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New jihadist outfit ‘Al Kerala Military Brigade’ continues to expand in India

Converted Muslims, ISIS in Kerala, Al Kerala Military Brigade, Counterfeit Indian Currency, Inter Service Intelligence, Pakistan, ISI

Counterterrorism

New jihadist outfit ‘Al Kerala Military Brigade’ continues to expand in India

According to a recent report published in Kerala-based newspaper Daily Janmabhumi, a new jihadist group named ‘Al Kerala Military Brigade’, which follows the ideology of Islamic State has been gradually expanding its network and number of fighters. A report published by the ‘Anti-terror Cyber Wing’, Kerala has already emerged into a breeding ground of Islamic terrorists and the number of sleeper cells of the ISIS in Kerala is above 3,200.

The report further says that approximately 40 percent of the sleeper cell members of ISIS-Kerala are women while majority of them are converted Muslims.

These sleeper cell members are trained to manipulate discussion in social media, spread Jihadist ideology and lure people towards terrorist activities. Members of these groups also are trained to use various types of weapons while some of them are experts in bomb-making. The report also states that there is sleeper cell in all the major sectors including movie and entertainment industry. Such people are lured by offering money, sex and high paying jobs outside India, especially the United States, Britain and European nations.

It may be mentioned here that, a large number of people from Kerala are travelling to Iraq and Syria for joining Islamic State, while there also are significant number of people joining Hamas and the Taliban.

While these jihadists outfits in India are having direct connections with global terror networks such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State, they also receive funding, training and logistic support from Pakistani espionage agency Inter Service Intelligence. Pakistani ISI uses jihadist groups in circulating Counterfeit Indian Currency (CIC) and cocaine and heroin on a regular basis, which are one of the main ways of funding terrorism.

Pakistan set to suffer from its own jihadist Frankenstein

According to counterterrorism experts, Pakistani establishment maintains close relationships with the Taliban, though with a decreasing level of influence… but both sides continue to profit from one another.

Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, director-general of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s notorious omnipresent intelligence arm, warned members of parliament in a closed-door briefing in the presence of army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa that Pakistan was losing influence over the Taliban. The general was speaking in early July this year as the Taliban were advancing in the Afghan countryside.

Pakistani support for the Taliban is a double-edged sword. The question is whose worldview will be exported: Will the Taliban emulate aspects of Pakistan’s tarnished democratic façade, or will the group’s ultra-conservative religious outlook gain further momentum in Pakistan?

One doesn’t preclude the other.

Experts described Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid’s promise that Afghan media would be free as a reminder of similar assurances about media freedom by Pakistan’s generals, which makes one realize the effort afoot to make a Taliban-led regime look increasingly like Pakistan: hybrid-authoritarian and hybrid-theocratic… This is where the real problem for Pakistan begins: There is too much opacity around what Pakistan can deliver and what it cannot.

Fertilization may be a two-way street, however.

While Pakistan fears that the Taliban victory will give a violent boost to Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban, which has close ties to their Afghan kin, the Kabul Taliban may not need the help of the militants who relaunched attacks inside Pakistan even before the Taliban capture of Afghanistan.

The Taliban victory benefits from decades in which religious ultra- conservatism was woven into the fabric of Pakistani society as well as some of its key institutions.

Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami leader Sirajul Haq has already used the triumph to demand a sharia-based system in Pakistan. To be fair, Haq at the same time condemned the harassment of a Pakistani girl in Lahore for not wearing a traditional shawl. Similarly, Fazal ur-Rahman, head of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), another Islamist party, congratulated the Taliban on their takeover of Afghanistan.

Indian media reported that fugitive Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar, a violent Pakistani Islamist believed to have support from within the Pakistan armed forces and intelligence, met Taliban leaders in Kabul recently to solicit support for stepped-up operations in disputed Kashmir. The reports could not be independently confirmed; nor did it seem likely that this would be the Taliban’s first order of business.

The fact remains that notwithstanding the ambition to mellow the tone of religion in Afghanistan, Pakistan itself runs the risk of becoming more like its northwestern neighbor—more religious and more authoritarian.

This concern has not been lost on Islamabad, where officials have been pushing the Taliban to opt for a truly inclusive government. A recent visit to the Pakistani capital by representatives of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance and other Afghan politicians suggested that Pakistan was seeking to broaden its Afghan network beyond the Taliban.

Abdul Basit, an analyst at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies said: “Ironically, Islamabad sought strategic depth against New Delhi by supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Now, Taliban rule in Afghanistan will provide Pakistani jihadists with the strategic depth to launch attacks against Islamabad. For Pakistan, the chickens are coming home to roost”.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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