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How ISIS is attracting Muslim youths through online merchandise

August 05, 2014 15:45 IST

How ISIS is attracting Muslim youths through online merchandise

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Vicky Nanjappa

The arrest of two men by the Tamil Nadu police for sporting and distributing Islamic State of Iraq and Syria T-shirts is just a reminder of how deeply the Iraq and Syria based terrorist organisation has penetrated into India, says Vicky Nanjappa

The T-shirts were ordered from a firm in Tiruppur in Tamil Nadu. What led to the arrest was a Facebook post in which 24 persons had posed for a photograph sporting ISIS T-Shirts. The T-shirts were sold at Rs 250 apiece.

The T-shirt culture by the ISIS started off on an online store operated out of Indonesia. The idea was to popularise ‘brand ISIS’ and in a bid to set up the Global Islamic Council, the outfit realised that it needs to be popular in every corner of the world. A group of people who subscribed to the views of the ISIS even started a store on Facebook which was taken down after several complaints.

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Image: The T-shirts which were being sold through a Facebook page. It was taken down later


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There are various T-shirts that are available concerning this outfit. They sell hoodies, T-shirts and other merchandise. By the look of it, the sales have been extremely good, with most of the products reading “Sold Out.” In addition to the ISIS logo, there are pictures of a fighter posing with a gun. A store in Istanbul which is manufacturing and selling these T-shirts has prepared several products which read ‘Mujahideen Around The World, United We Stand’.

A Facebook page recently showed pictures of ISIS material with instructions on how to purchase them. The merchandise, apart from T-shirts included vests, camouflage T-shirts, ‘jihadi dolls’ and also piggy banks with the message, Always Fight against the Jews.” There was other material which read, Till the last drop of blood, Muslim Brotherhood etc.

The ISIS has however insists that the money made from the sale do not go to them, but instead wants the free publicity.

“What we saw in Tamil Nadu is nothing but a continuity of what is happening around the world. After all, the first Indian in the ISIS was Haja Fakruddin who also hails from Tamil Nadu. Abdul Rahman and Rilvan (the arrested persons) have been charged with abetting insurgent activity. The police will have to put up a strong case against these youth since the ISIS is not yet a banned organisation,” says an intelligence source.

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Image: An ISIS terrorist in Fallujah, Iraq.
Photographs: Reuters

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There are many fanatics in India who subscribe to the violent ways of the ISIS and feel that by popularising the group they could ensure that the ISIS and its ideology becomes a way of life among several Indian Muslims too.

The advent of Wahabism in a big way in India and the ISIS battle has only made several misguided youth get attracted towards the cause. During the questioning of the two arrested youth, they told the police that they only wanted to spread the message loud and clear although they had no intent of inciting violence or tension.

The police are however worried about this growing trend and feel that this problem needs to be curbed. There are already over 250 Indian youth who have signed up with the ISIS and around 18 have joined them.

“If we do not check this trend then more youth will take up the cause and we do not want this menace spreading like wild fire in India,” the officer also informed.

Another interesting aspect has cropped up with regard to Rahman. Investigation revealed that he was a frequent flier to Singapore, which has raised eye brows. Singapore is the busiest route for Indians wanting to join the ISIS. Every appointment into the ISIS has been made through Singapore. The new joinees are kept in Singapore for a couple of months before being sent into Iraq or Syria, as was the case of Haja Fakruddin.


Image: ISIS fighters celebrate on vehicles taken from Iraqi security forces on a main street in Fallujah, west of Baghdad
Photographs: Reuters

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