Alarm bells are ringing in the internal security establishment with confirmed reports of Singapore-based Tamil Nadu expatriates’ radicalisation for Islamic jihad against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. This is the first direct evidence that Indian-origin Islamists have joined the three-year-old bloody civil war in Syria.
After a Cuddalore village resident was questioned following his deportation last month from Singapore to Chennai, four other persons are under the scanner of security agencies for motivating Indians to join the jihad in Syria via Turkey. While the Indian agencies have not pressed charges on the deported computer engineer working with a top American MNC in Singapore, it is confirmed that he radicalised his village friend Haja Fakruddin Usman Ali for the Syrian jihad. Thirtyseven-year-old Fakruddin, who is a Singapore national, left Chennai in January with his family for the jihad in Syria.
While there is no official estimate on the number of Indian-origin persons fighting against the Assad regime, there is growing suspicion that some Gulf-settled NRI population from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Telangana could be involved with Islamists in Syria. At least two Indian-origin persons settled in the Gulf have been identified to be involved in the Syrian civil war.
According to senior officials, the deported engineer, who is said to be involved with Tamil Nadu Tauheed Jamaat, and Fakruddin met each other in Singapore in 2007. The former radicalised Fakruddin with jihadi literature and radical writings and speeches of 20th century Islamist thinker Abul Ala Maududi and radicals like Anwar Al Awlaki and Abdul Raheem Green.
Though the government is tightlipped about the incident, Fakruddin left for Syria via Turkey in November 2013 but returned disillusioned to India a month later after he and his family were put up in Chechen rebel camps in Syria.
“Fakruddin was motivated again in January in Chennai to join jihad. He left for Turkey the same month and there is no trace of him or his family,” said a senior official, adding it was important to zero in on Indians who radicalised the Singapore nationals before more people were motivated to join jihad.