Mumbai, Nov 28: Areef Majeed has hit the headlines and there are several reports that have been posted regarding his state of mind. While there is no doubt that he was radicalized over the Internet and felt very strongly about the cause being espoused by the ISIS, the story of his return needs to be told correctly.
The Indian government has treaded very carefully and responsibly regarding the issue of the ISIS. Right from rescuing the nurses from Mosul to bringing Majeed back, overseen by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval have been dealt with a great deal of care.
Modi did not join US coalition, why?
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the United States of America he was in fact asked by President Barrack Obama to join the coalition in the war against the ISIS in Iraq. The offer was not taken and India had its reasons to reject the same.
Joining a coalition with the US would only give birth to another problem in India. It would have only ensured that more youth would have joined the ISIS and let us face it, many have a hatred to both the US and Israel. The rejecting of this offer was a master stroke by the Indian Prime Minister and his NSA and both thought long term, instead of making a dash to Iraq and joining the coalition.
[Read: He is not dead but alive: Mumbai youth, who joined ISIS, returns to India]
ISIS thrives on propaganda
The ISIS today is a force, which has over 30,000 people. Each one of them highly radicalized through various propaganda material. In fact it is the stories that are put up by the fighters, which lead to more recruitments. The videos that the ISIS posts regularly is plain brutal in nature and very often the beheading of US and UK nationals is a major draw for the radical youth who get carried away. In fact an expert on this subject,
Aki Peritz whose job was to watch these videos and analyse them for the CIA had once told me that it is such propaganda that works well for the ISIS and these are major draws for several youth wanting to join them.
The ISIS has at least 20,000 websites which post such material and the case of the Kalyan youth is a classic example is how such material results in the radicalization.
I have seen a lot of criticism of the Indian government for the manner in which they have dealt with the issue. I have seen cries such as hang these people, shoot them in broad day-light etc. I would like to remind you of an incident in which sedition charges were slapped against a few Kashmiri students for supporting the Pakistan cricket team.
It was a hurried reaction by the UP police, which led to Hafiz Saeed giving a call stating that he will sponsor their education anywhere in the world. What had we achieved at the end of it? For these boys Hafiz Saeed was the saviour and this is not something that any of us wanted. Even the Indian Intelligence Bureau was upset with this action of the UP police and said there are many other ways of dealing with such issues.
Now getting back to the case of Majeed. The fact is that he was scared, upset dejected and desperately wanted to get back home. His conversations that were intercepted suggested he was crying to get back. There is no doubt that he had lost his mind before he left for Iraq, but on reaching there he clearly realized it was not his cup of tea and definitely what he had signed up for.
The government wants to send a message across to all the youth that it is just not worth signing up for the ISIS and Majeed would be the ideal case study.
And.. for all those criticizing the Indian government for being soft on the ISIS issue, trust me it has been dealt with an iron fist and a major exodus has been prevented. In the month of September there were over 300 youth who wanted to sign up for the ISIS from India. Today the number has come down to 20.
It is just a matter of time before it drops to ten or lesser. Several youth who wanted to leave for Iraq were brought back and counseled. They have realized their mistake and lead a normal life. However it is not as though the agencies do not keep a watch on them. They are watched and any move at re-radicalisation will be prevented.
It amazes me when I see write ups that state- " Areef Majeed not remorseful. He fought alongside the ISIS and was injured during intense fighting. He is heavily radicalized and believes in the cause. Come on now. What are your trying to do? Make him a hero? Issuing such statements make him look like a hero who was rescued by the Indian agencies from Turkey. Doesn't it sound absurd. Such statements will only lead to more recruitments and the job of the media should be to spread a loud message that there is nothing in the ISIS that one should sign up for.
The story of Majeed should be used to tell a story to all those proposing to join the ISIS or any terrorist outfit that it is just not worth it. His case should act as a deterrent not as a tale of heroism which would lure more into the ISIS.
Why the case then?
Majeed has been booked under various charges. The charges are under the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act of 1967. All the charges if proved attract life imprisonment. There are several reasons for filing such a case. One it acts as a deterrent and people should know that the government will not be soft on such cases.
More importantly the agencies have a lot of information to extract out of him considering he has spent six months with the ISIS. They want to know how the Indians are operating there, details regarding the hostages, the recruitment process and also if there are people in India who are recruiting ISIS men.
There is a great deal of time that is needed to get all the information. In such a scenario the NIA cannot keep a person in custody without showing his arrest or making it public. In the absence of an FIR it will be termed as an illegal detention which will lead to a cry for his release by many. Even the court can order his release then.
Majeed will be questioned thoroughly and also counseled over the next couple of days. His accomplices who are also likely to return soon will also face the same fate. Whatever the case result may be, he will be watched by the agencies at all times since no one wants the re-radicalisation of such youth.