Search on for remaining Malayali IS cadre in Syria, Afghanistan

 KOZHIKODE: Efforts are on to track down the remaining Malayali Islamic State (IS) male cadre, even as India debates the pros and cons of bringing back the Malayali woman IS members who surrendered and are now lodged in Kabul jail. Though the exact number of Malayalis who joined IS and did hijra (migration) to other countries is not known, it is estimated there could be 60 such people, including women and children.  

Of them, at least four Malayalis are believed to be still alive in Afghanistan and Syria. Ashfaq Majeed and Sajid, both from Padanna in Kasaragod, were in the group that left Kerala to join IS in Nangahar province of Afghanistan in May and June 2016. The 17-member group, which included women and children, was led by Rashid Abdulla, an employee of Peace International School, Kozhikode. After the death of Rashid and others, the women and children had surrendered before security forces in Afghanistan last year and are currently in a Kabul jail. Indian intelligence agencies have interrogated Fathima alias Nimisha, Mariyam alias Merine, Ayesha alias Sonia Sebastian and Ruffeila in the jail. 

They have confirmed the death of all males in the group except Ashfaq and Sajid. Both were in contact with acquaintances in Kerala till March 2020. The killing of Malayalis in the attacks on a gurudwara in Kabul and a jail in Jalalabad was communicated to some media houses in Kerala in 2020 via the Telegram app from the account of one Abu Bara. Intelligence agencies suspect Abu could be either Ashfaq or Sajid as other Malayalis had been killed by then.

There were unconfirmed reports that Ashfaq had surrendered and is now in some jail in Afghanistan. There is no information on Sajid since April, 2020. In the initial stages, the ‘martyrdoms’ of the IS cadre in Afghanistan and Syria were promptly conveyed by other cadre to the relatives in Kerala through various social media platforms. 

However, as the Malayali members got killed one by one, the communication mechanism collapsed, making it difficult to ascertain how many were still alive. Besides the groups that left for Afghanistan, there were those that joined IS in Syria. They mainly comprised natives of Kannur. Among them, one Suhail from Valapattanam is believed to have surrendered and is now in a jail in Syria. Hashir, a native of Paravur who is believed to have joined the terror outfit Jabhat Al-Nusra in Syria in 2015, is suspected to be alive.



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