NEW DELHI: Most of the 21 Kerala youth who had joined the Islamic State in Afghanistan and were feared killed in US bombings on April 14 are reportedly alive, Intelligence sources said here on Tuesday.
Earlier, reports had claimed that the international terror group’s Kerala recruits may have been killed after the US had dropped a GBU-43 bomb, the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat, in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar, close to the Pakistan border, against a series of caves used by the Islamic State terrorists.
“The news that 21 youth from Kerala who were being trained by IS in Afghanistan may have died in the bombing is not correct. Many of them are reportedly in touch with their family members through WhatsApp and other social media platforms,” a senior Intelligence Bureau official said.
Some of them, the official claimed, are allegedly trying to indoctrinate more youth back home through social media propaganda.
“We have learnt it through surveillance and scanning Internet chatrooms and social media,” the official added.
In July last year, seven persons had gone missing from Kasargode and four from Palakkad and their disappearance had come to light when relatives of the missing persons took up the matter with the local MP and MLA.
A preliminary investigation revealed that they were radicalised on social media and went to Afghanistan to join terror training camps before travelling further to Syria.
Nearly 140 youth from across the country, who are at present being de-radicalised with the help of the community elders, are under the close watch of the National Investigation Agency. The federal agency has desisted from any punitive action against them as part of the Centre’s policy to de-radicalise such vulnerable youth instead of initiating criminal action against them.
‘Still in touch with families’
According to a senior Intelligence Bureau official, the news that 21 youth from Kerala who were being trained by IS in Afghanistan may have died in the bombing is not correct since many of them are reportedly still in touch with their family members through social media platforms.