Two youths from Chennai have been deported from Turkey after they tried to enter Syria, allegedly to join the Islamic State (IS). A senior intelligence officer said both of them landed in Bengaluru two days ago.
Officials said one of them is a 23-year-old commerce graduate from Royapettah, Chennai. He used to work at a textile shop run by his father. The other is a 22-year-old from a village in Karur district. He was staying with his relatives in Chennai, where he used to work at a store.
After they landed in Bengaluru, both men were counselled by the police and were eventually allowed to return with their families. They were also warned that they will be under surveillance.
According to a senior police officer, while no other Indian seems involved in the case, they are probing the origin of an email ID that guided the two men to the Syrian border.
“Both of them were fed up with life. Together, they started searching online for information about the Islamic State. They believed they will get better jobs and a meaningful life in IS-ruled territory in Syria,” said an official, adding that they first met at a mosque in Purasawalkam.
“They were reluctant to cooperate with us. But once their families were called in, they changed their mind. One broke into tears, while the other seemed shaken. Still, they kept insisting that they went in search of jobs to Malaysia,” said the officer.
The state intelligence is looking at their online activities and data logs to find the “recruiter” who guided them to the Syrian border.
According to an officer, the two first went from Bengaluru to Dubai in August 2015. There, they stayed for a while, possibly to confirm when it was safe to enter Syria, said an official. However, tightened security at the Turkish border ensured they got caught. They were arrested from a hotel near the Turkey-Syria border and were soon deported to India, with an intelligence note which referred to them as possible “IS aspirants”, said the officer.
Tamil Nadu has seen cases linked to the IS in the past as well. In August last year, 26 youths posed for a photograph in front of a mosque in Ramanathapuram district, wearing black T-shirts with the IS emblem.
The photo went viral online, but the police had to let them off with a warning. In September 2014, there were reports that a Chennai youth who joined the IS had killed himself in a suicide bombing. In August 2015, The Indian Express reported that a 40-year-old engineer from Vellore had joined the IS, and had taken his wife and four children along with him.