Unemployed youths preferably from Muslim community are being roped in by handlers of terror groups like the Islamic State and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh to expand their networks in border districts of West Bengal.
The JMB has been targeting unemployed youths and ISIS too could be following its tactics.
The recent arrest of 25-year-old Mohammed Musiruddin has exposed the presence of the terror group in the state, particularly in the districts bordering Bangladesh including Burdwan, Murshidabad and Birbhum, a top CID official of West Bengal said on the condition of anonymity.
The group has also spread its tentacles in different pockets of the city, the official said describing the Khagragarh blast in 2014 as a clinching proof of the existence of its bases in the state.
Burdwan district entered the terror map in October 2014 when two suspected JMB terrorists were killed while making improvised explosive devices at a rented house at Khagragarh.
In fact, NIA in its supplementary chargesheet in connection with the Khagragarh blast had claimed that JMB had been recruiting youths from the border districts of West Bengal.
"Unemployed youths are the main targets of terror groups. JMB had been doing that and the ISIS has started the same process," the official said adding that this fact has again got a confirmation during the grilling of Musiruddin, who was part of the of recruitment network.
"They have handlers who supervise one to two districts and keep a tab on educated but unemployed youths including girls in the age group of 16-30 years preferably from the Muslim community," he said.
"The brainwashing starts from the first meeting which helps them convince the youth to join the group. And from there they are moved to the training camps in the bordering districts," the officer said referring to the arrest of a 19-year-old polytechnic student at Durgapur by NIA this March.
The name of Ashique Ahmed, alias Raja, a resident of Hooghly's Dhaniakhali, had surfaced during an interrogation of one Abdus Sami Qasmi, who was arrested by the agency from Uttar Pradesh in February.
The NIA sleuths, who had seized some documents from Ashique's ancestral home, were initially hesitant to arrest him as he was a teenager and had no criminal record.
"This is another tactic to choose someone with no criminal records but has some education. Youths are told that they do not need to come to Syria to join the war actively but can initiate their own jihad from their native places," the officer said.
"It is nothing but asking them to carry out 'lone-wolf' attacks which are very hard to stop until they are executed," he said, adding that these camps also worked as a fund-raising machinery too.
The handlers, he said, communicate with their leaders mostly based either in Syria, Iraq or Bangladesh through the social media like Facebook and also via Whatsapp and other messengers.
Musiruddin's mobile phone showed calls received and made to numbers in countries like Syria, Iraq and Bangladesh, apart from the App he was using to communicate to the leaders, the officer, who is part of the probe team, said. Pointing to a 2015 report of the Intelligence Bureau, the officer said the posters were put up in several districts of the state asking the youths to join the JMB.
In West Bengal, districts like Burdwan, Nadia, Murshidabad, North 24 Parganas, Malda and Birbhum have been witnessing increasing fascination for the ISIS.
"The state's secular and cosmopolitan nature has made it quite easy for the terror groups from across the border to use it as a corridor for smuggling of arms, explosives and fake currency notes and the city as a transit route," he said.
Procuring ration card, passport, voter ID cards and all sorts of documents to establish their Indian citizenship are easy and sleeper cells help illegal immigrants in getting them.
"Marrying local women is also another process of establishing yourself as an Indian citizen. But that is actually a curtain to cover the actual activity," he said.
Image: US-based SITE Intelligence Group published photos of five unnamed persons, reported to be the Dhaka attackers.