UAE deports another four Kerala youths for IS links

NEW DELHI/KOZHIKODE: Four youths from Kerala detained by the UAE for allegedly revealing sympathies with the Islamic State on social media were deported on Tuesday. While two men arrived at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport, the other two reached the Karipur international airport in Malappuram. 

Intelligence agencies met the youth on arrival and questioned them on their association or links with the IS or their recruiters. They were debriefed, counseled and then allowed to go home. No charges are being pressed as they were only part of a group comprising a Bangladeshi and an Indian who had actually joined IS and travelled to Syria/Iraq to fight its "war". While the Bangladeshi is believed to have been killed, the fate of the Indian is not known. 
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"Nothing serious has been found against the detained Indians deported so far, though the UAE, as part its policy to strictly deal with those trying to reach out to IS, has decided not to let them live on its soil," an intelligence official told TOI. 

The identification of Indian nationals with links to IS adds to the numbers of Indian youth who have either joined the outfit or are in contact with elements looking to radicalize and recruit them. These are over and above the 17 Indians who have already joined the IS and 25 others who have been prevented from joining the outfit. 

The rising numbers of Indians gravitating towards IS will re-ignite the debate on how to deal with those returning after a dalliance with the outfit. The government and the security establishment will have to consider whether to prosecute them or treat them as misguided youth and de-radicalize them. 
READ ALSO: Indian woman with alleged ISIS link sent to judicial custody

According to sources, Malayalee youth in Ras Al Khaimah, who are from well-to-do families doing business in the UAE, formed a group in April 2014. Sources said they were from Sunni families and got radicalized by an obscure Salafi group in the UAE. They were slowly drawn to the IS through online propaganda and social media network of the outfit. 

According to intelligence sources, there are some more Indians still under detention in the UAE. They are likely to be deported as well, in the coming days. With IS becoming a major security threat to middle east regimes and drawing recruits and donations from Gulf nations, UAE has taken a tough stance on any likely volunteers and sympathizers. 

Tuesday's deportation follows the UAE sending back Afsha Jabeen, alias Nicky Joseph, who was allegedly involving in recruiting youth for IS. 
READ ALSO: Centre, states firm up steps to tackle ISIS recruitment

As reported by TOI on September 4, around 13 Indians (eight in Abu Dhabi and five in Dubai) were detained by the UAE authorities in early August on charges of planning to join IS and recruiting, financing and providing logistics to those desirous of joining the outfit. 

According to intelligence sources, UAE security services came across two groups of people hailing from India, based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, who were involved in sharing and discussing issues pertaining to IS on social media. The groups included a couple of Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals. 

The UAE authorities initially suspected that the 13 Indians were planning to travel, one by one, to Syria, possibly via Yemen or Turkey, and were in the process of organizing funds and logistics. However, as they investigate the charges, they are clearing the youth one by one while also ordering them to be deported to India. 

READ ALSO: Arrested ISIS recruit introduced to terror group by girlfriend

Four Malayalees had returned to Kerala even before the police swooped down. The UAE police kept the youth in custody and have started sending them back to India. As part of community policing, UAE authorities have subjected the youth to counselling to de-radicalize them. 

Another two or three batches will arrive in Kerala in the coming days. Security agencies in Kerala have been lenient on the returned youth as most of them have already realized the dangers of radical thinking. "Kerala Police could have registered cases against them but they were let off after counselling sessions," a source said. 


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