With most of its top leaders behind bars the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is desperate to re-group in Kerala, its prime recruiting base.
The organization has recently floated a women's wing and some of its erstwhile leaders are busy mobilizing youngsters to form various front outfits, claim state intelligence officials. One among them is the Islamic Students Association, a cover-up organization to jack up its influence on college campuses across the northern Malabar region.
What really attracts educated youth to extremist elements in Kerala, which never witnessed large-scale communal riots or sectarian discrimination, is hard to understand however a close study indicates that most of these leaders were weaned to terror networks once they go out for higher studies or jobs.
For instance, Kammu Kutty alias Yahya Khan, a software engineer and native of Kozhikode is remembered by his neighbours and friends as a studious and ambitious youngster. But his wife Farida revealed that her husband was quite indignant with the way he was treated at his work place. In one of his online profiles, the senior systems specialist with GE, had listed 'driving social change' as one of his prime hobbies. Their social status, economic background and good education help them dodge law-enforcement agencies easily.
A creditable knowledge base and access to the e-world enable them to link their local grievances to the larger jihadi movement. Once they establish a link and get a forum to redress their grievances they get sucked into the network easily. Earlier hardcore religious leaders were held responsible for misguiding youth but now the 'virtual world' is partly responsible for this.
"Besides spiritual vacuum political uncertainty can also be blamed. Unlike elsewhere, politics has immensely contributed to the empowerment of Muslims here. With the weakening of the Muslim League, a moderate force, and a section of Jammat-e-Islami throwing their lot behind left forces, many are virtually stranded in no man's land," opined Muslim thinker Prof M.N. Karasserry.