Non-Resident Kashmiri joins ISIS, claims Omar

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SRINAGAR: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Tuesday claimed that he has “heard” of a non-resident Kashmiri boy joining the globally feared Islamic State of Iraq and Syria?ISIS. The bombshell came amidst fears raised by rampant use of ISIS and Al Qaeda flags by young protesters during pro-Palestine demonstrations. The CM, however, said no youth from Kashmir so far has joined the group.  Indian army has ruled out any presence of ISIS or Al Qaeda but has  expressed concern about Kashmiri youth getting swayed by the extremist brand of resistance displayed by ISIS. 

“Heard that a Kashmiri youth from Australia has joined ISIS,” the chief minister told reporters after inaugurating a rehabilitation complex in Jehangir Chowk area. He, however, didn’t  disclose the identify of the young man.

“According to my knowledge, so far no one from Kashmir has joined the group or gone to Syria or Iraq. There are no such inputs.” 

Omar, in capacity of being the state’s home minister might have got the clue from the state intelligence. J&K Police, sources said, has not yet shared the information with the Indian home ministry. ” Had it been so, the Indian home ministry would have mentioned it in the parliament or made it public through other channels,” a knowledgeable source said. 

The revelation by Chief Minister came after the ISIS flags became common sight during anti-Israel and anti-India demonstrations across Valley. 

The ISIS, now known as Islamic State -IS has seized large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq and announced Caliphate with its leader Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi as Caliph. According to reports, fighters from Europe, Australia and even India have traveled to Syria to join the ISIS – which is an Al Qaeda inspired group.

The masked men upholding or unfurling black flags with white inscriptions of Islamic faith have, of late, become fashionable for any anti-India street campaign in Kashmir. 

Meanwhile some Indian newspapers have reported about Jihadi groups from India fighting in both Iraq and Syria. These reports suggest that some of these would eventually return. “They would then become the link between the Middle East outfits and the Indian subcontinent. That is a time India needs to prepare for,” a Times report says. But, it is not yet clear whether the Indian security establishment view IS as a threat to in the context of general anger among Indian Muslim or as a Pan India phenomenon including Kashmir. 

Although there is no official alarm over the threat of an ISIS spillover in Kashmir, the army has said the use of ISIS flags by young protesters during street protests was a “security concern”. 

Talking to media persons on the sidelines of a function last Friday, the GOC 15 Chinar Corps, Lt Gen Subrata Saha, said: “All I can say is in a forum like this, it deserves and is getting the highest security concerns from all of us.”  

Although youth from Srinagar have been using graffiti on walls for long, on July 11, Friday, which was the Quds Day , the ISIS flag made debut in Kashmir during a pro-Palestine protest outside Central Jamia Masjid in downtown city. Since then, the flags have been displayed at least five times including once in city centre Lal Chowk during pro-Palestine protest by students. On Eid day, besides ISIS flags, the flags of Al Qaeda and Taliban were waved by youth in Eidgah area of old city during clashes with police and paramilitary. At several places in Srinagar, the pro-ISIS graffiti have appeared. In Batamaloo neighborhood of Srinagar, there is a graffiti, which read: ‘Welcome ISIS’.

A defense official said there was no presence of Qaeda, ISIS or Taliban in Kashmir. “But many youth in Kashmir are embracing their ideology. A large number of youths are getting radicalized.” The Northern Command General, also expressed similar concern during his previous trip to Kashmir.    

 

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