Kochi: Kerala groups that support international terrorist organisations on social media are being monitored by the central intelligence agencies.
The groups mostly support IS and al Qaeda, according to the agencies.
In addition to Facebook and Instagram, such groups are also operating using apps such as Hoop, TamTam, Riot and RocketChat, the agencies found in an investigation done with the help of ethical hackers and entities working in the field of data security.
Central agencies say Ansar Ghazwar ul-Hind, a sub-branch of al Qaeda that has a presence in Jammu and Kashmir, is active on social media and has accounts registered in Kerala for propaganda. The IS has also started campaign channels exclusively for India, they say.
Even though such groups have been repeatedly banned by Instagram and Facebook and removed from the platforms, they rename themselves and reappear. Group members use accounts that are in fake names, the agencies say.
Telegram recently removed some channels of The Resistance Force (TRF), an extremist group operating in Kashmir with the support of Pakistani terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba. Agencies found that these channels later moved to ‘Hoop’ and ‘Wire’.
UN warning proved helpful
The arrests of three al Qaeda operatives in Kerala confirms a warning issued in a report by the United Nations two-and-a-half months ago.
The international agency’s committee that monitors global terrorism said in its 26th report such groups had presence in Kerala and Karnataka.
According to the report, Hind Wilayah, the Indian operations of the IS, has 180-200 members. The same report had also said that al Qaeda’s operations in India were under the control of the Taliban operating from the Helmand, Kandahar and Nimruz provinces in Afghanistan.
International links suspected in collectorate blast
The arrests of the al Qaeda terrorists strengthens the suspicion that international terrorist groups were behind the blast at the Ernakulam collectorate 11 years ago.
Agencies found out that the main culprit who had planned the collectorate blast had crossed over to Afghanistan and two others had gone into hiding in the Gulf region.
Although information about them was passed on to Interpol, it didn’t help in tracing the culprits.
The discovery that one of those arrested on Saturday has been living in Perumbavoor for 10 years indicates that international terrorists were present in the district even a decade ago.
Investigators also learned that some of the co-accused in the collectorate blasts were hiding in neighbouring states.