Homeland Security

The Islamic State Footprints are all over India
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 31 Aug , 2020

There are some very significant indicators, which indicate the widespread footprints of the Islamic State in India. Recently in Bengaluru, a 28 year old ophthalmologist, Abdur Rehman, was arrested by the NIA for his links with the Islamic State. In 2014, soon after completion of his MBBS, Rehman had travelled all the way to Syria to offer his services to the Islamic State.

While learning may be provided by schools, colleges and madrasas; education is received at home and from the society at large.

In June 2018, a female operative, Sadia Anwar Sheikh, of the Islamic State was arrested in Pune. She was in contact with the Islamic State since 2015. Sadia’s jihadi journey makes an interesting case. She travelled from Pune to Kashmir for carrying out fidayeen (suicide bombing) attack on the Republic Day. She was a bright student.  She had secured more than 90 percent marks in her Class-X board exams. Like Rehman, she too wanted to become a doctor. Nevertheless, her destiny lay on the jihadi route. She came under the influence of another Islamic State operative, who served with the Indian Oil Corporation as Manager in Karnataka. In Kashmir after being apprehended by the security forces, she was handed over to her parents in Pune.  Twice she underwent de-radicalization programme conducted by the ATS in Pune. 

The common link between Abdur Rehman and Sadia Anwar was, Jahanzaib Wani and his wife Hina Bashir Beg. This couple had taken residence in Jamia Nagar in Delhi and played key role in the Shaheen Bagh protest. The couple functioned as recruiters for the Islamic State. Wani has a B.Tech degree and is also a post-graduate in Business Administration. He has served in many multi-national banks. Hina is also a graduate in Computer Applications. Wani was serving in a UK based company and was posted from Kashmir to Delhi following internet lockdown.

What begs answer is the fact that why, male and female with technical degrees and prospects are lured by global jihad. Abdur Rehman is an eye-specialist and his profession is repugnant to jihad because his profession entails saving, and not taking lives. He first went to Syria in 2014 to offer his services to the Islamic State, and six years later even after specialization his commitment to global jihad did not flag. His motherland, India, provided him education, made him capable but he decided to neutralize both his learning and capability in service of global jihad. He preferred to provide medical succor to jihadis of Islamic State rather than his fellow Indians.

Sadia Anwar Sheikh is the story of young female jihadi. She too had learned in Indian schools like others. She too wanted to become a doctor but lapsed in jihadism even after undergoing two de-radicalization programs.

The populace in Pakistan viewed Abdus Salam’s achievement of no value to Islam because he was an Ahmedia.

The probable reason for so-called educated youth like Abdur Rehman and Sadia, for joining the Islamic State is that they are actually very low on education. Actually, they may be rich in learning but impoverished in education. This is a phenomenon that buffets even Europe and the United States with regard to Muslim youth. While Muslim youths in their host countries do receive ‘learning’, they are bereft of education. While learning may be provided by schools, colleges and madrasas; education is received at home and from the society at large. Unfortunately the Islamic societies with their monochromatic view of faith (mazhab) are not equipped to provide the same.

In this regard two examples in our subcontinent standout, i.e. Abdus Salam, the Nobel prize laureate and APJ Kalam. The populace in Pakistan viewed Abdus Salam’s achievement of no value to Islam because he was an Ahmedia. His education was in conflict with Islamic theology. Similarly, most Indian Muslims gave little importance to Dr Kalam’s education and intellectualism, as it was rooted in the soil of India.

In most Islamic societies today there is a general belief that learning, which does not contribute to Ummah, Caliphate and Jihad is of no value. On the contrary, the majority Indian belief is that learning which does not contribute to the understanding and upliftment of mankind is mere learning and will neither be rewarding in this life or life after.

There are two epicenters of Islamic State in India, i.e. Kashmir and Kerala. One of the main architects and recruiters of Islamic State in Kerala was, Abdul Rashid Abdullah. He was reportedly killed by US forces in Afghanistan last year. Some other Indians, which included women and children also perished. In an interview to Indian Express in May 2017, he elaborated adequately on the mindset, belief and doctrine of global jihadi organizations like the Islamic State. Some important views and agenda that he spoke about are: there is need to establish a Caliphate, secure it and fortify it and use it as a base for expansion; the Islamic State is growing faster in India than Indians think; none other than Allah is worthy of worship; Muslims in India have all the rights, facilities and opportunities but do not have the right for offensive jihad, which is basic to the Quranic concepts; it should not be forgotten that it was when the Prophet and the Caliph Abu Bakr picked up sword that Arab was captured and not through Dawah (proselytization); Education and jobs are pseudo achievements; and finally he said that the Internet and English has provided new tools for jihadi indoctrination of Muslim youth.

It appears that the jihadis in India are in a frenzy mode after abrogation of Article 370 and outlawing of instant triple-talaq.

Abdul Rashid, by learning was an Engineering graduate. He embodied the difference between learning and education.

There are three main IS modules in Kerala, i.e., Kasargod module, Kannur module, and Omar-al-Hindi module. In 2016, there was a sudden disappearance of 24 jihadis from Kasargod, it included women as well. They all went to Afghanistan to join the Islamic State. Their leader was Abdul Rashid. He converted a christian, Sonia Sabastian, to Islam and took her to Afghanistan. He had also married one Yasmin Mohd Zaid. She was apprehended at an Indian airport while on her way to Kabul.

The Kannur module had provided about 50 jihadis to the ISIS in Syria. The main catalyst behind recruitment, indoctrination and despatch was the Popular Front of India (PFI), which played the critical role in organizing the Shaheen Bagh protest and Delhi riots subsequently.

The Omar-al-Hindi Module is focused internally. Its targets being foreigners, Jews in Kodaikanal, prominent leaders, High Court judges, police officers and Ahmedia Muslims. There are at least one million Ahmedias in India.

The other epicenter is Kashmir, where the Islamic State arrived 10 years ago. Masked men waiving Islamic State flag was a common sight. It was a way of announcing their arrival, which could not have been possible without the invitation and indulgence of the politicians and the clerics. Prominent among them was Mirwaiz Omar Farooq. This was a signal to other jihadi groups to make their way into the Islamic State gradually.

This thread has a web structure running from Kashmir to Karnataka to Kerala to Maharashtra to Uttar Pradesh and to Delhi. This web of threat is strewn with jihadi modules.

Recently security forces in Kashmir busted an IS module in Bandipora. Five IS operatives, who were planning an attack on an Army camp were killed. A huge amount of explosives, ammunition, ISIS flags and propaganda material were recovered. During the same period, another Islamic State operative, Abu Yusuf Khan, was apprehended in Dhaula Kuan in Delhi with 15 Kgs of explosives. It appears that the jihadis in India are in a frenzy mode after abrogation of Article 370 and outlawing of instant triple-talaq. This has manifested in Shaheen Bagh, Delhi riots and riots in Bengaluru. There is a common thread that runs along these incidents and that is PFI. This thread has a web structure running from Kashmir to Karnataka to Kerala to Maharashtra to Uttar Pradesh and to Delhi. This web of threat is strewn with jihadi modules.

The modules are constituted of men and women of good learning provided by institutions subsidized by the tax-payers. The Islamic State ideology or the Global Jihad ideology has managed to transcend Kannada culture, Tamil culture, Malayali culture, Marathi culture, Kashmiri culture, Bengali culture and aspires to build a global jihadi culture on the ruins of various Indian sub-cultures.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

RSN Singh

is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW and author of books Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and The Military Factor in Pakistan. His latest book is The Unmaking of Nepal.

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3 thoughts on “The Islamic State Footprints are all over India

  1. WORRY for us is the fact that why the youth with technical degrees and good education are lured by global jihad forgetting their duties towards their parents who have provided them education and made them capable leave alone their duty towards the nation. India needs to counter and neutralize this indoctrination methodology by the Jihadis.

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