Jamil Ansari (name changed) runs a mobile phone repair shop in Maharashtra’s Beed district. But, nobody would imagine that only two years ago, he was on the verge of joining the dreaded terror outfit ISIS by travelling to Iraq, thousands of kilometres away.
Thanks to an initiative of the Maharashtra Anti- Terrorism Squad (ATS), Ansari changed his mind and underwent an employment training programme after escaping clutches of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) online ‘recruiters’ who had almost radicalised him.
He is not the only one. There are many such young men in Maharashtra, mainly in the industrially backward Marathwada region, who had once fallen victim to ISIS’ propaganda but are now leading a normal life with the help of the employment training programme, a senior ATS official told PTI.
Ansari, a 35-year-old graduate, lost his job as a salesman in 2016 and began spending a lot of time surfing online, where he came in contact with some ISIS sympathisers and soon got radicalised.
“His online activities brought him under our scanner,” the official said.
The ATS sleuths realised that Ansari had become a victim of ISIS propaganda and he was counselled in a bid to de-radicalise him, he said.
The official said the ATS runs a de-radicalisation programme for such people to once again join the mainstream with the help of religious leaders and clerics.
In Marathwada, the ATS in the last two years identified as many as 400 young men who were suspectedly under the influence of ISIS.