Indian IS members in Afghanistan using WhatsApp to recruit Kerala youth: India's intel

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: May 08, 2017, 03:23 AM IST
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The group apparently 211 members in one sweep, all of them from?the Trikkaripur region of Kasaragod. Photograph:(AFP)

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Some 200 people in Kasargod were added in the WhatsApp groups ||The group contained videos spreading IS' ideology ||Everyone added to the group hailed from Kasargod district ||Kasargod has been a fertile ground for IS to recruit fighters from India ||

Suspected Indian jihadists, who joined Islamic State in Afghanistan in 2015, have been trying to indoctrinate more people from the country's southern Kerala state, an unnamed intelligence source told The Indian Express.

The source said two WhatsApp groups were formed recently in which more than 200 young men and women received eight videos that purportedly spread IS' ideology. 

Interestingly, the IS operatives -- who all hail from Kerala's Kasargod district -- added potential recruits from the same region, which has gained notoriety for being a fertile ground for the Islamist group based in the Middle East.

“The youths living in Afghanistan are adding their friends and familiar names back in Kerala into the WhatsApp groups meant for circulating IS ideas. These groups are used for advocating a common theme —that the Islamic way of life is not possible in Kerala. Many youths from Kasaragod, home to most of the missing persons living in Nangarhar, have been included in the group by the admins suspected to be in Afghanistan. Sensing danger, most of the youths have left the groups. Some have complained to the police about messages from such groups,’’ the intelligence source said, the India-based daily reported.

The suspected pro-IS WhatsApp group first came to the police's attention on Friday, after a Kasargod resident informed them about him being added to one of the chat groups titled 'Message to Kerala'.

The administrator -- named Abu Isa -- is based out of Afghanistan, the source said, after having verified the location of the phone number.

Kasargod: Breeding ground for IS

Kasargod came under close scrutiny after at least 20 young men and women left India to join Islamic State in Afghanistan in 2015.

Well-educated people and even adolescent boys from the district had joined IS, Kerala's intelligence units had told WION.

Indian officials have been left bemused by people from Kerala joining Islamic State, especially as Islamist influence is comparably lower compared to the rest of country.

But one of the reasons being trotted out by observers in the state is that a small section of Muslims in the state want to practice the doctrine of Salafism.