Communications between Indian state intelligence and Kerala police indicate that the Islamic State (IS) is turning its attention to the Indian Ocean region, reported NDTV today (20), leading to speculation that India and Sri Lanka could be on the Islamist outfit’s crosshairs.
In three separate letters written to high ranking officers of the Kerala police, Indian state intelligence has warned that in the wake of its losing territory in Iraq and Syria, the IS has shifted its focus to the subcontinent.
“After loss of territory in Iraq and Syria, IS is urging operatives to take up violent forms of jihad while staying back in their respective countries,” NDTV quoted one of the letters as saying.
The Indian TV channel, quoting another letter sent less than a fortnight ago, said “key installations in Kochi, including a prominent shopping mall, could become ISIS targets”.
The letter also reportedly cited increased ISIS-related cyber-activity in the country as signs of terror attacks to come.
According to senior officials, as reported by NDTV, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kashmir as the states most vulnerable to IS influence in India.
While the Telegram Messenger was a preferred mode of communication among ISIS operatives until now, said one of the letters quoted in the report, fear of information leak has now forced them to use other secure apps such as Chatsecure, Signal and SilentText. One senior official had reportedly said that at least 100 people are believed to have joined ISIS from Kerala in the last few years.
Around 3,000 have been “de-radicalised” at 21 counselling centres across the southern state and are now being monitored, NDTV quoted the officer as saying, adding that most of these suspects hail from north Kerala.
District police chiefs have been told to strengthen internal security cells, while around 10 to 12 online “honey traps” have been put in place to identify radicalised police personnel in Kerala, said NDTV in its report.
As many as 30 people linked to various groups have come under the scanner ever since co-ordinated blasts killed more than 250 people in Sri Lanka on 21 April, a top police officer had told the news channel.