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HomeIndiaISIS influence growing in South India, particularly Kerala: Social media monitoring firms

ISIS influence growing in South India, particularly Kerala: Social media monitoring firms

Two private firms say that over the past four years, social media traffic shows growing radicalisation in Southern India through ISIS propaganda. 

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 New Delhi: The influence of ISIS propaganda has been growing across South India, particularly in Kerala, over the last four years, according to two private social media monitoring companies.

The numbers are the result of analysis carried out by the two firms — one a Delhi-based company and the other headquartered in Gurugram — that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to monitor social media.

The head of the Gurugram-based company told ThePrint that it analysed over 60 million social media posts, especially on Facebook and Twitter, in the last four years and found that there are growing pockets of ISIS-related Islamist extremism in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Kerala, he added, has shown the highest increase in this activity.

The firm, which claims to have worked with several government agencies including a central agency dealing with terrorism, monitors social media trends and accounts to scour for such messages.

“The content we are talking about is not generic Islamist fundamentalism but rather in the form of sophisticated propaganda built around themes that are typical to ISIS,” the head said.

He added that the social media analysis also shows increased attempts by pro-ISIS individuals to get themselves elected to management committees in masjids, madrasas and other Islamic teaching centres. “This is indicative of a deliberate and premeditated approach to increase the reach, influence and power of ISIS networks in these states,” he said.

The Gurugram firm shared a map that it said was indicative of ISIS influence spreading across southern India (see below). “This figure shows what parts of India have been most influenced by ISIS after a major national security incident, and how ISIS has exploited the incident to increase and reinforce its engagement with communities in different districts,” the firm’s head said.

Parts of India which have been most influenced by ISIS after a major national security incident. | Photo: Gurugram based firm mentioned in this report

Propaganda from Middle East has law enforcement worried

The founder of the Delhi-based firm, who said it has worked with the Ministry of Home Affairs, paramilitary forces BSF and CRPF, and police in several states told ThePrint that intelligence agencies in the country are worried by the propaganda being spread on social media sites. “Since 2015 or so, law enforcement has been especially worried about Indian Muslim youths getting radicalised in different parts of the country,” he said.

He added that the numbers are based on data captured and analysed by a proprietary tool. The tool analyses social media posts, information shared on encrypted messaging apps such as Telegram, terrorism-related databases and news reports.

Redacted social media profile details of a foreign ISIS-affiliate who is allegedly active in creating ISIS supporters in India. | Photo: Gurugram-based firm mentioned in this report

The Gurugram company founder said that the propaganda is being translated “efficiently” into local languages and this is a major worry.

“A lot of the propaganda is from the MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) region, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia included. ISIS surprisingly seems to have a very sophisticated capability to translate the content it creates in the Middle East languages into local Indian languages,” he said. “The quality of the translations and the sophistication of the messages indicate they have dedicated PR teams with local language capabilities for India.”

Intelligence experts feel the concern about the growing ISIS influence is valid.

“Historically ISIS’ influence in India and even Pakistan has been relatively weak. This is most likely because a majority of Muslims in the South Asian region follow a moderate form of Islam deeply entrenched with Sufi rituals,” said Avinash Mohananey, a former IB officer who has served in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

“Going forward, however, we cannot write off the possibility of Indian Muslim youth possibly becoming radicalised by ISIS via social media given young people are perpetual consumers of the internet.”

Also readISIS announces new province in India after 2 days of clashes in Kashmir


ISIS influence rising in Kashmir

The two firms also claimed that there appears to be a possible link between Kashmiri militancy and ISIS.

The Gurugram company said ISIS-affiliated social media entities have been able to infiltrate, influence and gather support for Kashmir-based militants.

Possible link between ISIS-Kashmir established by monitoring several hashtags like ‘ISIS’ and ‘Kashmir’ on social media. | Photo: Gurugram-based firm mentioned in this report

The Delhi firm too agrees. “In the 12 months between 2017 and 2018, our technology systems indicated that more than 200 people from Kashmir have joined militant groups,” its founder said. “Between 2014 and 2016 the number of people joining Kashmiri militancy had not even crossed 100.”

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  1. Please mention what companies were involved not just Gurgaon based companies. This sounds like fake news , please don’t post baseless news. AI is still in its developing phase and please mention the source of data and algorithms used !

  2. Banning relegioues extremist organisations like ISIS & RSS could help India become a peaceful democratic nation.

  3. More the extremism among muslim youth rise,more the terror related acts they more the power and influence of BJP would increase ,if secular forces want bjp free india they should deal with problem of islamic radicalization and terrorism with lighting speed ,if BJP see the crack in social harmony between hindus & muslims they would definitely gonna be dominant player in TN,AP,TELANGANA like they are in rest of india

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