The coming together of the Taliban and ISIS has sent alarm bells among the Indian agencies. Indian agencies say that this ceasefire arrangement between the Taliban and the ISIS will only make the latter stronger and in the backdrop of several Indians joining the outfit in Afghanistan, the gravity of the matter is even more serious.
A NIA official said a day back that the threat from the ISIS is larger when compared to the terrorists from Pakistan. The statement comes in the backdrop of India investigating several cases relating to the ISIS.
India has also found that a module of the ISIS known as the Ansar-ul-Tawhid is active and recruiting Indian Muslims.
In the midst of this, there has been a development in Afghanistan which has worried the Indian agencies further. The ceasefire between the ISIS and Taliban in Afghanistan is a cause of concern. This is largely because most of the ISIS recruitments from India in the past few months have been focused on Afghanistan.
The growing threat of the ISIS in India was spoken about recently by Hamid Karzai. He had recently sounded India off about the growing threat of the ISIS. He said that the ISIS which is non Afghan is more sinister and hence India needs to be careful, up and alert.
India has been fighting the ISIS menace. Various agencies are probing cases of Indian ISIS modules and also incidents of many suspected to have joined the ISIS. In the Afghanistan scenario, there is something that India needs to worry about since the latest round of recruitments made by the ISIS were to that country.
The ISIS has nurtured big plans in Afghanistan. It has already successfully entered into the minds of several radicals in Bangladesh. Through its Bangladesh chapter it proposes to target states such as West Bengal and Assam. However, Indian Intelligence Bureau officials say that the bigger worry would be in the Afghanistan context.
On July 12 2014, the Intelligence Bureau had put out a report which suggested that 30 from the Indian Mujahideen had left for Afghanistan. While it was stated that they had joined the Taliban, further investigations showed that they were helping the ISIS set up shop.
The Indian Mujahideen rebranded itself as the Ansar-ul-Tawhid and focused on recruiting Indians for the ISIS.
Several cases of Indian Muslims going missing and joining the ISIS in Syria have been reported. This scenario is changing gradually says an IB official while adding that the new round of recruitments are for Afghanistan.
Out of the 21 from Kerala who went missing, at least 14 are suspected to be in Afghanistan.
The IB which traps ISIS sympathisers through its Operation Chakravyuh while decoding the conversations has learnt that most Indians prefer to be in Afghanistan rather than Syria or Iraq.
Cultural similarities, ease of conversing, food habits and proximity to home are some of the reasons Indian Muslims have quoted while seeking out a job with the ISIS in Afghanistan.
The worry for India
The forging of a patch work cease fire between the ISIS and Taliban is not exactly good news for India. Officials say that they expect this cease fire to be temporary, but for now the signs are worrying.
India faces a threat from both the outfits, but also states that in the case of the Taliban the group is contained to Afghanistan. However, if the ISIS is seen getting stronger in Afghanistan then the problem could spill over into India. The ISIS has witnessed set backs in Afghanistan but now with the patch up with the Taliban, the group could resurrect itself.
The ceasefire was reached to fight against the US backed efforts to dislodge both the Taliban and the ISIS.
While it may appear that the two groups have come together, experts say that this is a short term arrangements. The agreement is not to fight against each other for small provinces and instead turn the heat on the government.
General Mohammad Zaman Waziri who commands the Afghan troops in the East says that there has been no fighting between the two groups. He also adds that there is a good chance that the ceasefire can break anytime soon. This is due to the fact that the two groups are ideologically different.
India would watch closely these developments and the first priority would be to prevent an influx of its own citizens into the ISIS in the Khorasan.
While the ISIS may appear to be a puny outfit in front of the Taliban, its capabilities cannot be doubted or ignored. The deadly Kabul bombing which killed 80 which was incidentally the largest attack since 2001 was the handiwork of the ISIS. Indian agencies will keep this in mind while dealing with the problem.