Home English Articles How Muslim youngsters so easily join Islamic State from Kerala?

How Muslim youngsters so easily join Islamic State from Kerala?

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Abdul Rashid- Public Relations Officer, Shajeer Managalasseri Abdulla – Graduate from National Institute of Technology-Calicut NITC, Reffeala- Dentist etc: The elite names, despite their education, got united under the umbrealla of ‘Islamic State’. The minds that changed, values that got washed out on the name of fighting for ‘Islami State’. Lets have in-depth look on those Indians who betrayed their nation infecting our ‘National Integrity’.

Every corner of the world we live has become porous and so much vulnerable to the terrifying threats like ‘Terrorism’. Rather from 2006 till 2016 around 25,621 people got killed worldwide. In India itself, around 25,041 got laid on the deathbeds due to the ‘Terrorism’, according to the report chalked out by ‘South Asia Terrorism Portal.’

Also in a shocking report revealed by the United States, India is third after Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of terror attacks with the highest number of fatalities and injuries. On average, terrorist attacks in India caused 0.4% total deaths per attack in 2016, compared to 2.4% deaths per attack worldwide. Nearly three-quarters of attacks (73%) in India in 2016 were non-lethal.

These are the statistics that showed how the monstrous seed planted by many is taking its nasty forms. Many roads lead to the black hole of ‘Terrorism’; for example, religious rifts left-wing extremism etc.

South Asian Terror Portal has listed over 180 terrorist groups that have operated within India over the last 20 years, many of them co-listed as transnational terror networks operating in or from neighbouring South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. Of these, 38 are on the current list of terrorist organisations banned by India.

Kerala -Hotbed of Terrorism

Kerala – God’s own state has been under the dark shadow of ‘Terrorism’ since years ago. Remote districts of Kerala; mainly Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Palakkad and Kollam are the areas which have dense populations of the Muslim community. These are the districts from where maximum numbers of people have left their homes to join terror outfit ‘Islamic State.’ Back in 2016, around 21 youngsters disappeared and this incidence shed the light on ‘Islamization.’ IS (Islamic State) is a terrorist outfit where recurring no. of people including literate and educated girls and boys have been leaving their homes to join the outfit. Kerala is a vulnerable target because of its huge Muslim population and old connections with the Arab world.

Joining ISIS, a trend in Kerala?

Leaving homes for joining IS has now become a trend as even new people go missing to fight for Islam! That’s shocking but this all came into the frame when in 2016, June where 21 youngsters disappeared and investigation shed light on ‘Online Islam’. The missing 21 left Kerala around June 2016 and got converted to Islam in order to join the Islamic State.

Meanwhile, members of the IS module busted at Kanakamala revealed they were familiar with some of the 21 persons who went missing from Kerala to join the terrorist organisation in Afghanistan. The arrested persons communicated with the IS leaders in Afghanistan, who used different names. Thodupuzha-native Subahani Haja Moideen, who was arrested from Tirunelveli is currently is in the NIA custody. The probe showed that Subahani had received `20,000 from his handlers for purchasing the explosives.

So far, most Indian recruits to IS had left from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana. Seventeen persons who allegedly left to join the IS, police suspect, are from Kasargod alone. While over 40 Indians from various states have already travelled into Islamic State (IS)-controlled territories over the past two years, the emigres from Kerala represent a new and dangerous turn.

The flight of young Kerala Muslim families shows how the poisonous lure of IS is now spreading through social media.

What actually did Islamic State do? 

The Islamic State spread its ideology in Kerala through its MALAYALAM BLOG MUHAJIROON and Facebook pages under the names ‘Ashabul Haqq’ and ‘Sameer Ali’. Most of the posts uploaded in these forums focus on intra-Islamic debates and the binary between the believer and the non-believer. Intelligence agencies believe that Keralites working in the Middle East are maintaining the blog.

Most of the discussions follow the pattern of popular debates among Muslim movements supporting or opposing various theological positions. Muslim organisations in Kerala have always had a desire for such hair-splitting and argumentative clashes. It usually takes the line that all those who do not belong to us become “the other” and whatever belongs to us becomes the true face of Islam — everything else becomes fabricated.

More than 50 journals published by such movements try to prove the genuineness of their view of Islam while branding the other as “un-Islamic”. Organisations like IS and al-Qaeda are prone to ‘takfir’ or keeping other groups out of the fold of Islam and wiping them out.

What deviates youngsters so easily to join Islamic State?

The theology of these puritan (someone who adheres to strict religious principles) Muslim youngsters is radically different from the way Islam has been traditionally practised in Kerala. Their indifference to normal life is borne out by many of them discontinuing formal education. It is this distancing and alienation from society and existing religious practices that has led a small minority to identify with IS — and even prompt some to go and fight for its cause.

A close study of some of the cases indicates that most of the educated Kerala youth were weaned to terror networks once they went out for studies or work. Social media also played an important role in brainwashing them.

Is there a conducive environment in Kerala that helps Islamic State operatives recruit members?

“We have been monitoring patterns for some time now, and one of the main reasons for a high rate of terror-related activities in Kerala is its close ties with the Gulf (West Asia). A lot of radicalisation and terror planning and funding comes from this route into Kerala,” said a former top official of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

Some Examples:

A Malayali Muslim boy living in Qatar with his parents was sent to Paris for further training after he showed promise in athletics. The Qatar sports ministry, foreseeing a bright future for him, sponsored his education and training. But on his return, his parents were shocked to find their 19-year-old son completely changed. While in Paris, his exposure to Islam from online sources led him to extreme spirituality. The budding champion’s “spiritual realisation” that sports were mean to maintain a healthy life, and not a source of livelihood, forced him to stay away from such “unholy” activities. Things got worse once the family returned to Kerala: He could not pursue his studies as a majority of the schools were mixed and he considered the traditional institutions for religious education “deviant”.

On August 19, eight vigilance officers raided the house of a businessman in Perumbavoor, in Ernakulam, in Kerala, and seized gold and valuables worth Rs.13 Lakh. According to the Kerala Police, the robbery was carried out by a group which had clear links with terror groups and suspected that it was done to fund terror-related activities in India.

Abdul Halim: Thadiyantavide Nazeer, an alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba commander, who was caught in 2009. Targeted gold merchants and other businessmen, and that money has been used to fund terror-related activities in Kerala

Terror blanket under the name of ISIS

Yasmin Ahmad, a 28-year-old school teacher in Kerala, said Abdul Rashid, a fugitive IS a recruiter from Kerala who is now operating from Afghanistan, indoctrinated about 40 people. Also, Rashid is one who is believed to be behind the disappearance of 21 youth from the southern state in May and June. Abdul Rashid was public relations officer of the Peace International School. Yasmin too was supposed to leave the country along with the group of 21, but delayed travel documents for her four-year-old child held her back.

Born and brought up in Saudi Arabia where her parents were settled, she came to Kerala three years ago with husband Syed Ahmad after getting a job in Peace International School in Malappuram. The woman met Rashid at the school, where he used to train teachers. Rashid soon befriended the couple, and a relationship grew between him and Yasmin after her husband fell out with her and left the country. Yasmin is proficient in English and has a religious bent of mind. As such she got immediately attracted towards Rashid’s ultra-radical teachings, investigators said. Rashid used to conduct the sessions in the guise of Quran classes, where he briefed the recruits about the IS. He regularly read the IS magazine, Dabiq, and used material from online propaganda to radicalise youth. He went to Afghanistan later to become a lynchpin of the IS recruitment drive. Yasmin, in the meantime, keeps in touch with him through text messages. She was arrested after police intercepted her communication with Rashid.

I wanted to live my life as a true Muslim prescribed by Quran and that is not possible here,” said Yasmin Ahmad.

Key Perpetrators

Arshid Qureshi and Rizwan Khan played a key role in recruiting for the IS and sending them abroad. Khan and Qureshi were arrested in a joint operation of the Maharashtra ATS and Kerala special investigation team.

Qureshi and Khan converted many young people and radicalised them. Some incriminating documents, including marriage certificates, were reportedly seized from Khan. The court has remanded the duo to two-week police custody. At least 21 people, including six women and two children, had gone missing from the state last month, sending shockwaves across the country. Most of the missing persons are well-educated and hailed from upper-middle-class families. Among them were two men and three women who had converted to Islam.

Last week itself Kerala government along with the State Education Department directed Peace International School for ‘Shutdown’ as communal content was being taught to the students.

Peace International School

The School was founded in 2006 by one MM Akbar, and run by a niche group, an independent religious body aiming to propagate Islam, Peace International runs 10 schools in Kerala and one each in neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. More than 7,000 students are enrolled in the schools that have classes up to 12th standard. Akbar, who runs two conversion centres in Ponnani and Kozhikode, is also locally known as Kerala’s Zakir Naik, the Islamic televangelist in the eye of a storm for allegedly preaching radical views.

Lessons to learn

Social media is playing a vital role in propagating the radical thoughts in the minds of youngsters and the probable victims of the Islamic State. It has been identified that from Orkut to Whatsapp, every social media has been effectively used by the preachers of radicalisation transforming an Indian to a recruit of IS who has made his mind to kill people to safeguard his new ideology called Islamic State and his new brethren called Muslims. Effective and necessary censorship of Web media and Social Media can help reducing the envenoming of the innocent Indians.

Similarly, as part of the nationwide counter-radicalisation effort, families must be encouraged to protect their children. They should keep a watch on their wards; teachers too should be sensitised to detect behavioural changes in students. We can only fight divisive forces with societal help and evolve a strategy of intelligence gathering. Though these people have left the country for a radical cause, the concern arises here is about ‘National Security’; their influence will stay with the state forever, putting the innocent Muslim community under a shadow of suspicion. A shadow that threateningly has the potential to tear the nation apart.

Courtesy: NewsBharati


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