How much should India involve itself in the global war against ISIS

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In the context of Defence Minister of India, Manohar Parrikar stating that India would join the war against the ISIS if it was found under the flag of the United Nations, it would be interesting to see the world wide recruitment spree of this dreaded outfit.

Both India and Pakistan had stayed away from the global coalition which is fighting the ISIS for a variety of reasons.


The primary concern for both countries which house a large number of Shia Muslims is that any contribution they make to the global coalition against the ISIS could lead to a sectarian clash back home.

Speaking of India, the ISIS concern is there no doubt, but when compared to the rest of the countries, the statistics are far better.

Here is a look at the area wise recruitment where the ISIS is concerned.

8,240 from West Asia, 8,000 from the Maghreb, 5,000 from Western Europe, 4,700 from the former Soviet republics, 900 from South East Asia, 875 from the Balkans and 280 from North America.
Tunisia (6,000), Saudi Arabia (2,500), Russia (2,400), Turkey (2,100) and Jordan (2,000). From India the official figure stands at 23 while the unofficial statistic suggests 50. From Pakistan unofficially the number stands at 330 while the official figure is 70.

What India should focus on?

Former officer with the Research and Analysis Wing, V Balachandran tells OneIndia that there is a need for more ground intelligence in addition to monitoring the social media.

While the power of the Islamic State's social media outreach is undeniable, it appears that it helped prepare the ground for persuasion, rather than to force a decision which they do through ground activists.
ISIS constantly exhorts them to perform hijrah to Syria with their families. Some of them were on student visas.

Over 140 of them had no radical history and wanted to be good Muslims believing that the IS caliphate offered them a life of piety that would increase their chances of rewards in afterlife.

Some radicalised youths who could not travel to Syria were prepared to carry out attacks at home to punish their governments, Balachandran says.

Our agencies should study the January 2015 US Congressional Research (CRS) Report on "Islamic State Crisis and US Policy" and also the Soufan Group's "Foreign Fighters - an Updated Assessment of the Flow of Foreign Fighters into Syria and Iraq"released on December 9.

The CRS report says that US has been diplomatically coordinating since March 2014 with European, North African and Middle East partners to prevent foreign fighters joining the IS as 16,000 foreign volunteers from 90 countries had traveled to Syria since January 2012.

The Soufan Group which is one of the most active security forecast groups depends upon ground surveys rather than media skimming. It has now brought out a new report giving updated details of foreign fighters with ISIS.

The number in their June 2014 report stood at 12,000 from 81 countries. Nineteen months later they found that it had grown to 27,000-31,000 from 86 countries.

Returning jihadis were 20-30 per cent, presenting a significant challenge to security and law enforcement agencies as we saw in Paris. The report provides new ground realities which would be useful to adopt realistic counter-narratives to stem the flow.

Besides, online propaganda, they found several "hotbeds" for recruitment like Lisleby district of Fredrikstad in Norway, Bizerte and Ben Gardane in Tunisia, Derna in Libya, the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia and the Molenbeek district of Brussels.

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