12 of the 52 arrested in the country over the past two years for links with the terror group are from the state, like reported by indiatimes.com
Maharashtra seems to be emerging as the breeding ground for terrorists, with 12 out of the 52 arrested for links to Islamic State or Daesh coming from this state.
The terror organisation has become a major concern for security agencies as out of the 64 suspected terrorists arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in all terror-related cases in the past two years, 52 of them have been arrested for their role in Daesh. Out of these, 12 were arrested in Maharashtra, followed closely by Kerala (11) and Telangana (10).
“Till date, 12 modules of Daesh have been busted by NIA, in which 52 have been arrested while 35 are still absconding,” said NIA.
Another worrying statistic is that 80 per cent of the accused have received formal education, and only 20 per cent have attended madrassas.
Daesh’s rapid rise in India in the past two years is a major cause of worry for security agencies. Until 2014, Indian agencies were focussed on Pakistan-based or supported groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen and Indian Mujahideen. But Kalyan engineering student Areeb Majeed’s arrest in 2014 prompted authorities to seriously consider the threat from Daesh. Majeed was radicalised online and travelled to Iraq to join the group. He later returned to India. “Majeed’s arrest was our first success. The Internet, especially social media, provides the extremists a convenient platform to recruit youngsters. In all the 12 cases we detected, the suspects got acquainted with the Daesh handlers on social media. It’s a challenge for all countries to monitor such activities. But we have had some success in this area and we continue to keep a close watch on the online chatter,” said an NIA officer.
Officials refused to comment on the number of Indian youth who have been radicalised by Daesh, but according to one estimate, the figure is in the range of 7,000 to 8,000. A few hundred of them are prepared to travel to Iraq and Syria. Around 50 people are suspected to have left the country.
Security agencies fear that they may carry out lone-wolf attacks in the country upon their return. “There is a high possibility of lone-wolf terror activity in the country. Recently, we arrested a Daesh operative from Kolkata, Abu Musa, who had planned to travel to Srinagar and stab foreign tourists,” said a source.
Contrary to common belief that Daesh’s activities in India were restricted to recruiting youngsters to its fold, the NIA has recovered arms and explosives in at least three cases. “We recovered weapons from a suspect arrested in Hyderabad and explosives were found during our investigation into the Haridwar module,” said the officer. “The Parbhani cell busted by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad had also planned to carry out attacks in the country.”
NIA’s biggest success has been what some officers call the “mother Daesh case” in which 18 suspects were arrested from different parts of the country, including Mumbai.
According to NIA, Shafi Armar is the man who manages Daesh’s activities in the country while sitting in Syria. Malwani man Ayaz Sultan, who recently left the country, is suspected to be assisting him. Shafi, who is in his late 20s, is a native of Bhatkal, Karnataka. Shafi also supervises the Maharashtra operations.