Goa tops the list of Islamic State (IS) targets in India, the interrogation of suspected members of the terror organisation by enforcement agencies has revealed.
IS seeks to attack foreign tourists and Indian security forces in the state for global publicity and to boost the morale of its South Asia adherents. Interrogators also said that the IS is scouting for a site in India to train its fighters.
Government sources told Hindustan Times that the so-called Amir-e-Hind of IS, Muddabbir Mushtaq Sheikh of Mumbra, Thane, told interrogators of plans to explode bombs in Goa with foreigners as the main target.
In fact, IS members in India had planned to bomb Goa in December 2014 —the month when tourist inflow from Europe, US and Russia is the highest but were intercepted by the intelligence agencies.
In the past four months, Indian agencies have picked up 23 IS suspects from various states, including a five-member Roorkee module that planned to bomb Haridwar.
Of the 23 arrested, one is a recruiter and another is responsible for the December 2014 Church Street blast in Bengaluru. There are no less than 30 IS Indian recruits fighting in Syria and Iraq; unconfirmed reports says six of them have been killed.
Intelligence agencies assess a strong possibility of IS engineering some action in India as the pan-Islamic jihadi group is under pressure in Afghanistan and is losing ground in Iraq and Syria. They feel that the Brussels attack this week was part of an IS attempt to lift the morale of its fighters.
The spread of Islamic State is being blocked by not only the Afghan security forces but also the Taliban which has killed many fighters of the terrorist group in Nangarhar province bordering Pakistan.
“The Indian recruits of Islamic State have learnt the art of bomb-making through the internet but they have not been successful in procuring explosives like RDX or ammonium nitrate. Their current capabilities and numbers reveal the terror group can execute a limited strike that gives them high publicity,” said a senior official.
After the Paris and Brussels attacks, Indian agencies have strengthened perimeter security outside airports. Also, India is collaborating with countries bordering Iraq and Syria to ensure that Islamic State fighters are not allowed in.