Govt seeks help from foreign agencies to count Indians in IS | india | Hindustan Times
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Govt seeks help from foreign agencies to count Indians in IS

Security agencies have asked their US, European and West Asian counterparts with technical or human surveillance in Islamic State-held territory in Iraq and Syria to help estimate the number of Indians fighting for the so-called caliphate of Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.

Paris under attack Updated: Nov 15, 2015 10:11 IST
Shishir Gupta
Security agencies have asked their US, European and West Asian counterparts to help estimate the number of Indians fighting for Islaimc State.
Security agencies have asked their US, European and West Asian counterparts to help estimate the number of Indians fighting for Islaimc State.(AFP File Photo)

Security agencies have asked their US, European and West Asian counterparts with technical or human surveillance in Islamic State-held territory in Iraq and Syria to help estimate the number of Indians fighting for the so-called caliphate of Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.

As of now, a total of 23 Indians, mostly from the southern states, are fighting for IS, which has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.

While the home ministry’s multi-agency centre (MAC) issued terror alerts to all states, missions and consulates as soon as the attacks began in Paris, New Delhi is worried about the similarity between the 14/11 and 26/11 Mumbai attacks with indiscriminate targeting of innocent civilians. Another reason for Indian concern is that terror organisation Ansar-ul-Tawhid, a splinter group of the Indian Mujahideen led by one Yusuf Al Hindi, Sultan and Shafi Armar from Bhatkal in Karnataka, are operating with the IS in Syria and Iraq.

This group is a breakaway faction of the IM headed by Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal.

Although intelligence agencies have been intercepting communication within India in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks, there has been no evidence of any celebration or linkage.

Read | ‘At least 50,000 Europeans are fighting in the ranks of IS’

Tamil Nadu resident Haja Fakruddin was the first Indian to join the IS, and another 22 are now serving the so-called caliphate in Syria. “Of the 23 fighters, four are from Maharashtra, five from Karnataka, four from erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, four from Kerala, three from Tamil Nadu, two from UP and one from Jammu and Kashmir. We detect the most radicalization in the name of IS in Kerala where the state government is planning to set up an Arabic university,” said a top counter-terror operative.

Compared to the thousands from France and England, far fewer Indians are joining the IS but the Modi government is worried as New Delhi has far less technical or human resources than its Western counterparts. There is also heightened concern as IS radicals are knocking at the Khyber Pass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border with Baghdadi’s followers led by Hafeez Saeed Khan taking on Taliban head on in Nangarhar, Kunar and Nuristan provinces.

“Since IS recognized Khorasan, of which even Gujarat is a part, as part of the so-called caliphate, there is serious fighting going on in Afghanistan with IS trying to take out the Taliban. If IS enters the Af-Pak region in a big way, India will be the frontline state against Baghdadi,” said a senior home ministry official.

Read | Mumbai horror revisited: 26/11 pattern in Paris attacks