The rise and rise of jihad in Tamil Nadu – B. R. Haran

Syed Abdul Rehman Umari, Saddam Hussein, Abdul Nowshad, Rehmatullah Ali, Abdul Rasheed and Mohammed Azharuddin

B. R. Haran“Since eighties, several Hindu leaders and activists … have lost their lives in terror acts perpetrated by Jihadis. The state government cannot afford to be in a denial mode any more. The central intelligence agencies have been repeatedly feeding the state government with several inputs, which are not taken seriously by the state. … Fortunately, the change of guard at the center and a very efficient NSA in place is expected to improve the intelligence gathering, planning and execution of anti-terror activities to a great extent. But … Tamil Nadu has been alternatively ruled by DMK and AIADMK, which have been compromising the state’s security by pandering to the Islamic fundamentalist organizations. This has allowed the rise of Jihad in alarming proportions.” – B.R. Haran

Sword of Jihad & MayhemOn Wednesday the 13th of August, six people by name Syed Abdul Rehman Umari, Saddam Hussein, Abdul Nowshad, Rehmatullah Ali, Abdul Rasheed and Mohammed Azharuddin were arrested by Coimbatore city police in front of a Mosque in the posh RS Puram area, for plotting to kill Arjun Sampath, President of Hindu Makkal Katchi (Hindu People Party) and Mookambikai Mani, a fire brand speaker of Hindu Munnani (Hindu Front). These extremists were arrested based on the tip off given by other extremists arrested earlier for the cold-blooded murder of Hindu Munnani’s Chennai South President Suresh Kumar on 18th June.

Four extremists by name Muhajir, Raja Mohammed, Shah king and Jabbar were arrested on Tuesday the 12th from a place called Mannurpet near Chennai. Just seven days earlier, on 7th August, the Chennai city police apprehended Abdul Hakeem of Vaniyambadi in Vellore District and Abu Tahir of Padi in Chennai at Chennai Metro Bus Terminal for their involvement in the murder of Suresh Kumar. A day before, on 6th August, a special team from Chennai city police, in a joint operation with Bangalore City police picked up Mohammed Shamemm alias Abdul Shameem, Syed Ali Nawaz belonging to Kanyakumari. The next day they arrested Mohammed Shamiullah and Sadiq Basha of Bangalore for harbouring the accused from Kanyakumari. In an earlier operation, a fortnight ago, the city police arrested Kaja Mohideen of Cuddalore, who was supposedly the mastermind behind the murderous assault on Suresh Kumar. In total, 14 people have been arrested for  and all of them belong to the banned outfit Al Umma. The interrogation of the arrested extremists has now revealed that the entire plot to kill Suresh Kumar was planned in Vaniyambadi, a predominantly Muslim area in Vellore district.

The Coimbatore arrests have also happened based on the tip off given by some of these arrested, particularly Kaja Mohideen. Out of the six arrested in Coimbatore, Abdul Rehman was found to be a former SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) member and the rest belong to PFI (Popular Front of India). Al though these extremists owe their allegiance to different organizations, they reportedly formed a new group in the name of ‘Wahabi-e-Islam’ exclusively for this jihadi operation of killing leaders and activists of Hindu organizations. In fact, forming new outfits is a strategy of Islamic extremists to keep jihad alive and kicking, as most of them belong to banned outfits like SIMI, Al Ummah and Jihad Committee.

As the name Wahabi-e-Islam indicates, Wahabism has come a long way in Tamil Nadu, particularly in the last twenty years. The very fact that the various Jihadi materials available in Tamil along with Urdu and Hindi is an evidence to show the growing support for worldwide jihad in Tamil Nadu. Youth from Tamil Nadu were the first to join jihad in Syria. Two college students from Chennai have reportedly traveled to Syria some three months back. Recently, 37-year-old Haja Fakrudeen, hailing from Cuddalore and an employee of a super market firm in Singapore, had left for Syria along with his wife and three children. He spoke to his father Usman Ali over phone to confirm that he was fighting jihad for ISIS. It is reported that he was trained by one Mohammed Maraicar who had settled in his native place Cuddalore after a long stint in Singapore. Fakrudeen had left for Syria in January itself and the two college students from Chennai were reportedly brainwashed and trained by him.

Tamil Muslim youth in ISIS t-shirts: Is this the future for India?Very recently three men (Abdul Rehman and Rilwan from Ramanathapuram and an Imam from Tiruppur by name Faizur Rehman) were arrested for ordering and promoting ISIS T-Shirts. A photograph of around 25 young men sporting the ISIS T-Shirts standing in front of the Big Mosque in Thondi in Ramanathapuram district, circulated widely in the internet, resulted in their arrest. However, they were later released on bail, as the prosecution failed to present a strong case against them. Abdul Rehman, a frequent traveler to Indoneisa, Malaysia and Singapore, had reportedly maintained a Facebook page in the name of Sangai Ridhuvan, wherein he had posted first the picture of 25 youth wearing ISIS T-Shirts, which went viral thereafter.

Various merchandises are available with messages ‘worldwide Jihad’ (Mujahideen around the world) and ‘Muslim Brotherhood’, etc. The Wahabism has slowly and steadily spread in the state and now it has come to a stage that, youth have developed a liking to spread the messages of terrorist organizations like ISIS and even enrolling themselves to join worldwide jihad. Meanwhile, an ISIS video clipping with Tamil subtitles garnering support from among the Tamil Muslims for establishing the Islamic Caliphate, was removed from You Tube, reportedly on the complaint made by central agencies. The video titled ‘Al Isabah Media Present Tamil Subtitled Video of Ghuraba the Chosen Few of Different Land’, carrying subtitles in Tamil, was a 11 minute homage to Abu Muslim, a Canada-born man, who had reportedly joined the ‘global war’ to protect Islam and ending with his death.

On the 1st of May this year, Chennai woke up to hear the twin bomb blasts in Bangalore-Guwahati Express standing on Chennai Central Railway Station, in which, one young lady died and 14 other got injured. Just two days before the blast, on 29 April, a Sri Lankan National by name Mohammed Zakir Hussain was arrested by central agencies and state police on a joint operation. He was arrested based on the information given by Malaysian police, who had earlier arrested another Sri Lankan national by name Mohammed Hussain Mohammed Sulaiman. Mohammed Sulaiman had told the Malaysian police that he had been tasked to ferry two terrorists from Maldives to a South Indian coast to carry out terror strike at US Consulate in Chennai and Israeli Consulate in Bangalore. He had also given information about Zakir Hussain. Malaysian police had stumbled upon him, as Sulaiman was talking to ISI officers about plans to carry out terror strikes on the two consulates, when the Special Unit of Malaysian police was probing money laundering and human trafficking cases. Later, India secured an Interpol Red Corner Notice against Sulaiman after NIA took over the investigation.

While interrogating, Zakir Hussain revealed that he was working for Pakistan’s ISI and that he had been on an assignment of recruiting local youth for terrorist activities such as circulating fake currency and striking at possible targets in southern India. Based on his information, the Q Branch arrested two of his recruits from Mannadi area in Chennai. Zakir Hussain further confessed that, he was getting orders from Amir Zubair Siddique, Cousellor (Visa) at the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo to gather vital information on installations such as US Consulate in Chennai and Israel Consulate in Bangalore, and that, he had sent photographs and maps accordingly. He had also named another Pakistani official by name Boss alias Shah involved in this clandestine operation. Zakir Hussain had been frequently in touch with the two officials and had visited Chennai half a dozen times within a span of one year in the guise of textile and pharma merchant. His track record also reveals that he had spent three years in Singapore prison for spying and had also been detained in Bangkok once.

The Pakistan High Commission official Amir Zubair Siddique is reported to be a secretly working for ISI. His shady works came into the limelight earlier also when another extremist by name Thamim Ansari of Adiramapattinam in Thanjavur was arrested in September 2012, when he attempted to leave for Trichy to catch a flight to Colombo. When he was apprehended, he had DVDs and CDs materials containing photographs and video of vital installations like Nagapattinam Port, Madras Regimental Centre, Wellington, Ooty and visuals of Army Para Gliding training and Army Signal Corps, in his possession. He had also named Pakistan High Commission as his employers.

In between Ansari’s case and Zakir Hussain’s case, there was a serious alert from Indian central agencies on Sri Lanka being a center of ISI activities. Exactly a year ago in August 2013, Central Intelligence Agencies had alerted Maharashtra Police that eight militants undergoing training in Pakistan based camps might attack targets in South India from Sri Lanka through sea route, entering via Tamil Nadu coast or Kerala coast. The agencies informed that the eight terrorists were likely to operate from Jaffna and their target could be Madurai or Mayiladuthurai in Tamil Nadu. It was also informed that the Sri Lankan agencies have arrested three suspected Pak Nationals on 2 February 2013, who confessed to have visited Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram on Sri Lankan Passports.

Now with the advent of BJP government, NIA has urged Kuala Lumpur to share the evidence against Mohamed Hussain Mohamed Sulaiman, under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), signed by the two countries in 2012. The BJP government is also in regular touch with Sri Lanka putting lot of pressure on it with regards to Colombo based ISI activities. This has forced Pakistan to quietly withdraw its High Commission official Amir Zubair Siddique from Sri Lanka.

The success of ISI and ISIS in attracting Tamil Muslims is a clear indication of the growth of extremism in Tamil Nadu. The Kerala connection has helped the launching of fundamentalist outfits like Popular Front of India and Social Democratic Party of India in the state in addition to the already existing fundamentalist outfits such as Tamil Nadu Tauheed Jamath and Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazagham. There are about 24 outfits said to be operating in the state and they come under one banner whenever situation warrants, as evidenced by their united protests against movies like Kamalhasan’s Vishwaroopam and Hollywood’s Innocence of Muslims.

The soft peddling by both the AIADMK and DMK governments and their vote bank politics and appeasement policies have helped the growth of Muslim extremism. Let us have a look at the chronology of terror activities since the formation of AIADMK government in 2011.

US Consulate, ChennaiFrom 2011 to 2014

28 October 2011: A pipe bomb was planted enroute BJP leader L.K. Advani’s yatra between Thirumangalam and Srivilliputhur. The investigation has been very slow and tardy.

25 June 2012: State Intelligence and local police busted a training camp secretly held by Muslims in Ramanathapuram. 30 youth from Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu were detained and later let free. The name of the organization and the reasons for youths coming from far off places and the secret nature of the camp were kept secret by the police for reasons known only to them.

4 July 2012: Pugalendi, BJP functionary was murdered in Nagappattinam.

Between 14 and 18 September 2012, Muslim outfits mobilized thousands of people including women and children, and hit the arterial roads (Mount road and Cathedral Road) close to American Consulate, in the guise of protesting against the English movie Innocence of Muslims. The crowd indulged in violence and American Consulate was attacked, vehicles were stoned and police too were not spared. The entire stretch of Mount road was used as a place for Namaz and the violent protests went on continuously for four days. First time in the history of this country the American Consulate remained closed for four days. The AIADMK government did not take any action against the hooligans, but instead, found a scapegoat in the Chennai Commissioner of Police and transferred him to another position.

23 October 2012: Dr. Aravind Reddy, Secretary BJP Medical Wing was murdered in Vellore. Though initial arrests were made citing enmity due to Real Estate businesses, it has come out now that he was murdered by Jihadis.

26 October 2012: BJP National Executive Committee member H. Raja was attacked in Illayangudi, a Muslim dominated area.

6 November 2012: R.S.S Tiruppur District Secretary Anandan was assaulted in Mettupalayam near Coimbatore.

Between 19 and 22 December 2012, Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath issued handbills in Triplicane area with irreverent comments on Saint Ramalinga Vallalar. Members of the Hindu organisations lodged a complaint with the Zambazar police and the police booked a case against the complainant under non-bailable sections, while the accused Muslim was booked under bailable section after a gang of Muslims besieged the police station. A police officer justified this action by saying that if a Muslim is arrested they would mob the station in hundreds!

January 2013: Vishwaroopam, a Tamil movie produced by actor Kamal Haasan faced the ire of Islamists. Though the movie talked only about Taliban and their terror acts, 23 Islamic outfits again hit the streets and protested against the release of the film. In an act of appeasement, the government imposed a temporary ban. The chief minister even conceded through a special press meet that she couldn’t provide security to all cinema theatres. As a token of appreciation, Islamists welcomed her statement by pelting stones and throwing petrol bombs at some theatres in the state. No arrest was made in this regard too and again police remained silent presumably under the orders of the government.

19 March 2013: A BJP functionary by name Murugan was murdered in Paramakudi.

15 April 2013: Hindu Munnani functionary Manjunath was grievously attacked in Coonoor. Five TMMK cadres were arrested.

17 April 2013: Hindu Munnani functionaries Hariharan, Venkatraj and Jayakumar were attacked by Muslims while pasting posters condemning the attack on Manjunath in Coonoor. 10 TMMK cadres were arrested.

21 April 2013: Senior BJP leader M.R. Gandhi was attacked in Nagercoil

15 May 2013: In another act of appeasement, the government announced that Memorials for Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan would be constructed in memory of their fight against British. While history clearly depicts them as “foreign invaders” like the British, it is rather astonishing that the Tamil Nadu government treats them as “freedom fighters”.

May 2013: Seeman, president of a Tamil separatist outfit by name “Nam Thamizhar” brought Kashmir separatist leader Yasin Malik to Chennai for rendering a special address during a public meeting organized in Cuddalore in memory of LTTE’s defeat. He even approached the Chennai High Court and obtained permission for the event and until then the state government was not even aware of the visit of Yasin Malik. Waking up at the eleventh hour, the state government banned the public meeting. However, the event was held inside a marriage hall and Yasin Malik and Seeman addressed the gathering and they were allowed to escape. No case was registered against both of them despite their anti-national ranting. This is yet another case of government yielding to Islamic and Tamil separatists just for the sake of vote banks.

7 June 2013: Marriage Hall belonging to Suryaprakash of BJP was attacked by a Muslim gang using petrol bombs.

1 July 2013: State Secretary of Hindu Munnani Vellaiyappan was murdered in broad day light in Vellore.

6 July 2013: Muslims assembled in thousands and went on a rally without permission to the Secretariat violating the ban order, demanding enhancement of reservation from 3.5% to 7.5%., exemption for Muslims from Tamilnadu Marriage Registration Act 2009 and release of Muslim prisoners who served more than 10 years in jail. The city came to a standstill for a few hours and even though the police stalled their march and dispersed them, no legal action was taken against them.

19 July 2013: BJP state general secretary auditor Ramesh was murdered in Salem.

22 July 2013: Rahamathullaah from Dindukal belonging to SDPI was detained by the police for videographing the bandh in Nagapattinam. He was let off after three days.

23 July 2013: Two sympathisers namely Meenakshi Sundaram and Veeramanikandan, who participated in protest, organised to condemn auditor Ramesh’s murder in Ramana-thapuram, were attacked by Muslims

The two successive murders of Vellaiyappan and auditor Ramesh within a span of 18 days outraged the people of Tamil Nadu. Even the people’s anger couldn’t move the AIADMK government from its deep slumber. However, the massive turn out of not less than 2 lac people attending Narendra Modi’s Trichy congregation in September 2013, gave a huge jolt to Jayalalitha’s government, as the state intelligence informed her of the impending loss of Hindu votes. This made her to act and the police made the first arrest by apprehending Police Fakrudheen, who had come to Chennai on a mission of striking terror during the Thirumala Thiruppathi Thirukudai (Thiruppathi Umbrella Procession) festival which draws 6 lakh to 10 lakh people every year. The arrest of Police Fakrudheen led to another swift joint operation by the state police with Andhra police, leading to the capture of Bilal Malik and Banna Ismail in Pudhur on TN-Andhra border. Their interrogation revealed that they were the main culprits in almost all the murders and assaults. With the arrest of these three men, the government and the police became a sort of complacent leading to a slump in intelligence gathering.

The lack of intelligence and security efforts, despite the arrest of Zakir Hussain on 29 April, resulted in twin blasts inside a coach of Bangalore-Guwahati Express in Central Station on 1 May. Even after that, the government was in a denial mode. Terrorists struck again on 18 June brutally killing Hindu Front leader Suresh Kumar.

So, in a span of three years of AIADMK government, 6 Hindu leaders were murdered and a dozen others were assaulted apart from incidences of Islamic aggression on the streets.

Students Islamic Movement of India now called Indian MujahideenThe background

Alternative Dravidian governments since 1967, committed to minority appeasement, have failed to realize that pandering to minorities breeds extremism and separatism and that “indoctrinated” elements are working against the nation. The fundamentalists have increased and jihadi “sleeper cells” have come up in several parts of the state.

There has been a surge in the growth of Jihadi elements in Tamil Nadu in the last two decades. When a countrywide ban was enforced on SIMI, the Tamil Nadu unit took the avatars of “Al Umma” and “Jihad Committee” and Al Umma made its first major strike at the RSS HQs in Chennai in November 1993, killing 11 swayamsevaks.

The Jihad Committee, which has been regularly indulging in communal riots in the state, got disintegrated when its leader Palani Baba was murdered. Thereafter the TMMK (Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazagham) was launched in 1995. It was founded by Hyder Ali, a SIMI activist and former associate of Palani Baba in the Jihad Committee, who left Al Umma after a tiff with its president Basha.

When Al Umma was banned for the Coimbatore blasts in February 1998, it changed colour as “Manitha Neethi Pasarai” (MNP). Thus, neither the banning of SIMI and Al Umma, nor disintegration of the Jihad Committee, reduced Islamic fundamentalism in the state. In fact, it started growing in different avatars with the support of Dravidian parties, which go to any extent for the sake of vote banks.

From 1991 to 2001

There is a general feeling outside the state that Tamil Nadu is normally peaceful and that terror attacks are confined to the RSS HQs attack of 1993 and the Coimbatore blasts of 1998. The reality is that between 1993 and 1998 there have been several terror attacks and even after 1998, the attacks continued. When the RSS HQ in Chennai was attacked in the year 1993, in which 11 persons died, Jayalalitha’s AIADMK was in office for the first term (1991-96). That was the time when Islamic fundamentalism started to rise in Tamil Nadu. Let us look at some of the events happened during that period:

05-09-1991: Sivakumar, Hindu Munnani official, Coimbatore, murdered just near his residence.

98 August 1993: RSS HQs attacked in Chennai killing 11 persons and injuring 7 others.

18 March 1994: Elderly Muslim, Kottai Ameer, murdered by Jihadis (Al Umma leader Basha’s son Siddique Ali, Mohammed Muthu, Mohammed Sabi and Shahul Hameed), as he opposed their terrorist activities.

15-04-1995: Rajendran of BJP Coimbatore unit murdered.

04-07-1995: Wife of a Dalit-Hindu activist died in a blast in Nagore

31-12-1995: Karthikeyan, Hindu Munnani worker, murdered at Mettupalayam near Coimbatore.

The growth of Islamic fundamentalism was apparent during the DMK regime between 1996 and 2001, as evidenced by the following events:

1996: Coimbatore jailer Boopalan murdered by Jagubar Sadiq alias Sadiq alias ‘Tailor’ Raja alias ‘Valarntha’ Raja and his associate Jihadis.

18 May 1996: Blast in Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple; TMMK leader Naina Mohammed and Sait Saheb, Raja Hussain and Fakrudin (cadres) arrested.

31-01-1997: Auto driver Ragupathi, murdered at Selvapuram in Coimbatore.

03-02-1997: Retired Teacher Krishnaswamy, murdered at Marakadai in Coimbatore.

6 June 1997: Bomb attack on Doordarshan Kendra’s Thanjavur office.

01-09-1997: Mahendran, Arunachalam and Rajini Ramesh, murdered in different places in Coimbatore.

02-09-1997: Trikmara Ram, Murthi, Murugan and Kannan, murdered.

20-11-1997: Traffic constable Selvaraj murdered on the spot as he attempted to book Jihadis in a traffic violation case.

Scores of Hindus and Muslims died in riots following protests by police after Selvaraj murder.

On 6 December 1997 bombs exploded in Coimbatore-bound Cheran Express, Madurai-bound Pandiyan Express and Allepey Express.

On 9 December 1997, a cycle bomb exploded in Coimbatore suburb killing three women; Sultan Nazar and Abdul Quayum arrested.

On 10 January 1998, a bomb exploded on Anna Flyover in the heart of Chennai city.

As a culmination of events, on Feb. 14, 1998, 60 died and more than 200 injured in a serial bomb blast perpetrated by Islamic terrorist organization Al Umma.

With the advent of BJP led NDA government in May 1998 and since DMK was also a part of that government, terrorism subsided in the state. Terrorists went into hiding and lied low for a few years.

From 2001 to 2011

Though the law and order was comparatively better during AIADMK rule between 2001 and 2006, clandestine operations continued and sustained fundamentalism. Two incidents happened during this period.

On 28 March 2002, RSS pracharak Murugesan was murdered by Jihadis in front of his home in Kuniyamuthur near Kovai, and on 21 June 2005, R. Kalidas, state vice president, Hindu Makkal Katci, was murdered in Madurai by Jihadis.

After enjoying power and ministerial positions in the BJP led NDA government for 4 years, Karunanidhi made a calculated move of getting out of NDA and joined hands with the Congress for the 2004 parliamentary elections. PMK and MDMK also followed suit. AIADMK, which was in power in the state aligned with BJP and drew a blank in the elections. All the 39 seats, along with the sole Pondicherry (Union Territory) seat, went to Congress-DMK-PMK-MDMK alliance.

As the BJP lost the 2004 elections, the Jihadis increased their clandestine operations and they also got emboldened by the DMK led alliance’s victory in the 2006 Assembly Elections.

Half a dozen cadres of Al Umma were suddenly released from Palayamkottai prison in May 2006, within days of the DMK government taking charge. With the release of these fundamentalists from various prisons, Muslim pockets have begun to be Talibanised.

On 22 July 2006 five MNP (Manitha Neethi Pasarai) cadres were arrested in Coimbatore on charges of plotting serial bomb blasts similar to the 1998 blasts. The five were acquitted on 9 February 2008 on grounds of being arrested on false charges!

On 26 July 2006, Indian Express carried a report on MNP indulging in ‘conversion’ and conducting classes in the name of ‘Arivagam’ to brainwash new converts, especially scheduled castes, to train and recruit them to Jihadi squads. The MNP is reportedly active in places close to the Kerala border (Theni, Coimbatore, etc), so it can connect with Kerala-based NDF easily. Investigations of Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Mumbai blasts reveal that Kerala has been a permanent and safe haven and a training ground for Islamic terrorists who have been sent on Jihadi missions from Kerala to Kashmir.

In December 2006, TMMK attempted to construct a mosque close to Sri Kasi Viswanathar Temple in Thenkasi town of Thirunelveli district. Hindu Munnani activists led by Kumar Pandian thwarted the attempt.

As a fall out, on December 17, 2006, TMMK cadres murdered Kumar Pandian.

Just a month earlier, on 17 February 2007, The New Indian Express, Chennai, reported: “The Q branch of the state police is now concerned about the formation of a new Islamic outfit, Popular Front of India (PFI), a coordinated effort between three organisations – Karnataka For Dignity (KFD), Karnataka; Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP), Tamil Nadu; and National Development Front (NDF), Kerala. The new organisation was launched on Friday (16th February 2007) in Bangalore, ‘to coordinate & strengthen grassroot level developmental activities throughout the country,’ followed by an ‘Empower India’ conference in the garden city. Though the organisation’s agenda has been well spelt out – democracy & social justice, the state police fear that the organisation had been set up to propagate hardliner ideology. A Q branch official had said, “What is worrying us is the fact that a majority of the leaders of this new front belonged to the now banned SIMI”. The decision to launch Popular Front of India (PFI) has been taken at a conference of KFD, MNP & NDF held on 22 November 2006 at Calicut. The leaders of PFI include K.M. Shareef, president of KFD, Gulam Muhammed, leader of MNP and Abdur Rahman Baqari of NDF and they have decided to confine their activities to South India’.

A close look at the choice of words in their nomenclatures tells us how cleverly they are getting into mainstream politics! Soft and gentle words like Dignity, National, Development, Manitham (Humanity), Neethi (Justice), Popular and Munnetram (Improvement or Progress), have replaced hardline words like Jihad and other Arabic or Urdu words. They claim to work for Democracy, Social Justice and Development!

On Republic Day in 2007, when the MNP took out a rally in Madurai, wall advertisements by the outfit carried the figure of the flag of the banned outfit JKLF.

With Talibanisation comes the oppression of women. A woman running a tea shop and another working in a local beedi factory were waylaid and murdered in broad daylight in Thirunelveli, for trivial reasons, in the name of religion. Indian Express (26 March 2007) reported, “The police spoke of Al Umma, the fundamentalist outfit which had become weak after the arrest of more than 100 of its members in the Coimbatore case, which under the DMK regime had been rejuvenated and was trying to enforce edicts on the Muslim community in the districts of south Tamil Nadu.”

On 1 August 2007, Justice Uthirapathy pronounced the verdict. Abdul Nassar Madhani was acquitted (for want of evidence), to the shock of blast victims, their families and all right thinking people. He was given a hero’s welcome in Thiruvananthapuram. Both the UDF and LDF vied for credit for his acquittal.

On 14 August 2007, three Hindu Munnani activists (all brothers of Kumar Pandian) murdered in Tenkasi by TMMK cadres; three TMMK cadres also lost their lives in the clash.

On 13 September 2007, Government of Tamil Nadu reserved seats for Muslims under BC quota, which is unconstitutional and it remains unchallenged.

On 24 January 2008, a special police team arrested Ravi Pandian (last brother of slain Hindu Munnani leader Kumar Pandian & three others), and two other Hindu youths, in connection with the RSS-office bomb blast in Tenkasi!

On 5 February 2008, Jawahirullah, president of TMMK posted an article welcoming the arrest of Hindu youth and praising TN police for the arrests on an Islamic website,

Nawab of Arcot Muhammed Abdul AliOn 7 March 2008, an exhibition that displayed portraits depicting the true history of Aurangazeb, created by French historian François Gautier was removed by police along with Tamilnadu Towheeth Jamath functionaries. Volunteers present in the stall including women were detained by the police. The Muslims on Thursday issued an ultimatum to the organisers to close down or they have to face the consequences after Friday Namaz, in which they succeeded. It is pertinent to note that the Prince of Arcot paid a visit to the venue and confronted the author of the exhibition Francois Gautier, who is French by origin.

Between June and July 2008, central intelligence agencies alerted Tamil Nadu of a possible terrorist attack on Hindu religious installations. State intelligence busted a terrorist module operating out of Mannadi in Chennai with ‘specific plans’. These plans were near-operational when the police cracked down. LeT trained jihadis Toufeeque and Abu Dahir, who were also leaders of this module, managed to escape. Tamil Nadu police foiled an Independence Day 2008 terror bid by arresting Abdul Gaffur, employed in Chennai and acting under instructions from one Ali Abdullah lodged in central prison at Puzhal near Chennai.

Erode district police raided 30 private godowns selling gelatin sticks and detonators meant for stone quarrying and blasting wells. Police said the detonators used in the Bangalore blasts (2008) could have been sourced from these godowns. Police also raided godowns in Bhavani, Uthukuli, Sathyam-angalam and Gobichettypalayam.

In April 2008, Tamil daily Dinamani reported that MNP was giving “military training” to around 1000 cadres (50 from each district) to conduct “freedom parade”’ on 15 August 2008 (Independence Day), as a show of “patriotism”! The outfit recruited more than 25,000 cadres in four years and military training was being imparted to 300 cadres from each district. Though the outfit claimed to be focusing on ‘human rights’ and ‘social service’, the daily reported that the Q branch police was closely watching its activities.

The “freedom parade” was conducted in Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu and Idukki in Kerala. The then BJP government in Karnataka allowed the ‘freedom parade’ in Mangalore in 2008, but refused permission in 2009 for Mysore, a communally sensitive town. Popular Front of India’s website said that this practice has been going on since 2004.

While on one side these organisations ‘claim’ to be ‘patriotic’ and celebrate Independence Day, on the other side they create unrest and try to incite communal violence in the name of Babri anniversary. When they attempted to conduct protest demonstrations on 6 December 2008 (16th anniversary) in major cities and towns, more than 7000 activists were detained by the police.

On 21 December 2008, RSS parcharak Baskar was attacked in Dindugal. His legs were amputated.

Immediately after Mumbai attack in 2008 and close on the heels of a massive two-day rally by the Taliban after they took over the Swat Valley of Pakistan, either by plan or by sheer coincidence, fundamentalists took out a huge rally in a similar fashion in Calicut, Kerala. Though ignored by mainstream print and electronic media, the Tamil daily, Dinamalar, reported on 19 February 2009, that the Popular Front of India (PFI) organised a massive “national political conference” in Calicut from 13-15 February 2009. The conference was attended by members of PFI from 16 states including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa and Delhi.

The conference culminated with a massive rally and public meeting attended by over two lakh people. Just before the conference, the TMMK floated another outfit by name “Manithaneya Makkal Katchi” (Humane People Party) giving it a political colour. MMK also participated in the conference.

Half a dozen cadres of Al Umma were suddenly released from Palayamkottai prison in May 2006, within days of the DMK government taking charge. With the release of these fundamentalists from various prisons, Muslim pockets have begun to be Talibanised.

Modi & JayalalithaCenter-State coordination is the only solution

Since eighties, several Hindu leaders and activists apart from general public have lost their lives in terror acts perpetrated by Jihadis. The state government cannot afford to be in a denial mode any more. The central intelligence agencies have been repeatedly feeding the state government with several inputs, which are not taken seriously by the state. In the last 10 years, the UPA government at the center had diluted the fight against Jihad and focused more on concocting “Hindu terror”, which gave a lot of time leverage for Jihadi organizations across the country to regroup and revamp their activities. Fortunately, the change of guard at the centre and a very efficient NSA in place is expected to improve the intelligence gathering, planning and execution of anti-terror activities to a great extent. But unfortunately, Tamil Nadu has been alternatively ruled by DMK and AIADMK, which have been compromising the state’s security by pandering to the Islamic fundamentalist organizations. This has allowed the rise of Jihad in alarming proportions. Some of the fundamentalist organizations deserve to be banned altogether and some others have to be put in place. Unless the state government realizes and starts coordinated efforts with the center, the state would be in permanent peril, awaiting disaster and destruction, which are waiting to happen. – Uday India, 20 September 2014

» B.R. Haran is a senior journalist in Chennai


The guilty men (and women) of Libya – M.D. Nalapat

Prof M.D. Nalapat“Why is it that the growth of ISIS has not been tracked to its source, the massive flow of weapons, cash and training to extremists fighting against Bashar Assad? Why has none of the countries that have given such largesse been held to account for the creation of a militia that is in the process of setting up a state which will serve as the base for operations against Europe? These are questions for which there does not as yet seem to be answers.” – Prof Madhav Nalapat

Muammar GaddafiWhat was evident to a few even during 2011 has become obvious to all. The US-UK-France invasion of Libya and replacement of Muammar Kaddafy with a congeries of warlords has placed the country into the melting pot. While he was certainly a capricious dictator, and prone to flights of fancy and hyperbole, the reality is that during his rule, the people of Libya had jobs to go to, houses to live in, and food to eat. Healthcare systems were adequate, and even foreign education was encouraged. Most importantly, Kaddafy surrendered his stock of WMD to the US and the UK, as well as a trove of intelligence information about the way in which his team had dealt with terror groups across the globe.

Bashar Al-AssadSeveral dozen terrorists were quietly rounded up as a result of such sharing of information, many by Kaddafy’s own secret service, headed by Moussa Koussa. There were reports that Kaddafy even bankrolled the election campaign of selected French and Italian politicians, besides paying out a huge amount to the relatives of those killed in the Lockerbie air disaster, despite the fact that the evidence linking his regime to the crime was entirely circumstantial and based on hearsay. In a telling example of how it is not possible to “bank” goodwill with the NATO powers (they simply pocket the concessions made and promptly demand a fresh instalment, rather than reciprocate in ways other than cosmetic), none of this prevented Nicholas Sarkozy, then President of France, from drafting UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in his “Get Kaddafy” campaign. In the guise of saving civilian lives, they collectively condemned more than 60,000 Libyans to death in the military campaign against the Libyan armed forces, and further tens of thousands dying ever since because of warlordism and other problems. The Libyan operation revived Al Qaeda and gave it cash, sanctuaries and recruits on a scale not even seen during the days before the 2001 US attack on Afghanistan. This gift of oxygen to the terror force was reinforced by assistance given by some GCC countries and NATO to armed fighters battling the Bashar Assad regime in Damascus. The spillover has been widespread from that fateful decision to battle Kaddafy and later Assad with the same cocktail that was tried out against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

Nicolas SarkozyThe difference is several of the fighters in this version of the Afghan jihad are well-trained in professions such as chemistry and engineering, and know how to navigate the global financial system and border controls in a way beyond the ken of the fighters who congregated in Afghanistan in the 1980s to harass and finally drive out the Soviet armed forces. Because it was Nicholas Sarkozy who was instrumental in igniting this new jihad, the most apt name for the latest variant of Al Qaeda to have come out of the Libyan and Syrian theatre would be “Al Qaeda Sarkozy”. However, it is doubtful that there will ever be any accountability for the way in which Sarkozy has damaged international security by his cowboy-style intervention in Libya, or the way his successor Francois Hollande and David Cameron have further damaged the prospect of success against Al Qaeda by the repetition of the Libyan adventure in Syria. However, in the latter case, as Bashar Assad had not revealed his intelligence secrets – including details of his arsenal of weapons – to his enemies, they found it a much more difficult task to subdue his military than was the case with Kaddafy. Nicholas Sarkozy may get re-elected President of France in the next elections, while Hillary Clinton has a fair chance of getting elected as the first woman President of the US, especially if the Republican Party continues on the course of championing the interests only of billionaires.

Hillary ClintonIn the case of the latter, she has been a disaster as Secretary of State, for the reason that it has never been only her that President Obama has had to deal with, but the other half of “Billary”, Bill Clinton. It has been clear from US policy in several theatres that the Clinton view (which is aggressively Europeanist, seeking to retain that continent’s dominance into the 21st century) has in many cases prevailed over the more cautious view of President Obama. From the time that Washington jettisoned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in fewer days than he had defended US-Israel interests in the region to the misadventure in Libya and later Syria, the former Secretary of State has been a disaster. With the difference that, as in the case of Henry Kissinger, she has been writing her own history, where it has been possible to glide through the errors and pretend that they were beneficial.

NATO FlagOr if not, that someone else was to blame. Feckless Libyans, divided Syrians, Egyptian mobs. In short, anyone but Hillary. Given the reach of the Clinton couple in the “thought life” of their country and Europe, it has been no surprise that Hillary Clinton has almost completely escaped censure – or even attention – for the foreign policy errors that took place on her watch, mistakes which show clearly that she is the wrong person to make that 3am call to Accountability should be at the core of the policymaking process. Unless there is an objective assessment of the results of policies decided upon and implemented, errors are going to get repeated. Since long, the trend has been for policymakers in the NATO bloc to avoid shining the spotlight on their own errors, focussing instead on others, usually “red herrings” designed to divert blame for failure.

ISIS FlagWhy is it that after reports have begun to pour out about the chaos in Libya, the media in France do not question Sarkozy about his Libyan misadventure? Why do they not make the link between his launching a war there in 2011 with the chaos of three years later? Why is it that the growth of ISIS has not been tracked to its source, the massive flow of weapons, cash and training to extremists fighting against Bashar Assad? Why has none of the countries that have given such largesse been held to account for the creation of a militia that is in the process of setting up a state which will serve as the base for operations against Europe? These are questions for which there does not as yet seem to be answers. Hence the fear that those guilty of creating the conditions for the present chaos in Libya will soon be at work again, crafting yet another disaster that they can blame upon the rest of the globe. – Pakistan Observer, 1 August 2014

» Prof Madhav Nalapat is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Karnataka State, India.

Jihad: A deadly old game – Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar Etteth“Politics abides no principles. To counter the Raj, Lenin mixed religion and ideology, dreaming of a Communist India. He chose pro-Islamic M. N. Roy, an intense Bengali Communist, to found an army to fight the British empire, much before Subhash  Chandra Bose’s INA was formed. In September 1920, Comintern boss Grigory Zinoviev urged 1,800 Muslim delegates from the Middle East and Central Asia to start a jihad against imperialism.” – Ravi Shankar

ISIS tank on parade in RaqqaSometime around the turn of the 19th century, an agitated young Indian gentleman named Abdurrahman Peshawari decided to sail for Turkey. The British were fighting the last caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, and Indian Muslims were sending men and money to help the sultan. Jihad had a certain je ne sais quoi for Peshawari. He decided to bunk classes in Aligarh University, hawk all his belongings and took the steamer from Bombay to Istanbul. Peshawari was probably the first outsourced educated Indian jihadi. The tribe is growing. Eighteen homegrown fighters—mostly educated youth from South India— have given up filter coffee and Chettinad chicken to wage bloody war in Syria. They are among the hundreds of global holy warriors who believe in faith decaf—this depraved world has to get its just deserts of Wahab’s Arabia. Indian intelligence confirms that Indians have been fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan in hundreds. Middle East’s fractious politics now has infected the Indian psyche.

History shows that in spite of all the rabid romance of faith, jihad is about seizing power and creating new rules—in other words, politics by other means. Peshawari, after being wounded in Gallipoli, realised that the Ottoman cheque had bounced and became a politician and an acolyte of Kemal Ataturk, the Big Daddy of modern Turkey. Ataturk gave him much Turkish delight by appointing him ambassador to Afghanistan—the first Indian to represent a foreign power. Today, Ankara is playing politics in Syria, reportedly supplying arms to opposing factions. The result is that the jihadi story in Syria is not all ittar and virgins: there are over a hundred groups, killing one another for apostasy.

Napoleon  BonaparteBut then the politics of jihad is as old as the lust for power. Babur was a heavy-drinking and wenching, murdering bandit until he discovered the power of religion as a political weapon to motivate against Hindu armies. The spoils of war for his uneducated, bloodthirsty hordes were the usual—riches and women. Napoleon’s political move to appease Egyptian Muslims was to promise the great Imam of Cairo that he, along with the entire French army, was converting to Islam. It boomeranged, because his soldiers refused to be circumcised. In British India, the English, who were fighting the Sikhs supported Wahabi leader Syed Ahmad Barelvi who established a jihadi camp in Peshawar—now the capital of Taliban terror—recruiting fighters from Bengal, Bihar, Awadh and Agra against Maharaja Ranjit Singh. By the time the 1857 Mutiny happened, Raj politics had come full circle—historians like Sheshrao More claim that jihadis threatened to kill Nana Sahib if he didn’t lead the anti-British forces.

Politics abides no principles. To counter the Raj, Lenin mixed religion and ideology, dreaming of a Communist India. He chose pro-Islamic M. N. Roy, an intense Bengali Communist, to found an army to fight the British empire, much before Subhash  Chandra Bose’s INA was formed. In September 1920, Comintern boss Grigory Zinoviev urged 1,800 Muslim delegates from the Middle East and Central Asia to start a jihad against imperialism.

Jihad in the KoranThe principles of religion—whether it be the imams or the Church—have been exploited for centuries for political power. Invaders like Ghori, Ghazni and Aurangzeb conquered and ruled by fanatical faith. In Arabic, jihad means ‘struggle’—the believer’s spiritual effort to keep the faith to his best ability. Prophet Muhammed, after winning the war against his enemies, had said, “We are finished with the lesser jihad; now we are starting the greater jihad,” meaning the war against the enemy outside is less important than the spiritual struggle. It will take many decades and millions of lives lost for jihadis to realise the sublime truth behind the Prophet’s words. Meanwhile, the atavistic bestiality of belief is being baptised in blood daily, both of innocents and warriors fighting one another. – The New Indian Express, 3 August 2014

» Ravi Shankar Etteth or just Ravi Shankar is an Indian author, columnist and cartoonist. Contact him at


In wake of James Foley’s beheading, can we finally say the I-word? – Rex Murphy

ISIS senior commander Abu Waheeb in Iraq

Rex Murphy“When will the world take the jihadists at their word? Is there any doubt whatsoever that ISIS — which is currently slaughtering Christians, beheading its opponents, purging ‘non-believers’ and storming about Iraq and Syria with the cry ‘Convert or Die’ — is not fanatically, ruthlessly and irredeemably rooted in religious extremism? What, in any god’s name, does the first ‘I’ in ISIS stand for?” – Rex Murphy

James Foley being decapitated by ISIS“What’s in a name?” That famous question came from the mouth of Shakespeare’s Juliet Capulet while under her rhapsodic infatuation with Romeo Montague. What Juliet means is that she doesn’t care about Romeo’s last name — nor the feud between Capulet and Montague. The name is meaningless. Love is all.

But as adults, we know that there is much in a name. Name is identity in some cases. A person’s name is his or her calling card to the world. Our names speak of honour: We speak of “the family name” (or once did) in such a sense.

Under the clotted doctrine of political correctness, we pay backhanded homage to the importance attached to the real names of things … by avoiding those real names: by dipping deeds and practices into the sludge of euphemism.

Case in point: A lot of people had a problem with naming things this week — particularly in response to the latest Islamist beheading of an “infidel,” American journalist James Foley.

With all due apologies to the dark ages, it was a medieval barbarity. The poor captive was dressed in orange for the slaughter, put on camera, forced to speak before having his head sawed off with a knife, and the whole grisly, sadistic atrocity quickly posted to the world’s bulletin board — Youtube. This was courtesy of ISIS, the Iraq/Syria terror army, the latest and most ferocious of militant Islam’s murderous brigades — a version of Al-Qaeda that even Al-Qaeda has renounced as too indiscriminately murderous.

There really can be no more patience with the waffling and doublespeak and evasiveness that has characterized much of the public comment on Islamist terrorism since 9/11.

It is simply not enough anymore (if ever it was in the first place) to offer the banal rhetorical static that follows each murderous event: that these horrors — the homicides, beheadings, crucifixions, acid-splashings, mass killings — “have nothing to do with true religious faith.”

Religion, even in a form that civilized people may regard as violently debased, is still a religion to those who embrace it. I stress, and do not apologize for, my use of the word “civilized” there. If hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, subscribe to a violent theological creed, it simply will not do to pretend — as some Western leaders, clergymen, journalists and professors insist on doing — that these are merely misguided souls who don’t properly know how to interpret a holy book.

The BBC’s Security Correspondent, Frank Gardner, said the barbaric ritual beheading “was not about religion.” Well how many “allahu akbars” have to be ululated before Mr. Gardner would accept it and kindred butcheries as religious? Have he and we so soon forgotten the psychiatrist at the military base in Fort Hood, Texas, who stood up and shouted “allahu akbar” before killing 13 people? That was not supposed to be “about religion” either. Military officials and law-enforcement investigators turned collectively blue in the face before acknowledging what the killer himself proudly proclaimed that it was, in his brutal mind at least: a “religious” act.

When will the world take the jihadists at their word? Is there any doubt whatsoever that ISIS — which is currently slaughtering Christians, beheading its opponents, purging “non-believers” and storming about Iraq and Syria with the cry “Convert or Die” — is not fanatically, ruthlessly and irredeemably rooted in religious extremism? What, in any god’s name, does the first “I” is ISIS stand for?

The President of the United States offered his, by now too familiar, affectless mush on the killing. He declared that “no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” But that’s not how ISIS reads the Koran.

Who is Obama not to take ISIS at its word? Like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, it is their declared goal of restoring the “Caliphate” that stirs their demented souls. If they name their religion, let us name it, too.

“It’s a sign there is an utter ruthlessness and depravity about this movement which is hideous and sickening and deplorable,” is how Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott described ISIS this week. He said the killing was “as close to pure evil as we are likely to see.”

Pure evil — there’s a terminology adequate to the deed. In this contest with radical Islam, the answer to Juliet’s question — What’s in a name? — is … everything. – National Post, 23 August 2014

» Rex Murphy is an award-winning Canadian commentator and author, primarily on Canadian political and social matters.

Syrian soldier's heads by ISIS

“We will take Spain back,” says Islamic State – Soeren Kern

ISIS Chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Top ISIS Leaders

Soeren Kern“‘Clearly Spain forms part of the strategic objectives of global jihad,’ Spanish Interior Minister Fernández Díaz said on the eve of the anniversary. ‘We are not the only ones but we are in their sights.'” – Soeren Kern

Calls to reconquer al-Andalus are becoming more frequent and more strident.

“Clearly Spain forms part of the strategic objectives of global jihad. We are not the only ones but we are in their sights.” — Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz.

Radical Muslims in Spain have launched a social media campaign aimed at generating support for the jihadist group Islamic State [IS].

Flag of the Islamic StateThe campaign involves posters that include images of famous Spanish landmarks and monuments emblazoned with Arabic slogans such as, “We are all the Islamic State” and “Long Live the Islamic State.”

One poster includes an image of the medieval Islamic Aljafería Palace in the Spanish city of Zaragoza and the black flag associated with the IS. Another uses an image of the famous La Concha beach in the Basque city of San Sebastián. Yet another includes an image of the statue of Jesus Christ on Monte Urgull in San Sebastián, with the Arabic words “Al-Andalus Country” instead of “Basque Country.”

Al-Andalus is the Arabic name given to those parts of Spain, Portugal and France that were occupied by Muslim conquerors (also known as the Moors) from 711 to 1492. As the Basque Country is surrounded by mountains, however, the Moors never succeeded in occupying it.

The poster campaign comes after IS jihadists produced a video in which they vow to liberate al-Andalus from non-Muslims and make it part of their new Islamic Caliphate.

The video shows a jihadist speaking in Spanish with a heavy North African accent. He says:

“I say to the entire world as a warning: We are living under the Islamic flag, the Islamic caliphate. We will die for it until we liberate those occupied lands, from Jakarta to Andalusia. And I declare: Spain is the land of our forefathers and we are going to take it back with the power of Allah.”

Radical Muslims (and many moderate Muslims) believe that all territories Muslims lost during the Christian Reconquista of Spain still belong to the realm of Islam. They claim that Islamic law gives them the right to return there and re-establish Muslim rule.

In recent years, the return of “occupied” al-Andalus to the fold of Islam has become an obsession for Muslims of all stripes, and calls to reconquer al-Andalus have become more frequent and more strident.

Commenting on the latest video, Spain’s Secretary of State for Security, Francisco Martínez, said Spanish police were remaining “vigilant” in the face of a “grave” jihadist threat.

Meanwhile, Moroccan authorities have warned Spanish police that some of the more than 3,000 Moroccan jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq are beginning to return home, and that many of them are likely to attempt to infiltrate the Spanish mainland via the North African Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

The Moroccan Interior Minister, Mohamed Hassad, recently identified 1,221 Moroccan citizens who have joined jihadists groups in Syria and Iraq, as well as another 2,000 ethnic Moroccans who are citizens of other countries, including Spain.

Spanish and Moroccan counter-terrorism forces have stepped-up efforts to break up jihadist cells that have been proliferating in both countries.

On August 14, nine members of a recruitment cell for the IS were arrested in northern Morocco, not far from the North African Spanish exclave of Ceuta.

The arrests were made in the Moroccan cities of Fez, Tétouan and Fnideq, in what the Spanish Interior Ministry said was a joint intelligence operation between Moroccan and Spanish counter-terrorism police.

All the detainees are Moroccan citizens, several of whom made repeated trips to Ceuta to recruit jihadists and raise financial support for the IS.

“The jihadists recruited by the cell received instruction in weapons handling, assembly and placement of explosive devices and car theft, in order to participate in suicide terrorist attacks or to fight in conflict zones,” a statement by the Spanish Interior Ministry reported.

Some of those recruited by the cell are believed to have participated in beheadings in Syria and Iraq. Police say they are also examining computers and data storage devices to determine if there were plans to carry out a terror attack on Moroccan soil.

On August 4, a 19-year-old Spanish woman and a 14-year-old Spanish girl were arrested in Melilla just days before they were due to join the jihad in Syria. They are first Spanish females to be prevented from becoming jihadists.

“Both were trying to cross the border to Morocco with the aim of contacting the network that would move them immediately to a conflict zone between Syria and Iraq,” the Spanish Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The 19-year-old was released after surrendering her passport. The 14-year-old—who police say appeared “completely convinced” that she was doing the right thing by becoming a jihadist—is currently being held in a juvenile detention center where she has no access to the Internet. The girl’s parents said she had recently become radicalized after spending time perusing jihadist websites.

In June, Spanish police in Madrid arrested ten individuals (eight Moroccans, one Argentine and one Bulgarian) on allegations that they were members of an international network that recruited jihadists for the IS.

The ringleader was a 47-year-old Moroccan national named Lahcen Ikassrien, who was arrested in Afghanistan in 2001, and released after three-and-a-half years in Guantánamo. In July 2005, the U.S. government handed him over to Spain, where he faced charges of cooperating with al-Qaeda. In October 2006, the Spanish High Court acquitted him on the grounds that no firm evidence existed of his ties to the terrorist group.

Ikassrien, who lives in Madrid, was part of a cell led by Abu Dahdah, a Syrian-born Spaniard sentenced to a 27-year prison term in Spain for his part in the September 11, 2001 attacks, and for being one of the founders of al-Qaeda in Spain. In February 2006, the Spanish Supreme Court reduced the Abu Dahdah’s penalty to 12 years because it said that his participation in the 9/11 conspiracy was not proven. He was released in May 2013.

In May, Spanish police broke up a cell in Melilla that allegedly recruited 26 jihadists (24 Moroccans and 2 Spaniards) for al-Qaeda groups fighting in Libya and Mali. All six members of the cell are Spanish citizens. One of them, Benaissa Laghmouchi Baghdadi, is the first Spanish jihadist known to have returned from the fighting in Mali. Police say the cell used social media platforms such as “Sharia4Spain” to recruit jihadists.

In March, police in Spain and Morocco arrested seven suspected jihadists who belonged to cell operating in the southern Spanish city of Málaga. Four of the suspects were arrested in Spain and the other three in Morocco. Spanish officials said the cell was one of the largest of its kind in Europe and responsible for recruiting more jihadists than any other network discovered in Spain so far.

The suspected ringleader of the cell is a wheelchair-bound Spanish convert to Islam named Mustafa Maya Amaya. Maya, 51, was born in Brussels after his Spanish parents moved to Belgium in the 1960s to look for work there. After converting to Islam, he changed his given name from Rafael to Mustafa.

Police say Maya—who maintained close ties to jihadist cells in Belgium, France, Indonesia, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and Syria—is suspected of recruiting dozens of volunteer jihadists on the Internet and, after a careful selection process, sending them to join terrorist organizations in the Middle East and North Africa.

The sting operation was conducted on March 14, just three days after Spain marked the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Madrid train bombings, which killed 191 people and wounded nearly 2,000. Since then, more than 470 suspected Islamic extremists have been arrested in Spain, according to Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz.

“Clearly Spain forms part of the strategic objectives of global jihad,” Fernández Díaz said on the eve of the anniversary. “We are not the only ones but we are in their sights.” – Right Side News, 17 August 2014

» Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.

Aljafería Palace in Zaragoza, SpainLa Concha Beach, San Sebastián

Yazidis: The last Pagans of Iraq – Sanjeev Sanyal

Melek Taus or Peacock Angel

Sanjeev Sanyal“While the origins of the Yazidi are uncertain, cultural and genetic evidence suggests that they may be remnants of Indian tribes that migrated west in the second millennium BC. There is considerable evidence of Indian links with the Middle East during the Bronze Age. For example, Zoroastrianism, the religion of ancient Iran — to which Yazidi religious beliefs have been linked — is closely related to early Hinduism.” – Sanjeev Sanyal

Yazidi holy man blessing a devotee at LalishWith US President Barack Obama belatedly ordering air strikes and humanitarian airdrops of food and relief supplies to refugees in northern Iraq, the world is finally taking action against the Islamic State. Within a few months, the extremist group, which until recently called itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS], has taken control of large parts of both countries, where it has proclaimed a new “Caliphate.” But the real reason to fear the Islamic State is not its lust for power; it is the systematic, cold-blooded way in which its members are erasing the region’s social, cultural, and demographic past.

Within a few weeks, the Islamic State has virtually eliminated an entire section of Muslim and Christian populations from the areas it controls. The city of Mosul, home to one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, no longer has any Christians left. Priceless Assyrian artefacts have been publicly destroyed in a campaign against idolatry.

Indeed, the Islamic State has not even spared the co-religionists who do not adhere to their extreme interpretation of Islam. A number of revered shrines have been demolished, including one said to be the Tomb of Jonah.

As terrible as all of this is, the worst of the persecution has been aimed at the Yazidi, an ancient religious group that lives among the Kurds. They number less than a half-million, and two-thirds of them live around Mosul in northern Iraq. The rest are scattered across neighbouring countries like Syria, Armenia, and Turkey. More recent immigrant communities are to be found in Germany and the United States.

Although influenced over the centuries by Christianity and Islam, the Yazidi religion has ancient pagan roots that go back at least to the late Bronze Age. Interestingly, their beliefs have many similarities with Hinduism — for example, Tomb of Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir at Lalishthey believe in reincarnation, say their prayers facing the sun at sunrise and sunset, and even have a system of castes.

They also worship Tawûsê-Melek, the peacock angel — a bird that is found in the Indian sub-continent but not in Yazidi lands.

While the origins of the Yazidi are uncertain, cultural and genetic evidence suggests that they may be remnants of Indian tribes that migrated west in the second millennium BC. There is considerable evidence of Indian links with the Middle East during the Bronze Age. For example, Zoroastrianism, the religion of ancient Iran — to which Yazidi religious beliefs have been linked — is closely related to early Hinduism.

Over the centuries, the Yazidi have been dubbed as “devil worshippers,” and have suffered relentless persecution, which was especially extreme under the Ottoman Turks in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A series of massacres killed hundreds of thousands and almost led to their extinction.

Under Saddam Hussein, the Yazidi were not subjected to overt religious persecution, though they remained under pressure to Arabize their culture. Matters have since taken a turn for the worse. In April 2007, gunmen dragged 23 Yezidi men from a bus and shot them dead. Four months later, a series of coordinated car-bomb attacks killed at least 300 more, including women and children.

The Yazidis now face their greatest crisis ever. The Islamic State gave the Christians of Mosul the choice to convert, pay the jizya or leave. The Yazidi have been given no such choice and are killed on sight as “devil worshippers.”

The Yazidi heartland around Mosul is now largely under the Islamic State’s control. The small town of Sinjar, the only place in the world with a Yezidi majority, fell in the first few days of August as Kurdish fighters were forced to withdraw. Reports of large-scale massacres are trickling in.

Many refugees escaped into the mountains, where they are trapped in shrinking enclaves. Hundreds are said to have died already of thirst and starvation.

ISIS jihadi beheading in SyriaThe most sacred Yazidi pilgrimage site at Lalish runs the risk of being demolished.

Sadly, there has been little media outrage at the predicament faced by the Yazidi. Perhaps the US airdrops and promised strategic interventions, together with a possible coordinated operation by Kurdish forces (rearmed by the US), may rescue the survivors, but it appears unlikely that they will be able to return to their homes soon.

Centuries ago, the last Zoroastrians fled to India to avoid persecution. Their descendants, the tiny Parsi community, still live there.

Today, who will give refuge to the last pagans of Iraq? – Times of Oman, 9 August 2014

Yazidi Flag

Yazidi holy spring at Lalish Temple

Yazidi Religious Ceremony at Lalish

Yazidi Men

Ghazwa-e-Hind: The final battle for India – Abhishek Bhalla

Pakistan tribals for jihad in India

Abhishek Bhalla“The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan has already fuelled concerns in the Indian security establishment about its implications on Jammu and Kashmir. The volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan border is expected to explode into further chaos with jihadists expanding their reach to conflict spots such as J&K. The intelligence agencies have assessed that around 800 militants, mostly foreigners, are ready to cross over the Line of Control (LoC) to spread terror in J&K.” – Abhishek Bhalla

JihadiGhazwa-e-Hind refers to an indoctrinated view of a final apocalyptic war in which India will be conquered by a jihadi army. All soldiers of this army are guaranteed a place in heaven.

This term is freely used in jihadi circles and on the web, but is considered bizarre by others.

Sources say the security establishment has been on the trail of launch-pads being set up within the country, and is also in touch with its counterparts in West Asia in order to crack the growing network.

An intelligence report on India being used a hunting ground for global jihad reveals al-Qaeda‘s diabolic roadmap.

To begin with, the terror group that was created and led by Arab fighters now has recruits from Kashmir-centric groups.

“Not only Kashmiri groups but Taliban and al-Qaeda affiliates have stakes in the larger scheme of Ghazwa-e-Hind where India is regarded as next battleground in the ‘End of Times’ battle. This ideology is likely to be used to drive Taliban and al-Qaeda affiliates into Kashmir,” says an intelligence report.

The al-Qaeda nexus with Kashmir-centric groups indicates it has a ready-made jihadi framework in India.

There is other proof too of al-Qaeda using its nexus with Indian groups to spread its ideology.

An online English publication of al-Qaeda called Azan which is not available to the general public but is circulated through changing e-mails and encryption tools is being downloaded by Kashmiri groups.

Sources say this only underlines the trend of terror groups within India getting attracted to the al-Qaeda and global jihad ideology.

Agencies fear that the Azan tactic of spreading the terror group’s ideology could spawn anonymous and isolated modules that will be difficult to detect but potent enough to carry out big attacks.

Intelligence reports also state that groups like Tehreek-e-Taliban have declared they will open ‘offices’ in Kashmir.

It has been revealed that a Taliban flag was hoisted at a point overlooking Srinagar last year, and the walls of Hari Parbat fort were painted with slogans like ‘Welcome Taliban.’

Sources say there is an urgent need for the home ministry and intelligence agencies to understand the threat.

“Indicators need to be monitored to prevent the situation from worsening,” said one official.

Al-Qaeda’s propaganda arm, Al Sahab, released a video recently, titled ‘Why is there no storm in your ocean?‘ The report states that the video and transcripts were posted on several jihadi forums.

The videos have speeches asking youths from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and South India to join the global jihad. Incidentally, these are the areas where young men were recruited by the Indian Mujahideen (IM), India’s homegrown terror group that has become synonymous with bomb blasts in public places.

With the IM facing a major setback because of a series of arrests, including that of its top leader Yasin Bhatkal, sources say Indians fighting in Iraq for terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are part of larger scheme.

Many more recruits are getting attracted to the global jihad that can later be used to wage war against India.

There are also distinct inputs on al-Qaeda running a separate terror module in India as the homegrown terror outfit IM is making efforts to go global and establish strong links with groups like al-Qaeda, Taliban and Hizbut Tahrir.

There is also evidence of al-Qaeda keeping a close watch on activities in India. The charge-sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against Bhatkal says that organisations al-Qaeda and the Taliban are helping IM.

It also mentioned that the investigation revealed that some IM members are fighting on the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border.

NIA has said in the charge-sheet that Riyaz Bhatkal, a top IM commander based in Pakistan, travelled to tribal belts on the Af-Pak border to establish contact with al-Qaeda.

“After the meeting, which was very fruitful, Al Qaeda gave specific tasks to the IM for execution and agreed to train their cadres in terrorist activities,” the charge-sheet says.

Ghazwa-e-Hind: The final battle for India.

Pakistan Taliban have a keen interest in J&K

The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan has already fuelled concerns in the Indian security establishment about its implications on Jammu and Kashmir.

The volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan border is expected to explode into further chaos with jihadists expanding their reach to conflict spots such as J&K.

The intelligence agencies have assessed that around 800 militants, mostly foreigners, are ready to cross over the Line of Control (LoC) to spread terror in J&K.

The Army says infiltration attempts have become bolder

With the coming Assembly election in the state, the militant activity is likely to increase. The LoC itself had remained volatile during much of last year, when frequent ceasefire violations were reported.

Even this year, the situation has not improved, though the two countries have initiated steps to normalise the ties.

Sources said the Pakistan Taliban have a keen interest in J&K.

Further, the Pakistan army has not subsided its efforts to push through militants across the LoC.

All the ceasefire violations are linked to the infiltration bids, said officials.

More than two dozen militant camps are still said to be active in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The army has noticed that infiltration attempts have become bolder and the terrorists showed high level of training and carry sophisticated communication equipment to stay in touch with their handlers.

The recent encounters with militants have indicated that their combat techniques have improved drastically.

Most of the camps are located around Muzaffarabad in Kashmir. Another cluster is located in Kotli facing Poonch and Rajouri. – Daily Mail, 16 July 2014 

» Abhishek Bhalla lives in New Delhi and writes for the Daily Mail in London. 

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