After several instances of young Muslim boys enticing Hindu and Christian girls in Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra and several other parts of the country with the show of wealth and promises of marriage and then, ferrying them to Kashmir and other places, converting them and recruiting them forcibly into Islamist Jihad came to light, concerns at this Love Jihad were raised. But, our so-called secularist lobby started dismissing these concerns as myths and communal propaganda. What happened last week when the United Arab Emirates (UAE) deported to India a Hyderabad resident lady on charges of secretly working as a recruiting agent for the ISIS through a concealed identity has blasted the secularists’ apology on the charges of Love Jihad. On her arrival from Abu Dhabi, the National Investigation Agency took her into custody and is unravelling her past life as a recruiter for the barbaric killers in the name of religion that the Syria-Iraq based militant movement has turned out to be.
The story of Afsha Jabeen from Hyderabad turns out to be a mix of 26/11 recee agent of Pakistan’s state-supported militant organisation of Hafiz Sayeed and the several Love Jihad Islamist teenagers who were engaged by jihadi organisations for recruiting unsuspecting girls from non-Muslim communities to the Islamist cause. David Headley, who toured India collecting details for staging the 26/11 massacre in Mumbai, claiming to be a Christian and a businessman, was actually a Muslim. He assumed a Christian name to mask his identity and gain unsuspecting access in India. Pakistan’s ISI and Hafiz Sayeed’s JuD were his real handlers. As we know now, he was unmasked while in the US and is currently in jail. American authorities have agreed to share with India much of the details they have gathered after his arrest. In the US itself, he was probably a double agent pretending to work for the anti-terrorism agency but actually was working all the time for the Islamist cause in Pakistan.
The plot in the case of the Hyderabad lady is the same but it is the woman who now assumes a Christian name to hide her real identity and carry on recruitment for the ISIS by luring unsuspecting young men to marry her. It has now come to light that she also pretended to be a British resident settled in the UAE so she could carry greater conviction and persuade her intended victims that they stand to gain by getting to move to the UAE. Her virtual life on Facebook and other social media was so effectively secretive, even her husband — a Hindu working in Abu Dhabi, himself a victim of her charm and had converted to Islam to marry her — was not aware of her secretive work carried on the social media by pretending to be a Christian.
She assumed many Christian names, mainly Nicole Joseph, to make her victims believe that they were getting into a relationship with a British national and therefore, have a chance of landing up in the UK. The intended victim, knowing her only on the social media, would be wheedled into the ISIS camp through her machinations. After an electronic engineer, a Muslim himself, was lured by her and was persuaded to come to Syria, his attempts to get a visa to that country got the IB to zero in on her.
“She used her false identity to attract non-Muslims to take up Islam like her,” the IB has been quoted in the report about her arrest as soon as she landed in Hyderabad following her extradition from the UAE. The IB was following the lead obtained from the Hyderabad engineer, who was seeking to go to Syria, for the last six months to provide enough documentation of her being an ISIS agent and compel the UAE police to extradite her. The treaty that India has with the UAE makes it mandatory to send back to India suspected criminal elements from here seeking refuge in the UAE from the law here. Too clever by half, she had withdrawn from her virtual life once her intended victim boasted about his intention to go to Syria and thus, drew attention to such clandestine activities through the Facebook.
The IB could trace her work back to 2008 when she launched a Facebook group called “Islam vs Christianity”, the title being innocent in itself till the intelligence agencies dug up and found much dirt. “Even her husband, Devender Kumar Batra, himself a convert to Islam, was not aware of her virtual life as a recruiting agent...,” the IB is quoted as saying in newspaper reports.
Now the IB is watching several people in J&K, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and other places who were her recruits for various jobs as ISIS agents. How far the penetration of this dangerous Islamist organisation has gone will be known only when this lady is investigated fully. It should be noted that the Hyderabad electronic engineer Salman Mohiuddin, who got lured by Jabeen, was under the impression that she was a Christian and a British national and was ready to marry him.
How from such gullibility the victims are led on the path to either adopt Islam or if already Muslims, to join the ISIS or other Jihadi outfits, needs to be studied for developing adequate immunity socially against such viruses. The success of ISIS, despite its horrifying mass killings and individual beheadings and throat slittings, is also a warning for civilised societies against complacency of any sort.
From this event, it is quite evident that for our own safety we cannot take lightly the reports that several young people here are getting lured by religious ideology, hopes of landing up big deals abroad, marriages with persons of Islamic faith to gain access to the oil riches of the Gulf or other attractions.
Love Jihad could be a plot that could be played by not only teenage Muslim boys displaying high lifestyles to attract gullible girls from other communities, it could also be Muslim girls with concealed identity as non-Muslims but cleverly trapping unsuspecting men into Islamist ideology. This is more so, when we see European nations, especially the UK, Germany and France are finding plots after plots being hatched by Islamists in their territory. The frontrunners in these plots are late converts from the dominant Christian community in Europe who fall for the Islamist ideology. That in the UK one such convert beheaded a British soldier some months back in a public place in broad daylight is a sharp reminder of how far this ideology could go in making beasts out of human beings.
The author is a Delhi-based commentator on political and social issues.