As the fangs of monstrosity of the Islamic State (IS) – which has had its genesis in Iraq and Syria to fight the US-led coalition forces – spread out in India, given the recent arrests in UP and southern States especially, it is high time the intelligence grid of the country knuckled down to trace the modules and sleeper cells and dismantle them totally. This has become all the more imperative in the aftermath of Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, the responsibility for which has been owned up by IS, even as another Sri Lanka-based Islamist outfit, National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ), with its presence reported also in Tamil Nadu, has been blamed for the cowardice in the name of ‘jihad’ against ‘infidels’. In a video released last week, IS has announced a separate province that would focus on the Indian subcontinent. It released a picture and claimed that the terrorist Ishfaq Ahmed Sofi, who was shot dead by security forces in Kashmir, was one of its own members working in the valley.
The IS statement talks about “Wilayah-e-Hind” (Indian province) even as it does not mention Jammu & Kashmir explicitly. Security forces are not dismissing the statement outright, because in recent weeks, IS has shown its renewed focus on the subcontinent, promising plans for Bangladesh, which is an emerging hotbed of Islamist fundamentalism, and IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s recent video speaks about new areas of influence. The IS instruction to its operatives is to go after the followers of ‘infidel’ faiths – people belonging to religions other than Islam, such as the ones targeted in Sri Lanka. Intelligence agencies are now analysing the ramifications of the video. According to security analysts, given IS’ success in radicalizing its followers online and then motivating them phase-wise to plan attacks and assemble bombs, including by way of indoctrinating them to wear suicide vests, the outfit is reckoned far more insidious and ruthless, and of course far smarter from the IT viewpoint, than outfits such as Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed that usually operate in the Kashmir valley and have their modules and sleeper cells across the country. These two local outfits, needless to say, have the blessings of the rogue Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, called the Deep State of Pakistan whose prime target it is to bleed India by a ‘thousand cuts’. But it is the IS threat that has added a new dimension to India’s war on terror, this terror being absolutist terror just to eliminate innocent men, women and children belonging to ‘infidel’ faiths.
One would recall that last year in March, IS hailed the “martyrdom” of three “brother” terrorists killed in an encounter in Anantnag in the Kashmir valley, identifying the “emir”, Essa Fazili, as Abu Yahya al Ishtashadi, Syed Owaid as Abu Barra al Kashmiri, and Taufeeq, aka Sultan al Hyderabadi, as Abu Zar al Hindi. The trio had been radicalized through social media, and they had joined the outfit in Kashmir by contacting handlers on Facebook. By now it is clear that Facebook has come in handy for the IT-savvy IS whose main objective it is to establish an Islamic Caliphate across the world. What softer target than a Hindu-dominated India, where there are already divisions in the political universe even when it comes to secularism, thanks to the huge pseudo-secular brigade, and where an efficacious national counter-terrorism grid has yet to take shape?