Internal Security Trends and Incidents

How IS regroups and its threat to India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3- With the presence of sleeper cell in India and ability of IS to co-opt a local affiliate makes the IS a major security challenge for India.


IS has shown its ability to strike by regrouping and co-opting local affiliates be it the case of Ester Sunday attack in Sri Lanka or a recent attack on a  Gurudwara in Afghanistan. For India, the presence of sleeper cells and their links with the Islamic jihad group has internal security implications. We have covered an op-ed dealing with the Gurudwara attack and discussed the futility of the US-Taliban peace deal.

Security threat of IS to India and South Asia

  • In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, there was speculation about the degree to which al-Qaeda had been able to make inroads in India.
  • In recent years, the focus has shifted to the IS.
  • The creation of an IS-Khorasan (IS-K) in early 2015 with a visible presence in Afghanistan-Pakistan, seemed to suggest that the group is now targeting South Asia.
  • The recent terror attack on a gurdwara in Kabul (March 25) was also claimed by the IS. The IS released a photograph of one of a resident of Kasargod in Kerala
  • According to India’s leading terrorism think-tank SATP (South Asia Terrorism Portal), 99 persons from India were confirmed to have joined the IS in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Question about the ” Over-ground worker” of the terrorist organisation was asked by the UPSC in 2019.

Close intelligence cooperation within and beyond South Asia

  • Last October, the NIA disclosed that it had arrested 127 IS sympathisers from across India since 2014, and the highest number of 33 were from Tamil Nadu.
  • The arrests by NIA were made throughout the country and not from a specific region.
  • This degree of spread is testimony to the close watch the Indian security agencies are maintaining concerning the IS.
  • One may conjecture that close intelligence cooperation has been established within and beyond South Asia.
  • The pattern that now obtains is that countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan have their own internal surveillance in place to monitor the activities of the IS-K.

Ability of IS to regroup and ally with a domestic affiliate

  • The IS has demonstrated a proclivity to re-group by co-opting or merging with credible domestic affiliates, even if they are little-known.
  • In Afghanistan, the IS-K has sought to position itself favourably in the factional tussle, and the Kabul gurdwara attack is seen as part of this murderous strategy.
  • Pakistan connection: Islamic terror groups in the Af-Pak region are deemed to be as credible as the support that they receive from the deep-state in Pakistan.
  • It is pertinent that the main accused in the Kabul gurdwara attack is Aslam Faroqi, a Pakistani national.


The ability of IS to co-opt a local affiliate makes it a credible threat for India where there is a significant presence of the sleeper cells. In the light of that threat India and the other affected nations will have to strive individually and collectively to foil such nefarious designs.

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