Terrorism and Challenges Related To It

Influence of Islamic State in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Combating terrorsim


  • Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Sri Lanka that claimed 250 lives this Easter.
  • The threads of the attack are closely connected to India with one of the Lanka suicide bombers having stayed in India for a considerable time before the attack.
  • A coordinated attack of this scale so close to India’s shores has agencies worried.

What is the IS influence in India?

  • IS came on the radar of Indian intelligence agencies way back in 2013 when reports from Syria suggested that some Indians were fighting alongside the IS there.
  • It was still considered a problem of the Middle East by the agencies until in 2014, IS kidnapped 39 Indians in Iraq and executed them.
  • An IS map of the Khorasan Caliphate showed some of India’s states as its part.
  • Since then multiple Indians have travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight alongside IS and as many as 100 have been arrested by the agencies either on return from Syria or while preparing to join them.
  • Many have also been arrested for preparing to carry out an attack in India after being inspired by the IS.

India’s response

  • The Indian security establishment has approached the issue of IS influence with caution.
  • The approach is informed by the fact that despite a very large Muslim population, India has sent very few recruits to the IS.
  • It is clear that some of the youth eager to join IS are merely swayed by the IS online propaganda which has attracted a restive youth with video-game-like macabre videos.
  • That they may not be fully radicalized given their unblemished background has led agencies to take the counselling approach.
  • Only such people have been arrested who agencies believed were in the process of carrying out an attack or had made multiple attempts to go to Syria despite counselling.
  • This included Hyderabad youth Abdullah Basith who made three attempts to go to Syria and was apprehended each time. He was finally put under arrest under charges of terrorism on his third attempt.

Why is South India more vulnerable?

  • Even though it is North India which regularly sees communal clashes, it is southern states which have sent maximum recruits to IS.
  • According to agencies, almost 90% of all recruits who have gone to Syria are from the southern States.
  • A majority of those arrested by agencies while preparing to launch an attack are also from States such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
  • Most recruits from Kerala who joined the Islamic State were either working in the Gulf or had come back from there with an already developed liking for IS’s extreme ideology.
  • States such as J&K, MP and UP in North India have also seen some IS influence on the youth.

Indians dint fall prey to lures

  • It should be stated that ISIS hasn’t received support from Indian Muslims.
  • For a country with the world’s second largest Muslim population, India’s share of pro-ISIS individuals is minuscule.

The real threats to India

  • None in fact, IS has largely focused on inspiring the youth to either migrate to Syria and Iraq or carry out attacks in India with their own resources (lone wolf attacks).
  • Most of the recruiters, such as banned outfits Indian Mujahideen operative Shafi Armar, too have been Indians.
  • Many Indians haven’t even had a handler and they have merely come together on their own to allegedly carry out attacks in the name of IS.
  • Most of these groups were made to arrange for explosives and arms on their own with members contributing from their pockets.

Way Forward

  • IS, although militarily now on the backfoot, is still – as the Sri Lankan attacks show – very much alive, with branches in 18 countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, and new forays into Bangladesh.
  • In any case, thanks to Pakistan, terrorism will always remain a threat to India.
  • IS needs no specific motivation to carry out such an attack. All other religions, and all those not subscribing to IS’s perverted vision of puritanical Islamic supremacy, are enemies.
  • A secular India is anathema for IS ideologues. That we are a democracy is also a red rag because the IS believes that ‘all religions that agree with democracy have to die’.
  • Thus, what happened in neighbouring Sri Lanka must act as a wake-up call for us.

With inputs from:

Economic Times

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