Alienated youth running away to join the global jihad

Alienated youth running away to join the global jihad

News reports of radicalised Muslim youths from the country taking up ‘jihad’ particularly in Syria and Iraq are now regularly figuring in media, raising concerns as India has always taken pride in not exporting human resources for global terror machines.

The government doesn’t seem to have the exact number of such ‘missing’ alienated, gullible minority community youth given that different numbers are figuring in published articles.

But many of them quote that at least 18 Muslims are suspected to have gone to Iraq and Syria to fight the religious war.  
A few authentic instances reported include that of Haja Fakkurudeen and Arif Fayyaz. Fakkurudeen, 35, from Tamil Nadu wrote to his family confirming that he had joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria.

ISIS chief Abubakr Al-Baghdadi, who has called for establishing Caliphate in west Asia, had reportedly appealed to Muslim youth, essentially Sunnis from across the globe including India to join his outfit.

Similarly, Mumbai-based Ejaz Badruddin Majeed went public about his son Arif Fayyaz leaving for Iraq without their consent since he stated in a letter to their parents that “fighting has been enjoined upon you”. The engineering dropout student is suspected to be in Iraq along with three other residents of his locality in Kalyan.

The men -- Arif Fayyaz  Majeed, Fahad Tanvir Sheikh, Aman Naim Tandel and Shaheen Farooqi Tanki – in their formative years do not have criminal past but they perhaps reflect a growing breed of alienated youth radicalised through prolonged direct access to motivational audio and video materials through smart phones and internet.

The images and words play on their individual insecurities that lead to self-indoctrination. Before them, as per terrorism experts two Indian Mujahideen associates, Dr Shahnawaz and Sajid Bada  -- both belonging to Azamgarh and involved in terror strikes in the country – had been to Afghanistan to help Taliban fight against American led forces.

And last week, it was revealed that Anwar Beli alias Anwar Bhatkal, who belonged to coastal Karnataka region that is home to wanted terrorists Yasin Bhatkal and Riaz Bhatkal – fell to bullets in Afghanistan  
The security managers fear that the misguided but motivated lot can be an asset to Pakistan and other foreign nations to exploit them for their ulterior designs.

A senior intelligence officer said that Indian Mujahideen terrorist Mohammad Maroof is one of the latest examples of getting self motivated by reading stuff available on social media.

After his arrest, the Rajasthan based IM member told police that he wanted to go to Syria to wage Jihad against what he claimed the enemy of Islam but he was tuned to carry out blasts in the country when he came in contact with top leader Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu, since behind the bars. 
So far, the reaction of the intelligence agencies and anti-terror forces in states has been to mount surveillance on the radicalized youth families, fish on the internet to mask websites that are streaming provocative and objectionable videos and audios straight from the battle fields and that of fundamentalist leaders.

These steps in themselves may not be able to address a multi-layered problem that has socio-economic and political dimensions, apart from pent up feeling festering to acquire a law and order problem.

Global jihad

Muslim terrorism in the country has grown over the decades from the format in which aggrieved in the minority community becoming arsenal for Pakistan’s proxy war to now participating in a new global jihad – that has not ended as was believed with weakening of Taliban since the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Primary sources of self indoctrination that goaded many non-Kashmiri youth to join Pakistan backed militant outfits, including Lashkar e Toiba, Jaish e Maohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen, were initially Babri Mosque demolition and later the Godhra riots.

The fear of possibility of global terrorism getting imported into the country due to the offshore training of Indian Muslims youth can be more frightening as the intelligence agencies believe it can spread out into frequent sectarian clashes between Shias and Sunnis.

Horrifying is the latest move by Lucknow-based All India Shia Huzzaini Fund calling Shias to fill ‘Shahadat forms’ to fight alongside Iraq government supported militant outfits against Sunnis.

The organization claims 5,000 Shia Muslims had signed these forms meant for sacrificing their lives in Iraq.  Though the organisation denied it, intelligence officials said that the organization was luring them through prospective job offers with good remuneration.

The Shia-based organisation believes that the ISIS will eventually target India and rekindle passions for liberating Kashmir. Many countries are seized with the debate over radicalisation of Muslims as youth escape to Syria and Iraq to participate in war.

The Narendra Modi government should put in place a doctrine that would require multi-agency response similar to the ‘Prevent Strategy’ of Britain.

The umbrella approach could have a peace community in every states that would have on board respected leaders from community, social activists and government representatives to reach out to the disgruntled youths, sensitize police to undo their biases towards their minority communities, fair investigation and trial of terror cases and encourage families to wean their kids away from such influences that mesmerizes by propagating the fear of 'others'.

These steps could be part of ‘de-radicalisation’ strategy deputy National Security Advisor N Sandhu had suggested a couple of years back to top brass of police and other enforcement and intelligence agencies when he was Intelligence Bureau chief.

But, those suggestions to peep beyond police mindset to tackle growing terrorism, doesn’t seem to have matured into government’s course of action and perhaps just added more pages to a file on counter terror strategy.

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