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Kerala’s 17 missing flew to Iran before going off radar

File photo of fighters from the Islamic State group.  

India has sought Iran’s help in tracing 17 persons from Kerala, who have been missing for over a month, and are suspected to have joined the Islamic State (IS). Investigations by Indian agencies have revealed that the 17 Indians, including women and children, travelled till Iran on tourist visas before going off the radar, a senior intelligence official told The Hindu.

“We have shared the details of these people with the Iranian authorities and have asked them to find out about their further movement,” the official said.

The missing include nine men, four of their wives, a child and an infant.

Three of the women are pregnant. All are in their 20s.

The official said the missing persons left India in two different groups about a month ago.

One group reached Muscat and the other group reached Dubai. “They took a flight to Tehran from Muscat and Dubai respectively. This might have been done to dodge any suspicion. Since they went on tourist visas and had family members along, nobody suspected them,” said the official.

In Afghanistan or Syria

The official said they were looking at two probable scenarios now. One, the group might have reached Afghanistan, which shares its border with Iran and joined the Islamic State in Khorasan Province.

The other possibility, the official said, was that they have travelled to Iraq and from there on to Syria.

“Even Khorasan province is said to be an IS controlled territory. If their (Indians) relatives have received messages that they have reached the Caliphate, it could be Afghanistan as well,” said the official. . Mainly comprising defectors from Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP), the Wilayat Khorasan of Islamic State came into existence in 2015.

All the missing persons are from Kasargod district in Kerala and their relatives said they had received messages from them that they had reached their final destination — the ‘Caliphate’ that the IS aims to establish.

One of the missing men was the manager of a local school; he and his wife had recently converted to Islam.

Airports alerted

“It is too early to say whether they received money to travel till Iran; we are working on those aspects. There could be others who have joined the IS and we don’t know about them yet. The Iran route is a revelation for us and we have alerted all the airports about such suspicious movements now,” said the official.


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 10:58:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Kerala%E2%80%99s-17-missing-flew-to-Iran-before-going-off-radar/article14488717.ece

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