Four Indian youths trying to join IS held in Syria

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The danger of radicalisation of youth from India joining the Islamic State (IS) has acquired a new urgency, with Syria detaining four Indian youths in its custody, who were planning to the join the terrorist outfit. Damasacus has asked the Indian authorities to verify their details.

Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister Walid al-Muallem, the first high-raking Syrian minister to visit India since the uprising began in the West Asian state, said that the four youth had entered Syria and were taken into custody in Damascus.  However, Mr Muallem did not specify when they were detained.

“Four Indians were taken into Syrian custody in Damascus. The four young Indians were planning to join the IS and had entered Syria from Jordan,” Mr Muallem said on January 13. Personal details like the name, from where the youth come from and when were they taken into custody have not been revealed publicly.

The latest development is a major cause of concern for India and has highlighted the need for the government to be more proactively engaged in de-radicalization. In 2015, the police had arrested three youth from Nagpur airport while they were planning to leave the country for joining the IS.

Mr Muallem, who is also the foreign minister, however, expressed his inability to help in the release of 39 Indians who were taken hostage by IS militants from Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014. “I will try to secure their release if they are in the custody of Iraqi forces but won’t be able to do anything if they are still in the custody of IS,” he said.

Mr Muallem, a long-standing associate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, held talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on January 11 and sought aid assistance from India in alleviating the deepening humanitarian crisis in his country. “We welcome assistance from India – rice and medicines,” he said.  

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