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Come home to terror

The localised solo jihadi group is now a global phenomenon. But none has been as lethal as the various groups that collectively call themselves the Indian Mujahideen (IM).

books Updated: Jul 15, 2011 23:57 IST
Pramit Pal Chaudhuri

Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within
Shishir Gupta
Hachette india
Rs 550 PP 314

The localised solo jihadi group is now a global phenomenon. But none has been as lethal as the various groups that collectively call themselves the Indian Mujahideen (IM). This first full-length attempt at understanding this home-grown terrorist group does an excellent job in explaining the key drivers behind the IM.

The IM arose, as is clear from the interrogations of the militants who were caught and even the literature the group produced, from the anger generated among Indian Muslims by the Babri Masjid demolition and Gujarat pogroms. A small number of these turned on the Indian State, merging this hatred with a broader pan-Islamic militancy.

In northern India, the vehicle of self-radicalisation was the Students Islamic Movement of India. In the south it was disparate groups like the Islamic Sevak Sangh. But what differentiates India's homegrown jihadis is how they were tempered and backed by the Lashkar- e-Taiba and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.

Shishir Gupta traces the violent paths of various IM modules, their interactions with parallel Lashkar networks and the interface with Pakistan. Particularly fascinating are various profiles of terrorists, through which he shows "how LeT recruited Indian youth through family, friends and personal connections, luring them with promise of money and jobs in the Middle East".

The personal stories tell much about the evolution of IM. More importantly, they tell how the answer to destroying this organisation lies in India's own polity and social attitudes.