MUMBAI, India--Foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) returning or relocating from conflict zones pose a serious threat for Jammu & Kashmir on the India-Pakistan border, said the latest report by Asia Pacific Group (APG) on financing and facilitation of FTF and returnees in Southeast Asia.
"Experts have raised concern that returning FTFs would utilize their training, skills, and networks to launch attacks at home, with some going so far as to describe FTFs as a 'ticking time bomb'," said the report.
APG on Money Laundering is an intergovernmental organisation, consisting of 41 member jurisdictions, including the United States, China, India and Pakistan.
In its 67-page report, APG analysed cases of Islamic State fighters from Southeast Asian countries and remarked that though the number of Southeast Asian FTF recruits may be a "small percentage of the overall cohort to Iraq and Syria, their existence is notable, given the terrorism landscape in Southeast Asia".
The report also mentioned Karen Aizha Hamidon, a Filipino woman who tried to radicalise youths in India to fight for ISIS overseas and spread ISIS propaganda through social messaging platforms like Facebook, Telegram and WhatsApp groups.
In December 2021, the United States annual report on terrorism had identified 66 known Indian-origin fighters on the rolls of Islamic State.
It also cited the probe of India's National Investigation Agency into 34 such cases that led to the arrest of 160 persons, including 10 alleged al-Qaeda operatives from Kerala and West Bengal.
As per the APG's report, the capabilities of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have been "degraded by its territorial defeat in Syria" but the threat remains.
"The group has a successful history of adapting and recovering, as demonstrated by the addition of four new provinces to its self-declared caliphate in 2019 - Central Africa, Turkey, India and Pakistan. There are also cases that suggest ISIL will continue to attract FTFs, including to support its operations in regions like Khorasan in Afghanistan or Jammu & Kashmir on the India-Pakistan border," it said.
While raising questions on the whereabouts of an estimated 40,000 FTFs who are believed to have participated in the conflict, the APG report acknowledged that "financial intelligence can be a critical to support the detection of potential returnees and relocators, as well as FTFs travelling to Southeast Asia to join militant and extremist groups".