NEW DELHI: Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist offensive in northern Iraq, about 2,049 miles away from Delhi, has sent alarm bells ringing among Indian intelligence and security agencies.
According to sources, a meeting of the intelligence top brass was convened in Delhi last week after inputs warned of a possibility of Shia-Sunni polarisation and potential clashes during Ramadan.
“A series of underground meetings of Shia and Sunni groups were held in Lucknow in the last week of June. There are reliable inputs that SIMI, a terror outfit drawn mostly from a particular sect, may try to take advantage of the situation. It is getting dangerous,” a source said.
On June 19, Shia and Sunni groups clashed in old Lucknow’s Shahadatganj area following a war of words between the two sects over ISIL activities in Iraq.
The intelligence agencies keeping a watch over the developments had informed that “sympathy has been voiced for Shias in Iraq, triggering intensive counter propaganda by Sunni groups extending support to terrorists claiming that ISIL was not a terrorist outfit, but a group of freedom fighters.”
Intelligence alert had further added that a “group of youngsters also announced support for ISIL commander and terrorist Abu Bakar Al-Baghadadi, which was a dangerous sign of self-indoctrination.”
Although clerics from both the sects had appealed for calm, the youth were said to be distributing video clips through social networking application Whatsapp.
“ISIL capability is questionable, but the online propaganda has the potential to trigger sectarian violence in certain sensitive pockets. There is no mechanism to monitor Whatsapp communication.
Although, one suspicious URL which hosted hundreds of Jihadi videos, including ISIL execution, for download was blocked,” said the source.
Indian agencies have also warned of a possible Al-Qaeda al-Hind (AQAH) penetration and its alleged tie-up with SIMI and Indian Mujahideen (IM) to carry out terror activities in India.
An offshoot of Al-Qaeda, AQAH is said to be involved in recruiting terror cells in IM’s fertile grounds in Bihar, UP and Rajasthan to carry out jihad in Syria and Iraq.
“It is getting dangerous. We are keeping a watch on what Indian groups are doing, but need more intelligence inputs from Syria and Iraq to join the dots,” the source said, adding that R&AW needs to reactivate its assets in Gulf countries to monitor the situation as information flow is surprisingly very disappointing.
A Delhi-based Shia group Anjuman-e-Haideri has also added to the woes of intelligence agencies. It has called for volunteers to go fight in Iraq against ISIL to protect the Shia population in the war-torn country.
To further its propaganda, the little-known group has also floated tenders inviting Indian airlines to carry 25,000 volunteers to Iraq. Intelligence Bureau officials monitoring activities of such groups said they are adding fuel to fire through such activities which may have grave consequences for peace in the region.