Guess what Indian youth is busy browsing on Web? It’s ISIS.

Terrorism is a scary-reality, but people want to know more and more about it. Take for instance this: According to an intelligence agency, Indian youth is curious to know more and more about the Islamic States’ (ISIS) activities and is busy collecting this information over the Web. Though Indian government’s claims that the country is not influenced by the ISIS, the report suggests otherwise.

The intelligence agency’s report suggest that ISIS is being searched the most in Indian towns like Unnao and Chinchwad. If this is true, then it is a big concern for the Indian government. Srinagar and Guwahati are also among this list.

The top six Indian cities with online interest in ISIS are Mumbai, Srinagar, Guwahati, Chinchwad (a suburb of Pune) and Howrah. The top-secret survey, exclusively accessed by Times of India says that Unnao, a town in central Uttar Pradesh took up sixth position in the list.

Uttar Pradesh topped the list with a maximum number of youth looking for ISIS activities online. The study – findings, placed before a meeting of chief secretaries and DGPs of 12 states convened by the MHA earlier this month to discuss the growing appeal of ISIS – concluded that Jammu and Kashmir showed the highest social media activity related to ISIS, followed by Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

The report, which covered social networking platforms including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google, also stated that the terror group was attracting the age-group between 16 to 30 years. The section covers both the genders.

The spread of ISIS social media outreach is largely attributable to the Internet, which provides a very wide and no-holds barred access to raw material over a very large footprint comprising net-savvy young population in a developing region like South Asia. In fact, Pakistan took the lead here in providing the largest population of ISIS subscribers, with the spread mostly anchored in its urban centres.

A glance at global social media data indicates that West Asia, Iraq, Syria, Emirates region and North East Africa generate the highest volume of ISIS-related traffic from the young. These are followed by anxious populations in certain West European countries that have reported exit of some youth to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS.

While India lags far behind Pakistan and others as far as access to social media-based ISIS content is concerned, still certain parts of the country have shown high interest triggered by the media coverage of four youth from Kalyan, Mumbai, who left the country to join ISIS last year. News reports of one of them having returned home frustrated and another getting killed further increased the curiosity.

Social media-based material has been a prime mobilizer in J&K, prompting a section of its young to wave ISIS flags during protests.

"Overall, ISIS has been successful in evolving a potent internet-based propaganda strategy with social media and multimedia (like YouTube) as effective vehicles... The spread and effectiveness achieved by ISIS is showing exponential proportions," a senior intelligence official associated with the study told TOI.

Image: Thinkstock

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