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Arson Jihad by ISIS, a bigger problem for India than lone wolf attacks

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New Delhi, Nov 03: The Vienna attack shot dead by the police was a sympathiser of the Islamic State, according to Austria's interior minister Karl Nehammer. He also said that the dead attacker was a radicalised person who felt close to ISIS.

This attack is yet another grim reminder of how dangerous the outfit and its ideology continues to be despite it losing its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and also facing significant loses in its heartlands of Iraq and Syria.

Arson Jihad by ISIS ia bigger problem for India than lone wolf attacks

In the wake of this, the UN's department of safety and security has asked UN personnel especially those of French nationality to be more alert and observant of their surroundings. This advisor was issued following the beading of a French teacher in Paris by a religious extremist. Further, the advisory also noted that there would an increase in lone wolf attacks and these persons would not hesitate to seize an opportunity, when one presents itself.

Vienna attack: Austrian embassy in New Delhi to remain closed as precautionary measureVienna attack: Austrian embassy in New Delhi to remain closed as precautionary measure

Recently India's foreign secretary, Harsh Shringla, while commenting on the France attack by radical Islamists said that it is not possible to pretend that such actions came from simply lone wolf initiatives and misguided individuals. "There is an infrastructure of radicalism, including its online manifestations, that comes into play. It has the backing of states and organised institutions. You know who they are."

While at no point can India take the threat of the ISIS and lone wolf attacks lightly, the fact is that the outfit has functioned differently in the country. There have been several attempts made by the members of this outfit to set up modules, but they have been by and large busted.

This year India witnessed two major riots-one in Delhi and another in Bengaluru. Following the Delhi riots, the Delhi Police detained an Islamic State linked couple for instigating the anti-citizenship law protests, which turned violent. Following the Bengaluru riots a man allegedly linked to the Al-Hind a wing of the ISIS was detained for questioning.

The National Investigation Agency arrested a Bengaluru based ophthalmologist in connection with an ISIS Khorasan Province case. In its note, the NIA said that Abdur Rehman was linked Jahanzaib Sami Wani and his wife Hina Bashir Beigh, who were arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi police.

While ISIS has been putting out several propaganda videos, in many of them the outfit suggests the kind of attacks one must indulge. Knife attacks, mowing down people just to name a few. However, it also makes a mention of arson and this is what we have witnessed in the two riots.

Vienna attack: Six crime scenes, death toll rises to 3Vienna attack: Six crime scenes, death toll rises to 3

Prior to this, the ISIS had released a video titled Incite the Believers in which the narrator calls for arson attacks in America. "We are sure that if you knew how and found a weapon you would not delay in fulfilling your duty to support the Muslims and do jihad. Look around yourself again, keeping an eye for a solution and not searching for a problem" as they sort through "all the means to kill and destroy."

The video goes on to urge arson jihadists to safely dispose evidence after fleeing the scene of their attacks. For ISIS, arson has been an easy and cheap terror tactic.

Arson has been easy and inspirational for the lone actors, who only need to find encouragement online. Arson also ensures that the suspect does not come under the radar because he does not need to purchase a firearm to get into the complexities of preparing an explosive device.

While the nation remains vulnerable to this threat, the focus of the agencies is largely on Kerala and Karnataka. One of the key problems is the increase in educational institutions that have come up and are promoting hardline faith-based teaching. Due to this, ISIS has managed to spread its radical thought with ease, especially in Kerala.

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