KOCHI: Close on the heels of the terror group Islamic State losing its last foothold in Syria, agencies in India have commenced measures to track down Indian citizens, including Keralites, who migrated to IS territory and are held back there.
With the Interpol diffusion notices issued against Keralites in Syria pending, agencies expect to track them down with the help of security agencies in Syria. It was last week the last territory held by IS in Syria was liberated. “There is information IS members, including women and children, have been shifted to temporary camps. The Indian Embassy in Damascus is checking with Syrian authorities to trace any Indian national in the camps,” said a Ministry of Home Affairs officer.
The embassy has passed on information to Syrian authorities about people suspected to be working for IS in Syria. It is believed as many as 30 people from Kerala joined IS since 2016 and moved to Syria. “The exact number of persons who joined IS from Kerala is not confirmed. Some were reported dead in recent years. Most of the peeople who joined IS from Kerala were from Kannur and Malappuram,” said the officer. Immigration authorities in various airports and border posts in the region have been alerted. “If Indian nationals are identified in Syria, they would be provided temporary documents from the Indian Embassy and be sent back. After they return, they will face legal action,” said the officer.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing IS-related cases in Kerala, is also monitoring the situation abroad. “At present, there has been no communication regarding people who left to Syria from Kerala. However, the situation is grave and IS operatives will be forced to return. There is information eight persons who left from Kerala died in Syria. There is no information regarding the number of Keralites stranded in Syria. With Interpol diffusion notices pending against the missing persons, we will get the information of their detention in other countries,” said sources.
The NIA is investigating two cases initially registered in police stations at Valapattanam in Kannur and Wandoor in Malappuram in which Keralites moved to Syria. Shahanad A V, Abdul Manaf, Shabeer, Suhail, Shafwan, Mohammed Sajil, Mohammed Sameer, Salmanul Daris, Afsal K and Tasleem involved in Valapattanam case are suspected to be in Syria.
Similarly, agencies are also on the lookout for Shaibu Nihar of Thamarassery, Mansoor of Kondotty, Mansoor of Vadakara, Shahnad of Kannur, Fajid Hamsa of Koilandy, Ashraf Moulavi of Vaniyambalam, Safeer Rahman of Perumbavoor and Muhadis of Vaniyambalam involved in Wandoor IS case. Besides, around 30 persons from Kerala are staying at IS-held territory in Afghanistan.