By Mohammed Anas
8th Aug 2015
Muslims Get Active to Save Youth from Extremism, ISIS
The Ministry of Home Affairs, which plans
to engage the Muslim community to prevent the possible radicalisation of their
youth by the terror organisation Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, may find
several volunteers, as scores of Muslims are already on the job. Various Muslim
fora are actively countering extremist ideologies and promoting the soft or
Sufi brand of Islam among the Muslim youth.
In the wake of a US intelligence revelation
about ISIS planning to recruit youngsters from India, the MHA announced this
week that it is planning a "blueprint" to counter the radicalisation
of the youth and stem the possible spread of ISIS in India. In the process, it
"will also engage people from the Muslim community for the same".
A Rajasthan-based group called Sufi Muslim
Youth Association has started an online contest to promote Sufi Islam and
highlight the ills of the extremist Salafi ideology. It is run by a young man
called Aneeque Usmani from Didwana district and is supported by many Islamic
experts and clerics such as Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, Qazi Ayub Ashrafi and Deedar
"We have started a question-answer
series on the Sufi side of Islam, where we ask youngsters questions on simple
things about Islam and the life of Prophet Mohammed, which highlight the
universality of his message. Those who garner the maximum points in this
contest are rewarded with encouraging prizes. We opened this all India contest
on WhatsApp last week," said Usmani, who also claims to organise other
Sufi activities in various places in Rajasthan, spreading the message of
communal harmony and about the all-encompassing nature of Islam among the
Similarly, a renowned cleric from Uttar
Pradesh, Syed Md Ashraf Ahmed Kichouchvi, who heads the All India Ulema and
Mashaikh Board, is challenging the spread of Wahhabi and other extremist
ideologies in India with missionary zeal. Three years ago, he organised an
all-India conference to denounce Wahhabism. He said that extremist ideologies like
Wahhabism are anathema to India's composite culture.
"Youngsters who are fed Wahhabi
thoughts tend to be intolerant towards people of other sects and other
religions. In recent times, youngsters have even turned towards militancy under
the influence of such indoctrinations. We urge the youngsters that whenever any
Maulana, however influential he may be, tries to coax them to turn to violent
means against their state, they should immediately be reported to the police.
They are dangerous for Indian society and should be opposed," said Ashraf.
His nephew Syed Babar Ashraf is working among New Delhi's youth on similar
Members of Khudai Khidmatgar lead a
The Delhi-based group Khudai Khidmatgar has
revived Frontier Gandhi Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan's mission to work towards
communal harmony and promote the softer sides of all religions, especially
Islam. When asked whether they had read reports that terror groups like ISIS
were recruiting people, members of the group said they had only heard about it
in some news reports.
"But you can see we are regularly
recruiting the Muslim youth from campuses, localities and madrasas. You can
browse our Facebook page and see how every week, new members join. We are a
growing caravan," said Hasan, a member of the group.
Among the various online fora, newageislam.com,
a web portal run by Muslim scholar Sultan Shahin, is collecting
different scholarly works on various radical ideologies prevalent among Muslims
to build up a counter narrative. Shahin said that some extremist ideologies
have found place in religious discourses delivered in madrasas, which has to be
countered through rigorous reforms in madrasa education.
People connected with anti-Taliban
Pakistani scholars like Tahir ul Quadri and Javed Ahmed Ghamidi also organise
talks and let people know about their lectures on countering "Jihadi Fatwas".
Even mainstream Muslim organisations like
the Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind, All India Imam Organisation, All
India Ulema Mashaikh Board and All India Majlis e Mushawarat, etc., have openly
urged Muslims to condemn the activities of ISIS and other militant outfits
operating in the name of Islam.
Meanwhile, a trip to various seminaries and
Muslim localities in Delhi by this correspondent revealed that Muslims do not
have anything positive to say about this dreaded outfit. Rather, people are
appalled at what they have heard about the group. Even the Urdu press, which
had shown some sympathy towards the ISIS when it had come to the limelight one
and a half years ago, now carries news items reporting the atrocities,
committed by the group, and opinion pieces calling the ISIS "one of the
most evil dangers to Muslim society in present times".
When this correspondent contacted the
office of the deputy secretary in MHA to know how the ministry was planning to
engage Muslims for the de-radicalisation of the youth, an official said that
the ministry was aware of the work being done by newageislam.com and Khudai Khidmatgar
and would try to contact such organisations.
Hyderabad Muslim Youth Most Vulnerable
To ISIS Propaganda
By S Rama Krishna
threat of radicalisation of thousands of educated Muslim youth from the Old
City of Hyderabad is becoming a cause for worry for the authorities. The youth
from the Old City, which accounts for over 28 Lakh Muslim population within a
congested area of 30 sq km, are considered soft targets by the ISIS moles. In
terms of the number of youth suspected to be in touch with extremist outfits
within and outside India, Hyderabad tops the list as the most vulnerable in the
country, while Telangana, as a state, ranks third after Uttar Pradesh and
Maharashtra, say sources in the Telangana Home Department. The other affected
states are: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal, Delhi, Jammu &
Kashmir, Bihar, Assam and Andhra Pradesh.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is setting up
a key surveillance-cum-monitoring centre in Hyderabad to check efforts by the
ISIS to spread its tentacles here. Two or more such centres will be set up in
other parts of the country. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of
the vulnerable states held by the MHA in New Delhi on 1 August, according to
As many as 12 states attended the meeting
chaired by Home Secretary L.C. Goyal. The Centre, after taking inputs from the
states, particularly Telangana, will involve different anti-terror agencies to
track down the movements of the youth and unearth the conspiracies hatched by
them, sources in Telangana home department told this newspaper. It was decided
that the centre in Hyderabad will be the hub of coordination among four
different agencies — IB (Intelligence Bureau), Research and Analysis Wing
(RAW), National Investigation Agency (NIA), National Technical Research
Organization (NTRO) and Telangana police.
A team of 15 policemen is tracking the activities
of around 200 persons with possible connections with different ISIS moles in
Hyderabad. Most of these moles are from SIMI, Harkat-ul-Jihad, and Indian
Mujahideen (IM). The role of Hyderabad based outfit Dargah Sadat Jihad is also
being monitored by the police.
So far, neither has any Old City youth been
arrested, nor has any case been registered even against those who were caught
while trying to flee Hyderabad to join the ISIS in the last one year. "Not
arresting these youth is part of our strategy. Having the intention to join
ISIS may not be a crime. We caught seven youth from Hyderabad in the last one
year after it became clear that they had ties with the ISIS, but we let them
off," Hyderabad police commissioner M. Mahender Reddy told The Sunday Guardian.
One of these youth is Md Salman, a former
Google employee, who was caught at Shamshabad airport while trying to go to
Turkey to join the ISIS.
The Hyderabad police's counter-terror wing
is keeping a tab on the movements of around 200 youth, who are suspected to
have been in touch with ISIS modules all over the world.
The ISIS moles first distribute literature
and circulate ideological material on the internet and encourage fresh college
graduates and even younger students to go through them. This literature is
related to what extremists describe as injustice done to Muslims by
non-Muslims, sources said.
After that they lure the youth into joining
the ISIS abroad, by saying that their services are needed for the cause of
Islam and sticking to their careers or jobs is a betrayal of the larger cause.
The moles then extend financial and logistical help to those who are ready to
join the ISIS ranks.
The intelligence agencies have identified
two routes that these youth take to go abroad: one is through India's border
with Pakistan in J&K and Punjab, and the other is the border with
Bangladesh in West Bengal. The youth are offered two tasks — one is to fight
abroad in either Iraq or Syria, or to come back to India and carry out attacks
for the cause of ISIS.
"One youth was told by a mole that God
gave Arab countries oil, but the US and NATO forces were taking away Muslim
wealth and every Muslim youth should fight this," said a senior police
officer who questioned the youth who tried to join the ISIS.
Charges of shielding the moles have been
levelled against Asaduddin Owaisi's All India Majlis-e-Ittehad ul Muslimeen
(AIMIM), which is the dominant political party in the Old City. The police are
yet to look into this angle. However, AIMIM spokesman Syed Ameen Jaffri said
that the Owaisis never supported the ISIS. "Our leader had condemned the
ISIS openly and we only work for the uplift of the Muslims in the
country". Asaduddin Owaisi, MP and party president, has condemned the ISIS
as a "gang of rapists and murders".
Telangana Home Minister N. Narasimha Reddy
justified the soft approach adopted by the police while dealing with the youth
who tried to join the ISIS. "We will counsel the youth and their parents
about the dangers of joining hands with ISIS elements. There is no point in
arresting and torturing them as there can be a backlash, as we have seen in the
case of the TADA accused in the past," he said.
Wants States to Handle the ISIS-Struck Gently
By Abhinandan Mishra
Ministry of Home Affairs, worried over the increasing instances of Muslim youth
being radicalised by the ideology of the ISIS, has asked different state
governments to handle these youth with great care and not to use
"aggravated" force on them.
According to sources in the MHA, at least
50-60 youth from different parts of the country were brought under surveillance
after it emerged that they had established contacts with ISIS operatives with
the intention of either going to Iraq or to extend support to the terrorist
"Either we could arrest them, call
them for questioning or provide counselling by involving their parents and
community members in order to wean them away from the ISIS. Right now the
stress is on the second option as we feel that they have not still reached the
point of no return. We have told the state governments that arrests should be
the last option in such cases," said an MHA official. Officials said that
arresting these youth would further push them towards the ISIS and will lead to
more fascination for the ISIS. "Most of these youth are in the age of
20-25 years and are very vulnerable to propaganda. We have asked the security
agencies to keep a close tab on them so that we can stop them from moving
further towards the ISIS. However, if someone has decided to give his life for
the 'cause', then we cannot do much and we will then have to act
accordingly", the official stated. At a high level meeting chaired by Home
Secretary L.C. Goyal on 1 August, and attended by officials from
"sensitive" states including Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra
Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Kerala, Assam, Punjab and Delhi inputs
generated by the Intelligence Bureau and RAW regarding the growing fascination
for the ISIS among the youth was discussed. The officials were also given
presentation about how the ISIS was using various social media platforms to
lure the youth into its fold.
In a related development, the NIA has been
provided with next generation snooping software tools through which the agency
will track the online fora and chat rooms frequented by ISIS supporters to try
and prevent Indian citizens from getting radicalised. The agency has set up a
special cell to monitor different chat sites and share the information thus
collected with other security agencies and the state police.