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India and the Prospect of Daesh Threat

Monday, June 13, 2016

Farzad Ramezani Bonesh
Researcher and Expert on Regional Issues

The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group claimed about two years ago that it would establish a global caliphate, adding that it was planning to consolidate its presence in other parts of the world. Therefore, after conquering certain territories in Iraq and Syria and establishing its position there, the group sent out branches to Libya, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Jordan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Southeast Asia and Western Africa. The group has been also trying in the past couple of years to secure a foothold in India. In doing this, Daesh has so far released messages in local languages including Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati and Tamil over social networks. The group has also posted videos in which coexistence between Indians and Hindus in India has been scoffed at. It seems that Daesh is making plans to carry out operations in India and while criticizing Indian Muslims for accepting to coexist with Hindus, it has been encouraging them to migrate to those parts of Syria and Iraq which are under the control of Daesh.

In fact, during the past two years, various world media have been pointing to the possibility of the presence of Indian nationals among the ranks of Daesh. Later on, videos were released showing a group of radical Indians joining Daesh, which when combined with the apprehension of some Indian citizens for having ties with Daesh, proves the presence of Indian nationals among the ranks of the terrorist group. Radical Indian members of Daesh have also chosen social networks to post messages addressed at Indian youths in order to encourage them to join the terrorist group. Moreover, Abu Salman al-Hindi, a Daesh commander of Indian stock, along with militant group known as the Indian Mujahideen, has already trained more than 12 groups of militants to join Daesh. To make the situation worse, the Daesh terrorist group has announced in Bangladesh that it will carry out attacks targeting India. In the meantime, the Indian offshoot of Daesh has sent a threatening letter to the country’s prime minister and minister of defense, saying that it plans to avenge Muslims who were killed by the Indian government during unrest in the country’s western state of Gujarat.

A review of New Delhi’s approach to Daesh would reveal that Indian citizens are undoubtedly active in the ranks of this terrorist group and some of them, like Abu Anis, developed the groups messaging network. In addition, reports about Indian citizens joining extremist groups and Indian citizens being present as members of Daesh have stirred concerns among Indian officials, because India has not been immune to attacks by extremists in past years and activities of such groups have continued in this country during preceding years.

India’s National Bureau of Investigation conducted anti-terror operations in January 2016 in which it nabbed some active members of the Daesh terrorist group. It had already busted three groups affiliated with Daesh in India, along with Mohammed Shafi Armar alias Yousuf al Hindi, who was among key commanders of Daesh in Syria. Although some reports denoted that he was killed in previous years, conflicting reports said he was in India recruiting for Daesh. During the past two years, the Indian government has blocked many Internet sites said to be supporting Daesh. In addition, the government has banned oil trade with all groups and organizations affiliated with Daesh in line with the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions, and has also made great efforts to prevent recruitment of Indian citizens by Daesh and curtail the group’s presence in India.

What is obvious is that the growing influence of Daesh in Iraq and Syria and continued recruitment of new forces by this group has caused great concerns in India. Although India enjoys an established democratic system, if radical Indians join Daesh, it would be a great risk to a country like India, because New Delhi has been already feeling the threat of Daesh as the group is becoming more active in Afghanistan and also as a result of geographical proximity of Afghanistan to India. In addition, if Daesh gains more ground in Pakistan, it can hit India’s interests there. On the other hand, the India-controlled part of Kashmir in northern part of India has turned into an arena for independent seeking groups and clashes have been going on in this region since many years ago, which can increase concerns about the possible rise of Daesh among people in the Indian-administered Kashmir. This is why the government of India has already accused Pakistan of supporting Daesh in 36 bases on its soil, which are used to train Daesh terrorists in order to infiltrate into India and create a new base in the disputed Kashmir region.

Apart from this, Indians, especially Indian Muslims, make up part of the working force employed in the Persian Gulf littoral countries. About seven million Indian workers are in the Persian Gulf region, which make up the biggest working community in regional countries, including about two million in Saudi Arabia, 1.75 million in the United Arab Emirates, and 500,000 in Qatar. Due to presence of Daesh and declaration of the Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria, Indian officials are now concerned about recruitment of Muslim laborers in the Persian Gulf countries by Daesh and their subsequent return to India. Despite these facts, the Indian interior minister has recently announced that India’s Muslim community is against Daesh terrorists, and Daesh is not a major threat to the country. On the other hand, more than 1,000 Muslim clerics in India have issued a fatwa or religious decree, announcing that measures taken by Daesh are against the fundaments and principles of Islam.

However, presence of Daesh in India has caused New Delhi to feel a serious security threat from spread of this terrorist group to the entire region and this feeling is justifiable due to India’s neighborhood with Pakistan, whose Muslim population is around 200 million, and Bangladesh, with a Muslim population of about 180 million, and also in view of the presence of 160-200 million Muslims in India. It must be also noted that close to 70 percent of Muslims in India are Sunnis following Hanafi School and the rest are Shia Muslims. Therefore, at a time that Islam is the second largest religion in India and the country enjoys the world’s second largest Shia population, presence of Daesh can have dire security consequences and further widen various ethnic and religious gaps that exist in the Indian society.

Key WordsIndia, Daesh, Threat, Global Caliphate, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Southeast Asia, Western Africa, Gujarat, New Delhi, United Nations Security Council, Resolutions, Persian Gulf, Indian Workers, Pakistan, Muslim Population, Bangladesh, Religious Gaps, Abu Salman al-Hindi, Ramezani Bonesh

Source: International Peace Studies Center
http://peace-ipsc.org/
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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*Photo Credit: AP

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