Only about 108 Muslims out of 180 million Indian Muslims joined the Islamic State in the past few years, Asif Ibrahim, former special envoy to the Centre, said on countering terrorism and extremism. “Around 50 per cent of the recruits were Indians living in West Asian countries when they joined the IS and were exposed to the Salafi radicals. Forty per cent recruits were from the coastal regions of India,” Ibrahim said while speaking at a conference organised by Policy Perspectives Foundation to discuss Indo-UAE cooperation against radicalisation and terrorism.
A former Intelligence Bureau Director, Ibrahim was appointed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 as a special envoy. During his address at the conference, he said, “Strong religious education acts as a bulwark against radicalisation and most of the Islamic State (IS) members had little knowledge of Islam religion.”
“The current narrative is that the more religious you are, the more fundamentalist you are. This was proven wrong by the UK’s security agencies. They interviewed IS returnees and almost 90 per cent of them had little knowledge of religion. Strong religious education acts as a bulwark against radicalisation. So much so that in many madrasas in India, countering violent extremism is a key chapter in most religious texts,” Ibrahim added.
Adil Rasheed, a research fellow at Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, said all Salafis were not radicals. “Both India and UAE oppose religious ideology. Whenever there is radicalisation, it is not a single process. If we have to fight against the threat, we have to go back to the Constitution. Even Saudi prince says that UAE model is to be followed (in countering radicalisation). Radicalisation is the last process, first is fundamentalism and then comes extremism,” Rasheed said.
Prof Sophia Pandya, who was part of the discussion, listed seven factors that make people ripe for recruitment; lack of religious education, isolationist, to see yourself as luke skywalker, emasculation anxiety among others.