Let’s crush the evil at home

I wonder what New Delhi’s policy to deal with the ‘Islamic State’ threat is . In a media interaction on the Vijay Divas ( December 16) our Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said : “ if there is a United Nations resolution…  a U.N. flag and a U.N. mission…, we will participate.” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said at a  National Investigating Agency ceremony on December 27 , “.. in India there is no threat from it ( Islamic State). ” Why this ambiguity ?  

Who does not know this terror outfit shares an agenda in common with all its al-Qaeda, Taliban and other Wahabbi /Salafi  counterparts :  hatred and violence against   whoever does not subscribe to its radical, militant theological version ? Knowledgeable sources say it began just as a tiny  group of  al-Qaida in the Middle East and turned into the Islamic State in 2006 in Iraq’s post –dictator Saddam Hussein phase.  When a crisis escalated in Syria under its autocratic ruler Bashar al Assad, the outfit christened itself as the  “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.” It is now called the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Syria, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus, and parts of Turkey).” 

The outfit has more than 20,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq today. About a quarter of them belong to North America, Australia and Europe. The  perpetrators of the terror strike of January 14 , 2016 in Indonesia  were  linked to the Islamic State (Raqqa, Syria). The ISIS has  expanded its operations in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Hundreds of youths from  South East Asia  have travelled to Syria  to join the Islamic State over the past several years.  Recently, they have sought targets closer to home. They carried out small-scale attacks in Indonesia and the Philippines last year.  At least 16 terrorism suspects were arrested in Indonesia in December 2015 alone.

Should not New Delhi bear in mind the  outfit aims to install an Islamic world caliphate and India is very much an important part of its jihadist agenda ? Knowledgeable sources say an official estimate is that over  150 Indian youths may have been influenced by the IS ideology.  About two dozen Indians are fighting in Syria.  The actual figure of the IS sympathizers in India may be much more .  Now more and more violent Islamist forces are joining the Islamic State in the Indian subcontinent . Some time back some Indian youths had called up their families from Syria and confirmed they were  fighting there .  Such youths , if victorious there, are likely to  return home only to help ISIS carry out its anti-India designs.  Also, the presence of such die-hard Islamist fighters would embolden other like-minded forces in India.

The sources suggest New Delhi would do well to strengthen  its internal intelligence and security mechanism and roll back the growing influence of the Islamic State before it is late.  It  must see to it that no Indian national went abroad to fight for this evil .  There is no dearth of personnel of competence and integrity in  our security and intelligence agencies.  Our political leadership must impart them  autonomy in their functioning .   

The good news is that recently, our Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad   has  blocked 94 websites deployed by an Islamic State outfit as platforms to brainwash and recruit vulnerable youth.  In  a country-wide raid  the Special Cell of the Delhi  police have  arrested  14  terror suspects linked to the IS, called  ‘Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind’ (Army of Caliph of India).  Some  of these suspects had allegedly assembled “liquid bombs” and were  in possession of “remote controlled circuits,” ‘jihadi’ literature and the CDs .  The  National Investigation Agency has arrested eight Islamic State-inspired youths in Maharashtra.  On January 29, 2016 the NIA took into custody three Indians-- one each from Jammu and Kashmir, Mumbra ( Mumbai) , and Bhatkal ( Karnataka)—  whom the United Arab Emirates has deported for allegedly planning to carry out terror strikes in India and abroad .

The agencies  are aware of a  radicalization threat from the Islamic State though the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen-Bangladesh (JMB) active in the border states of West Bengal and Assam. The IS has claimed several terror attacks in Bangladesh . It may be  working with cadres of the JMB allegedly responsible for the October 2014 blast in Burdwan. India’s probe into the Burdwan blast has already revealed its cadres have infiltrated into Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand.

The sources , however , warn  against sending our troops abroad  to fight the evil .  They argue there is hardly any global consensus to fight this ( or any other ) terror . The major world powers have divergent objectives in the war on terror . India may  better adhere to the policy it has adopted since we lost over 1200 of our soldiers in the Indian Peace Keeping Force operations in Sri Lanka in the 1980s. In 2003 a U.N. resolution approved peacekeeping operations in Iraq after a U.S.-led coalition toppled the Saddam regime . New Delhi did not oblige.