Indian Police Kill Suspected Militant with IS Links
Indian officials say they have killed a suspected militant and arrested three others with links to Islamic State who allegedly carried out a train blast that injured 10 people.
Police stormed a house in Uttar Pradesh state after a 12-hour standoff and gunned down the suspect early Wednesday.
Authorities said that besides weapons, explosives and bomb-making equipment, they recovered an IS flag from the house in Lucknow city, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.
The raid happened hours after a bomb exploded in a passenger coach of a train in neighboring Madhya Pradesh state.
The bombing made headlines with media calling it the first “IS attack in India.”
The chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Chouhan, said that after the suspects planted the bomb, they uploaded a photograph of it and sent it to Syria. He said that they had been influenced by IS ideology and had been planning more attacks.
According to police, the suspects were radicalized through social media.
In November, the U.S. embassy in New Delhi issued an advisory for the first time warning of the possibility of terrorist attacks in India carried out by Islamic State.
While Tuesday’s attack received widespread news coverage, officials pointed out that IS has been largely unsuccessful in its effort to establish a foothold in India.
A senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Ram Madhav, said that the “sporadic incidents that are taking place, like the one which happened yesterday are certainly a warning to us,” but added that security agencies were alert.
Security analysts say that IS has been trying to tap into local militant networks like the banned Indian Mujahideen as it has done in neighboring Bangladesh, but has made little headway in winning recruits.
“In two-and-a-half years they have not been able to mobilize anything of significance in a country that has a population of 180 million Muslims,” said Ajay Sahni, who heads the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi. India has the world’s third-largest Muslim population.
In the last two years, about 70 people have been arrested for either trying to join Islamic State outside the country or for planning attacks inside India.
Sahni, however, said, “There is no real transfer of capability or resource to these individuals. These are people with no real training, experience, orientation or access to materials.”
Analysts said the primary terror threat to India, which has suffered a number of terror strikes, still emanates from Pakistan-based Islamic militant groups.