US unable to find any Indians fighting for IS

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:29 pm IST

Published - January 28, 2015 10:47 pm IST - Washington

The U.S. Department of Defence reportedly does not have any records or intelligence available on the presence of Indian nationals among the ranks of Islamic State, the militant jihadist outfit that has overrun parts of Iraq and Syria since last year.

Answering a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from  The Hindu , U.S. Central Command, which is a “theatre-level Unified Combatant Command” of the Pentagon with responsibility for the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, said that despite an “extensive and careful search for information… responsive records were not located.”

A second FOIA request on this question, filed with the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, the principal foreign military espionage agency of the Pentagon, is pending reply.

With Washington taking the lead in the international coalition against IS, also known as Daesh in Arabic, officials have on occasion supplied estimates on the number of foreign fighters from different nations taking up arms for the militants.

Although in the first half of 2013 the estimates of fighters flocking to Daesh from at least 74 nations were around 10,000, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency surprised observers last September when its officials were quoted saying to media here that this number “may be more than three times the previous estimates [and the group could potentially] muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria.”

This week confirmation that larger numbers of foreign fighters were involved with Daesh and its affiliates came from analysts with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, a project of London’s King’s College, the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University and the Interdisciplinary Centre in Israel.

According to a report by this project the number of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq now has been estimated at 20,730, making it the “largest mobilisation of foreign fighters in Muslim majority countries since 1945.”

India emerged in the spotlight in this context when it was discovered that four youths from Kalyan, Mumbai, had joined Daesh last year and one of them, Aarif Majeed, managed to escape and was arrested upon his return to India in November. (Read > The Hindu's exclusive on Aarif Majeed's arrest )

Another youth, Shaheen Tanki, was rumoured to be dead, according to reports, with uncertainty surrounding the fate of the others, reportedly identified as Aman Tandel and Fahad Shaikh.

While these cases pale in comparison to the much larger numbers recruited by Daesh from countries such as Germany, Norway, France, the U.S., U.K., Canada, Somalia, Korea, China, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Lebanon, U.S. President Barack Obama has on several occasions mentioned to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the hope that India would join the fight against the militants.

Thus far, Mr. Modi has apparently declined to join the fight.

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