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SOURCE: THE WEEK

Four Indian nationals were deported from the UAE in mid-December on account of their association with Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP). 

The deported individuals have been identified as Safvan Achummade, Mohamed Anansh, Risvan Biriyathmade and Basam Shamsuddeen, all residents of Kasaragod in Kerala. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is learnt to have interrogated these men, in their 20s, after they landed in Kerala, and released them after hours of questioning. No terror charges have been slapped against them, but the sleuths found that they were radicalised.

Achummade and the three others are not the first ones to migrate to the ISIS lands. The biggest case of radicalisation and influence of ISIS ideology came to light when 21 Keralites left the country, led by Abdul Rashid Abdullah, to fight the war for IS and found themselves on the ”wanted” list of NIA.

Two years later, as some of the IS radicalised are still being deported from gulf countries, investigators said despite efforts by law enforcement agencies to de-radicalise youth and prevent them from falling prey to the IS ideology propagated on the internet, the trend is continuing.

The four deported youth, in their confession to sleuths, revealed that they belonged to religious families and got radicalised after they came in contact with Ashfaq Majeed, who had established a group called ‘Majmuatu Mujahid’ (group of Mujahid). Majeed , who also hails from Kasaragod, is learnt to have left the country and joined IS Khorasan in 2016 with wife and cousins Ijas and Shihas. According to the NIA, he left through Mumbai airport and later sent a message on Telegram confirming the news.

All four deportees were allegedly part of this group. Investigators said besides Ashfaq, Ijas, Shihas Kallukettiya Purayil alias Abu Bara, two others—Hafesuddin T.K. and Nizamuddin Pottachira—were part of the core group of the Mujahid and they were referred to as ‘Valiyachan’ (paternal uncle).

Investigators said after Ashfaq shifted to Afghanistan, he was given responsibility to look for prospective cadres and he started contacting the four deportees through Facebook. ”The sole purpose of the group was to infuse jihadi ideology and turn them against the Indian government,” said an official.

The deportees were assured the logistics would be taken care of. A senior government official said that even though the ISIS has been territorially defeated, the evolving terror landscape in the Af-Pak region is being manipulated by the Pakistan ISI to increase the ISKP cadre strength by radicalising Indian youth belonging to the minority community and the recent case of deportation of the youth is an example of the continuing threat.

It may be recalled that many who had left the country to join IS in the past and later extradited or deported have denied carrying out any terror activities. The same appears to be happening in the case of the four recent deportations. But the threat from radicalisation exists and is far more difficult to cure, said investigators who questioned the four youth and sent them home for now.