Between 2014 and 2016, among the most popular online groups of Islamic State (IS) sympathisers was “Islam Q&A”, a WhatsApp group ostensibly used to get answers to all contentious questions about Islam. Run by a Filipino woman in her thirties, Karen Aisha Hamidon, the group was often recommended by IS’s online army to potential recruits.
Investigation by the NIA has now found out that during the period, the unassuming former call centre executive from Manila managed to convince close to 50 Indians to join the Islamic State. Not more than half-a-dozen, however, managed to or attempted to sneak into Syria, the agency has learnt.
While the investigating agency has tracked down youths from across the country with alleged IS links, most remained online soldiers, harbouring desire to fight alongside the terror outfit but either lacking the courage or the means to go to Syria, the investigators found out.
One was even found undergoing treatment for last-stage cancer, a source said.
An NIA team returned from Manila last month after interrogating Hamidon, who is lodged in a jail there on charges of “incitement to rebellion”. While she has given details of all 50…