Thursday 8 December 2016

India steps up embassies' security as threat of attack by Islamic State increases

Sarah-Jane Murphy

Published 18/11/2015 | 13:26

Activists from a Muslim group hold placards during a protest rally against the Paris attacks, in Kolkata, India, November 18, 2015. Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Activists from a Muslim group hold placards during a protest rally against the Paris attacks, in Kolkata, India, November 18, 2015. Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Activists from a Muslim group pray for the victims of the attacks in Paris, in Kolkata, India, November 18, 2015. Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Isil fighters in Raqqa, Syria.
Islamic State flag

India has warned that Islamic State may use regional militant groups to mount attacks throughout the country, and has increased security at various embassies, a government adviser has said.

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The federal interior ministry said a memo was issued to state police chiefs warning that the attacks in Paris showed the intentions of Islamic State to expand its operations beyond Syria and Iraq.

Despite India's large Muslim population, security officials say that they understand Islamic State has only been able to draw a small number of recruits from the country.

But some of the world's deadliest militant groups, including the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the Mumbai 2008 attacks, operate in India, and the fear is Islamic State might turn to them to target foreign interests in the country.

"Though ISIS/ISIL has not been able to establish any significant presence in India, its success in radicalising some youth, attracting certain section of the local population/Indian diaspora or the possibility of piggybacking on terrorist groups operating in India have opened up the possibility of ISIS sponsored action on Indian territory," the memo said.

The memo, seen by Reuters, ordered security to be enhanced for the US, French, British, German, Russian, Australian, Turkish and Israeli embassies also.

"Available intelligence about ISIS activities should be immediately reviewed to identify plans, targets, areas vulnerable to attack by ISIS and appropriate action taken to neutralise potential threats," the advice read.

Ten Lashkar-e-Taiba gunmen attacked luxury hotels, a train station and a Jewish centre in a three-day shooting spree in Mumbai seven years ago, killing 166 people, in an assault similar to the attacks in Paris

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