After a terrorist attack killed at least 127 people in Paris late on Friday night, the ISIS, which is believed to have carried out the attack, threatened to operationalise more such attacks. A prominent ISIS sympathiser, while interacting with this newspaper from an undisclosed location on Saturday morning, stated that the attack was carried out to avenge French airstrikes against the terrorist organisation and added that similar attacks would be carried out in other countries “very soon”. “The world is thinking that they are going to beat us, but Paris will make them realise the truth,” he boasted.
“News from Paris is anguishing & dreadful. Prayers with families of the deceased. We are united with people of France in this tragic hour,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
With both New Delhi and Mumbai put on high alert following the terror attack in Paris, officials with the Intelligence Bureau (IB) stated that they were sharing regular inputs with the government about the increased risk of India facing an attack by ISIS sympathisers based in this country. “The possibility of a ‘lone wolf’ attack, carried out in a coordinated way, just like it was done in Paris, is very high. We have asked the security establishment to increase vigilance at crowded places including malls, some specific metro stations and markets in New Delhi that witness huge footfalls. We have credible information that the preparation for a suicide-style attack by ISIS sleeper cells in India is already underway,” said a senior official with the Intelligence Bureau.
An emergency meeting involving the officials of the Ministry of Home (MHA), intelligence agencies and the senior brass of the Delhi police was held after the Paris attack, in which the steps taken to prevent similar attacks in India was discussed.
A senior officer with the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which is responsible for maintaining security at metro stations in New Delhi, stated that vigilance has been increased at specific stations after IB inputs. “We have alerted our staff at the entries and exits of the Metro stations to be prepared for a terror attack by a single individual or a group of two-three terrorists who will try to enter the stations while firing indiscriminately and lobbing grenades to maximise casualties in minimum time. If the terrorists are able to enter a crowded Metro station, they will unleash mayhem of unimaginable proportions in a very short span of time. Hence, these terrorists should be neutralised before they are able to enter the station,” the official stated.
Officials stated that in the last one year, at least 13 Indian nationals, including a 24-year-old journalist, have joined the ISIS. Out of them, six have died. However, sources within the Intelligence Bureau said that the number of Indian nationals, who either have already joined the ISIS or are extending their support to the terror outfit from India itself, is much higher. This was confirmed by a senior Mosul based ISIS commander who had told this newspaper in November last year that a “large number” of Indian nationals, mostly from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were fighting in Iraq and Syria along with other ISIS fighters.
Officials stated that the United States had also warned the Indian government that the influence of ISIS was rising in India at an alarming rate and an attack on India would give the ISIS huge media attention, which will further increase its attraction with some youth, particularly those from the southern parts of the country.
Inputs generated by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) suggest that some madrasas, especially in the southern parts of India, which have a strong connection with the Gulf countries, were trying to popularise the ISIS among their students. The increasing popularity of the ISIS among some Indian youth had led to a high level meeting being chaired by Home Secretary L.C. Goyal on 1 August. It was attended by top security experts, DGPs and the Home Secretaries of 12 states. The meeting was convened to decide on strategies on how to prevent the youth from getting attracted to the radical ideology. Later, the senior brass of the Delhi police met to discuss the ISIS threat.
The National Investigation Agency’s (NIA’s) charge sheet against the Mumbai based ISIS operative Areeb Majeed has also stated that the terror outfit was in touch with other anti-India terror organisations that are operating from India to recruit people. The charge-sheet also says that the ISIS has been planning to carry out terror strikes in India, something that this newspaper had written about in November last year. This newspaper was the first to report in November last year that the ISIS operatives were in touch with anti-India terror forces.