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An unstable Pakistan is a source of indirect threat to its immediate neighbours and the region. When the Taliban attained power for the first time in 1996, there was an animated debate in the political and journalistic circles in India about whether the rise of a terrorist organization in far-off Afghanistan could be a threat to Indian democracy and secularism. Thereafter, the great debate shifted to Al Qaeda when Osama bin Laden established his headquarters in the region of Waziristan. Even the conservative opinion was that Al Qaeda’s successful resistance to the American onslaught could endanger the security of India.
The reason for the fear of the baleful consequences of political turmoil in a neighbouring volatile region, notorious for its warlike people, lay in the concept of the Islamic Caliphate. This project did not arise only with the emergence of ISIS, it was all along nurtured by the Pan-Islamists who had become active in India during what is called the Khilafat Movement of the early 20th century. Gandhi also was one of the staunch supporters of the movement.
The Muslims in the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent considered the dismemberment of the Ottoman empire at the hands of the Western powers, particularly Great Britain, not only a defeat but also humiliation. They vowed to avenge it.
The smell of oil around 1905 in the Gulf region and the technology of oil production and exploitation controlled by the Europeans and Americans also created a lurking suspicion in the minds of the Muslims that their natural resources were at risk of being looted by outsiders. Nobody had then anticipated the great role which oil diplomacy would play in shaping the world economy. Of course, regional and international diplomacy was largely impacted by the emergence of a critical energy resource in the Gulf region.
Pan-Islamism received a boost and radical Islam began to assert itself when there appeared dissensions within the Saudi monarchy. The Western powers supported the Saudi monarchy and earned the ire of the opposition. This was the beginning of the uprising among the extremist Islamists. In different Muslim countries, it took different names and shapes. Egypt saw the rise of the Islamic Brotherhood (al Ikhwan), and Iran fell to the Shi’ite revolutionary movement headed by Ayatollah Khomeini. Much earlier, the Ali Brothers and later on Allamah Maududi had raised the banner of global Islam.
The ouster of Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi from Iran in 1979 and the rise of Khomeini-ism heralded the rise of the entire Muslim ummah against the Western world and the US. The US was gleeful when the USSR moved its troops to Afghanistan. It was a heaven-sent opportunity for the Americans to weaken the Soviet enemy. Incidentally, the man at the helm in Pakistan at that time was the one whom the Americans wanted. Zia of Pakistan did not only become a conduit for supplying vast quantities of American arms and ammunition to the Afghan resistance force, but he also played a significant role by giving a great fillip to the madrasahs which produced a generation of indoctrinated fanatics, the predecessors of the Taliban. America did not forecast that patronizing the extremists would boomerang one day.
The terror attack of 9/11 changed the world. The US was attacked by the Islamists within its territory. Radical Islamists had flexed their muscle. The moles were discovered in distant Asiatic countries. Af-Pak was identified as the seat of international terrorism and Osama bin Laden was reported to have moved from Afghanistan to his new destination and operational headquarter for Al Qaeda in Waziristan. American bombing in Waziristan and hot pursuit of the ground forces forced Osama to shift his hiding place and the ISI generously offered him a residence not far from the GHQ. Finally, with the help of Pakistani agencies, the US Marines reportedly shot him dead in his house and consigned his remains to the waters of the ocean.
The rise of ISIS in West Asia and its activities in the Syro-Iraqi region are well known and need no retelling but the buildup of the Islamic State Khurasan Province (ISKP) in South Asia, particularly in India, is a cause of much concern. The group’s use of propaganda and recruitment tactics targeting vulnerable individuals leads to the radicalization of youth and the perpetration of violent acts.
The Kerala Files film has taken the lid off the covert activities of the ISKP agents in that State. They carry out an agenda of conversion of Hindu and Christian youth to the Islamic faith and then send them to Afghanistan to join the ranks of the ISKP which is fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
ISKP belatedly acknowledged the responsibility for the Coimbatore and Mangalore blasts last October and November. The good luck was that these blasts did not cause any significant loss of life as must have been intended by the culprits. Nevertheless, it was a clear indication that the terrorist organization harboured a large-scale destabilisation plan for India, intended to trigger the Ghazvatu’l Hind meaning the Indian Battle/Campaign.
It will be recalled that a year ago when stone-throwing tactics were carried out by the Kashmiri youth at the behest of pro-Pakistan agencies, the ISIS black flags spelling out the Kalima were shown fluttering in the hands of Kashmir Valley youth. The grapevine had it that each stone pelter was paid five hundred rupees in wages for one day of stone pelting. Kashmir Jamaat e Islami, which was responsible for the stone-throwing agenda, did not condemn or criticise the waving of ISIS flags in public.
Founded eight years ago, the ISKP’s goal was to establish an Islamic Caliphate in Afghanistan. However, the return to power by the Taliban in August 2021 created a complex security situation in the turbulent region. It boosted the spirit of the volunteers to win more laurels for the terrorist organisation. The Taliban have seldom shown resentment at the idea of the resurgence of the Islamic Caliphate but the difference lies in the Taliban adhering to strong Afghan tribal nationalism as opposed to the Caliphate concept.
ISIS reaches the Muslim youth through propaganda and fieldwork. That is what we have seen in Kerala. Taking advantage of the vulnerability of a large segment of Indian Muslims, ISIS has spread its tentacles among the Indian youth. Though it is radically opposed to a democratic dispensation, ISIS is misusing the Indian democratic system to run its ulterior agenda of converting India into a Muslim-majority State.
Indian Muslims have the highest population growth rate among all communities in India. They reject every initiative for birth control calling it a repudiation of the law of God.
In the recently held elections to the Karnataka Assembly, the Bajrang Dal card was used to dissuade Muslim voters from casting votes in favour of the BJP. ISIS knows that the Bajrang Bali Dal is a negligible factor in comparison to ISIS or other Islamic terrorist organizations; its followers don’t carry weapons, don’t preach animosity against any particular community or faction and are mostly dedicated to social service to the Hindu community in India.
Lastly, the Indian nation has to understand that ISIS, the Pakistani ISI and certain Chinese agencies are cultivating anti-India elements within the Indian Hindu community to work as their agents and propagate their agenda. Some of these subversive activists have become so bold as to openly declare their allegiance to the enemies of India. The Indian nation will have to consider this serious situation.