The state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is worried about the way Islamic State (IS) operatives are using social media for their propaganda and recruitment in India. The probe into the case of the 16-year-old Muslim girl from Pune, who was brainwashed by suspected IS operatives online and was set to join the IS in 2017, has revealed how potential recruits were guided on what they should do if identified by police.
After the ATS zeroed in on the girl, officials tracked and analysed her communications over social media. The girl was found to be connected through her Facebook (FB) account to Mohammed Sirajuddin, who was arrested last week from Rajasthan for his alleged links to the IS. Her FB friend list also included foreign and Indian nationals with suspected links to the terror outfit.
Some of the chats revealed that operatives who brainwashed Indian youths towards also gave them instructions on how they should interact with police if they are traced.
Sources said the operatives told the youths to tell police that being “pro-IS” was “not a crime”, “not anti-national”. Also, if police called or picked them up for questioning, they should go with a lawyer, they were told. This “interaction” on chats reportedly took place after the suspected IS operatives got to know that a group member had been identified and picked up by police in some other place.
ATS officials said the girl was initially under the “deep influence”.The girl looked confident as she talked to police and maintained her “pro-IS” stand. Officials said she had started believing the entire world should follow the IS and that she should be prepared to do anything.
Monitor college-going children: ATS
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ATS) Bhanupratap Barge appealed to citizens to closely observe the activities of their school- and college-going children. Barge said parents should observe what children are doing on the Internet, their friend circle, what they read and talk about, any change in their behavior, dressing style etc. Parents should inform police of anything suspicious, he said.
The Pune ATS had earlier “de-radicalised” a 23-year-old Hindu youth from Pune, who got attracted to the extremist ideology through social media. The youth, who had studied diploma in engineering in a college in Beed district, became very active on social media. Last year, he left home, got converted. But his parents informed ATS and, with the help of officials, managed to bring him back. ENS