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    NIA steps in as Kerala Islamists become a huge international threat

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    New Delhi, Jan 10: The National Investigation Agency has filed a case against several youth for aiding terrorist organisations such as the Jun al-Aqsa and Jabhat al-Nusrah.

    The NIA said that it had credible information that certain youth originally from Kerala and Karnataka had since 2013 hatched a conspiracy to wage a war against Syria, an Asiatic power at peace with the Government of India.

    NIA steps in as Kerala Islamists become a huge international threat

    The NIA also learnt that these persons originally hailing from Kerala and Karnataka were based out of Qatar and were aiding these terrorist organisations further their activities. Further it was also found that these persons travelled to Syria and joined terror groups such as Jund al-Aqsa and Jabhat al-Nusrah with an intention to commit terror acts.

    Also Read | NIA arrests main arms supplier in ISIS inspired module case

    This case is significant in the wake of the NIA already investigating cases of several missing persons from Kerala, who joined the Islamic State Khorasan in Afghanistan. An NIA official said that the online radicalisation of Muslim youth from Kerala and Karnataka was found to be particularly high. There are different modules and handlers targeting these persons and urging them join international terror groups.

    While many have joined the ISIS directly from Kerala, there are another set of persons working in places such as Qatar, who have been urged to join the terror group directly from there.

    The online menace:

    Intelligence Bureau officials tell OneIndia that the radicalisation largely happens through groups on Facebook. Most of the pro-ISIS accounts of Malayalee groups are operated from the Gulf.

    These groups specifically target Muslims from Kerala. The target audience is not restricted the residents of Kerala alone, but to those Malayalee youth working abroad. The NIA which is currently investigating this case says that there are many such accounts that specifically target those from Kerala. It is a menace and a huge racket, due to which several youth have gone missing and later joined the ISIS.

    Also Read | How the Dammaj Salafis are leading the radicalisation wave in Kerala

    In 2016, the NIA busted a module comprising six members running an ISIS module. During the probe it was found that these persons had been active on the social media and would use fake identities. They would frequently change their profiles to escape scrutiny. They were even running a group on Telegram called kudumbam, which means family.

    During the probe, the NIA learnt that two persons were working with a Malayalee daily Thejas, which is the mouthpiece of the Popular Front of India. One of them Safwan was said to be active in the SDPI, which is the political arm of the PFI. The NIA suspected that the module was headed by one Manseed, a resident of Panur. He was working as an office assistant in Qatar and had come to Kerala after applying for leave. He is said to have organised a meeting of the module, the NIA learnt.

    The international link:

    Recently a team of the French police was in Kerala to question one Subhani Haha Moideen, who was arrested by the NIA on October 5 2017. A resident of Thodupuzha, he had revealed that he was part of a training camp in Mosul, Iraq.

    He also confessed to have meeting Abdelhamid Abaaoud and Salah Abdelslam, the two terrorists who were part of the Paris attack. He said that the two were training in the same group as he was.

    Also Read | After busting ISIS inspired module, NIA digs deeper

    He also said that he never knew their real names. They would be called al-Francisi in the camps. It was only when the NIA showed Moideen the pictures of the two terrorists did he recognise them.

    When the NIA questioned him about the Paris attack, he said he had no idea about it. By the time the attack was carried out, he had left the camp for India, Moideen also said.

    In addition to this, several youth have also played a major role in the setting up of an ISIS module in Afghanistan. Nearly 20 persons had left Kerala to be part of the ISIS Khorasan in Afghanistan. The agencies said that these persons were roped in after the ISIS sought to set up a strong base in the country.

    As recently as December 2018, it was found that another batch from Kerala had left for Syria to join the ISIS. These persons are said to have first gone to Afghanistan and from there travelled to Syria.

    The NIA is looking for more details of cases where persons from Kerala have been actively backing terror groups abroad. The focus is on countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

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

    India is however getting plenty of support from several countries in tackling this menace. As per the data available from the Ministry for Home Affairs, the UAE alone has deported five Indians between 2017 and 2018 after they were picked up for ISIS related activities.

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