At least 23 youth from Manipur’s Lilong area of Thoubal district are reported to have left home to join the Indian arm of the al Qaeda in the recent months.
“They had gone in two batches. Four have returned home while the others are untraceable,” a top government security official told HT on condition of anonymity.
The official said these recruits were first indoctrinated and trained in weapons before being placed in the actual war theatres in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Significantly, while announcing in a video message on Thursday morning the formation of a new al Qaeda outfit in India, al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri mentions Burma, Bangladesh and Assam as some of the key areas of operation of the new group.
Sources also told HT that a faction of Indian Mujahideen (IM) under Mirza Shadab Beig that was based in Afghanistan, may have formally joined the global terror outfit which includes new recruits from India.
“Al Qaeda’s new wing could be a combination of the IM faction with Beig, Bada Sajid and Mir Sajid as its key members, some veteran al Qaeda members like Maulana Asim Umar (the group’s new chief) and Usama Mahmoud (the group’s spokesman), and new recruits from India,” a top government security official told HT on condition of anonymity.
The IM is on the backfoot in India with a number of big arrests in less than a year which has been attributed to the unprecedented and proactive collaboration between the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing.