ISIS turns to Kerala for recruitment; intel agencies up the ante

Kerala is turning to be the second most-sought recruitment ground in India for the ISIS, the hardcore Islamic terror group which is on a mission to establish the ‘Holy Caliphate’ across the world.

Sources in the state police, familiar with the recruitment of ideology-driven extremists, said Kerala was the choice-destination of IS middlemen after the trouble-torn Jammu and Kashmir. Officers said the middlemen had drafted the services of religious centres in at least two northern and one southern district to ‘identify’ and ‘indoctrinate’ impressionable youngsters who could be transported to countries like Syria and Yemen where the IS had a considerable presence.

The recruiters mostly lured the youth with repulsive and misinterpreted promise of ‘a dream land in heaven’ and the ‘spring of eternal joy’ (also in heaven). Liberal Islamist thinkers shunned the idea and said the Wahhabist elements (hardcore faction) was resorting to a blatant obliteration of facts and subversion of religious principles to recruit young men and women.

As on March 30, 2018, 90 Keralites were with the ISIS. Of this, 16 had been killed in raids by US and other forces fighting IS in various countries in the Middle East, since 2016. Of the 90, 21 were from Kasaragod and 38 from Kannur. At least 12 were from Bahrain.

Social scientists were finding it difficult to understand how the educated youths of Kerala were tacitly being turned around to violence and jihadism. The stiff political posturing at the national level was in fact hardening the stance of all fringe elements, they said.

Meanwhile, the state intelligence was collating data and scanning front organisations which often camouflaged as charity houses. A police officer pointed to ‘organised anti-sovereignty movements’ like the one organised by a prominent political party in Kerala. It had sought a separate state to be ‘carved out of certain north Kerala districts.’

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