Over the last week, Afghanistan and Syria have warned India to step-up preventive measures to ensure that the Islamic State does not manage to set-up its base in the country.
India could face a threat from Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation – (FETO) warned Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during his visit to India where he met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. This, after Turkey continues to recover from a failed coup, with President Recep Erdogan pinning the blame on that organisation.
But it's not just FETO. Over the last week, Afghanistan and Syria have warned India to step-up preventive measures to ensure that the Islamic State does not manage to set-up its base in the country, even as reports emerge that radicalised Indian nationals are travelling to West Asia to join the militant organisation.
FETO a new threat to India?
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday said India faced a threat from (FETO) asserting that the organisation was a "secretive transnational criminal network” with a presence across the globe.
"Unfortunately, FETO has also infiltrated India through associations and schools," Cavusoglu said, adding that he brought up the issue during talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Cavusoglu said terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations constitute a threat to India and Turkey, and "therefore, exchange of information regarding these threats and bilateral and multilateral cooperation and solidarity against terrorism is crucial." Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said the government was 'sensitive' to Turkey's concerns and that the country's security agencies were looking into Ankara's demand for closure of associations connected with FETO which were reportedly carrying out illegal activities.
Within Turkey, FETO keeps its distance from established Islamic political parties, but is active active in areas like education, interfaith dialogue, civic opportunities, humanitarian aid, media, finance, and health. After the failed coup attempt in July this year, Turkish President Erdogan blamed the group for the coup and the authorities arrested thousands of its soldiers beside suspending over ten thousand education staff. Also, the licenses of over 20,000 teachers working at private institutions were revoked for their alleged affiliation to Gülen. However, Fethullah Gülen strongly condemned the coup, and rejected claims of his involvement. More than 240 people died and over 1,500 others were injured as a fallout of the failed coup.
That India must take immediate steps to act against Islamic State was also a view Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai shared with Indian authorities during his visit to India last week. Speaking to The Indian Express, Karzai said the issue came up during talks between the two nations.
“Of course, we did. This is a constant theme of conversations between India and Afghanistan. Radicalism and religious extremism are causing loss of lives and property, and opportunity that we keep losing towards a better future. So we did discuss this and IS has to be taken very seriously by India," the Afghan president said, adding that “it is a totally foreign phenomenon for our region, is used for sinister purposes and, therefore, we must jointly address it."
When asked what made Islamic State so different, dangerous and more sinister than other groups, especially when it came to India, Karzai said: "The objectives of IS are more sinister. The Taliban were localised and they were Afghans. IS is non-Afghan and has no links with the Taliban. It is not indigenous and then it thinks regional, and in a hurtful way. Therefore, you have to be extremely careful in India, up and alert, preventing them from reaching India and hurting Indian interests, as they do right now in Afghanistan. As per reports, some Indians have also joined IS and India should be extremely careful."
India has a role to play: Bashar al-Assad
While Cavusoglu asked the international community to work together to bring about the much-needed political transition in Syria, saying it was not only a prerequisite to end the conflict, but also essential to effectively fight terrorism, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a meeting with MoS External Affairs MJ Akbar reportedly said that "as a growing power, India has a role to play in meeting the challenge of terrorism," urging India to play its role in ensuring stability in West Asia.
Akbar, who is on a week-long visit to West Asia from August 17, reportedly told the Syrian president that the age of destruction should give way to the age of reconstruction in Syria. There was also a broad agreement between both the sides for further upgrading security consultations.
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