360 degree: Taste of terror from inside

Jabeen an alleged IS woman recruiter, was arrested in Hyderabad this year

The meticulous planning last year between the four youths from Kalyan, seen as lone wolves, and their online indoctrinators who successfully got them to IS had taken the country by storm and set alarm bells ringing in all the anti-terror establishments, prompting them to focus more on internet activities of IS including chat rooms. Adding to it is the revelation made by Afsha Jabeen that IS sympathisers are in Mumbai, which has kept the anti-terror agencies on their toes. Jabeen an alleged IS woman recruiter, was arrested in Hyderabad this year.

The IS phenomenon in India surfaced in May last year when media broke the news of the four youths Arif Majeed, Aman Tandel, Fahad Sheikh and Saheen Tanki coming from well to do families who aggregated a few lakh rupees and reached ISIS in May last year after leaving the country for ‘religious purpose’ in Baghdad, Iraq. While three were engineering students the last one Tanki was an aspiring businessman. Their friends told police how they kept aloof and often spoke about the atrocities on Muslims like in the Godhra riots.

Majeed’s father Ejaz was a well-known doctor in the local area but his clinic shut soon after the news of his son joining a terrorist organisation spread like fire amongst locals. Majeed’s house window was kept shut while the family of two other youths changed their residences to avoid the press and neighbours.

His parents even met Home Minister Rajnath Singh to help them get their child back. A distant relative of one of these youths requesting anonymity said, “We faced terrible situations because of their actions. The social stigma, unwanted attention from media and questioning by the police led to a lot of harassment. We never imagined we would face such days. It also affected our business and family relations.”

One of the youths also was a member of Islamic Guidance Centre (IGC) in Kalyan. Another member, Adil Dolare from the IGC, was arrested by the ATS who suspected he played a link in their indoctrination. Back then, the President of IGC Mohsin Khan said, “I faced a lot of trouble because of IS. We always condemned the IS activities. We had no idea what the youth were up to.” Looking at the local scenario, the IGC had to be shut down after it was linked to the incident.

Majeed was assumed dead by many with a leading newspaper in India even declaring it, however, to everyone's shock he returned to India last November after being persuaded by his sister and mother who made an emotional appeal to him. Majeed said in his statement that he suffered bullet injuries and had undertaken suicide missions, which got aborted.
Tanki too phoned his parents and expressed he wants to return but observers said Majeed's arrest and subsequent chargesheet by NIA under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, cut the chances of their return.

Around the same time, ATS managed to arrest in October last year techie Anees Ansari, a Kurla resident and IS sympathiser and a lone wolf who had allegedly planned to bomb American school at BKC and even learnt bomb making online. To stop more youth from getting indoctrinated online, the government also blocked 32 websites hosting ISIS propaganda.

A senior officer from an anti-terror establishment in Maharashtra said, "We are better prepared today to deal with the menace of ISIS. We have dedicated teams, which keep a tab on the online activities of ISIS. Further, we have anti-terror cells in every police station whose work is to gather intelligence inputs and information gathering related to anti-terror activities.”

The anti-terror experts from India like V. Balachandhran and D. Sivanandhan in Maharashtra had anticipated this possibility of ‘self-indoctrination’ years back and even spoke about it in seminars on anti-terror measures. Former ATS chief Rakesh Maria had even begun a de-radicalisation program and had some success. But, an absence of these efforts in other cities like Thane seems to have done the trick for the indoctrinators.

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( Source : deccan chronicle )
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