GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA
For years, al-Qaeda modules have been active in India. Despite all efforts to keep a tab on them, the terror group has been able to clandestinely spread its tentacles across select places in the country by dragging young men into its alluring but unsafe fold. The raids undertaken by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) recently on al-Qaeda hideouts in West Bengal and Kerala to uncover a serious terror planning point to the alertness of Indian police. They were, in NIA’s own words, ‘interstate modules’ of al-Qaeda that were radicalised by the terror group based in Pakistan’s Peshawar. Pakistan-based handlers were giving them instructions on how to proceed further. Those rounded up by the agency were also busy procuring arms and ammunition from across the Bangladesh border, a fact that does not portend well for India’s security. The NIA’s crackdown on the module came after months of intelligence gathering and unflinching surveillance in Kerala, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Karnataka, which are known as terror hotbeds. Indoctrination of Muslim youth into terrorism is constantly on the rise in these states. Shockingly, West Bengal is referred to as India’s “bomb-making hub” in some quarters. The latest NIA arrests reveal that the module members came in all hues – driver, labourer, salesman, electrician, student. Some of them were married, with children. The common denominator is, of course, poverty. Al-Qaeda, founded by Osama Bin Laden in 1988, has cashed in on poverty and vulnerability of young Muslims. It is facing extinction worldwide and has ceased to be the dreaded terrorist outfit it once was under Laden. Its present ‘chief’ Ayman al-Zawahiri lacks his predecessor’s ‘appeal’. The group is no more a force to reckon with and on its way out and the intelligence agencies across the world should make the most of this opportune time by planning a crackdown on the terror group.