Concern over suspected IS sleeper cells in Kerala

A fortnight ago, the NIA filed a charge sheet against three persons from Malappuram, Kannur and Kollam.

September 23, 2021 01:31 pm | Updated 01:36 pm IST - Kozhikode:

The arrest of several persons from Kerala by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with terror-related cases recently has raised concern about suspected sleeper cells of the Islamic State (IS) operating in the State.

A fortnight ago, the NIA filed a charge sheet against three persons, Mohammed Ameen aka Abu Yahya of Malappuram; Mushab Anwar of Kannur and Rahees Rasheed of Oachira in Kollam.

The agency had also registered a suo motu case against seven known and other unknown persons for involvement with the terrorist activities of Mohammed Ameen and his associates, who have been running various Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) propaganda channels on different social media platforms, including Telegram, Hoop and Instagram, for propagating violent jihad, radicalising and recruiting new members.

Officials say that after the decline of the ISIS Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, Mohammed Ameen had visited Kashmir in March, 2020 for ‘Hijrah’ (religious migration) and for engaging in terrorist acts. He was engaged in raising and distributing funds in connivance with Rahees Rasheed and Kashmir-based accused Mohammad Waqar Lone aka Wilson Kashmiri for propagating the activities of the ISIS in India.

Incidentally, the NIA last month arrested two women Mizha Siddeeque and Shifa Harris from Kannur on charges of associating with Mohammed Ameen for spreading the ISIS activities through the social media. Mizha had also travelled to Tehran along with her associates to join the ISIS in Syria.

She had created a page on Instagram to propagate, motivate and radicalise and recruit Muslim youths for the ISIS. It was found that Shifa had transferred funds to Lone for ISIS activities.

Five years ago, The Hindu had reported about the case of missing families from Kasaragod and Palakkad districts suspected to have joined the IS and that successive State governments ignored several warnings by the State Special Branch and the Intelligence Bureau regarding the indoctrination and radicalisation of Muslim youths in the State.

Now the NIA says that its investigations revealed that IS is trying to spread its tentacles in India through continuous propaganda via online. Gullible youth are targeted on open social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Once a person shows interest, he or she is then enticed to communicate with online handlers based abroad using encrypted social media platforms.

Depending on the gullibility of the person, the handlers then use the person for uploading online content, translation of IS texts to local language, conspiracy, preparation of a module, collection of arms and ammunition, preparation of IEDs, terror funding and even attacks.

So far, the NIA has investigated 37 cases of terror attacks, conspiracy and funding which have been inspired by the IS ideology. A total of 168 accused have been arrested in these cases and charge sheets have been filed in 31 cases, and 27 accused have been convicted after trial.

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