God’s Own Country Turning Into Terrorists’ Haven
Kerala, the land of Adi Sankaracharya, known also as God’s Own Country for its hitherto tranquil sociology and beautiful nature, is fast turning into one of the terror hubs of India. Reports from various law-enforcement agencies and Intelligence systems indicate that the State Home Department has allegedly refused to wake up to the reality despite convincing Intelligence feeds and police records of activities of jihadis, Maoists and extremist Dalit outfits based in the state.
Latest among such reports is the one from the Central Intelligence Bureau that at least a dozen dreaded Maoist guerillas from Karnataka have infiltrated into Kerala, escaping an encounter on the border between the two states. Though one section in the Intelligence set-up believes that the mission of these communist ultras is to carry out subversive activities in Kerala, another theory says that they are there to prepare for a major offensive against the nation in the Red Corridor.
“It has now become an indisputable reality that Kerala is not what it used to be a decade back. Beneath the seeming tranquility of the society of an enterprising people, the danger of subversion is lurking,” said a retired Intelligence official, a specialist in terror-watch. “Islamist terrorists, Maoists and extremist Dalits are viewing Kerala as a safe haven where they can live with a sense of security and prepare for major ‘missions’. As far as I can see, the prime reason for this sense of security is the sympathy they receive from the various sections of people and several politicians,” he said.
The IB reported that a dozen heavily-armed Maoists from Karnataka had entered the Kerala territory last month after an encounter on the inter-state border in which one extremist was killed. The group, the report says, has some dreaded women extremists and one of them had escaped into Kerala with injuries. It is said that all of them are accused in dozens of criminal cases and several of them are close associates of the People’s War.
Sources in the Kerala Police said that they had not got any credible first-hand information about such an infiltration but that they were on an investigation into this. Unconfirmed reports said that various teams of Karnataka Police were already in Kerala searching for the ultras, all hailing from the South Canara region. The IB has also reported that these Maoists have close connections with a hardliner Leftist organisation in Kerala and that a journalist is providing assistance to them.
“With its sociological and political peculiarities, Kerala has all the ingredients that extremists can use for hibernation and for springing occasional surprises like the twin blasts in Kozhikode in 2006,” said the retired Intelligence official. “That is why almost all the terror operations in the country have some connection or the other to the state. On the one hand, several Leftist intellectuals have the tendency to support rebels engaged in anti-establishment activities and, on the other hand, political parties hesitate to oppose such groups considering the value of vote-banks,” he added.
A large number of Indian terrorists, including LeT commander Thadiyantavide Nazeer, involved in the jihadi strikes of 2008 were Keralites. SIMI had held the preparatory camp for these strikes in Vagamon, Kerala, in 2007. Several Kerala-based jihadis had reported links with Tahawwur Rana. Reports had spoken earlier of LTTE efforts to set up camps in Kerala jungles and on the shores. Added to these are the latest reports on how Kerala is becoming a safe haven and training ground for the Maoists from the Red Corridor.
Security experts are convinced that there is a nexus among several former Naxalite leaders, Islamic extremists, certain rights activists and some Adivasi and Dalit organisations in Kerala. It has already been established that Maoists from Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand are in Kerala in the guise of migrant workers in the construction industry and granite quarries, mobilising resources and acquiring explosives.
The international terror links of the mastermind behind the March 2006 twin blasts at Kozhikode, Thadiyantavide Nazeer has become more obvious with the revelation that he had got training under Pakistani national and Al Badr coordinator Muhammad Fahad (30). Fahad, arrested from Mysore on October 17, 2006, as he was preparing for an attack on Vidhan Soudha, the Karantaka Legislative Assembly building in Bengaluru, was in Kozhikode when the blasts took place.
Local residents and Malayalee farmers in Coorg, Karnataka, identified Fahad from a photograph shown to them by the officials of the Intelligence wing of the Kerala Police the other day as the one who was with Nazeer when he was running a camp there. With this, the investigation into the LeT terror operations in the state has reached a crucial turning point, officials say.
Local residents told the Intelligence officials headed by P Raju, Superintendent of Police (Intelligence), Thrissur Range, when they reached Coorg as part of the probe, that they had seen Fahad with Nazeer on several occasions. Fahad, whose father Abdulla Koya was a Malayalee, who had migrated to Pakistan decades ago, had given training to Nazeer and other LeT operatives from Kerala for several days at the Coorg camp.
The Kerala Police Intelligence team has already handed over the information regarding Nazeer’s connections with Fahad and the training camp at Coorg to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is investigating the terror-related cases in Kerala. According to sources, the new revelations are a surprise even to the NIA considering the magnitude of the Kerala terror network’s Pak connections.
The Intelligence wing has learned that Fahad had held several night-long training sessions and classes for Nazeer and the LeT recruits in Coorg towards the end of 2005. They assume that his visit to Kozhikode in February 2006 was part of the continued operations. He had left Kozhikode on March 18. Sources said that Fahad, a Master’s degree-holder in Chemistry, could have assisted Nazeer and his group in carrying out the first live blasts of their terror career in Kozhikode. This meant that Fahad was in Kozhikode when the twin blasts were carried out in the city.
When he was arrested from Mysore in October 2006, the police had seized from him and his associate weapons including AK-47 rifles and components of highly improvised explosives. The police had earlier learned that Fahad was a member of terror outfit Al Badr, which was getting training from the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence. In this context, the Intelligence officials think that the LeT operations in Kerala under Nazeer were being directly controlled from Pakistan.
Al Badr coordinator Fahad used to frequently visit his relatives in Kerala. He was a regular visitor at the homes of Abdulla Koya’s first wife at Kappad and his sister at Peruvayal, both in Kozhikode district. After his arrest in 2006, the police had learned that Fahad’s mission there was to spread the terror network in the region using his family connections.
It was amidst his efforts to get a passport using the Kerala address from the Regional Passport Office in Kozhikode that Fahad and his associate Muhammad Ali Hussein were arrested from Mysore. Though Fahad was arrested by the Karnataka Police, the Kerala Police had enquired about his bid to get a passport from Kozhikode. Unfortunately, the police had not then thought of extending its probe beyond the passport case.
By Pradeep Krishnan from Thiruvananthapuram