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How the Dammaj Salafis are leading the radicalisation wave in Kerala

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New Delhi, Jan 2: Of all the states in the country, the Islamic State and the Al-Qaeda has found it to be the easiest to make inroads in Kerala. These terrorist groups works in an entirely different manner in Kerala and it is the spread of ideology is what they focus on rather than building modules to strike.

How the Dammaj Salafis are leading the radicalisation wave in Kerala

The widespread of the jihadi ideology is evident from the fact of how the Saudis have infested the Wahhabi preachers in Kerala in a bid to stop the rise of the Shia Muslims. The Al-Qaeda inclined Base Movement, which carried out the blasts in several courts across South India has its roots in Kerala. The birth of the Indian Mujahideen, one of the deadliest home grown terror outfits took place in Kerala, following a famous meeting called as the Wagamon camp meet. Lastly and more recently, over 20 Indians who joined the ISIS Khorasan in Afghanistan are all from Kerala.

After busting ISIS inspired module, NIA digs deeper

Stanley Johny's new book, 'The ISIS Caliphate From Syria to the Doorsteps of India,' very aptly says that one of the most affected states by this ISIS influence was India's most socially advanced one. He also wrote that an investigation into the disappearance and subsequent arrests showed how ISIS's online propaganda is radicalising Muslim youth in the state, where Salafism has strong roots.

The online radicalisation:

Around two years back, when the National Investigation Agency questioned some Keralite youth who were arrested for their alleged ISIS links, it was learnt that they were all inspired by the lectures of Anwar-al-Awlaki, a radical preacher from the Al-Qaeda.

Further during the questioning of Subhani Haja Moideen, a resident of Kerala it was learnt that ten from the state who had undergone training in Iraq and Syria returned to Kerala.

It was also learnt that Subhani who was in Iraq in the year 2015 was taken to Mosul where he underwent religious training followed by combat training, which also included a course in automated weapons.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind to provide legal aid to people arrested by the NIA for having ISIS link

Last week the National Investigation arrested a 25 year old man who was missing in connection with an ISIS case. Habeeb Rahman, from Wayanad in Kerala, was arrested in the two-year old ISIS Kasaragod Module case, the agency said in a statement.

"The case relates to the criminal conspiracy hatched by the accused persons from Kasaragod district of Kerala and their associates since Ramadan, 2015, with the intention of joining and furthering the objectives of ISIS Daish," it said.

The agency said that as part of the conspiracy, 14 accused from Kasaragod district had left India or their work places in Middle-East Asia between mid-May and early July, 2016, before travelling to Afghanistan or Syria, where they joined the ISIS (Daish).

It said that accused Nashidul Hamzafar and Habeeb Rehman remained in touch, over encrypted social media platforms, with other the missing accused in this case like Abdul Rashid Abdulla and Ashfak Majeed.

No organisational structure:

The agencies say that the problem this time around is immense as there is no organisational network involved. Take the case of the 20 odd persons who left Kerala to join the ISIS in Afghanistan.

They were not part of any network and were literally operating as lone wolves. Each of them spread the ideology among each other and after being radicalised left Kerala. Recent actions by the NIA have led to the busting of dedicated ISIS inspired modules. These work like the run of the mill terror groups. However in the Kerala incident no such thing has been found and the intent was to form a group of like minded persons and then support the ISIS ideology.

What makes Kerala a hub for radicalisation

The police however feel that the driving force was one Abdulla Rashid Abdulla, a 30 year old operative. He is believed to have inspired all these persons to join the Khorasan. He was not part of any organisation in Kerala, but was highly radicalised. Till date he continues to sent out audio messages on Telegram groups and in one of them, he had said that in the next ten years a majority of the people from the state would migrate.

The Dammaj Salafis:

In another clip Rashid said that the ISIS was being launched in Kerala through the Dammaj Salafis. The Dammaj Salafis are a group of extremist Salafis who are opposed to democracy.

He further went on to add that the Dammaj Salafis in Kerala are in touch with the ISIS and are attempting to get many to migrate or Hijra to ISIS controlled areas. He goes on to say that had there been no salafism in Kerala, the state would have continued with the un-Islamic practices of the Sunnis and Sufis.

He says that the Salafi group led by one Zakkariya Swalahi is closest to the ideology of the Islamic State. Most of the Keralalites who have joined the ISIS are associated with this group. He also says that they had attended classes of the group that were held in Kannur, Kozhikode and Pappinasseri.

Dammaj is a small town in Yemen and the place made it to the news after the youth from Kerala joined the ISIS. After getting attracted to spiritual teachings being taught in Dammaj many have been going there to lead a spiritual life.

At the Attikad village near the Neelambur forests in Kerala there are around 150 people who subscribe to the Dammaj Salafi Sect living in seclusion. Back in 2016, the Intelligence Bureau had said that they were looking for a link between this sect and the disappearance of the 21 youth, who finally ended up joining the Islamic State. The agencies are also studying this closely along with the recent audio clip sent out by Rashid.

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