In November 2010, we started the Shema School in Bangalore, India. This educational initiative offers an incentive for children to attend school, instead of begging on the street. The children are provided one meal a day, plus rations for breakfast/dinner upon the completion of each school day.
We are currently analyzing the data for India to determine which regions and communities are most prone to extremist recruitment activities. We expect to be on the ground by the end of Summer 2017, working with community leaders to determine solutions to the weaknesses identified and facilitating their remediation.
OSAC Report February 2017
March, Indian police have killed a militant purportedly allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Lucknow, the capital of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The individual was suspected of bombing a passenger train that injured nine people in India this week. Six others were also arrested in both Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh states for their links to this incident. While ISIS is one of many terrorist groups that intend to target India, the extent of the group’s capabilities in India is unclear. There is a general threat of terrorism in India, emanating from a number of active terrorist groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM, see previous OSAC report), and Indian Mujahideen (IM). However, there is currently no specific or credible threat against U.S. private-sector interests, and OSAC constituents continue to operate and travel to India.
Train Blast and Subsequent Police Response
On Tuesday, March 7, a low-grade explosion occurred on a passenger train near Jabdi station in Madhya Pradesh, injuring nine people. The morning blast occurred as the train was headed to Ujjain from Bhopal. Open sources later reported that an improvised explosive device (IED) caused the blast. Subsequently, the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) conducted an hours-long operation against a terror suspect in the old city area of Lucknow, culminating in the suspect’s death, while six more members of the group were allegedly arrested at different locations. The security forces reportedly recovered bullets, pistols, and an ISIS flag from the house.
ISIS-Linked Activities in India
In 2015, ISIS announced its expansion into Khorasan, a region spanning Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as parts of Iran, Central Asia, India, and Bangladesh (see previous OSAC report). Started by former Pakistani Taliban members, ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K) is mostly concentrated in eastern Afghanistan with recent activities in northern Jawzjan Province. However, they have claimed credit for attacks in Kabul as well. Most recently, on March 8, ISIS-K took responsibility for an attack on a Kabul hospital, which killed more than 30 people; in February, the group claimed credit for a suicide bombing of a Sufi shrine in Pakistan.
In India, there have been reports of individuals who have traveled to Iraq and Syria to fight with ISIS, as well as a series of reported ISIS-related arrests and disrupted plots. Examples include:
In June 2016, Indian security forces arrested multiple people for plotting a terrorist attack in Hyderabad. This included an Indian engineer who allegedly helped recruit other members and organized the plot, with guidance from ISIS handlers in Syria.
In October 2016, Indian police arrested six members of an ISIS-inspired group suspected of plotting attacks on public places in Kerala during the Hindu festival of Diwali.
In February 2017, Indian security forces arrested two suspected ISIS operatives from Gujarat, for conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks in the country.
In February 2017, an individual from Kerala was reportedly killed in a drone attack in ISIS territory in Afghanistan. He was among the 21 people from Kerala that were suspected to have joined ISIS in June 2016.
While terrorism is a general concern throughout India for the U.S. private sector. A terrorist attack on a passenger train is not a new modus operandi for violent extremists in India. Trains and train stations have been targeted in the past not only by terrorist groups but also Maoist-linked groups. Major attacks on train stations include the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which included the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station; a 2006 commuter train bombings, also in Mumbai; and May 2014 explosions at the Chennai Central Station. The South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) has compiled a detailed list of terrorist attacks on railways in India, including those claimed by Maoists, which can be found on their website.