5 Arrested in India For Suspected Links to IS

Akash Vashishtha
New Delhi
160629-IN-is-arrest-620.jpg A guard stands outside the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in New Delhi, Jan. 12, 2016. NIA officers arrested five suspected Islamic State sympathizers on Wednesday.

After police arrested five suspected Islamic State (IS) sympathizers in the southern city of Hyderabad on Wednesday, Indian security observers said the government should take the threat seriously and not shrug off warnings of attacks.

The five arrested men, including a software engineer and his brother, were among 11 Indian Muslims held for questioning after raids conducted across Hyderabad’s old quarters early Wednesday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said. Firearms, ammunition, bomb-making material and currency were seized in the raids.

The agency claimed that with these arrests it uncovered an IS cell independent of the 30-odd previous IS-linked arrests. The cell allegedly was plotting attacks across Hyderabad.

“The government has to realize that there is clearly something wrong. Nationally adverse activities are taking place and IS is making inroads. Internal systems and policies need to be fixed,” retired Adm. H.C. Malhotra, a security analyst, told BenarNews.

Despite recent threats directed at India through propaganda apparently disseminated by IS, along with previous arrests, including those of some alleged recruiters, New Delhi consistently has dismissed the possibility of the Middle East-based extremist group gaining a foothold in the country.

“In India, religious fanaticism is not the problem. [The government] needs to first explore and attempt to understand the reasons for the increasing allegiance of Indians to such terror organizations and nip the problem in the bud,” Malhotra said.

‘Ample proof’

The pre-dawn raids in Hyderabad followed four months of surveillance, an NIA source told BenarNews.

“All of the 11 people picked up for questioning were grilled, and subsequently five of them were officially placed under arrest,” the source said, adding that Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani, a software technician, and his brother, Mohammed Ilyas Yazdani, a computer applications graduate, were the alleged leaders of the cell.

The source said the other six detainees likely would be freed later.

“The operation was primarily carried out by the NIA. The police only provided them with support. The raids were conducted in the southern part of the city. And we believe they [those arrested] were involved in activities related to the IS,” N. Koti Reddy, additional deputy commissioner of police (Hyderabad Task Force), told BenarNews.

“We have ample proof to show that the suspects were working for ISIS and also had direct connection with Syrian leaders,” an unnamed NIA official told Reuters, using another acronym for IS. Another official, NIA Inspector Gen. Sanjeev Kumar, said the men were recruited by an IS handler operating outside of India, without naming the country.

‘We can’t afford to neglect it anymore’

The arrests follow an apparent kill list of more than 4,500 individuals, including 285 Indians, purportedly released on June 23 by IS. In its propaganda material, it openly declared Hindu-majority India as an enemy country.

At least 23 Indians have left for Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the IS, according to Indian intelligence agencies. Of them, six have died in battle. About 30 others have been prevented from leaving the country to join the group, and more than 150 are under surveillance for showing leaning toward the outfit, officials said.

Public affairs commentator Amit Khemka described the situation as a worrisome trend.

“The Indian establishments have neglected (a growing support for IS) so far, but we can’t afford to neglect it any more. And the only long-term solution to this problem is to create a causative mechanism that enables you to understand the socio-economic and psychological aspects of these misguided youth who are supporting terror groups,” Khemka told BenarNews.


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