Local Goa News

Friday, August 26, 2016

Al Qaeda goes local, uses Tamil and Malayalam for recruitment in South India

Earlier this month, the Global Islamic Media Front, an international proscribed affiliate of the terror group al Qaeda that creates and disseminates jihadi media, formed a new branch -- GIMF Sub-continent to publish and translate the group's messages, videos and magazines in Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and Tamil. Other AQ-related media and its supporters too have begun a big propaganda drive particularly targeting Tamil and Malyalam speakers to reach out to the Muslim youth for recruitment in South India.

This is the first time that AQ has gone local by translating its propaganda in Tamil and Malyalam spoken widely in the southern regions of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and also Sri Lanka in its bid to spread its ideology towards Islam, Sharia law, the armed conflict in Syria and Afghanistan and to motivate youth to join jihad.

Post-Dhaka attack in Bangladesh, both terror groups – the Islamic State and AQ – have upped their recruitment drive in the Indian sub-continent, with the former clearly winning more supporters online as it publishes its official information in Bengali language in addition to English, Arabic, French etc.

To counter the IS propaganda, AQ too has started disseminating messages, videos and jihadi literature in Tamil and Malyalam language. And it is heavily using the social media platform of Facebook for propaganda and communication. Groups like Tamil Ansar and Olivin Charathu (under the shade of Olive tree), Syria through Indian Eyes regularly update information on AQ and its activities in Syria in Tamil and Malyalam. Some of the AQIS pages on FB also invite users for group chats by posting links Telegram on fixed days and timings, which is an encrypted platform assuring secrecy in communication.

Counter-jihad experts and hackers operating online are seeing a rise in AQIS and GIMF activity. In recent weeks, more than a dozen such accounts and pages have been reported and blocked, many more are active on social media. Experts see this as an outreach effort by AQ to increase the volley of its online supporters and ultimately its recruits in the region. "Tamil and Malyalam speakers don't read or understand Urdu, Hindi or Arabic. It is possible they have started this propaganda to reach and target non English speaking youth from this region,'' an intelligence officer based in Hyderabad said.

Of the number of Indian youth who left for Syria, experts point out, a majority have joined AQ and not IS as they oppose it for being an un-Islamic barbaric terror group. From the documented cases of Indian fighters in Syria, many come from the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala who are likely to be helping in translating the material in Tamil and Malyalam languages.

Reports also indicate that Tamil Nadu based al Ummah – an anti Hindu, Islamic extremist organization--group has regrouped to become a new entity called Base movement. Since last year it has claimed responsibility for three low-intensity blasts in the court premises of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala by dispatching a letter to the authorities bearing a map of India and a photo of slain AQ leader Osama bin Laden. A similar letter was sent ahead of French President Francois Hollande's visit in Bangalore.

Nagapattinam native Abu Bakr Siddique, 51, one of the master-minds in the blast at the BJP office in Bangalorein 2013 is believed to be the leader behind Base movement. Siddique is fluent in Tamil, Malyalam and English and is influential among the young generation.

Although still at large, police officials from Chennai following the al Ummah group suspect Siddique as he is an expert in IED assembling and the bombs in all three cases bear a similar resemblance made out of gun powder and digital timers. ``The Base movement appears a local group as the blasts and the pattern of claiming the attack is not sophisticated like AQ. By using Laden's photo they want to tell the security agencies that such a group exists and is active,'' an investigating officer said. Although Tamil Nadu police doubts al Ummah or the Base movement to have contacted AQ, they are also not ruling out the possibility of any linkages between the two. Before the Bangalore blast, Siddique was absconding between 1999 and 2011 and police is investigating if he like some of the al Ummah members left to join the jihad in Afghanistan.

DNA India News

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