Police vetting video of Keralite IS woman who wants to return home

The State police are examining a recent video purportedly by a Keralite woman who had allegedly gone to Afghanistan to join the Islamic State in 2015 and now wanted the government to help her return home.

Officials said the woman in the video could be Nimisha Fathima, a resident of Thiruvananthapuram, who had gone missing along with her husband Isa alias Bexin Vincent, from Kerala in 2015.

Fathima is a trained dentist. The police believe that the couple had converted to Islam, got radicalised and travelled to Afghanistan to join the IS. She had given birth to a child in that country.

Officials believed that an allied bombing killed Vincent and the law enforcement in Khorasan province had arrested Fathima in 2019.

In the video, the woman appeared seated on a sofa, sporting a headscarf and with a child on her lap. She spoke in English and said she would like to return home and hoped the government would not imprison her.

The possibility that Fathima might be alive had first surfaced in 2019 when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) called on her mother, Bindu Sampath, and showed her a set of photographs of foreign fighters and their families in the custody of the Afghanistan government.

Ms. Sampath told journalists here on Monday that the woman in the video was her daughter. She said she would move the Central government to ensure Fathima’s return. ‘I am seeing my daughter alive for the first time after she left me,” she said.

Legal hurdles

Officials said Fathima could face formidable legal hurdles to return to civilian life in the country.

The NIA is investigating her on charges of violating the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Indian Passport Act. Moreover, security agencies are wary of allowing former IS members into society out of fear that they could radicalise others.

The police said that Central agencies had flagged the possibility that Sonia Sebastian, 33, alias Ayisha, a resident of Kasargod, who had joined the IS along with her husband in 2014, could be with Fathima.

Officials said that Fathima and Sonia were among several Keralites who had left in groups to join the IS in Syria and Afghanistan during the 2014-16 period.

Online mobilisers of the IS appeared to have convincingly sold them the allure of living in an idealistic Islamic State-run caliphate.

The “IS defectors” from Kerala were mostly a zealous amalgam of recent converts and hardened Islamists, many of them skilled workers, an official said.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 12:25:52 PM |

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