mid-day editorial: The ISIS threat can no longer be ignored

With fresh reports coming in about the spreading threat of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), there can now be no doubt that the terror network has spread its tentacles in India as well.

Yesterday, this paper had a report on Mumbra man Muddabir Mushtaq Shaikh, who was arrested on Friday. His family said they were aware of his involvement with ISIS. They had tried to talk him out of his plans to join ISIS, but he did not pay heed to them.

Once the police took action, his family admitted that he did have ISIS links. It would have been better if they had spoken about their fears earlier to the police, but it is good that they have at least spoken now, in marked contrast to other families who scream ‘innocent’ despite evidence to the contrary.

However, according to officials, his family members weren’t the only ones who knew of this. Sources said Shaikh would also try to radicalise people at the local mosque. But a maulana there said he was shocked by the news of Shaikh’s arrest because he was a quiet person, and a seemingly responsible family man.

This is not an uncommon defence; several times, we see family members or acquaintances stating how a terror accused can’t be guilty because he is well-mannered or a good father and husband. Being quiet or well-mannered does not automatically construe that a person does not have links to terror outfits. Often, a person may deliberately mask any signs of having been radicalised. Not all terror recruits will go around shouting slogans or drawing attention to themselves. In fact, terror experts have seen individuals who act even more ‘westernized’ than usual, though they may harbour a deep hate for the West.

It is naïve to think that the ISIS ideology will not touch Mumbai. Terror recruiters and recruits are everywhere. They do not fit a stereotype and may not necessarily be poor or uneducated.

There is a line between being a realist and an alarmist, and to say that terror is at our doorstep is closer to the former than the latter.

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