In a revelation that is sure to raise worries in India's security establishment, the first-ever audio message of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the ISIS, has confirmed suspicions that Indians could well be part of his organisation's ranks.
While enumerating the nationalities of fighters who constitute ISIS, Al-Baghdadi's 20-second-long audio titled 'A message to the Mujahideen and the Muslim Ummah in the month of Ramadan' that was released on Tuesday mentions that Indians, among a host of other nationalities including Chinese, American, French, German, Australian, etc. figure in the ISIS squad.
According to intelligence sources, on January 22, a Tamil Nadu-born person had left for Syria to fight alongside the Islamic fundamentalists. In 2013, the same person had trained with the Chechen jihadis and had recruited two Chennai college students for Jihad in Syria as well.Read: Nurses trapped in Tikrit unharmed, govt assures kin
Reports speak of about 10,000 foreign fighters in the ISIS ranks.
Affirming the possibility of Indian fighters in ISIS, Ajai Sahni, a counter terrorism expert told HT: "Already there are confirmed cases of Indians fighting in Syria. One faction of the Indian Mujaheedin is also fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan."Read: India sets up camps to get citizens back from Iraq
Foreign fighters are mainly used for suicide attacks according to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank that has analysed an ISIS annual report published on March 31, 2014. "The majority of suicide bombers in Iraq have historically been foreign fighters...This division therefore suggests ISIS leadership intended to highlight the effective use of foreign fighters," it says in a report.Read: About 600 Indians out of Iraq, more on their way, says MEA
The ISIS chief's speech also signalled strong possibilities that India is a prime target of the organisation that has established military control in large parts of Syria and Iraq.
India figures quite a few times in his speech where he names India as one of the countries including Pakistan and Myanmar, where "Muslims' rights are forcibly seized". Al-Baghdadi then goes on to give a clarion call to believers for emigration (hijrah) to the Islamic state. He also terms terror acts as the "killing and burning the homes of Muslims in Burma, the dismembering and disemboweling of the Muslims in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Kashmir."Full coverage: Iraq on the brink