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The Islamic State foreign fighter phenomenon and the jihadi threat to India
Sharma, Anurag
Research to-date on so-called ‘Islamic State’ (IS) or ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s' (ISIS) foreign fighters has mainly covered the movement of these from Western countries to Iraq and Syria. A significant, but under-researched, number of foreign fighters from South-Asian countries have also travelled to IS-controlled regions. It is estimated that around 1,000 foreign fighters from five countries in South-Asia, including China, had departed by 2015. Somewhat surprisingly, India, with the second-largest Muslim population in the world (c.172 million) after Indonesia, has an official count of just 23 foreign fighters travelling to IS-controlled regions in Iraq and Syria, to 2017. The Indian foreign fighter contingent appears tiny in comparison with the European foreign fighter numbers or those of foreign fighters from other nations in the Indian Subcontinent (e.g. Pakistan, Maldives). This thesis thus sought to determine if the Indian foreign fighter count is greater than the official count, how Indian foreign fighters compared with other foreign fighters in terms of individual characteristics, and the threat posed by these to India going forward. It is the first substantive analysis of the Indian foreign fighters in IS. It was found that the number of Indian foreign fighters, including departures for Afghanistan, is 38. Data about these 38 individuals, gleaned from media accounts, court and other official documents, were then subject to analysis. The collected data was categorised according to determinants such as age, gender, home location, education, employment, etc. Comparison between Indian and European foreign fighters was also conducted to find the similarities and differences between them based on these factors. The biggest difference was in relation to foreign fighters’ prior criminal convictions. Many European fighters had criminal backgrounds, whereas only two of the Indian foreign fighters fit this description. Fourteen of the Indians are reportedly dead and just two are returnees, so unlikely to bring about the ‘Islamic State-Khorasan’ in the Indian Subcontinent by 2020 as called for by IS. This thesis nonetheless also explores the threat posed by returned or returning fighters to India.
Keyword(s): Terrorism; Foreign Fighters; India; Islamic State
Publication Date:
Type: Other
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Language(s): English
Contributor(s): Conway, Maura
Institution: Dublin City University
Citation(s): Sharma, Anurag ORCID: 0000-0001-6136-5298 <> (2019) The Islamic State foreign fighter phenomenon and the jihadi threat to India. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
Publisher(s): Dublin City University. School of Law and Government
File Format(s): application/pdf
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First Indexed: 2019-04-04 06:05:56 Last Updated: 2019-04-05 06:05:38