As many as 94 websites have been blocked by security agencies for allegedly propagating the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) amid a nationwide crackdown on suspected offshoots of the terrorist organization in the country.
The move follows a six-month long joint operation by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which led to about a dozen suspects being arrested in Maharashtra and other states in the past week.
“The influence of ISIS is clearly seen in Maharashtra and 10-12 other states. We have also seen youth radicalizing through online platforms. The ATS is making every attempt to counter these efforts,” ATS chief Vivek Phansalkar said on Sunday, adding that the terrorist outfit was resorting to multiple methods to trap and influence young minds.
In September last year, the agency first blocked the website isdarat.in after it found that the portal was publishing ISIS related content in Arabic language. ATS will now be launching its own website soon to deal with the growing Islamic State influence.
The ATS has also been continuously monitoring various social media platforms and making interventions wherever suspicious activities are suspected, Phansalkar said. It has also been coordinating with religious leaders from the Muslim community to de-radicalize susceptible youngsters.
“In our efforts to counter ISIS propoganda, the maulavis and community leaders are helping the ATS. We have succeeded in de-radicalising many youth from Maharashtra,” said Phansalkar.
Sleuths on Saturday arrested Imran Moazzam Khan Pathan, 26, from Vaijapur, a village in Aurangabad district for his alleged ISIS links. Pathan’s arrest came two days after the NIA arrested 33-year-old Mudabbir Shaikh, a resident of Mumbra near Mumbai for the same reason.
According to ATS, Shaikh is one of the key ISIS recruiters in India. The counter terrorism agency recently de-radicalized six youths from Dhule who were planning to leave the country to join the Islamic State.