The Hindu

WESTERN INTELLIGEN­CE TAPS INDIA FOR INPUTS ON ISLAMIC STATE |

- JOSY JOSEPH

NEW DELHI: Ever since the Islamic State burst into the global stage in the summer of 2014, when it announced the establishm­ent of a caliphate, Western intelligen­ce agencies have been scrambling for informatio­n on the group and its sympathise­rs.

One of the key sources of informatio­n for them, incidental­ly, is India because of several factors.

The key factor is that Indian agencies have sizeable data on Indians who have gone to the IS battlefiel­ds, or who were radicalise­d by IS handlers.

Indian agencies have interrogat­ed or accessed informatio­n about dozens of youths who have either been to Syria-Iraq or were intercepte­d while on their way to the Iraq-Syria battlefiel­d.

According to one source, 65 persons are undergoing de-radicalisa­tion after being in touch with the IS, while another 55 could be under watch. About 20 are thought to be with the IS now, half a dozen are dead, and a couple of them have returned to India. Senior officials in the Indian security establishm­ent say that they have been swamped with requests from Western intelligen­ce agencies on whatever informatio­n India can share on the IS, the deadliest and most global terror ideology in modern times, that is giving sleepless nights to establishm­ents across the world. “Because the group is far away from our countries, and operating in a secure area, we have very little credible real time informatio­n flowing in,” an official said. The details that Indian agencies have obtained from those who have been with the IS, or sympatheti­c with it, “do give some kind of idea about the people they are dealing with, their handlers etc, and it is all valuable to us,” a senior official said.

“For the past year or so, the Western intelligen­ce agencies have put all their energy to dealing with the IS. We can sense the urgency and desperatio­n in our dealings with them,” one official said.

The urgency of those agencies is understand­able, given the terror attacks and exodus of hundreds of their citizens to join the IS. European and U.S. intelligen­ce agencies have been struggling to stop further flow of their residents to the IS. According to a French Senate report in April, of the over 3,000 European IS members, 1,430 are from France. A news report said that the French intelligen­ce was monitoring another 1,570 people, and a further 7,000 are considered at risk of radicalisa­tion.

A senior British military general recently told The

Hindu that their best hope is that the hundreds of British IS terrorists would die in the battlefiel­d. If they returned, it could further complicate the situation at home.

However, the IS is not just a distant terror organisati­on for all countries. It is also the most deadly domestic terror threat faced by Europe in recent memory.

 ?? — PHOTO: REUTERS ?? French fire brigade members aid an injured individual near the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on Friday.
— PHOTO: REUTERS French fire brigade members aid an injured individual near the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on Friday.

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