New Delhi: The Islamic State (IS) terror group is a bigger threat to the country than the Pakistani militants, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has arrested scores of terrorists in various raids against the terror network, has revealed.
"The sheer number of cases and recruitment attempts that have come to light in less than two years clearly show the level of threat we are facing.
“Daesh has become the biggest terrorist organisation," the Times of India (TOI) quoted NIA DIG Alok Mittal as saying. In the rest past, the agency had arrested dozens of IS operatives and sympathisers in different parts of the country.
Mittal said, "The NIA has registered eight cases so far. Chargesheets have been filed in six of them, while the remaining two are under investigation."
Though there is no official confirmation regarding the number of youths radicalised by the terror network, but according to an estimate, the figure is in the range of 7,000 to 8,000.
Mittal, a 1993 batch IPS officer, was awarded the 'President's Police Medal' at the Independence Day celebrations in Delhi for his anti-Daesh efforts.
Around 50 people, like Mumbai businessman Ashfaque Ahmed (26) and his two cousins, have already left the country, and a few hundred are prepared to travel to Iraq and Syria, where the extremists control large swathes of territory.
Such recruits pose major security challenge as there are fears that they may carry out lone-wolf attacks on their return, the report said citing the officer. Some of the recent attacks in Europe have been blamed on people who had previously travelled to Syria.
"There is a high possibility of lone-wolf terror activity in the country. Recently, we arrested a Daesh operative from Kolkata, Abu Musa, who had planned to travel to Srinagar and stab foreign tourists," the report said quoting Mittal.
Indian security agencies were focused on Pakistan-based militant groups such LeT, Hizbul Mujahideen and Indian Mujahideen, but after the Kalyan engineering student Areeb Majeed's arrest in 2014, authorities started to seriously consider the threat from Daesh.
Majeed was radicalised online and travelled to Iraq to join the group. He later returned to India. Majid's arrest was our first success. He is currently facing trial, Mittal said.
"The internet, especially social media, provides the extremists a convenient platform to recruit youngsters. In all the eight cases we detected, the suspects were drawn to Daesh after becoming acquainted with the group's handlers on social media.
“It's a challenge for all countries to monitor such activity. But we have had some success in this area and we continue to keep a close watch on the online chatter," he added.
Contrary to common belief that Daesh's activities in India have been restricted to drawing youngsters to its fold, the NIA has recovered arms and explosives in at least three cases, the report said.
"The sheer number of cases and recruitment attempts that have come to light in less than two years clearly show the level of threat we are facing,” NIA officer.