While the state of Kerala has seen huge protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, one cannot miss the irony of the rise of radical Islam in the region
Kerala is one of the many states where the Citizenship (Amendment) Act would not have much of an impact. However, joining the bandwagon of those who are opposing the legislation, Kerala’s chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the CAA would not be implemented in the state.
Vijayan said that the BJP was executing the RSS agenda to divide the nation on communal lines. The statement is an ironic one considering the fact that the state of Kerala has the highest number of Islamic State recruits, the highest number of ISIS modules and over the years has become one of the most radical states in the country.
The problem of radical Islam:
The rise of the Wahhabis was the highest in Kerala and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. In Kerala, the Wahhabi preachers have managed to impose their thought and the menace has been fast spreading since the past 15 years.
The Kerala government has done little to control the spread of radical Islam and there have been several reports that make it clear that several mosques were taken over in Kerala by the Wahhabis, who came in from Saudi Arabia and pumped in crores of rupees.
The deadly cocktail of both Wahhabism and radical Islam have had its impact on several people. At a school in Mallapuram, the students approached their headmaster seeking a change of the biology teacher, as she was a woman.
Several parents of those who joined the ISIS told investigating agencies that they had started to notice a change in the behaviour of their children. Many opposed watching television, while others fought with their sisters, questioning their lifestyle etc. One of the main reason, why Kerala has contributed the highest number of ISIS recruits in the country is because of the spread of the Wahhabi ideology and the influence of Salafis.
Intelligence Bureau officers and officials with the National Investigating Agency tell MyNation that there is a mix of online Islam and Wahhabism. There are websites galore that preach a radical form of Islam and this has caught on to several youth in Kerala. Several Muslim youth who subscribe to this school of thought have become intolerant and aggressive, the officials also point out.
The government in the state has clearly failed to curb this menace and this has led several moderate Muslims to come forward and find a solution to this fast spreading poison in Kerala.
Officials statistics indicate that nearly 120 youth from Kerala have either joined or have tried to join the Islamic State. When the ISIS rose, Kerala and Tamil Nadu were the early contributors. Back in 2014, there were 17 Indians who had joined the ISIS of which 5 were from Kerala. Two years ago there was a major influx when 21 from Kerala joined the Islamic State in Afghanistan.
There are three ISIS modules that are active in Kerala- Kasargod module, Omar al-Hindi module and the Kannur module.
The Kasargod module is headed by Abdul Rashid, an engineer by profession. He has been accused of converting women and taking them to Afghanistan. In the chargesheet filed by the NIA, 14 persons from this module have been named. The NIA says that most of these module members were expelled from the Al-Quma Arabic College as they were propagating violent jihad and Islam. The NIA said that it was Rashid who worked to set up this module and had managed to rope in several persons.
The Omar al-Hindi module was set up to strike in various parts of South India. It works closely with local radical outfits. The NIA says that this module had plotted attacks on Jews near Kodaikanal. It also prepared a hit list of judges, police officers and rationalists. This module is being run by Shajeer Mangalassery. He had moved from UAE to Afghanistan in 2016 and set up this module in Kerala by contacting like-minded persons through social media and chat applications.
The Kannur module has nearly 50 recruits. During the interrogation of Shajahan Kandy, he told the NIA that he wanted to support the ISIS and also establish the Islamic Shariah Law in India. Most members of this module operated abroad in countries such as Syria, Turkey and Iraq. In 2017, the Turkish authorities had captured 5 members of this module while they were trying to cross over to Iraq.
One of the key members of the Kannur module is Taliban Hamsa. During his interrogation, he told the NIA that he had also created a sub-module at Wandoor. The intention was to recruit as many youth as possible and use them for attacks in India, Hamsa had also said.
The feeder outfits:
In addition to the major terror groups, there are also feeder outfits in Kerala. One such outfit is known as the Ansar-ul-Khilafa KL. This group was formed to identify youth and rope them into the ISIS.
This group has been active on the social media where it scouts for possible recruits. The NIA had busted this module and learnt that the group had also hatched a conspiracy at Kanakamala in Kannur. Further the NIA also arrested a key member of this group, Subhahani Haja Moideen, who had travelled to Iraq in 2015 and was part of the ISIS. He had then returned to India, where he managed to set up this group before his arrest.
There are several other smaller groups which have contributed largely to the radical school of thought. When the Wahhabis pumped in money, they insisted that new mosques are constructed like the way they are in Saudi Arabia. There was also a lot of money that was spent in taking over the administration of the already existing mosques. The intention was to introduce their school of thought and ensure that the youth follow the same.
It must be noted here that posters of Osama Bin Laden were plastered in Kerala following his death. While they mourned the death of Laden, a Mosque had even offered special prayers, the day Ajmal Kasab was hanged.
It is ironic when Vijayan speaks about how the CAA disturbs the secular fabric of the Indian Constitution. These radical elements in Kerala who follow the Shariat law and preach a violent form of Islam have had a free run and Vijayan has not been able to do much about it.
Officials say that the two key concerns in Kerala are radicalisation and Wahhabism.
IB officials have for over a decade flagged these concerns, but officials were weary to go ahead and act due to political interference. Officials say that the minority appeasement by successive governments in Kerala is what led to the explosion of this problem.
The NIA has now been given a free hand under the NDA government. The NIA has filed scores of cases and continues to do so. NIA officials explain, it is not an easy problem to deal with. Radicalisation is deeply infested in Kerala and it would take years before the entire system is cleaned up.
Last Updated 4:46 PM IST