Kochi, October 6: A very disturbing trend seems to be emerging in one of India’s most advanced states. Kerala, that has a 100% literacy rate, seems to have gone ahead with international relations of its own. However, if India, that has managed to establish a relatively clean slate in the world arena, is growing increasingly concerned about these latest trends emerging in Kerala. The state’s well-established connection to the gulf countries is something that is coveted throughout India, however, Kerala’s affinity to those countries might have just added a certain amount of additional baggage that is simply dangerous. We are, of course, referring to the growing influence of the dreaded terror outfit, The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its ideologies in Kerala.
Just yesterday, Members of an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria module were arrested in Kerala. The group revealed that they were planning to execute high court judges in the states and senior RSS leaders. The module that had a detailed list of targets are being investigated rigorously by the NIA. The threat came to light when intelligence agencies in Kerala alerted the state government about The Islamic State influenced group’s plans of killing two high court judges and some top RSS functionaries The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had since made six arrests. (ALSO READ: ISIS module inspired by Zakir Naik plans Nice like attack in Kochi, NIA thwarts attempt)
Just a day later, the National Investigating Agency has foiled another elaborate plan by the Islamic State-inspired module that intended to carry out a mass execution `a la Nice, France in the city of Kochi in Kerala. The main target was an all religion gathering in the city. The chief of the terror group is Manseed alias Omar-al-Hindi who had worked for 12 years as part of the intelligence wing of Popular Front India (PFI). The man had a strong hatred for RSS and its workers and as part of the PFI he regularly reported on the activities of the RSS and its workers in Kerala. The ISIS module had planned to murder people by using a heavy vehicle which would be rammed into a gathered crowd. This was an exact duplication of the modus operandi followed in Nice.
Omar-Al-Hindi began his “path” towards terrorism after he was expelled from PTI for marrying a woman from the Philipines. Following the expulsion, Al-Hindi relocated to Qatar and worked as a sales executive in Doha. However, about a year and a half back he surfed and was influenced by online discussions of Jihad. It was in a chat room that he encountered his Afghanistan-based handler Abu Aysha. Following this, the two put together a Facebook page called ‘Ansar-ul-Khilaaf’ that focused on recruiting pro-ISIS youth from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The group was on constant alert and kept changing members’ names to avoid detection. However, the module led by al-Hindi was being tracked by intelligence agencies for almost four to five months and the group was apprehended by the NIA just in time to prevent them from travelling abroad. The ISIS module is under rigorous investigation by the NIA as of now.(ALSO READ: Kerala: ISIS hit list had names of High court judges, top RSS leaders)
What is of utmost concern, however, is the known fact that these are not the only threats inflicted by ISIS and its ideology in Kerala. It is well known that a large number of people migrate from Kerala to gulf countries. Malayalees form a large part of the Indian expatriate community that lives and works in countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman and all other Gulf countries. This community is, however, largely exposed to the war waging in West Asia against Islamic State and an ideology based on hardline Islam. Muslims form 26.56% of the population of Kerala and it is this section of the Malayalee community in the Gulf that is most prone to this ideology of hatred that has been plaguing the Middle East.
The problem is not as simple as it looks. Though Kerala may be geographically distant from the Middle East, the effects are becoming increasingly real. More and more people in Kerala can be seen bringing in the cultural influences of the Middle East into Kerala. Quite a few men can be seen wearing the Thawb, the traditional white garb worn by men in West Asia. Similarly, the influence of the Arabic language in the state is growing exponentially in Kerala. Though these cultural differences may seem to be of minor significance, it should be kept in mind that these are signals that indicate a cultural affinity to a region that is highly polluted by the dangerous and medieval ideology of the Islamic State. (ALSO READ: Mumbai-based journalist Zuber Ahmed Khan threatening to join ISIS arrested in Delhi)
Though the influence might not be enough to force Malayalees to act against the country on impulse, there are others who play up the emotion pushing the population more towards to the Islamic State. This can be clearly seen in the case of the Islamic State module that has been recently busted. That the members of the ISIS module had a relation to the controversial Islamist cleric Zakir naik has surfed. All of the six members of the al-Hindi module spoke of Zakir Naik as a source of inspiration and declared that they were motivated by his speeches and social media posts. Zakir Naik is under investigation for instigating terrorism among the youth of various countries. Naik was deemed responsible by the Bangladesh government for fuelling the terrorist attack at a cafe in Dhaka. The effects of these influence may seem of little significance individually. However, Kerala and the country at large has to keep a hawkish lookout and protect the population from the influence of evil-doers while making sure that India’s economic growth progresses evenly upwards. The action and the pruning needs to happen fast before an indelible stain falls in the name of God that too in ‘God’s own country’.