Out of the 600 foreigners including 200 hardcore maulvis (Muslim religious preachers) deported by Colombo over the last week after the suicide bombings there, over a 100 were Indians. They, along with those from Pakistan and Maldives, were suspected to be engaged in radicalisation in the Sri Lankan mosques.
Besides the Indians, clerics from Pakistan and Maldives have also been deported in large numbers owing to their terror links that emerged after serial suicide bombings in Colombo on Sunday Easter last month that took a toll of over 250 persons including 11 Indians. Besides the 200 maulvis, the 400 other individuals are also suspected to have travelled on tourist visas but have been essentially been engaged in radical preachings, sources said.
Sri Lankan authorities have identified about 1,200 such individuals who are being screened for terror links and depending upon antecedent verification more such clerics are likely to be deported to the respective countries.
The revelation of the Indian maulvis in radicalisation activities in the island nation has set alarm bells ringing in the security establishment here as they apprehend the international terror groups might have developed a hub of such transnational radical preachers in the country.
The deportations began on Tuesday after the Sri Lankan authorities informed the respective foreign missions on the issue. By Thursday, the 600 such radicals were deported to the respective countries.
Pakistani clerics have infiltrated the mosques in the region including in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Maldives and even in some of the ASEAN countries. These clerics are being exploited by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence for the larger design of implementing state agenda of sponsoring terror in the neighbourhood, sources said.
The sources said such radical clerics are also part of the transnational radicalization networks of the international terror groups like the Al Qaeda and ISIS who have a long term agenda of radicalisation and subsequently recruit them into their fold for their terror designs, including logistics management chain and funding through illegal narcotics supply chain.
During the last over two years, Indian clerics in large number, as revealed by the Sri Lankan deportation, are also taking up jobs of Islamic preaching in foreign shores.
In the wake of the development, the challenge for the security agencies is two-fold: first, to keep tabs on their activities after their deportation, and secondly to establish their role and extent of involvement in radicalization during their stay in Sri Lanka, insiders said.
Officials also said the Indian security agencies will have an onerous task ahead to contain the impact of the deported radical clerics.
They said counter-terrorism and security-related issues come under the domain of the security agencies in so far as Sri Lanka is concerned as any adverse activity there has a direct bearing on the security calculus in South India, especially Tamil Nadu.
Ahead of carrying out the suicide bombing in Colombo, chief National Thowheed Jamat Zaharan Hashim had stayed in South India for three months but remained undetected by the Intelligence Bureau.