Three gunmen, last week stormed a gurdwara in Kabul, where hundreds had collected for prayers, killing 25 individuals. The assault was later on, claimed by the Islamic State Khorsan Province(ISKP), the Afghanistan outfit of the terror group Islamic State (ISIS).
Amaq News Agency, which is affiliated to the ISIS, introduced an image of the gunmen. It reveals a person keeping AK-56 assault rifle and pointing his finger up in the Tawhid style.
The man is suspected to be 21 years Muhammad Muhsin, also with nomenclature Abu Khalid Al Hindi, from Kasargod, Kerala. He was a university dropout, and via Dubai, he landed in Afghanistan. That is the route commonly to be used by the ISI for their clandestine high jinks.
Tête-à-tête with radical Islam
Kerala, unlike balance of India has had no influx of Muslim invaders from the Hindu Kush, hence apparently had little discord between Muslims with other communities. It all started with Tipu Sultan’s ransacking of the wealth of Hindu Temples in Kerala, much later.
However, Islam in Kerala had been closest to the purest form of Islam from Saudi Arabian merchants since the beginning, however not the adulterated version used by the invaders, as an excuse to plunder India and amass wealth or for locals to consolidate real estate in India.
During Khilafat movement of 1920s, the Mappilas (Muslims of Kerala) were generally disinterested in the going on, in contrast to the rest of Wahhabi movement, characteristic of then Islamic mood in India, except trivial run-in with British government to claim independent districts of Ernad, Walluvanad, Ponnani, Kozhikode, Kurumbranad and Wynad in August 1921.
However, post Babri Masjid demolition, ISI’s pan India agenda of using the event to sow seeds of radical Islam in India, started taking shape. It picked up cheer from brainwashed Muslims after 2002 Gujrat riots, however, still Kerala showed apparent disinterest in the same.
However, with opening of the Saudi economy in mid-90s, that provided direct influence of Salafi Islam in Kerala. ISI diverted money for the radicalization of mosques numerous religious teachers mushroomed in all of the first decade of this century. Subscription increased, preachers were the Salafi groomed returnees from Saudi Arabia and gradually Malayali women kachimundu got replaced with Burqa and Malayali men’s attire with skull caps and Salafi beard.
By year 2006, Kerala started having links with banned radical Islamic organizations and Muslim youth were being drafted by the ISI, to enter Kashmir as terrorists. Most notable being two militants identified as Abdul Rehman and Muhammad Fayaz belonging to Kannur and Malappuram districts of Kerala when killed in a shootout with security forces in Lolab area of Kupwara district, during the same time.
ISIS in Kerala
ISI’s Golden Opportunity using ISKP
Subsequently reports of increasing radicalization of Muslim youth, especially in the Malabar belt, where organizations like the National Democratic Front (NDF) were blamed for orchestrating many instances of communal violence. NDF has been accused to be occupying the space vacated by ban on SIMI and has now taken shape as the now Popular Front of India(PFI).
In June 2014, inside the Al Nuri mosque in Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi declared the creation of a “caliphate”, an opportunity seen by ISI of Pakistan Army, to sell as a grand dream of retribution, against so-called oppression of Islam.
Pakistan, like previously, exhibited Islamic radicalization opportunistic behaviour, converted the Tehrik e Taliban of Pakistan (TTP) to an offshoot of ISIS and called it ISKP(The province of Khorsan aka Khursan, giving it the garb of centuries-old Islamic Sword, out to slay the non-believers). In the next few years, Pakistan shall export the ISKP brand to most of South East Asia including Indonesia. Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and India.
Kerala, to have the highest number of pro-ISIS cases in all of India, with about 60 of the 180 to 200 cases, is a testimony of their success. Pakistan Army’s ISI was successful in leveraging the Saudi base of Salafi Islam, to sell Salafi Globalization specifically to the youth of Kerala.
Curtailing the Radicalization
In 2016, seeing an increasing number of pro-ISIS cases in Kerala, specifically the northern belt of the state, law enforcement agencies launched ‘Operation Pigeon’. It was a de-radicalisation drive, its manner taken in coordination with the De-radicalization drive done by United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently, aimed at timely and strategic intervention in an individual’s movement from ‘thought’ to ‘action’ of pro-ISIS ideology. Among others, officials used social media to monitor youths from certain identified regions of the state and the content they shared on those platforms. Kerala’s Kannur district had the highest number of people identified for pro-ISIS inclinations, at 118 (not necessarily arrested, charged or prosecuted), followed by Malappuram (89) and Kasaragod (66).In total, 350 individuals (all male) from Kerala were identified and approached by police with help of local community members including religious leaders, families, friends and parents to deter them from following the ISIS path. This number was higher than what other states reported across India.
Pro-ISIS cases in other Indian states such as Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal were aimed more towards conducting attacks on local non-muslim targets, and not necessarily joining the Caliphate abroad. This was the common narrative in most Kerala cases. Moreover, the fact that Kerala has generally harmonious interfaith dynamics, with lack of history of invasions in the garb of Islam, prevented Kerala Muslims from choosing targets within Kerala.
In Kerala society, while there are tombs of Muslim mystics, there is no Sufi movement to counter the radicalisation of Muslims, but a version of Sufi practices is found among Sunni Muslims. Because there no subscription to the Barelvis, Wahhabis and Ahle Hadeesis (the more extremist version of Wahhabis), the radicalising ideas got filtered through the Kerala’s Muslim communities, despite best efforts of ISI.
In this context, the murder of Islamic cleric P.K. Muhammad Abdul Hasan Baqavi aka Maulvi Chekannur in 1993 is an important pugmark on the muted response to radicalisation in Kerala. Maulvi Chekannur had written a book arguing that everyone, including non-Muslims, will go to heaven by the factor of good deeds, not faith per se.
Do reformists have a voice any longer in Kerala? Yes, there is.
In Kerala, Islam has two expressions viz Sunni Muslims and Mujahid Muslims. Both belong to the Sunni sect of Islam, but the expression “Sunni Muslim” means a moderate Muslim, perhaps a peasant Muslim, with no hostility to non-Muslims and their lifestyles and religious practices.
However, the expression “Mujahid Muslim” means an unarmed radicalised Muslim who advocates piety, detests Indian rituals and lifestyles, and when possible, actively opposes them. At Narikunni, 20 kilometers from Kozhikode, Naveen PK opened a Patanjali ayurvedic shop, but posters used for advertising Patanjali products were removed by the Mujahid Muslims. Only Sunni Muslims now come to his shop, says Naveen, adding however that Mujahid Muslims continue to send their servants to pick up these Ayurvedic medicines.
Aims of radicalization in the last two decades, by Pakistan’s ISI, were grandiose in its endeavor and implementation. ISKP was used to foster ideas of oppression and “Islam in Danger” theme, voicing obliteration of the identity of Muslims. Money was pumped in to get the Salafi Islam spread, by patronizing mosques using money and false incorrect preaching.
Since the last three years, de-radicalization has borne fruit, not only in Kerala but in the whole of India. Pakistan has its back to the wall. However moving out of the US from Afghanistan and the availability of full compliment of ISKP at its disposal now, Pakistan aims to foster sectarian divide in India.
ISI of Pakistan Army needs a Poster boy, and what better than simple-minded but brainwashed Mappila Muslim from Kerala. Giving one slot to him, especially one Muslim from Indian hinterland, while attacking Indian interests in Afghanistan, has two prominent facts written all over it.
That the attack was carried out by ISI in the garb of ISKP, which incidentally now are one and the same. Also, the message to India is very clear, though ironically far fetched, that Pakistan may have Indian Muslims at its disposal, to ferment trouble. Pakistan by this attack implies to India to back off from Afghanistan.
What Pakistan fails to comprehend, the Indian Government has never appreciated stupid antics over sound foreign policy. As far as its hold over Indian Muslims, given false information and narratives since the last three decades, Kashmir has already understood and rest of the country is slowly coming to see the Pakistani hand in the false narrative created in the garb of CAA protests.
Indian Muslim sees through the poster boy frolics being played by ISI of Pakistan Army, as they slowly come to realise the grandiose magnitude of falsity and lie of ISKP, which is now owned by the Pakistan Army, to serve its own interests.
31 Mar 20/Tuesday Written By: Fayaz