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ISIS threat to India : how should India respond? Arun, Asim Kumar 2016

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  ISIS threat to India: How should India respond? by Asim Kumar Arun A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Asia Pacific Policy Studies)   THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  (Vancouver)    December 2016 © Asim Kumar Arun, 2016   ii  ABSTRACT This thesis traces the evolution of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its present geopolitical extent and identifies the major trends and strategic directions. It examines the official pronouncements about its intentions regarding India and analyses the threat and proposes a policy prescription. Today’s terrorist organizations, including ISIS, publish online magazines and videos stating their policies, strategies and, tactics. These original voices were studied to understand them. The US invasion of Iraq (2003) and the subsequent failure in creating a “democratic government” acceptable to the powerful Sunni minority led to strife and sectarian violence. Radical Islamists and leftover elements of Saddam Hussain’s military got together and created large scale insurgency eventually leading to the declaration of a “Caliphate” calling out to all the Muslims in the world to accept it and join the effort to extend it. Less than 30 Indians as compared to a total of 25,000 are known to have migrated to ISIS area. Even with all its aberrations, India’s resilience as a syncretic and inclusive society renders hijrat (migration) an unattractive option. But coming together of radicalized youth into a small terror modules and striking nearer home is a real and probable threat.  To protect itself, India should follow policies that integrate its Muslim community into the social mainstream. To prevent its people from getting radicalized through exposure to ISIS propaganda, the counter radicalization effort needs to be strengthened. The few persons who are known to have been radicalized but have not undertaken any kind of violence could be considered for softer deradicalization methods. By involving their family, friends and, community it is possible to bring these people back into normal domestic life. Attacks can still happen and the capability to deal with them must be enhanced by creating interdiction capabilities at the state and district levels. Finally, international terror requires measures across countries for which mechanisms for international cooperation must be created so that information, intelligence and, evidence flow seamlessly.    iii  PREFACE This thesis is an original work by Asim Arun. No part of this thesis has been previously published.   iv  TABLE OF CONTENTS   Abstract .............................................................................................................................ii Preface ............................................................................................................................. iii Table of Contents ..............................................................................................................iv List of Figures: .................................................................................................................. v Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................vi Introduction: ..................................................................................................................... 1 Chapter 1: Understanding ISIS ............................................................................................ 3 Rise of the ISIS .............................................................................................................. 3 ISIS World View............................................................................................................ 4 Indians in Sham ............................................................................................................. 8 Chapter 2: ISIS and India .................................................................................................. 10 Chapter 3: Policy Prescription: .......................................................................................... 14 Social Integration ......................................................................................................... 14 Counter Radicalization ................................................................................................. 16 De-Radicalization ......................................................................................................... 17 Develop Interdiction Capability at State and District level ................................................ 19 International Cooperation .............................................................................................. 20 Conclusion: ..................................................................................................................... 22 Bibliography: .................................................................................................................. 24     v  LIST OF FIGURES: Figure 1: ‘Why we hate you’ (Dabiq, 2016) ................................................................................... 5 Figure 2: ISIS Controlled  Territory (BBC 2016) ........................................................................... 7 Figure 3: Foreign Fighters by Region ............................................................................................. 9   vi  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS It is my proud privilege to thank my supervisor Dr Tsering Shakya for encouraging me and giving me a focused direction of research. As a person returning to academic life after a gap of two decades I could not differentiate academic work from journalistic writing. My professors, Dr Brian Job, Dr Paul Evans, Dr Julian Dierkes and, Dr Tsering Shakya taught me the academic method of learning, appreciation and, creation. I would like to thank them for handholding me into my academic pursuit. A lot of credit goes to my wife Jyotsna who supported me not just in the academic adventure but also the logistics that went into it. I thank my parents for encouraging me to resume studies and the University of British Columbia’s unique culture that motivates me to become a lifelong learner. Gratitude is due to the Government of India, my employer, for granting me study leave and funding the program.    INTRODUCTION: India has seen terrorism in a number of forms, chasing different objectives and at several places. A large scale insurgency has been running in its north- easterner part for decades and left-wing extremism affects seven of its states. It also saw Punjab face very degree of terrorist violence for a decade before it could be completely cured through strong political resolve and citizens’ support. It also faces regular attacks from terrorist organizations fighting in the name of Islam. The most prominent such attack took place on November 26, 2008 when India’s financial hub, Mumbai faced a string of bold attacks at 12 places including iconic locations like the Taj Hotel and CSM Terminus Railway station. Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan based terror group managed to send 10 fighters by boat to Mumbai where they attacked pre-identified targets in a well- planned and coordinated manner. It left 164 dead. 26/11, as it has come to be known, exposed India’s vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks. Foreign fighters unfamiliar with the city held it to ransom for four days and the National Security Guards had to be flown in from Delhi to neutralize them. Inadequacies of intelligence gathering and sharing, low or non-existent interdiction capability at the district level and, ineffectual contingency planning and execution are systemic weaknesses that have not been properly addressed even today. India remains as vulnerable to new emerging threat, ISIS. The ISIS is a unique terrorist organization. It is the first organization to enlist as many as 34 thousand fighters, about two thirds of whom are from neither Iraq nor Syria, its main area of operations. It is the envy of other Islamic terror groups, political organizations and Islamic countries for its self-declaration of a Caliphate.1 While ISIS imports fighters from the around the world, it also exports terror. India faces the threat of ISIS gaining positive understanding among its 172 million Muslims. The threat of people ‘migrating’ (hijrat) to Iraq and Syria for jihad is also a real one. The online recruitment campaign also seeks to radicalize Indian Muslim youth and organize them into                                             1 Sekulow, Jordan Sekulow, Robert W. Ash, David A. French, Jay et al. Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can't Ignore. 1st ed.,  Chapter 2: Rise of ISIS and the New Caliphate  2  violent groups. This thesis examines the extent of these threats in time and space by looking at the visible activity of ISIS in India and identifying general trends across the world. The thesis, then tries to offer a policy prescription for India. It looks at the strategies employed in other countries, the prevailing trends and, possible activities India can undertake to handle the ISIS threat.   3  CHAPTER 1: UNDERSTANDING ISIS  Rise of the ISIS After the US invaded Iraq in 2003, a number of Sunni extremists groups and leftover elements of Saddam Husain’s military initiated a resistance movement hoping to effectively resist the US by fomenting a sectarian civil war. The individuals now leading ISIS had earlier constituted Al Qaida in Iraq (AQI) and its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Zarqawi was killed in a US air strike in 2006 and soon after the AQI was almost entirely wiped out as Sunni tribes had decided to partner with the Americans to confront the jihadists.2 But AQI recovered from this defeat, it renewed itself in US run prisons inside Iraq, like Abu Ghraib, where a number of insurgents and terror operatives networked and chalked out their future.3 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was one such leader who, first, distinguished himself as a leader and then proclaimed himself the Caliph of the Islamic State and the group renamed itself ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah or Islamic State.4 ISIS is no longer conducting terrorist activities alone but has evolved into a military organization that is conducting conventional military operations in company and battalion formations, which was not the case with the way al-Qaida fought. ISIS specializes in using militarily untrained foreign volunteers as suicide bombers either moving on foot wearing suicide vests, or driving vehicles packed with explosives. Often more than one suicide bomber is used.5 Audrey Cronin contests that ISIS is no longer merely a terrorist organization, instead, it has grown into a pseudo state. One that controls sizeable territory, collects taxes, runs schools and hospitals and, has a well-organized media unit which manages media exposure using film as well as print media.6 Of late, September to November 2016, ISIS has lost a third of the territory it once controlled to US-Russian- Iraqi forces.7                                             2 Hashim, Ahmed S. "The Islamic State: From al‐Qaeda Affiliate to Caliphate." Middle East Policy 21.4 (2014): 69-83. 3 Warrick, Joby. Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS. Random House, 2015. 4 Cronin, Audrey Kurth. "ISIS Is Not a Terrorist Group." Foreign Affairs.  Web. 4 June 2016 5 McCants, William. The ISIS apocalypse: The history, strategy, and doomsday vision of the Islamic State. Macmillan, 2015. 6 Zelin, Aaron. "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has a consumer protection office." The Atlantic 13 (2014): 2014. 7 Mortimer, Caroline. “Isis Loses a Third of Its Territory in Syria and Iraq.” The Independent, 9 Oct. 2016, www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-territory-losing-syria-iraq-terror-jihadists-iraqi-forces-air-strikes-mosul-a7352401.html. (November 26, 2016) 4  It periodically releases videos and publishes a slick online magazine called Dabiq to explain its views, objectives and, thought.  ISIS World View In its first issue, Dabiq (ISIS’ online magazine) explained the ISIS’ stand on tawhid (monotheism), manhaj (methodology), hijrah (migration), jihad (holy Islamic war), and jama’ah (Islamic congregation). It talks about the name of the magazine, “It is taken from the area named Dabiq in the northern countryside of Halab (Aleppo) in Sham. This place was mentioned in a hadith (the oral traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) describing some of the events of the Malahim (what is sometimes referred to as Armageddon in English). One of the greatest battles between the Muslims and the crusaders will take place near Dabiq.”8 ISIS’ ideological propaganda is based on a myth that Allah’s Messenger had said, “The Hour will not be established until the Romans land at al-A’maq or Dabiq (two places near each other in the northern countryside of Halab). Then an army from al-Madinah of the best people on the earth at that time will leave for them. When they line up in ranks, the Romans will say, ‘Leave us and those who were taken as prisoners from amongst us so we can fight them.’ The Muslims will say, ‘Nay, by Allah, we will not abandon our brothers to you.’ So they will fight them. Then one third of them will flee; Allah will never forgive them. One third will be killed; they will be the best martyrs with Allah. And one third will conquer them; they will never be afflicted with fitnah (a broad term signifying temptation, strife, distress). Then they will conquer Constantinople. ISIS world view is that, “O Ummah of Islam, indeed the world today has been divided into two camps and two trenches, with no third camp present: The camp of Islam and faith, and the camp of kufr (disbelief) and hypocrisy – the camp of the Muslims and the mujahidin everywhere, and the camp of the Jews, the crusaders, their allies, and with them the rest of the nations and religions of kufr, all being led by America and Russia, and being mobilized by the Jews.”9                                             8 Dabiq, Vol 1, Introduction Pg 4 9 Dabiq, Vol 1, A Call to Hijrah, Pg 11 5  In Figure 1: ‘Why we hate you’ (Dabiq, 2016) this ideological backdrop, the ISIS exhorts Muslims to migrate to Sham (a broad area including Syria).10 11 They use the term hijrah (migration) which is a reminder of Prophet Mohammed’s own hijrah from Medina to Mecca. ISIS literature reads, “Therefore, rush O Muslims to your state. Yes, it is your state. Rush, because Syria is not for the Syrians, and Iraq is not for the Iraqis. The Earth is Allah’s. {Indeed, the earth belongs to Allah. He causes to inherit it whom He                                             10 McCants, William. The ISIS apocalypse: The history, strategy, and doomsday vision of the Islamic State. Macmillan, 2015. 11 Al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad. "The dawn of the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham." Current Trends in Islamist Ideology 16 (2014): 5. 6  wills of His servants. And the (best) outcome is for the righteous} [Al-A’raf: 128, Quran]. The State is a state for all Muslims. The land is for the Muslims, all the Muslims. O Muslims everywhere, whoever is capable of performing hijrah to the Islamic State, then let him do so, because hijrah to the land of Islam is obligatory.”  “We make a special call to the scholars, fuqaha (experts in Islamic jurisprudence), and callers, especially the judges, as well as people with military, administrative, and service expertise, and medical doctors and engineers of all different specializations and fields. We call them and remind them to fear Allah, for their emigration is wajib ayni (an individual obligation), so that they can answer the dire need of the Muslims for them. People are ignorant of their religion and they thirst for those who can teach them and help them understand it.” One of the prime goals of ISIS is the creation of a Sunni Islamic State. It has claimed itself as a Caliphate under its Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who claims his ancestry up to Prophet Mohammed. As the Caliph, he demands allegiance of all Muslims across the world, something existing Islamic governments fear. ISIS also believes that all religions who agree with democracy have to die.12 The logic being that humans cannot frame laws because Allah has already done that through his messenger in the form of Sharia.13 And this has scared many Islamic countries as the ISIS in its manifesto titled ‘This is the Promise of Allah’ claims, "The legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the Khilafah's authority and arrival of its troops to their areas."14  The entire propaganda of Jehad and apocalypse seems to be working positively for ISIS as the number of fighters landing in Iraq and Syria grows. The Soufan Group conducts a periodical assessment of foreign fighters coming into Syria and Iraq and has estimated that, in December 2015, between 27,000 and 31,000 people had traveled to join the Islamic State and other violent extremist groups from at least 86 countries. Their first survey in June 2014 had identified approximately 12,000 foreign fighters and nearly eighteen months later, despite sustained                                             12 Withnall, Adam. "Iraq crisis: Isis declares its territories a new Islamic state with 'restoration of caliphate' in Middle East." The Independent Independent Digital News and Media, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. 13 Withnall, Adam. "ISIS: The First Western Journalist Ever to Be given Access to the 'Islamic State' Has Just Returned – and This Is What He Discovered." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. 14 https://azelin.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/shaykh-abc5ab-mue1b8a5ammad-al-e28098adnc481nc4ab-al-shc481mc4ab-22this-is-the-promise-of-god22-en.pdf (Nov 4, 2016) 7  international effort to contain the Islamic State and stem the flow of militants traveling to Syria, the number of foreign fighters more than doubled.15  Figure 2 ISIS Controlled  Territory (BBC 2016)                                               15 FOREIGN FIGHTERS: An Updated Assessment of the Flow of Foreign Fighters into Syria and Iraq, The Soufan Group http://soufangroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/TSG_ForeignFightersUpdate3.pdf (Nov 29, 2016) 8  Indians in Sham According to The Soufan Group’s report16, in November 2015, 23 Indian nationals were fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria. There is only one known case of an Indian returning, that of Arif Majeed who left for Syria with three other friends from the western Indian state of Maharashtra. While nothing has since been heard about these three, with help from Government of India, Arif returned to India in November 2015 and is in prison since then. He had spent six months and reportedly, decided to find his way back after he suffered a bullet injury. Majeed told the investigators that, "Only after I begged them, I was taken to a hospital. I was treating myself, but the injury was worsening as there was no proper medication or food available in the camps. There was neither a holy war nor any of the preachings in the holy book were followed. ISIS fighters raped many a woman there."17 In July 2016, it came to light that at least 11 persons from the South Indian state of Kerala including women and children were in ISIS controlled territory.18 In all of 2016 more than 35 persons have been arrested for having become a member of a banned organization- ISIS. They too could have migrated to Sham area or would have planned and launched terror operations on Indian soil.19  The ISIS released a 22 minute video in April, 2016 featuring three Indian born young men speaking from ISIS controlled area. They acknowledged that they are in Sham and gave an insight into their plans. While saying that they were really happy and satisfied in a land run strictly according to Sharia law and hated India, the land where people worshipped animals and trees, they would certainly return, but to invade. They would come on horseback with swords in their hands to slaughter the kafirs (non-believers). With the mounting pressure on ISIS and it                                             16 New York based, Soufan Group provides strategic security intelligence services to governments and multinational organizations. 17 “I Cleaned Toilets While in ISIS, Areeb Majeed Tells NIA - Times of India.” The Times of India, 30 Nov. 2014, timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/I-cleaned-toilets-while-in-ISIS-Kalyan-youth-Areeb-Majeed-tells-NIA/articleshow/45328623.cms. 18 Surendran, Vivek. “ISIS Recruits from Kerala: 11 out of 22 Missing Keralites Suspected to Be in Syria.” India Today, 11 July 2016, indiatoday.intoday.in/story/isis-kerala-recruitment-syria-kasargod-pinarayi-vijayan/1/712168.html. 19 Surendran, Vivek. “ISIS Recruits from Kerala: 11 out of 22 Missing Keralites Suspected to Be in Syria.” India Today, 11 July 2016, indiatoday.intoday.in/story/isis-kerala-recruitment-syria-kasargod-pinarayi-vijayan/1/712168.html.  9  losing territory, many of its foreign fighters are returning home to continue Jihad on home territory.20 Return of these Indian fighters, however small their numbers, can prove to be a substantial problem for India.   Figure 3: Foreign Fighters by Region Source: Soufan Group Report December 2015: An Updated Assessment of the Flow of Foreign Fighters into Syria and Iraq                                                20 “Warning THOUSANDS of ISIS Jihadis Will Return to Europe.” Express.co.uk, 13 Nov. 2016, www.express.co.uk/news/world/731892/ISIS-jihadis-could-return-home-Europe-defeat-Mosul-terror-Belgian-minister. (29 Nov. 2016) 10  CHAPTER 2: ISIS AND INDIA What are ISIS’ strategic objectives for India? Evidence suggests that the Indian sub-continent could be their next big target. A document titled, "A Brief History of the Islamic State Caliphate (ISC): The Caliphate According to the Prophet" recovered in Pakistan, recommends that the next big Islamic State (ISIS) target in the region should be India. And this would be achieved by uniting all jihadi groups under its leadership who would not just aim for occasional strikes but would launch a full-fledged attack. The intensity of the challenge is immense. Given India’s size and strategic position increasing its influence in India would magnify the Islamic State's stature.  Terror organizations use an Islamic concept called Ghazwa-e-Hind (Final Battle for India) to propel jihad in the Indian sub-continent. It is an Islamic term mentioned in some hadiths (the oral traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) predicting a final and last battle in India and as a result, a conquest of the whole Indian sub-continent by Muslim warriors. Invoking divine support a South Asian ISIS member proclaimed in an online document, “our struggle is ongoing and Insha’Allah after defeating Pakistan Army, we won’t just stop in Pakistan rather we shall continue our advance into Kashmir and India until the laws of Allah are implemented globally and the whole world comes under the rule of one Muslim Khalifah”.21 22  The ISIS mouthpiece, Dabiq’s 12th edition dealt extensively with “The Revival of Jihad in Bengal, With the Spread of the Light of the Khilafah”. ISIS detailed its plans for Bengal (Bangladesh) by first uniting existing terror groups saying that, “The mujahidin of Bengal realized that there was no room for blind partisanship towards any organization once the Khilafah had been declared and that there was no longer legitimacy for any independent jihad organization, whether “Jama’atul Mujahidin,” “Al-Qaida,” or any other group. Thus, the sincere men from the various jihad groups rushed to support the Khilafah and join the ranks of its soldiers in Bengal.” The results could quickly be seen in its high profile attack in a restaurant in the diplomatic area of Dhaka on July 1, 2016 during the Islamic month of Ramadan.  ISIS’ plans do not end with Bangladesh. It has grand designs for entire Indian sub-continent. Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, the ISIS Emir (head) in Bangladesh said in an interview that, “Bengal is                                             21 Ihya-e-Khilafat Magazine, Issue 1 22 Haqqani, Husain. “Prophecy &Amp; the Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent.” By Husain Haqqani, Hudson Institute, www.hudson.org/research/11167-prophecy-the-jihad-in-the-indian-subcontinent. (29 Nov, 2016) 11  an important region for the Khilafah and the global jihad due to its strategic geographic position. Bengal is located on the eastern side of India, whereas Wilayat Khurasan (a historical region incorporating parts of modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan) is located on its western side. Thus, having a strong jihad base in Bengal will facilitate performing guerilla attacks inside India simultaneously from both sides and facilitate creating a condition of tawahhush (a situation of management of savagery of non-believers23) in India along with the help of the existing local mujahidin there, until the soldiers of the Khilafah are able to enter with a conventional army and completely liberate the region from the mushrikin (polytheists), after first getting rid of the ‘Pakistani’ and ‘Afghani’ regimes, insha’allah”. Also, jihad in Bengal is a stepping-stone for jihad in Burma.24 Are these words from a holed-up terrorist or the strategic vision of a far-sighted political organization? India’s location between two increasingly unstable Muslim neighbors, Pakistan and Bangladesh, makes it the next probable ISIS target. Can ISIS’ repeat its success in the Indian sub-continent? There is a need to understand and analyze before taking this threat at its face value. ISIS achieved unparalleled success, which eventually led to its control over large areas in Iraq and Syria because it had substantial support from the Sunni minority in Iraq, which felt dispossessed of power, prestige and influence within the governing structure of the country. This also led to support from major Sunni leaders and the leftover elements of Saddam Husain’s army. With local support it could raise funds and find the professional military leadership and develop the potential for controlling vast territories (at its highest, ISIS controlled more area than that of UK!) particularly, the oil rich region making it the richest terrorist group in the world. As it rose swiftly, other fundamentalist and radical elements joined it as they saw it as the true inheritor of the Islamic Caliphate. Its deft use of social media and the internet drew fighters and support from across the world, including Europe and US.25 26 The areas where ISIS rolled out were strife torn, unstable and, falling. ISIS could fill the power vacuum and establish control in Iraq, Syria and some parts of Afghanistan.                                              23 Weiss, Michael, and Hassan Hassan. ISIS: Inside the army of terror. Simon and Schuster, 2015, Chapter 3: Management of Savagery  24 Dabiq, 14 Edition 25 Klausen, Jytte. "Tweeting the Jihad: Social media networks of Western foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 38.1 (2015): 1-22. 26 Shane, Scott, and Ben Hubbard. "ISIS displaying a deft command of varied media." New York Times 30 (2014). 12   Let us relate these factors with ISIS’ envisioned expansion into India and analyze its chances of success. Since India does not suffer any of the vulnerabilities ISIS exploited in the areas which are now under its control, its chances of ‘establishing a Caliphate’ are non-existent. However, this is not to suggest that it cannot create and sustain a terror campaign. It could employ a strategy that does not focus on seizing and controlling territory. Their modus operandi could be based on a different set of principles. It could amalgamate the existing Islamic terror outfits and focus their combined energies against the Indian state. It could receive support from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) speeding up the process of the coming together of mujahidins of various hues creating a symbiotic relationship between the two.  India’s concern is that terror groups like ‘Indian Mujahidin’ have merged themselves with ISIS and some of its operatives were seen in a recent video espousing its cause. The Indian Mujahideen, in turn, was a mutated version of the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) which is the largest Islamic radical mobilization India has seen. However, more effective terror groups in India like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizb-ul Mujahidin have chosen to go alone ignoring ISIS’ call for Caliphate. The prime reason behind this is that these anti-India terror outfits are guided and funded by Pakistan, through its Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) and ISIS has been running a campaign against the Pakistan government conducting several large scale attacks in Pakistan in 2016.27 ISIS’ use of propaganda and social media could exploit the alienated members of the Muslim minority. This has already happened, though to a minuscule degree, as 23 Indian Muslims got attracted to the idea of migrating to a strife torn region and actually did.28 But more could get mobilized if they were told that they were to look at targets nearer home, especially in the aftermath of incidents of communal violence when passions are bound to be high. It should be borne in mind that India’s biggest strength is its strong roots of liberalism, democracy and secularism and this makes ISIS’ identified task a hard one.29                                              27 Masood, Salman. “Pakistan Reels After Attack on Police Training College Leaves 61 Dead.” The New York Times, 25 Oct. 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/10/26/world/asia/quetta-attack-isis-pakistan.html?_r=0. (29 Nov. 2016)  28 Soufan Report 29 Chaddha, Vivek. “ISIS Attack Threat: Why India Should Be Afraid.” DailyO - Opinion News &Amp; Analysis on Latest Breaking News India, 2 Aug. 2015, www.dailyo.in/politics/isis-islamic-state-jihad-terrorism-gurdaspur-attack-cia-saddam-hussein-isi-shia-sunni/story/1/5403.html. (29 Nov. 2016) 13  For the first time, above the surface presence of ISIS in India came to light when security agencies led by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) began arresting its operatives in January 2016. By August, they had arrested more than 35 individuals from across the country. Jamal Malik recounted that they had been recruited online employing a five step process. First, these persons, mostly young men, were drawn to the jihadi theme through facebook pages. Once they were making vitriolic remarks, they received ‘friend requests’ and were drawn into a one-to-one chat. Third, after a couple of months, they moved to lesser known but more secure communication apps like ‘Telegram’ and ‘Signal’ where their online handler brought them together into an online micro community. Fourth, the virtual community met physically and identified targets and the resources required to hit them. The last stage would have been one of actual attacks before which they were arrested.30 The handler, one Shafi Armar, had named the group ‘Junood al-Khalifa fil Hind’ and assigned organizational positions like Emir (Chief) Nayab Emir (Deputy), Emir-e-Maliyat (Finance), Emir Askare (Operations), Emir-e-Raabta (Communications in-Charge) and Emir-e-Shariyo Dawati (Recruitment) to the youngsters. Interestingly, none of them were victims of a communal riot or had studied in a Madarssa (Islamic seminary) but were from fairly liberal Muslim families. 31 Why has ISIS grown at a slow pace in India as compared to say, neighboring Bangladesh? Have India’s inherent strengths and government policies worked or is it that the intelligence is weak and hijrat (migration) of operatives is going on undetected? Indian security agencies do not have easy and seamless access to databases of immigration, visas, airlines records, etc and hence, it is quite possible that some people might have joined ISIS in Syria but haven’t appeared on the radar of Indian agencies. Similarly, some people from the large Indian diaspora in the Middle Eastern countries could have joined ISIS for some time and returned to their work, totally un-noticed by law enforcement agencies of both countries. On the other hand, the Indian version of Islam is more Sufi than Salafi. Its liberal and syncretic form is more tolerant than the hardline                                             30 Sandhu, Kamaljit Kaur. “Reached Sudan, Joining ISIS: Indian Recruits Text to Dad Key Evidence for NIA.” India Today, 25 May 2016, indiatoday.intoday.in/story/exclusive-nia-to-file-first-chargesheet-against-isis-recruit-mohammed-naseer/1/676950.html. (29 Nov. 2016) 31 Malik, Jamal, ed. Madrasas in South Asia: teaching terror? Routledge, 2007 14  version prescribed by the ISIS and hence is, in all likelihood, found less attractive by ‘saint worshipping’ Indian Muslims32.  CHAPTER 3: POLICY PRESCRIPTION: Social Integration India’s biggest strength is that it has a sizeable Muslim population (14.2 %)33 that has lived with other religious communities side by side for centuries. People from different religions can’t usually be distinguished from each other by their physical attributes, language or, attire. A highly syncretic culture has evolved and a liberal version of Islam in the form of Sufism appeared in medieval times and found followers among all religions and communities.34 This continues to this day in the form of common customs and even common names.  Asish Nandy expresses his view that ‘many of the ethnic identities in India have bi-cultural identities and he uses the report ‘People of India’ published by the Anthropological Survey of India to prove that many in India even today continue to see themselves as having a plural self. Many communities consider themselves simultaneously as Hindu and Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim, and Hindu and Christian. He says, “It seems to be the case of a society where identities are cross-cutting and the ‘others’ are telescoped into one’s own self, where none of the identities can be adequately depicted or defined without taking into account some other.” Nandy further states that the religious identities were blurred due to the effect of cosmopolitan living together of many communities. 35 On similar lines, JJ Roy Burman argues in his book Hindu-Muslim Syncretic Shrines and Communities that, “In India, many communities have dual identities in terms of religion”.36  Charles Stewart and Rosalind Shaw write about the politics of religious synthesis and say, “The center of Hindu-Muslim syncretism in India is ‘the shrine of the Sufi saint'. There are thousands of them all over India, and both Hindus and Muslims worship the saints who are buried in the                                             32 Titus, Murray T. "Mysticism and Saint worship in India." The Muslim World 12.2 (1922): 129-141. 33 Source: Census India 2011 34 Aḥmad, Azīz. Islamic modernism in India and Pakistan, 1857-1964. issued under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs by Oxford UP, 1967. 35 Nandy, Ashis.The Multiverse of Democracy: Essays in Honour of Rajni Kothari, Sage Publications, 1996 36 Burman, JJ Roy. Hindu-Muslim Syncretic Shrines and Communities, Mittal Publications  15  tombs.”37 They add that defenders of saint worship deny that it is syncretic. Their defence is based on the claim that it is an orthodox practice, in continuity with the Islamic past38 and ‘tolerance and harmony’ among Hindus and Muslims is a happy but perhaps, unintended consequence. Influenced by the Arab reformist movements of the Wahhabis, a number of movements opposing saint worship developed in nineteenth century India but the number of devotees paying obeisance to Sufi shrines only kept growing3940. Vast majority of India’s Muslims remain unaffected by Wahhabism, and this is one of the prime factors for the ISIS not being able to find much fertile soil in this country. The high level of social integration is valuable and the Indian government and all communities need to work together to strengthen this. In India, a Muslim citizen can aspire and succeed at virtually anything. India has had Muslim Presidents, captains of its hockey and cricket teams and, CEOs of largest companies. The cultural integration and acceptability is most visible in the form of its biggest stars of the Hindi film industry, who happen to be a bunch of ‘Khans’. Urdu and Hindi are virtually the same language using different scripts and classical music of the subcontinent cannot be separated into Hindu or Muslim traditions. In some areas ghettoization is becoming visible. Localities, usually in the old central parts of historical cities are becoming polarized into Muslim and Hindu areas. This needs to be checked by creating awareness among the citizens to become more inclusive and discourage the tendency of some high rise housing blocks from becoming home to people from only one religious belief. In some states, for example Gujarat, a law41 have been framed to prevent a Hindu from selling his house to a Muslim, and vice versa, to prevent polarization in identified areas. This has been able, to an extent, prevent the slow ‘ethnic cleansing’ that had been happening in some areas. This law could be extended to more areas so that ghettoization is stemmed.                                             37 Charles Stewart & Rosalind Shaw: Syncretism/ Anti-Syncretism: The Politics of Religious Synthesis 38 Fusfeld, Warren Edward. "The shaping of Sufi leadership in Delhi: the Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya, 1750 to 1920." (1981). 39 Gaborieau, Marc. "A Nineteenth-Century Indian ‘Wahhabi’Tract Against the Cult of Muslim Saints: Al-Balâgh al-Mubin." Muslim Shrines in India: Their Character, History and Significance (1989): 198-239. 40 Gaborieau, Marc. "Criticizing the Sufis: the Debate in Early Nineteenth Century India.”." Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics (1999): 452-67. 41 Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991 16  The media has a central role in encouraging social integration and it can do so by not just reporting terrorism, but also regularly reporting stories of the contribution Muslims have made to the economy, polity and, culture of the country, it can. The social media is more instrumental in framing public opinion and there is an urgent need to counter the jihadi propaganda which is available plentifully on the net. Counter Radicalization Increasing the level of social integration and mutual respect among religious communities is necessary to end the real and perceived alienation among Muslims. The leaders, by showing a genuine political will to win hearts and minds of the Muslims, could halt their drift towards the radical extreme. As reported by The Economic Times, the small number of persons who were identified as ones drifting towards ISIS revealed during police interviews that their radicalization was initiated by inflammatory videos of jihadi leaders based in Pakistan. Baited by them, they got attracted to facebook pages on the jihadi leaders and organizations. Gradually, they were spotted by recruiters who brought them together into micro-groups who met periodically and were planning a strike. These candidates were not social misfits, wayward teens or riot victims, yet they felt attracted to the jihadi propaganda.42 204 million smart phones in Indian hands have expanded the reach of electronic propaganda.43 In the series of arrests across India of ISIS operatives in January 2016  it turned out that the first exposure to radicalization content were vitriolic videos of terrorist leaders shared through messaging platforms and over Bluetooth. Earlier, screening of such content secretly would have been challenging but now it flows easily. The jihadi narrative selectively quotes from the Islamic scriptures producing expansive and slick material in print and audio-visual. The counter argument is, sadly, feeble. By strengthening the counter narrative, the Islamic scholars, clerics and, liberal citizens could play a central role in the counter-radicalization effort. Ideas about religion have to be debated. This way the deluge of jihadi ideas can be stemmed with an even bigger, and more appealing, arguments and narrative from liberal and mainstream Islam. The youngsters on the verge of radicalization could be                                             42 Tripathi, Rahul, and Krishna Thevar. “Indian Mujahideen Now Returns as ISIS; NIA Arrests 6 Radicals.” The Economic Times, 23 Jan. 2016, economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/indian-mujahideen-now-returns-as-isis-nia-arrests-6-radicals/articleshow/50690476.cms. (29 Nov. 2016) 43 https://www.statista.com/statistics/467163/forecast-of-smartphone-users-in-india/  17  brought back best by the use of Sufi religious content, something Indian Muslims have grown up with. Another way of countering radicalization could be through finding ways of blocking the rabid material on the net. The Indian Information Technology Act 2000, empowers the government to order for websites and social media pages to be blocked or taken off but they still remain available on the dark net and keep re-appearing on new sites and blogs. While the most vitriolic material could be blocked, attempts at trying to block off all such material will be futile. Access to such internet resources also opens up a window of opportunity to the security agencies of identifying the two parties involved in the process of radicalization.  By preserving and strengthening India’s democratic and inclusive character it is possible to insulate the Muslim minorities from any kind of radicalization. Indian Muslim heritage needs to be promoted more as opposed to Arabised identities being promoted by many Gulf financed organizations. Women’s spaces and opportunities have to enlarge, not just among Muslims but all. There is a need to reach out to the Madrassas to include professional education so that their alumni acquire skills necessary for the job market. Once the Madrassas education becomes relevant to the times and promotes inclusiveness, young Muslims will find themselves better equipped while entering the job market.  As these youngsters enter the booming economy, plummeting unemployment rates should percolate liberalism and keep the citizens focussed on issues of bread and butter and keep them away from divisive tendencies of looking for means of putting the other community down. De-Radicalization If the counter-radicalization effort fails and some people begin to take steps towards joining the ISIS, India’s law enforcement and national security agencies would need the capability of identifying such candidates. But not each of them would deserve to be jailed. The law enforcement agencies could examine the extent of radicalization and if the person hasn’t moved 18  many steps ahead, he could be considered for a deradicalization program. By remembering and following up those in jail, a serious attempt could be made to de-radicalize them.44 There is many a lesson for India to learn from Indonesia’s highly successful Deradicalization program which was based on the assumption that through “kindness” even the most radicalized minds could be brought back to normal family life.4546 Gunaratna (2015) points out that the second assumption was that only a radical will listen only to another radical. Using moderates to engage them would be fruitless as they already believe that the ulema (clergy) have failed them by not doing enough to establish an Islamic state. Therefore, they used reformed radicals to talk to them.47  India could have a deradicalization program that handles the candidates with empathy treating them more like victims than hardened green eyed monsters. By preparing, like Indonesia, an individualized content for each individual and by involving the family, friends and religious as well as community leaders the program could succeed in bringing them back to ‘normal’ life. Focussing on the values of equality that the Indian democratic political system aims to achieve and that even with its flaws, it still offers a wide degree of freedom to its citizens, including religious minorities would help bring the radicalized youth back to the mainstream and open-minded style of living. Parents have a crucial role to play. It has been observed that when the ISIS moves a candidate towards radicalization, it first sees to it that he or she becomes a puritan Muslim. While this is perfectly honourable, the exposure to gruesome propaganda and selective use of Islamic scriptures come next. This is the stage when parents can notice behavioural and attitudinal changes and can take steps to curb it. Instilling faith in the democratic system and creating a belief that instances of injustices against the Muslim community would be addressed by the legal                                             44 Nance, Malcolm W., and Richard Engel. Defeating ISIS: Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe. “The ISIS Radicalization Methodology” 45 Ekici, Sıddık. Building Terrorism Resistant Communities: Together against Terrorism. Amsterdam: IOS, 2009. Pg 259 46 Gunaratna, Rohan, and Mohamed Bin. Ali. "Chapter 4: Current State of Indonesia's Deradicalization and Rehabilitation Program." Terrorist Rehabilitation A New Frontier in Counter-terrorism. Singapore: Imperial College, 2015. 71-76 47 Schulze. “Indonesia's Approach to Jihadist Deradicalization.” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/indonesia%E2%80%99s-approach-to-jihadist-deradicalization. 19  system and their children need not think about taking the law into their own hands. Similar but stronger role could be played by their friends and peers. If the clerics and the community leaders come on board and liberal Muslim leaders reinterpret Quran and Hadith to expose dark forces like ISIS who selectively quote to promote and justify violence even against Muslims, the counter argument against radical propaganda could make a positive impact on radicalized minds. Develop Interdiction Capability at State and District level India needs its state law enforcement and national security agencies to develop the capacity and expertise to interdict terror whenever and where ever it erupts. Evolving networks need to be identified early. Judicious use of communication interception and raising human intelligence potential could together help identify the developing modules before they could launch a strike. The Indian security agencies have been successful in 2016, as they have arrested more than two dozen persons who were in the formative stages of creating an active module with the ultimate objective of launching terrorizing crimes. But there could be many more in the offing. At least 11 persons from the South Indian state of Kerala have migrated to the Sham area of Iraq and Syria in the summer of 2016.48 Police and security agencies need to work unbiasedly, take action based purely on evidence. Giving up its old methodology of fake encounters (illegal executions) it has taken a positive step forward by strictly going by the evidence and in many cases choosing not to book a person and treating him like a victim and enlisting for an organized deradicalization effort.  While the federal government has created a counter terror unit called National Security Guards, not many states and their districts have setup SWAT or similar teams to handle the first impact of a terror strike. It has become imperative to invest the time, energy and, money and create such special units capable of handling such terrorist challenges. It is also necessary that the court trials of all incidents of terror and communal crimes move swiftly and justice is delivered. This also applies to incidents of communal violence which                                             48 Surendran, Vivek. “ISIS Recruits from Kerala: 11 out of 22 Missing Keralites Suspected to Be in Syria.” India Today, 11 July 2016, indiatoday.intoday.in/story/isis-kerala-recruitment-syria-kasargod-pinarayi-vijayan/1/712168.html. (29 Nov. 2016) 20  constitute an irritant to the minority and are often mentioned in the radical propaganda. A well-functioning justice sector and a firm ‘rule of law’ are necessary tools for countering radicalization and preventing people from contemplating delivering justice themselves. International Cooperation India has suffered export of terror from its neighbour Pakistan for decades but the ISIS phenomenon is uniquely different as it involves trans- continental movement of people, funds and, ideas. An international alliance is necessary to prevent the spread of international terrorism which has swiftly learnt to leverage information technology to recruit, motivate and, organize new members. Earlier terror organizations could not interact often and they seldom organized large meetings of their leaders. But ISIS uses slick media productions and messaging apps to organize itself. The outcome has been visible in both lone wolf attacks and organized large scale violent outbreaks across the world. India is under grave threat.  It is not possible for any state to defend itself in the prevailing environment. ISIS moves its operatives, funds and, weapons across the world using the chinks in aviation security and customs processes. The police can find itself suddenly facing an enormous threat. It is possible to minimize this only through extensive cooperation on financial flows, intelligence, electronic evidence collection and, police action. In a fast globalizing world terror has also started globalizing and the common strategy of partner countries should factor this in. ISIS uses religion as well as false propaganda to attract the disaffected. Participating nations need to develop a strong rule based order, a robust justice sector and, smart intelligence gathering capacity to protect their citizens and interests. A US (and NATO) led approach is not likely to succeed in the present day geopolitics of the Middle-east. Mearsheimer and Walt argue in ‘A Superior US Grand Strategy’ that, “The United States should let the regional powers deal with that group (ISIS) and limit its own efforts to providing arms, intelligence, and military training. ISIS represents a serious threat to them (local powers) but a minor problem for the United States, and the only long-term solution to it is better 21  local institutions, something Washington cannot provide.” 49 Local solutions with US ‘off-shore balancing’ is likely to be more effective and resilient. The United Nations developed a Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy to develop international cooperation. The strategy is in the form of a resolution and a proposes a Plan of Action which is composed of 4 pillars- 1. Addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism 2. Measures to prevent and combat terrorism 3. Measures to build states’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in that regard; 4. Measures to ensure respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis for the fight against terrorism.50 If the coalition against terror, which now virtually includes all countries, come together and establish mechanisms of intelligence sharing, the provisions of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) are strengthened and made swift so that evidence (mostly electronic) is shared between agencies and, border controls are continuously upgraded and access to passport and visa databases and their biometric information is put in place ISIS led terror can be curbed. But most importantly, it must be borne in mind that winning hearts and minds is a better and stronger strategy when compared to the one based on police making arrests and the military bombing those it can’t.                                                49 Mearsheimer, John J. “The Case for Offshore Balancing.” Foreign Affairs, 19 June 2016, www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2016-06-13/case-offshore-balancing. (29 Nov. 2016) https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2016-06-13/case-offshore-balancing  50 “UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy | Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force.” United Nations, www.un.org/counterterrorism/ctitf/en/un-global-counter-terrorism-strategy. (29 Nov. 2016)  22  CONCLUSION: The ISIS has been able to gain ground in Iraq, Syria and parts of Afghanistan as they are strife torn areas suffering a governance vacuum. India has its strengths in the form of a liberal and secular democracy, largely Sufi Muslim population and, a booming economy. Even with sore points like mass killings in communal riots and under representation in government jobs, the Muslim population does not feel attracted to the Wahabi thought. It has grown in a deeply syncretic culture which absorbs from all the religions and peoples that came to live in the Indian sub-continent over centuries. ISIS has a tough task ahead trying to establish its Caliphate in India. Though it talks about strategically launching a war on India from west (Wilayat Khursan) and east (Bangladesh), this is easier said than done. But even without getting anywhere close to a Khilafat, ISIS can create serious problems if it is able to bring together all or most Islamic radical groups under its flag. The occasional strikes could become a regular string as being witnessed in Pakistan and Bangladesh. With ISIS beginning to lose territorial control in Sham, it has directed its fighters to return home and continue jihad the there.51 That could translate into a substantial problem for India. To protect itself, India could follow policies that integrate its Muslim community into the social mainstream by being more inclusive. The sore points of killings during riots and the bringing down of Babri Mosque in Ayodhya could be substantially addressed if the justice sector moved swiftly to punish the guilty. To prevent its people from getting radicalized through exposure to ISIS propaganda the counter- radicalization effort could be strengthened. The counter narrative needs to be strengthened and made more extensive while the most vitriolic content could blocked off the internet. The few persons who are known to have radicalized but have not undertaken any kind of violence could be considered for softer methods and not sent to prisons. By involving their family, friends and, community it could be possible to bring these people back into normal domestic life. Even with these measures in place, attacks could still happen and the capability to deal with them needs to be enhanced by creating interdiction capabilities at the state and district levels. Finally, international terror requires measures across countries for which mechanisms for                                             51 Brangham, William. “If ISIS Falls, Where Will Its Fighters Flee?” PBS, 13 Oct. 2016, www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/isis-falls-will-fighters-flee/. (29 Nov. 2016) 23  international cooperation need to be created so that information, intelligence and, evidence flow seamlessly.   24  BIBLIOGRAPHY: 1. Weiss, Michael, and Hassan Hassan. Isis: Inside the Army of Terror. 2. Nance, Malcolm W., and Richard Engel. Defeating ISIS: Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe. 3. McCants, William Faizi. The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State 4. Warrick, Joby. Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS. 5. Sekulow, Jay. The Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can't Ignore. Chapter 2: Rise of ISIS and the New Caliphate 6. Cockburn, Patrick. The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution 7. Ekici, Sıddık. Building Terrorism Resistant Communities: Together against Terrorism. Amsterdam: IOS, 2009. 8. Gunaratna, Rohan, and Mohamed Bin. Ali. "Chapter 4: Current State of Indonesia's Deradicalization and Rehabilitation Program." Terrorist Rehabilitation A New Frontier in Counter-terrorism. Singapore: Imperial College, 2015. 71-76 9. Stern, Jessica, and John M. Berger. ISIS: The state of terror. HarperCollins, 2015. 10. Hashim, Ahmed S. "The Islamic State: From al‐Qaeda Affiliate to Caliphate." Middle East Policy 21.4 (2014): 69-83. 11. Al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad. "The dawn of the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham." Current Trends in Islamist Ideology 16 (2014): 5. 12. Zelin, Aaron. "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has a consumer protection office." The Atlantic 13 (2014): 2014. 13. Klausen, Jytte. "Tweeting the Jihad: Social media networks of Western foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 38.1 (2015): 1-22. 14. Shane, Scott, and Ben Hubbard. "ISIS displaying a deft command of varied media." New York Times 30 (2014). 15. Aḥmad, Azīz. Islamic modernism in India and Pakistan, 1857-1964. issued under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs by Oxford UP, 1967. 16. Malik, Jamal, ed. Madrasas in South Asia: teaching terror?. Routledge, 2007. 17. Nandy, Ashis.”The Multiverse of Democracy: Essays in Honour of Rajni Kothari”, Sage Publications, 1996 


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