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Why India should not ignore IS threat

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By Nithin Sridhar

Almost every day India wakes up to hawkish incidents like ancient shrines bombed, women abducted, and men beheaded in the Middle East. Thanks to Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the violence against men, women and children has gained momentum.

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Baalshamin Temple

For example, ISIS recently destroyed the ancient Baalshamin Temple in Palmyra, Syria. Before that, it beheaded Khaled al-Asaad who was a renowned antiquities’ scholar in Palmyra. On September 2, it claimed responsibility for bombing a mosque in Sanaa, Yemen that is controlled by Houthis who adhere to Shia Islam. The bombing had killed at least 28 people.

News pieces like these surface in Middle East almost every other day wherein the Islamic State has killed, maimed, abducted, or raped someone or bombed something. There is a gross violation of human rights happening day in and day out; yet, we see that many people are enthusiastic about joining the Islamic State and they fly from all over the world to Iraq to join the IS.

Consider this: Just yesterday it was reported that a Dutch sergeant who was with Netherlands Royal Air Force left for Syria and now the Defense ministry suspects that he might have joined IS. In June, German authorities had discovered that IS was recruiting women from Germany.

These are not isolated incidents, nor are they localized to some countries. The Islamic State poses a genuine threat to the whole world. Let us look at the Islamic State and its threat from an Indian perspective.

ISIS (1)

Geographically, the influence of Islamic State is limited to few countries in the Middle East. But, Islamic State is not a terrorist organization. It is unlike all other Islamic terror organizations. The Islamic State is basically a State, a Caliphate as the name says it all.

Being a Caliphate, it is expansionist and imperialist by its very nature. By establishing a Caliphate, the IS had called for all the Muslims around the world to unite under its leadership. And as a result, many Muslims from around the world including India have either joined the IS or have at least made attempts to join them.

Threat 1: Indian youths may join IS

Consider this! Just today, it was reported that UAE had detained 13 Indians in early August on charges of planning to join the Islamic State and it has deported two among them back to India. In June, Intelligence Bureau had stated that 11 Indians had joined IS.

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Zuber Khan

In August, a Mumbai journalist Zuber Ahmed Khan was arrested for planning to fly to Iraq to join IS; therefore, the very first threat from IS that India must counter is its ability to polarize some Muslims, especially youth and induce them to fly to Iraq. This is a real threat! As the number of people who join IS increases, it may trigger a chain reaction as a result of which many more people may come forward to join IS.

Secondly, when someone who had joined ISIS returns to India, it is very difficult to assess whether he is now working for ISIS or has he returned after a change of heart. In fact, IS may use this as a strategy to create its network in India. Hence, India must bust these recruiting attempts by Islamic State and safeguard Indian youth.

Threat 2: IS may give new lease of life to militancy in Kashmir

Kashmir which is already affected by militancy and separatism that fuels anti-India sentiments day in and day out may further be exploited by IS. In June, some youths reportedly hoisted IS flag and Pakistani flag in Kashmir.

This incident shows not only the fact that IS has made a home among the militants but also that IS has become a symbolic representation of ideal Islamic state that terrorists aim to establish. The use of IS flag by some Kashmiri youths sends out a clear signal that some separatists stand by whatever IS stands for and they approve all the actions that IS has committed.

Hence, there is a great threat that IS may give a new lease of life to militancy in Kashmir. Further, IS may, in fact, use militancy in Kashmir to expand its hold. This may be attested from the fact that IS is already trying to gain a strong foothold in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).

Threat 3: IS may ally with other terror organizations to infiltrate India and destabilize it

Apart from using its sympathizers in India to recruit new people to its fight, there is a great possibility that IS may also align with terrorist organizations based in Pakistan and Bangladesh that have been causing havoc in India for decades.

AN76722699Empire of FearA recent book by BBC reporter Andrew Hosken reveals how IS has plans to take over large chunks of the world including Indian subcontinent under its control. Even if IS may not be able to wage a direct war against India, IS may easily utilize the ground network of various terror organizations that operate from Pakistan and Bangladesh to destabilize India.

These are the threats that Islamic State poses to India even now, in the present, when it is geographically limited to the Middle East. But, if it ever manages to geographically expand the way the Caliphates of the old did, then the threats will increase manifold.

It may become a question of survival or death for Indians. The danger that India may face in such a scenario wherein the IS comes knocking its doors can be summed up thus: “If ever the ISIS comes knocking at the doors of India, it is clear that its intentions are to make India a part of its Islamic Caliphate, implement Sharia rule over Indian population and convert or kill all those people who do not adhere to its Jihadi-Salafism brand of Islam.

ISIS poses a danger not only to the non-Muslim Indian majority but also to non-Sunni Muslims present in India. In fact, all those Muslims including Sunni Muslims who do not accept its Caliphate and who do not adhere to its extremist interpretation of Islam would be branded as non-Muslims and taken to task accordingly.”

Therefore, it is very vital that India strategically prepare a response team to tackle the threats posed by the Islamic State. If these threats are not properly countered, India may have to suffer huge losses in the coming future.

IS has been a symbol, an inspiration for all those extremists who adhere to the Jihadi-Salafi interpretation of Islam that believes in Islamizing the whole world and destroying all non-believers. These extremists must be stopped and India must make all efforts to stop them.

  • P G Kutty Nair

    ISIS is not an evil that one day fell onto the earth from the clouds. There is a tree behind a poisonous fruit, a plant before the tree and a seed before the plant. So it is clear that a seed has been planted and nurtured into a tree before it fructified. The world can be excused for not noticing the seed, but not so for not noticing the tree. Now that it has started bearing fruits like the ISIS, the world must trace the evil to its roots and maybe the seed itself. Let me be more explicit. Remember a secular slogan that is still afloat? “Terrorism has no religion”. That is an open refusal to see reality. Unless that mental condition changes, nothing will change.

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  • P G Kutty Nair

    ISIS is not an evil that one day fell onto the earth from the clouds. There is a tree behind a poisonous fruit, a plant before the tree and a seed before the plant. So it is clear that a seed has been planted and nurtured into a tree before it fructified. The world can be excused for not noticing the seed, but not so for not noticing the tree. Now that it has started bearing fruits like the ISIS, the world must trace the evil to its roots and maybe the seed itself. Let me be more explicit. Remember a secular slogan that is still afloat? “Terrorism has no religion”. That is an open refusal to see reality. Unless that mental condition changes, nothing will change.

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India Ends all Imports of Iranian Oil, Says Washington Ambassador

Trump last year pulled out of a multinational pact under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief

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FILE - A worker walks atop a tanker wagon to check the freight level at an oil terminal on the outskirts of Kolkata, India. VOA

India has ended all imports of oil from Iran, its ambassador in Washington says, becoming the latest country to grudgingly comply with threatened U.S. sanctions.

India had already sharply decreased its imports from Iran and bought one million tonnes of crude in April, the last month before Washington stepped up its pressure campaign against Tehran and ended all exemptions to sanctions, Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla said. “That’s it. After that, we haven’t imported any,” Shringla told reporters Thursday during a briefing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election victory.

No Venezuela oil, either

Shringla said that energy-hungry India has also ended all imports from Venezuela because it considered itself a partner of the United States. But he said the shift had caused pain at home, with Iran formerly supplying 10 percent of India’s oil needs.

Calling Iran “an extended neighbor” of India with long-standing cultural links, Shringla declined to say whether New Delhi shared President Donald Trump’s concerns about Tehran. “This is an issue that has to be dealt with, really, between the United States and Iran. We are only, in many senses, looking at it as a third party,” Shringla said.

But he added: “We would not like to see a move towards any escalation in any way in that area, for the simple reason that we depend very heavily on stability in that part of the world.”

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FILE – U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after signing a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, May 8, 2018. VOA

Trump last year pulled out of a multinational pact under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief.

The Trump administration has instead ramped up economic pressure on Iran and recently deployed military assets, including an aircraft carrier strike group, to the area.
The United States as of May 2 ended exemptions it had given to eight governments from its unilateral order to stop buying Iranian oil.

Turkey stops imports

Turkey, which enjoyed a waiver and vocally disagreed with the U.S. policy, has also stopped importing oil from Iran, a Turkish official said this week. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus welcomed the news from Turkey.

ALSO READ: India, China, Turkey Silently Purchasing Iran’s Crude Oil as US Ban Begins

“We want the whole world to comply with these sanctions, and we’re grateful for our partners and allies that are respecting them,” she told reporters. The Indian ambassador, however, voiced confidence that U.S. sanctions would not affect its partnership in developing Iran’s Chabahar port.

India wants to use the port to ship supplies into Afghanistan in a detour from its archrival Pakistan, which historically backed the Taliban. “I think it is in the interest of both our countries and all others concerned to ensure that that lifeline continues for the people of Afghanistan,” Shringla said. (VOA)