India Faces a New Challenge: Jihadist Radicalization

Source: The Strategic Culture Foundation, by Vinay Kaura

Jihadist terrorism in India is on the verge of acquiring a global footprint, as radicalization and recruitment have become more sophisticated thanks to social media and the Internet. This marks a clear departure from the past when jihadist terrorism was almost synonymous with the insurgency in Kashmir.

It was often held that ideologically motivated Islamist terror had bypassed mainland India and that even though there had been a separatist insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir state, Muslims in the rest of the country had spurned the radical revivalist movements plaguing other Islamic countries. This is no longer the case, as a growing number of Muslims from mainland India are becoming radicalized.

Last week, in a joint anti-terror operation by the police teams of five states, an allegedly ISIS-inspired terror module spanning Maharashtra, Punjab, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh was busted with the arrest of three suspected terrorists.

The police had received intelligence that some known terror suspects in Uttar Pradesh had become active and were trying to recruit new members to launch a major terror attack in the country. Initial investigations into the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train blast in March convinced the security agencies that it was first major ISIS operation in India.

Saifullah, the alleged ISIS-inspired terrorist killed in a shootout with police in the first week of March in Lucknow, had also been tasked with securing arms and training facilities for a new ISIS-linked terror cell in Uttar Pradesh. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) first came to know of Saifullah from Mudabbir Mushtaq Sheikh, a resident of Maharashtra state. Mudabbir is now facing trial for his alleged role as chief of the Jund-ul-Khalifa-ul-Hind, an organization of Indian jihadists inspired by ISIS.

It is feared that India may become a soft target in the global jihadist plan of outfits such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, which are not only instigating violence through sleeper modules, but are also attracting educated Muslim youths through the Internet to spread their agenda. Though ISIS has declared its intention to expand its footprint in the subcontinent, it has not managed to make considerable headway in India. However, it is also an undeniable fact that a few of India’s misguided Muslim youth are being swayed by Wahhabist propaganda.

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Categories: Financial/Societal Collapse and Dependence, War on Terror

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