In my book, Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad are saints compared to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS madman. Saddam’s Iraq was stable and so was Syria before all hell was let loose into it. Some of the hellishness is beamed into our drawing rooms as well. ISIS horrified the world by burning alive Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh. He was doused in fuel, led up to a cage, and lit up. We saw the pictures. Do barbaric killings like this further the ISIS cause? Till now we have seen how they executed their trophy hostages, by beheading them. By their sheer barbaric acts, the ISIS/ISIL makes Attila the Hun, Pol Pot and Genghis Khan and even Adolf Hitler seem such gentlemen. Yet, there seems to be a growing army of adherents who seem willing to take up the ISIS way of life, from all over the world. Even India is not immune to the bizarre allure of these terrorists. What explains this?
It can be reasonably postulated that the ISIS would not have become the monster it has if George Bush Jr had not laid Iraq to waste like some modern day Genghis Khan and opened the floodgates for terrorists of all hues to set up camp, encouraged the division of the country along sectarian lines. It also had the effect of engendering a free for all in Syria leading to a generalised terrorist tumult in the region that washes up against our shores as well. We have heard our Prime Minister declare confidently that “Indian Muslims will not dance to their tunes”. Yet for about a year now, we have been hearing reports of Indians going to Syria and Iraq, some with their families, in order to fight side-by-side with the ISIS. True, they are sporadic, but at the same time there seems to be no let-up in the way such news continues to break.
Only last week we heard about a girl from Hyderabad, mere 19, who had been living for the past decade in Qatar, had along with a neighbour who kind of convinced her, gone to Turkey with the idea of slipping into Syria to join the ISIS. She had changed her mind only at the last minute. This was on January 31. A couple of days later, as many as nine persons were deported from Turkey after they tried to cross over to Syria to join ISIS. Just 15 days prior to that, an engineer educated in the US was arrested in Hyderabad while he was on his way to join ISIS along with his Dubai-based girlfriend. There were suggestions that he had been recruiting for the terrorists as well. Then in November there was the case of Mehdi Biswas who worked overtime for ISIS on Twitter. In September, there were reports of as many as 15 engineering students, including a girl from Hyderabad, who were tracked down by the Telangana Police in West Bengal after their parents complained they were missing. The students planned to fly to Iraq from West Bengal into the arms of the ISIS. In March last year, a resident of a village near Cuddalore received a phone call from his son who informed him over a very bad telephone line that he, his wife, and three children were living the dream life fighting alongside ISIS against al-Asaad. Why would our youth waste their lives doing menial jobs for ISIS, like cleaning toilets, reduced to being sex slaves, participating in beheadings, killings, rapes, burying children alive, and just plain murder? Are we missing something here? Should we be worried?
Sudarshan is the author of Anatomy of an Abduction: How the Indian Hostages in Iraq Were Freed