Iraq Isis militants
Many Indian Muslim youth are being drawn to join the militant Isis in Iraq in what is being seen as direct involvement in jihad.Reuters

Social media was recently abuzz with the death of a man by the name of Anwar Beli alias Anwar Bhatkal from Bhatkal in India's southern state of Karnataka. He was killed in an encounter in Afghanistan. A group called the Ansar ul-Tawhid ul-Hind has termed him a martyr on its Twitter and Facebook accounts.

In its message, the group proclaimed that "Anwar Bhatkal has attained martyrdom on the 20th day of Ramzan and may Allah accept his martyrdom".

Intelligence agencies say Anwar was a 'behind-the-scenes' operative and was responsible for supplying laptops to the tech cell of the Indian Mujahideen.

From Bhatkal to Kabul is a long way. From Paranagipettai to Syria is much longer.

Haja Fakkurudeen, aged 37, resident of Paranagipettai near Cuddalore, a coastal village of Tamil Nadu state in southern India is another Indian Muslim youth being drawn into the jihadi "contagion" facing the country.

He has joined forces with the Isis (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Iraq. Fakkurudeen called his aged parents back in India to say that he was now living in Syria with his wife and three children.

This village has been a hub for jihadi propaganda.

However, this village is just one of the many places where Muslim youth are being exposed to radical propaganda through internet literature and videos. In internet chat rooms where Islamists congregate, messages are posted calling on Indians to join up, to prepare themselves for what's being described as a coming communal apocalypse.

Isis chief Abubakr Al-Baghdadi, who recently declared himself as the Caliph of Islamic State has asked Indian Muslims to wage war against the nation in an audio message. Last year, Pakistani al-Qaeda ideologue Asim Umar called on Indians to join the global jihad.

Indian intelligence agencies have been on the track of some 18 youth reported to have joined Isis. The Maharashtra police suspect that many young men may have already enrolled in the Isis. Most of them left in the last week of May, claiming they were going for a pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala.

Direct Action
Intelligence Bureau officials believe that nearly 250 Muslim youth from across the country are today ready to leave for Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and fight the battle over there. They do not belong to any group. Rather than join forces with Pakistan's ISI, these youth seek direct action.

A news agency quoted diplomatic sources as saying that hundreds of Indian Muslim youth, mostly from poor and vulnerable backgrounds, are lining up for visas at the embassies of some of the Gulf and Middle East nations with the aim of joining the 'jihad' in Iraq.

C Uday Bhaskar, a strategic analyst who is a Distinguished Fellow, Society for Policy Studies, told IANS, "Over the last year, there has been an active attempt by the right-wing radical groups in West Asia to persuade young Muslim youth from all over the world to join in the 'jihad' against the oppressor. Now this oppressor can be the much reviled US and the generic West; Jewish-Israel, Hindu-India, or can take a sectarian dimension wherein the Shia or Sunni is targeted... the challenge for India is to effectively and empathetically quarantine it."

Iraq alone has had to deal with nearly 2,000 applications from Indian Muslim youth coming from India's Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states. In this regard, India has stepped up security dialogues with Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Syria and South Africa.

Indian intelligence agencies scanning immigration data and missing person's reports across the country have a mammoth task on hand. Close to six million Indians live in West Asia and thousands go to the region every year for jobs and pilgrimage.