Dr. Robert Lloyd on ISIS | Ceylon Today (Sri Lanka) | Pepperdine University | School of Public Policy

Dr. Robert Lloyd on ISIS | Ceylon Today (Sri Lanka)

July 26, 2015  | 7 min read

How Nilam Took Turkey Visa to Join ISIS

Last Sunday's, edition of Ceylon Today broke the news story of the first Sri Lankan ISIS militant to be killed in Syria in a US coalition airstrike. Well, it has not taken too long for the fear of the, 'Salafi Jihadi' extremist militant group of the Islamic State (IS) infiltrating our tiny isle, becoming mind jolting reality. Ceylon Today has repeatedly in the not too distant past, been highlighting the fact of that ominous possibility of the ISIS reaching in beyond our doorstep and recruiting personnel for their sordid deeds. The Maldives, is one of the South Asian bases for recruiting IS men. Former Speaker and Foreign Minister of the Maldives Abdulla Shahid told Ceylon Today that his country was 'fertile ground' for recruitment.

Ceylontoday, 2015-07-26

BY SULOCHANA RAMIAH MOHAN

Last Sunday's, edition of Ceylon Today broke the news story of the first Sri Lankan ISIS militant to be killed in Syria in a US coalition airstrike. Well, it has not taken too long for the fear of the, 'Salafi Jihadi' extremist militant group of the Islamic State (IS) infiltrating our tiny isle, becoming mind jolting reality. Ceylon Today has repeatedly in the not too distant past, been highlighting the fact of that ominous possibility of the ISIS reaching in beyond our doorstep and recruiting personnel for their sordid deeds. The Maldives, is one of the South Asian bases for recruiting IS men. Former Speaker and Foreign Minister of the Maldives Abdulla Shahid told Ceylon Today that his country was 'fertile ground' for recruitment.


It was reported that on Sunday 12 July, 2015 (25th day of Ramadan – 1436 Hijri) Sharfaz Nilam Muhsin (37) aka Abu Shuraih Sailani (his Caliphate name), from Kandy, believed to be a scholar in Islam, was killed in one of the US airstrikes in Syria. The details posted in a Facebook post said that he was an ISIS militant and that he was killed. Nilam's death was confirmed by his brother in law Thauqeer Ahmed Thajudeen who is also an IS militant under the name Abu Dhujaana Seylani commented on FB that there are witnesses who had seen and identified his body.


A father of seven children (wife was pregnant when they left Sri Lanka in January with his seventh child) had been very helpful, friendly yet, a quiet man according to his friends and students who learned Karate under him. A Karate instructor it was mentioned that, after leaving Galewela where he was a Principal of a school and a karate instructor too, he had moved to Colombo for a couple of years working as a Principal in an international school there (name withheld). His wife hails from Maradana, he had been with his six children.

However, he was a visiting Urdu lecturer in Colombo University between the years 2011-2012. He was a scholar in Sharia Law and obtained his LLB from Pakistan International Islamic University.
Nilam had been a karate master but never obtained his black belt from the institution where he learnt the art. However one of his instructors told Ceylon Today that he came to learn and was quick in picking up the art. Later on, for a while he was a karate instructor in the same institute before long, he left Colombo to teach at the Galewela village school.
It seemed that Karate was part of his preparation to enter Syria. The entire 2014 he had been an instructor teaching Karate in Maharagama, Kotahena and in Kandy.
He bade goodbye to many, reportedly saying that he was going to Mecca, however, he had applied for a Tourist visa at the Turkish Embassy in Colombo, last December.


Turkish visa
The entire family had gone over to the Embassy that included his pregnant wife, six children between the ages of 5 to 10 and his parents (10 members) said Turkish Ambassador Iskender Okyay.
He told Ceylon Today that only Nilam had Shengen visa and Australian visa and the rest had no visas, and he added further that they were 'probably used' visas.


The Ambassador also said, the stay in Turkey was restricted to only 10 days although the tourist visa was valid for three months beginning from 24 December, 2014 to 24 February, 2015 but cannot confirm exactly when during the three months his family took off to Turkey, however Ceylon Today learns it was on 16 January, 2015 that the family had left for Turkey.
"The family had a hotel reservation in Turkey and carried sufficient money to travel, and we did not doubt at all what the mission would be in Turkey, however, after ten days of stay they had left Turkey."
The Ambassador could not confirm whether he crossed the Turkish border to enter Syria or whether he used another passage like Jordan.


He also added that it's not illegal to go to Syria from Turkey but many also do utilize illegal means to enter Syria.
The Ambassador said, when he had come to apply for tourist visa he had 10 airline tickets and proved he was the General Manager of a company named Minza Traders – importers of textiles, leather, and cosmetics.
When trying to ferret out the story, Ceylon Today had sent a message via FB to Thauqeer Ahmed Thajudeen, brother in law of Nilam, to find out what really happened in Syria, and how Nilam was killed. No sooner had this been done, we found that in response his FB account / profile was deleted depriving us of access to his friends list.
The ISIS is very alert even on FB, but there is also an 'ISIS world' existing out there on social media radically inveigling youth and other adherents to their cause.


Another comment by his brother-in -law: "We are in Syria; we cannot travel by flight to go to Burma, and if we do kuffar will know us. They will put us in prison; it's time for Southeast Asians opportunity to join the ranks of Mujahideen."
The brainwashing of youth who subsequently join ISIS is now clearly of concern to the Muslim community. Although there is a great denial of IS by them, and don't want their kith and kin to join, they believe in the holy war and being a martyr which may 'silence' them from revealing the truth even if one is to join the IS.
How do you indentify what is going on in their minds when they are hooked onto social networking and being radicalized by their masters such as Nilam who has been respected and praised for his knowledge in Islam? Will they not believe him?
It's a personal decision when considering ISIS, and no man or woman can stop this deep rooted studies obtained from IS militants and supporters, who are Islamic scholars by and large from all parts of the world.


Warnings
When Ceylon Today contacted Professor of International Relations, Studies and Languages, Coordinator International Studies Programme, Pepperdine University, Robert B. Lloyd, Ph.D. expert on ISIS operations said, late last year Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the development of a new affiliate for South Asia. Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, according to al-Zawahiri, would focus on Kashmir, Bangladesh, Burma, and certain states in northern India. India noted this development with concern but affirmed its ability to respond. Extending Al Qaeda influence to Sri Lanka would be possible, but would obviously have greater logistical and practical challenges than areas bordering Pakistan.


" I was in Jordan and Nigeria earlier this year for extended stays. In both of those countries Muslim and political leaders as well as ordinary citizens expressed their strong concern over the radicalization of some of the young men. In Nigeria attacks by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram have often, but not always, targeted Christians in the country. Jordan, especially after the internet video showing the burning of a captured Jordanian pilot, has been very much involved in efforts to destroy ISIS."
He also went on to say that the ISIS has also targeted Christians in the areas they control, especially in Syria. "These attacks have clearly heightened religious tension among citizens in these countries, which is almost certainly a major objective. They also use violence in the areas they control to force submission to their rule. In Jordan I saw the refugee camps of ordinary people who fled the fighting in Syria. The sheer size of the camps was, to my mind, enormous," he added.


Turkey, which has been a point of transit for IS fighters and recruits to Syria, following the suicide attack last week announced it would now permit the Americans to use the NATO base in Incirlik (located near the Syrian border) for attacks against ISIS and for the first time Turkish warplanes bombed IS positions in Syria for the first time last Friday.
Brigadier (Retired) Rahul K. Bhonsle of Strategic Risk and Knowledge Management Consultancy expert on defence and security, reading Ceylon Today's report on IS member killed in Syria said reports of the first Sri Lankan citizen killed while fighting for the Islamic State (IS) in Syria may not be alarming when there are dozens of youth from other countries who are presently on the battlefields of West Asia loosely supporting extremist ideologies.


He said the Sri Lankan society is far less radical and is more secular than many other states in the World including neighbour India. This era has also led to militarization of the society at large with many elements operating outside the ambit of state institutions such as the Army and the Police in the form of White Van gangs and others. A combination of ideological inclination as indicated by the Facebook page of so called Abu Shuraih Sailani and martial approach may lead such youth from countries as Sri Lanka to join the IS, thus the State and society may have to guard against the same in the future.
In February 2015, US Director for National Intelligence James Clapper said IS could muster "somewhere in the range between 20,000 and 32,000 fighters" in Iraq and Syria.


In June 2015, US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, more than 10,000 ISIS fighters had been killed.
Despite the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama stressing the death of IS member as an isolated incident and calling upon the media to act with responsibility and objectivity, without trying to sensationalize such issues, nevertheless, if the media did not highlight the issue, more sons and daughters of Sri Lanka would perish, being radicalized and brining more destruction to the country that has just come out of a war very recently.


One must not also forget that the ISIS are presently the most brutal militants in the world and have as yet attracted nearly 22,000 foreign militants, who have left behind their loved ones informed or uninformed. The ISIS and similar other organizations have become very powerful, because they fight in the name of a religion, and religion has been a powerful tool, in fact, a political tool that has brought self- destruction in numerous ways mainly if you embrace it more than required.