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Colombo bombings: Why ditto ideologies of NJT, ISIS, Kerala Salafis should worry us

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New Delhi, Arp 26: One of the key points that came up post the suicide bombings in Sri Lanka is that there were efforts on to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the southern region.

While it all began with Pakistan's ISI fanning communal sentiments in Sri Lanka, it gradually developed into a larger plot. It may be recalled that it was Pakistan through its High Commission in Colombo that set up modules, fanned communal sentiments between Buddhists and Muslims before attempting to carry out strikes in the southern region.

A view of St. Sebastians Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka

Today, in Sri Lanka, the problem is that of the National Towheed Jamath which follows closely the ideology of the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka bombings.

Colombo bombings: Photographs of suspects released

These groups have a major support base in Maldives, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The National Investigation Agency has found on several occasions a direct link between these places where radical Islam and Jihad is concerned.

During the various raids that the NIA carried out, it found videos of Zaharan Hashim in which he calls on the youth to help form an Islamic Caliphate. Now the worry for the Indian agencies is that the speeches and ideology professed by Hashim is very similar to the one that is followed by the Salafis in Kerala.

The Salafi preachers in Kerala are capable of extreme radicalisation. The Salafi preachers in Kerala, NJT and ISIS have all spoken the same language in which they profess about the dangers in living in a land of non-believers. There is a need to keep a distance from such persons they say.

Tracking the Islamic Caliphate in South:

On September 1 2018, a case was registered at the B-3 Variety Hall police station in Coimbattore. The case pertained to a criminal conspiracy hatched by the accused with the intention of furthering the objectives of the ISIS by targeting Hindu leaders and activists.

The NIA which subsequently probed the case cited a video used by the accused in which Hashim urges youth from Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala to establish an Islamic rule in the region.

An NIA official part of the investigation tells OneIndia that it had become clear that Hashim was calling on the youth from South India to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the Southern region. In this context one must also look at the Kerala ISIS case in which several persons had joined the outfit.

It was also found that three persons from Kerala, Abdul Rashid Abdulla (Kozhikode), Bestin Vincent (Pallakad) and Ashfak Majeed (Kasargod) had travelled to Sri Lanka in 2016. The NIA officer says that these persons were in touch with Hashim.

Southern Islamic Caliphate: A plot involving Jihadis from Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala

In the Coimbatore case, the NIA chargesheeted Mohamed Ashiq A, Ismail S, Samsudeen, Mohammed Salauddin S, Jafar Shadik Ali and Shahul Hameed. These persons had come together to target Hindu leaders and also conspired to further the activities of the of the Islamic State by carrying out terrorist attacks. They had also planned on targeting persons who were critical of the ISIS, the NIA said. Further the NIA also said that like their accomplices in Kerala, these persons from Tamil Nadu too were in touch with Hashim and were helping him set up the Southern Islamic Caliphate.

The December raids:

In December, the NIA carried out raids at seven locations in Tamil Nadu. The searches were carried out in Chennai, Coimbatore and one at District Vellapuram. One of the accused in the case, Ismail told the NIA that another accused person Ashik had promised them help for their operation. The NIA says that Ismail had links with the ISIS. The intention was to carry out a major operation on Ganesh Chaturthi. These developments are significant in the wake of the murders in Coimbatore.Munnani spokesperson C Sasikumar in 2016 and an atheist H Farook in 2017 were murdered by radical Islamic groups.

The first known ISIS recruit from India was in fact a resident of Cuddalore. Haja Fakkruddin, it may be recalled had in early 2014 left for Syria 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.

Sri Lanka blasts: Suicide bomber pats a little girl before blowing himself up

The threat of the ISIS has been looming large in the state and there are several pockets where the problem is severe. While looking into Haja's case, it was found that he was radicalised by a Cuddalore based group.

The role of the ISIS in Tamil Nadu was unraveled in a big way in 2014. In August 2014, the police arrested Abdul Rahman and Mohammad Rizwan from the Ramnathapuram district on the charge that they were distributing t-shirts with the ISIS emblem. A photo showing 26 youth posing with the t-shirt in front of a Mosque at Thondi had surfaced on the social media. While the police were not able to find any direct link with the outfit, it however showed that the ISIS was gradually being received in the state.

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