Virtual sanctuary


ISIS is using internet as prime source for recruitment in South Asia

The Islamic State is using Internet as prime source of reaching out to carders among South Asian origin people and find new recruits in the region who are net savvy and can be trapped easily through various social networking sites.

In 2015, the IS and related affiliates had sent more than 321 million mails and exchanges to their cadres in South Asian region mainly in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh whereas the number was small involving Maldives and Nepal.

The figure monitored by a foreign website which works for US based firms noted that the Internet traffic from IS cadres to new recruits in South Asia was directed mostly from West Asia, while North African region only pumped few million mails to South Asia.

Off late the pattern has changed due to increasingly mounted surveillance by security agencies who are keeping a close watch on all traffic from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Jordan.

The current IS strategy is to be more open and transparent while operating secretly. This means initial contacts and planning will take place in open manner but operations will be conducted in secret like the Paris attack.

The constitution of Al Qaeda in South Asia (AQSA) is a propping up act to reach out more number of young cadres who are mostly students and job aspirants. This is giving a competition to iS to find more number of recruits.

The AQSA is trying to regroup more quickly than IS as the latter has a far more broader area of recruits from all over the world and normally waits for the new comers to contact IS network first.

Once the new recruits establish contact then there will be online interview and options are given for choosing the trade which will fit into IS mandate.

To some cadres in South Asia the IS can also be a major motivating factor in terms of getting lucrative Gulf jobs as a pretext to join the outfit first.

Most of the South Asian recruits are either jobless youths or seeking higher education abroad who can easily fall into the trap due to uncertainty principles about their own future.

For example, most Pakistani youths are trying to go to Gulf for finding a suitable job slightly at higher level such as mid range professionals, not the low end labourers.

The contact networks for IS to find possible catch are spreading fast and going out of control for security agencies to monitor on a minute to minute basis.

The job of security agencies are becoming harder and harder every day to filter out potential mails and if one mail slips through could end up in a future tragedy.

The IS mails do not come so frequently or at length. They are crisp and coded sometimes in Arabic terms or metaphors.

The use of Internet by IS has proved to be a game changer but in future it could be more difficult to monitor them due to vast number of servers and mostly proxy servers.

The IS is also moving to new countries in Eastern Europe and in Eastern Africa who are more networked with Asia and Europe due to trade and commerce and they are setting up their servers to go undetected.

The IS has also now been targeting Afghanistan and Maldives among South Asian region to find new recruits as most of the youths are looking for a way out due to political instability in those countries.

That provides a perfect catching ground for them and social networks are the first tool to make a beginning.

The IS has more than 1.2 million network access control mechanism to change itself quickly and get unnoticed.

This means the Internet recruitment of IS in South Asia is going to grow and as per some unofficial calculations the mail recruitment drive can really give sleepless nights to security agencies in coming days.

Although India and Bangladesh have managed only to know few thousand sites for IS recruitment, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal are far from even recognizing the potentiality of the threat which can catch them off guard.