Did Kerala govt ignore intelligence report on IS recruitment?

Did Kerala govt ignore intelligence report on IS recruitment?
Representational image

Kollam: The Kerala government likely ignored a report by intelligence agencies that sought for measures to stop Keralites from being recruited to terror outfit Islamic State (IS), according to the report.

The intelligence report submitted months ago comes to light even as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted searches in Kerala after it emerged that Sri Lanka blasts mastermind Zahran Hashim had strong links in the state.

The report was made after the state intelligence agencies had carried out a probe into the reports that 10 people from two families in Kasaragod left for Yemen before last June. There were three women and five children in the group. A Kumbala native and family had travelled first to Mangalaru and Dubai, while a Bekoor native and his family had travelled from Kochi to Oman to reach Yemen. (Bekoor is in Uppala town in Kasaragod district.)

The report categorically stated that people aiming to join the IS first head to Yemen. It also had recommended stringent action against those helping them reach the strife-torn country.

The report called for strict monitoring of all those who helped in sending people to Yemen - individuals, groups, outfits and organisations. The intelligence wings of all police stations were asked to monitor their every activity and initiate prosecution proceedings against those recruiting people.

Some groups were circulating wrong information about life in Yemen, the report said, while adding that officials should inform the public about the real situation in the country via media.

Apart from the report, the state government also did not heed a September 2017 circular of the central government, seeking strict action based on the Indian Passport Act against the traffickers, it has now emerged.

The central government guidelines also required immediate confiscation or cancellation of the passport, if any move was detected to travel to Yemen. Stringent action, including filing of criminal case, was sought against travel agencies and shipping companies facilitating Keralites travelling to Yemen.

The Centre also instructed to file criminal cases against such international shipping companies and ban them from entering the Indian waters.

Islamist extremism gaining solid ground in Kerala

Onmanorama had reported in 2018 that Islamist extremism was gaining solid ground in Kerala, if intelligence reports of the state police were anything to go by. Sources said there were 'conscious and proactive' efforts to innocuously infiltrate the ranks of the police, thereby creating a 'clout group' which could, over time, provide tactical support to fringe elements acting against the state.

Sources in the state police, familiar with the recruitment of ideology-driven extremists, said Kerala was the choice-destination of IS middlemen after the trouble-torn Jammu and Kashmir. Officers said the middlemen had drafted the services of religious centres in at least two northern and one southern district to 'identify' and 'indoctrinate' impressionable youngsters who could be transported to countries like Syria and Yemen where the IS had a considerable presence.

The recruiters mostly lured the youth with repulsive and misinterpreted promise of 'a dream land in heaven' and the 'spring of eternal joy' (also in heaven). Liberal Islamist thinkers shunned the idea and said the Wahhabist elements (hardcore faction) was resorting to a blatant obliteration of facts and subversion of religious principles to recruit young men and women.

As on March 30, 2018, 90 Keralites were with the ISIS. Of this, 16 had been killed in raids by US and other forces fighting IS in various countries in the Middle East, since 2016. Of the 90, 21 were from Kasaragod and 38 from Kannur. At least 12 were from Bahrain.