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Sometimes through direct interaction and at times online, they are targeting intelligent young boys and girls in the state who are unemployed.

Back in India, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested Aal Halif alias Abu Ibrahim -- one of the most dreaded Islamic State (IS) handlers in the subcontinent -- from Bengaluru in 2020. This IS handler was a meritorious student of economics before his entry into the world of terror. Halif disguised as Sujit Chandra Debnath was working as an assistant of a mason in Bengaluru. His arrest came as a surprise to the NIA investigators.

These are not isolated examples but there are several other instances when terror handlers have used religion as a cover to fox investigators.

"Religion is no more a taboo for the terror groups rather they are using it as a tool to hide their identity. Changing religion is no more an important thing for these handlers, rather they are using it effectively to dodge surveillance," a senior Kolkata Special Task Force (STF) officer said.

The STF officer was referring to the recent arrests made by the elite Kolkata police force from Haridebpur on the southern fringes of the city. A few days ago, the STF had arrested three JMB handlers -- Naziur Rahman Pavel, Mikail Khan and Rabiul Islam -- who had sneaked into India and were staying in a posh residential area of the city.

To avoid detection, Pavel used the Hindu name Jayram Bepari. He and Mekail Khan alias Sheikh Sabbir befriended two Hindu women in the Haridevpur area and had plans to get married next month. This would have helped them recruit more people without arousing suspicion. (IANS has not revealed the identity of the women to protect their families.)

"Marriage is a very important and effective instrument for these terrorists. It not only helps them to get Indian identity easily but at the same time helps in securing a permanent identity which eventually works as an effective protective shield. They don't even raise suspicion of the local people and naturally police remain unaware of their existence," a senior officer of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the state said.

Another factor that is keeping the police and the investigation agencies on tenterhooks is the lockdown and subsequent unemployment which is making the work of these terror groups easier. Taking advantage of the porous border with Bangladesh and unemployment, international terror groups like JMB, Ansarullah Faction and even the IS are trying to spread their tentacles in the state.

Sometimes through direct interaction and at times online, they are targeting intelligent young boys and girls in the state who are unemployed. The NIA and the STF of the Kolkata Police have secured this information from the three JMB terrorists who were arrested by the STF from a colony on the southern outskirts of Kolkata recently. The investigation officials are worried that systematic brainwashing of these unemployed youths is securing new recruits for the terror groups.

"The brainwashing of the meritorious unemployed can only be handled by police personnel at the grassroots level. The state police authorities should give special training to the constable level personnel on these lines. Unfortunately, this has not happened in West Bengal. The state police is short of personnel and it is mainly involved in tackling law and order problems. Very few of them are trained or equipped to tackle the danger of sleeper cells," a senior official of the state Home Department said.

(This article is originally written by By Saibal Gupta, IANS/HP)


Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

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