Iraq's new ambassador to India has warned that Islamic State (Isis) militants could have established sleeper cells in the country. Fakhri Hassan Al Issa pointed out that preachers and academics, receiving international funds to teach a radical version of Islam, may have inspired the terrorist group in setting up the cells.
He also asked India to be watchful of Islamic preachers and their institutions as the kind of Islam they were advocating in South Asia is believed to have led to a spurt in radicalisation, especially of its youth.
Speaking to The Hindu newspaper, Issa said: "A particular brand of Islam that is being caught in foreign-funded seminaries in different parts of the world, including India, is responsible for the rise of the IS [Isis]. Such training automatically leads to producing of Isis sympathisers. I can tell you there are such forces in India who impart such a teaching."
He added that some of the new schools started under the banner of spreading Islamic thoughts have stripped the religion of its tradition of being humanitarian and tolerant.
"Islamic seminaries and televangelists are powerful tools in the war that the IS [Isis] is waging, and that is why countries should exercise more control on these sections," Issa said, who lost four of his family members in the Baghdad bombings on 3 July. It was one of the deadliest attacks Iraq has witnessed in recent times, leaving nearly 300 dead and hundreds more wounded.
He said young men from around the world, who are radicalised by the militants, do not realise how they are being used as mere "puppets" in the name of religion. They are reportedly used by regional intelligence agencies in West Asia and North Africa to combat "proxy wars", and that Syria and Iraq have become victims as a result.
India arrested at least 11 people over a suspected terror cell believed to be connected to Isis militants in the south Indian city of Hyderabad after a raid by the National Investigation Agency. In January, 14 people were arrested on suspicion being Isis sympathisers.