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Chakravyuh: How Indian agencies kept a check on the growth of the Islamic State

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New Delhi, Apr 23: Sri Lanka has said that there is a foreign hand behind the ghastly suicide bombings that rocked the nation on Sunday in which 290 people were killed.

On Sunday there was plenty of buzz on Islamic State channels justifying the attack. On Monday more banter surfaced and the ISIS named three suicide bombers. This also coincided with a video message by ISIS operative Abu Hassan al-Mujahir released a video in which he called for revenge in the aftermath of the New Zealand Mosque attack, which claimed 50 lives.

Chakravyuh: How Indian agencies kept a check on the growth of the Islamic State

The attack clearly suggests that the ISIS has managed to penetrate into the island nation. The first signs were seen in 2016, when 32 elite Muslims went missing, only to be found in Syria later on.

India too has faced similar problems of several persons trying to join the ISIS. Incidents of Muslim youth joining the ISIS were reported first from Tamil Nadu. There were cases from Hyderabad and Maharashtra as well. However the biggest influx that took place was from Kerala, when nearly 20 persons went missing at one go. It was later on confirmed that all of them had joined the ISIS.

To deal with the threat of the ISIS, the office of the National Security Advisor and the Intelligence Bureau came up with plan that went on to be called as "Operation Chakravyuh."

[How ISI radicalised Sri Lanka through the Pakistan High Commission]

As part of this plan a large number of officers of the Intelligence Bureau posed as recruiters of the Islamic State. They were immediately contacted by scores of youth who had expressed their desire to join the ISIS. The officials under fake handles through which they conversed with possible recruits.

Those expressing their desire to join these terror outfits were given information on how to join the outfit and in the bargain what the agencies did was gather data and information on these persons right from their identity to address.

An Intelligence Bureau official part of this operation revealed to OneIndia that

they managed to get details of all persons who had shown interest in joining the ISIS. We could book cases against them since an offence had not been committed as yet, the officer further explained.

[Probe shows Sri Lanka attacks were 'retaliation for Christchurch', says minister]

In addition to this, another team was created ;to keep a 24/7 vigil on such persons. All moves made by these persons were monitored and scores of youth were prevented from taking the final step.

An estimated figure suggests that in September 2014, there were at least 3,000 youth from various parts of the country who wanted to join the Islamic State. By January 2015, this number drastically dropped to around 140.

With so many fake handles being created, it caused a great deal of confusion to both the person showing interest and also the actual recruiters. The online activity of such persons showed a drastic drop over the years thanks to this operation.

[How ISIS infiltrated Sri Lanka and helped carry out the Colombo bombings]

As part of a similar operation, an officer with the Bangalore police had created a fake handle known as Basha Khan and posed as a recruiter for the ISIS. Through this handle, he stayed in touch with the prime accused of the Church Street blasts. After chatting with the accused and gaining his confidence, the officer managed to elicit a lot of information and even fixed a meeting. When that meeting took place the accused was finally nabbed.

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