You name any terrorist outfit in India and there will be a southern link that would crop up. While groups such as the Indian Mujahideen, Islamic State, Students Islamic Movement of India have their routes in India, a new worry is the spotting of jihadis fighting the Kashmir battle.
In recent times there have been two instances where terrorists from South India have joined the battle in Kashmir. The first instance of a jihadi joining the Kashmir battle was reported from Kerala. Shakeel Mohammad, a resident of Kovalam in Kerala was killed in an encounter at Lolab in North Kashmir.
The second such incident to be reported was from South Kashmir. The terrorist killed was Mohammad Taufeeq, a resident of Hyderabad killed in an encounter in Kashmir on March 13. The revelation was made by the
Ansar Ghazwatul Hind on its mouthpiece Al-Nasr and now the J&K police have written to their counterparts in Telangana seeking more details.
The radicalisation of South India:
In South India, there are a host of terror organisations. While some have links in South the others operate exclusively in this part of the country. For instance, the Indian Mujahideen was born out of the SIMI which was focused on North. However, the outfit held crucial meetings in Kerala which signalled the launch of the outfit. The case came to be known as Wagamon camp.
It is no secret that the founding fathers of the Indian Mujahideen are from South India. Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal and Yasin Bhatkal all hail from Bhatkal, a coastal town in Karnataka.
The several dossiers that the Intelligence Bureau has prepared go on to show that the southern units of these outfits are extremely radicalised. The problem is that the issues raised by them gain traction with much ease and hence the birth of several outfits have taken place in South, the IB also says.
Take for instance the outfit known as the Base Movement. It is an off-shoot of the Al-Qaeda and has its roots in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The combination of terror groups in South comprises both underground and overground operatives. There are groups such as the Al-Ummah which operate openly and focus largely on political hits. The blast at Coimbatore or the one outside the BJP office in Karnataka in 2013 all bore the signature of the Al-Ummah as the attacks were political in nature.
The other problem in South are groups such as the PFI or the SDPI. Both outfits have not been banned, but several of their overground workers have had links with the SIMI. The NIA in fact states on several occasions these links and how the PFI helped organise camps. The chopping of a Professor's hand by operatives of the PFI also goes on to show the extent of radicalisation.
The birth of the ISIS:
What is most ironic is that the first case relating to the Islamic State was also reported from South India. It was Haja Fakkruddin, a resident of Tamil Nadu who set the stage for operatives to join the ISIS. A recent charge sheet by the NIA details how Haja held meetings and lured many into joining the outfit.
The spill out of this was felt in Maharashtra, where four persons left India for Syria to join the outfit. However, the biggest case relating to the ISIS was again reported from South India. Nearly 23 persons had gone missing from Kerala and investigations showed that they had joined the ISIS in Afghanistan. The Afghan wing of the ISIS has been heavily recruiting Indians and the target has always been South and Kerala in particular. It was found that it is easier to target youth from Kerala due to the high levels of radicalisation and hence this has been a preferred destination.
ISI and smuggling:
To add to the problem of radicalisation is a problematic smuggling route. The ISI has had ambitions in South India. It made an attempt to set up a big module in South through its high commission in Colombo. It was the consular officer, Amir Zubair Siddiqui who hatched the plan.
The ISI had sensed that South could be a potential hub and what aided its operation was a dedicated smuggling route. This is a route that connects Tamil Nadu and Kerala via Sri Lanka. Since ages, this route has been used for all sorts of activities such as smuggling of cannabis, cigarettes, gold and now arms.
The Colombo module of the ISI had sought to use the same route to launch terror in South India. While that plan was busted with the arrest Zaheed Hussain, a Sri Lankan Muslim, the agencies warn that it is not something that we could ever sleep over.