ISIS, the dreaded terror group that has massacred thousands across the globe, has headhunters in India and among Indians living abroad. They are recruiting young Indian Muslims attracted to the idea of establishing a Caliphate, Indian newspaper Mail Today has reported.
According to the report, some Indian handlers have been identified by intelligence agencies, which have tracked and intercepted youth who had planned to leave for Turkey and then cross over to Syria to join ISIS.
Few of these youngsters, who had earlier revealed their plans to Mail Today in an exclusive interview, spoke about these handlers. Musaib (name changed) told Mail Today that mostly Indians were in touch with him and his friends. He said they radicalise Muslim youth on cyber space and then facilitate their travel to Syria.
This was confirmed by intelligence officials who were part of the operation that prevented 17 youth from Telangana from joining ISIS over the last one year.
Other than two handlers who are suspected to be from Gujarat, many Indians based in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan are also reportedly trying to lure Muslim youths – mostly in their 20s – to join the group.
The identities of these handlers are known, but their names are being withheld since intelligence agencies are monitoring their movements. Former member of terror group Indian Mujahideen, Sultan Armar Shah, who hails from Bhatkal in Karnataka, was one such handler of Indian origin. Shah reportedly died while fighting for the ISIS.
Sources said it is feared that many IM members, who fled the country following a crackdown, ended up fighting on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border before joining ISIS.
Indian ISIS aspirants for the first time, while interacting with Mail Today, revealed how they were indoctrinated through social media and how they were prevented from reaching Syria. Musaib, Faid, Ayaan and Saifuddin (all names changed) spoke at length about their plans of reaching Syria.
Musaib also revealed the identity of another Indian ISIS handler whose Facebook profile had a Hindu name (name withheld). “His profile said he had converted to Islam. He sent Rs 53,000 from Dubai. Later, he revealed his real identity and told me he is from Bhatkal, Karnataka. We got another Rs 1 lakh from someone (name withheld) from the UK,” he said.
Intelligence officials tracking ISIS-related activities also admitted that involvement of Indians in spotting and radicalising young minds has been noticed.
“We face our biggest threat from IM members, who could have joined the ISIS. They are in touch with their contacts in India,” the official said.