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Alarming rise of ISIS in South linked to seeds of radicalisation sown in Kerala 30 years ago

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New Delhi, Sep 18: The Parliament was earlier this week informed that the National Investigation Agency has registered 17 cases relating to the presence of the Islamic State in southern India.

The states in which cases have been registered are Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. Further, the agency has also arrested 122 operatives, the Ministry of Home Affairs said.

Alarming rise of ISIS in South linked to seeds of radicalisation sown in Kerala 30 years ago

The MHA also said that there have been instances of individuals from different states, including the ones in South India having joined ISIS. This has come to the notice of the Centre and the State Security Agencies as well.

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The probe by the NIA has revealed that the ISIS is most active in Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kishan Reddy said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

Officials that OneIndia spoke with point out that the problem is particularly highest in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The radical ideology has been lurking for long, but has been ignored for several years, owing to a variety of factors, the top one being appeasement.

One of the first known cases was reported in Tamil Nadu. This was the case of Haja Fakkruddin, a resident of Cuddalore who left for Syria in early 2014 through Singapore to be part of the ISIS. This was followed by a series of events related to the group and there was an image on the social media that went viral, in which several youth were seen posing with ISIS merchandise. The image was shot in front of a Mosque in Thondi. A closer look at the Haja case would reveal that he was radicalised by a group based in Cuddalore.

The NIA has been probing these case in-depth and during the raids and searches have recovered incriminating material. The recoveries also point towards the depth of the radicalisation. For instance during the various searches, literature relating to ISIS had been found. Speeches of the 20th century Islamist thinker Abul Ala Maududi have been found in the possession of several youth. Further the police have also seized compact discs which had the speeches of radical elements such as Anwar Al Awlaki and Abdul Raheem Green.

In a chargesheet that was filed in 2016, the NIA speaks about the role of Mohammad Naseer, a computer engineer in his mid-20s. Naseer was heading to Libya from Sudan, but was apprehended and later deported to India.

He did his computer engineering from the MNM college in Chennai. It was at this time that he would visit a mosque at Chennai which was run by the Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath, non-political Islamic Organisation that preaches a puritanical version of Islam.

This group was founded by P Jainul Abdeen in 2004 when he broke away from the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam.

17 cases, 122 arrests by NIA pertaining to Islamic State cases in South India

In 2014, two persons Abdul Rehman and Mohammad Rizwan were arrested in Ramnathpuram after they were found distributing t-shirts of the ISIS.

In Kerala, the issue is a ticking time bomb. It did not begin with the ISIS, but with the Wahhabi culture that spread like wild fire over the years. Officials cited above say that the key concern in Kerala remains radicalisation and Wahhabism. Allowing Wahhabism is a danger to the integrity as they tend to dominate pockets through radical thoughts and this in the long has contributed to the main problem in Kerala.

Further in Kerala, it is not a mindset that changed overnight. The radical mindset found among the extremist members dates back nearly 30 years back.

The Jerusalem Post had an interesting article titled, " The Wahhabi threat that India is ignoring." The article points out that India is facing a grave threat of Wahhabi Islam and its spread. Several madrasas in Kerala are reported to be preaching Wahhabi Islam to kids. It was in the year 2014 that the Indian Intelligence had sounded a high alert regarding the Wahhabis, who were trying to impose their rigid ideology. It was also said that they had begun funding the Mosques in Kerala and over Rs 1,000 crore had been spent for the same.

The quick spread of the ideology and the high number of recruits from Kerala into the ISIS and groups such as the Base Movement are a big concern for the security agencies.

Data available until June 15, 2019, suggests that there were 98 Indians with the Khorasan in Afghanistan of which 58 were from Kerala. Of the total number of Muslim recruits who joined ISIS, 39, are from Kannur.

Other problem areas in Kerala are Kasargod, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Ernakulam, Palakkad and Thrissur. These are effects of the seeds of radicalisation being sown in Kerala for a long time, the effects of which are being witnessed in the rest of South India as well.

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A case of 1991 popularly known as the Lal Singh vs State of Gujarat will help understand when the seeds of radicalisation were being sown in Kerala. Basheer, a resident of Kerala, who was studying aeronautical engineering and was part of the extremist faction of the Students Islamic Movement of India had organised a convention in Bombay.

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    Later it was found that this was a convention sponsored by Pakistan to create a liaison between the Khalistan terrorists and the SIMI. Pakistan had brought in Lal Singh, who was part of the Khalistan movement. Pakistan wanted the SIMI to grow and the target was South India.

    Basheer had even surveyed the Madras Stock Exchange that year with an intention of bombing it. The plan did not work out and two years later Dawood Ibrahim helped bomb the Bombay Stock Exchange. The point here is that the radical mindset found among the extremist members of south is not a new phenomenon and dates back nearly 30 years back.

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