(This was originally posted in Hindustan Times)
Concerned that the Islamic State is trying to spread its tentacles in India, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday appealed to the public to bring into its notice any such propaganda or radicalization on social media platforms.
The investigating agency also opened a hotline number — 011-24368800 — for all to inform about any such activities.
“Investigation by the NIA has revealed that IS (Islamic State) is trying to spread its tentacles in India through continuous propaganda online. Gullible youth are targeted on open social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Once a person shows interest, he or she is then enticed to communicate with online handlers based abroad using encrypted social media platforms,” the statement said. “Depending on the gullibility of the person, the handlers then use the person for uploading online content, translation of IS texts to local language, conspiracy, preparation of a module, collection of arms and ammunition, preparation of IEDs, terror funding and even attacks,” it added.
With the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan last month and subsequently releasing several prisoners linked to the Islamic State in Kabul, Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif, there appears to be an attempt to lure Indian youth through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, people familiar with the development said. According to the agency, most of the 150 Indians who joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria between 2014 and 2017 were radicalised by various recruiters on the internet.
The agency also said that it has so far arrested 168 people in 37 cases of terror attacks, conspiracy and funding which have been inspired by the IS ideology in the country. It said that charge sheets have been filed in 31 of the cases, the most recent of which was registered in June, and that 27 accused have been convicted after trial. At least eight from Kerala, who had joined the IS in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province in 2016, were among those recently freed from Afghanistan prisons, an NIA official said on condition of anonymity. While their present location is not yet known, it is suspected that they might try to enter India, the official added.