportedly opened fire at the commandos. Police sources said the house where Saifullah was holed up belonged to a resident of Malihabad who was currently in the Gulf.

UP ADG (law and order) Daljeet Chaudhary said cops were exercising maximum restraint in order to nab the suspect alive. “The commandos were in the process of entering the room by creating a hole in the concrete roof of the room where the suspect is holed up,“ he told TOI. Home minister Rajnath Singh inquired from UP DGP Javeed Ahmed about the operation.

This is the first time that an attack has been carried out by IS in India, and that too using recruits radicalised from within the country .

November 2017: only 100 Indians

Bharti Jain, ‘Just 100 desis in its ranks, IS lure has been limited’, November 28, 2017: The Times of India

Around 100 ‘radicalised’ Indians have joined the Islamic State (IS) terror group so far and travelled to IScontrolled territories in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The numbers are seen by the security establishment here as no more than a speck in context of the country’s large population and also that of its Muslims.

According to the latest assessment by the intelligence apparatus, while 50 citizens have left India since 2014 to join IS, the remaining 50 are members of the diaspora who left for ISheld lands from their respective countries of residence, mostly in the Gulf.

“The limited number of recruits that IS has been able to draw out from India, vis-a-vis other countries in the West, shows that its aggressive online propaganda has failed to ‘radicalise’ Indian Muslims to an extent that they are willing to leave their families and country and join its global jihad to create a ‘caliphate’. A hundred recruits, of which only 50 were Indian residents, is minuscule not only in proportion to the large Indian population but also as a percentage of the country’s large Muslim community,” a home ministry official said.

However, even though the recruitment of Indians into IS is low, there is still a lot of interest among the youth in its online propaganda and resources. This is borne out by the online searches related to IS tracked by various central and state agencies in the recent past. Surfing through ISrelated content is relatively higher in southern states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, as well as in Maharashtra, although there is also a lot of online interest in IS among J&K youths. ‘The J&K youth drawn to IS are at various stages of radicalisation,” an intelligence operative said.

Incidentally, the maximum migration of IS followers from India has been from Kerala. While 21 Keralites, mostly from Kasaragod, left the country last year and took the circuitous route through Gulf countries and Iran to reach Nangarhar, Afghanistan, IS sympathiser Shajahan VK, deported from Turkey in July, had told the NIA that 17 others, including women and children, from the state were in Iraq-Syria.

According to an officer, more worrying than IS influence among Indians is the systematic ‘radicalisation’ of some youths by domestic outfits such as Popular Front of India (PFI). Sources said PFI, so far most active in Kerala, TN and Karnataka, is quietly expanding its presence to Assam, West Bengal, UP and Rajasthan. PFI has been organising public meetings in various states to raise issues affecting Muslims. However, on the sidelines of these meetings, its headhunters allegedly scout for ‘radicalised’ elements. The government is working on a proposal to declare PFI an ‘unlawful association’.

Government’s non-recognition

Bharti Jain, IS to be called `Daish' in govt records now, Nov 08 2016 : The Times of India

The Union home ministry intends to replace the nomenclature “Islamic State“ with “Daish“ in all official communications pertaining to the global terrorist organisation. The reason cited by a senior home ministry official is that calling the dreaded jihadi outfit `Islamic State' is like giving legitimacy to its claim of representing a “borderless Islamic State“ encompassing Muslims across the world.

Daish is the Arab acronym for Al Dawla Al-Islamiya fi Al-Iraq wa Al-Sham (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or Sham), for which the acronym is ISIL or ISIS was originally used by the group. However, the outfit now prefers to be called Islamic State (IS). Many believe that this is to ensure that IS is not recognised as a state limited by physical boundaries.However, counter-terror experts insist that IS is neither Islamic not a state, but only a banned terrorist entity .

Incidentally , the government of India notification banning IS as a terror outfit under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) names IS by all its known nomenclatures including ISIS, ISIL and Daish. The Times of India has learnt that the Union home secretary may verbally ask its departments, particularly the internal security division that deals with matters relating to terrorism, intelligence agencies and investigative agencies like NIA to ensure that only the name `Daish' is used in all official communication while referring to IS. If need be, an office memorandum in this regard may also be circulated.

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