Pakistan Army, ISI and terror organisations Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba operating out of Kashmir have been devising unconventional recruitment strategies to attract the Kashmiri youth to become a part of militancy. Even the Indian Army has fallen prey to the unconventional methods of ‘honey’ and ‘money’. IndianExpose investigates…
For militancy to survive it needs new recruits. Social media is the new recruitment ground of the militants of Kashmir.
In June 2019, it was discovered by Indian Military Agencies that a Pakistani spy going by the Facebook name “Sejal Kapoor” had hacked into the computer systems of more than 98 personnel of various defence forces, including the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force, between 2015 and 2018.
The spy ‘Sejal’ had lured these personnel (mostly men) using an unconventional method in a new battleground – digital space.
She reportedly showed them videos and pictures via a malware originating from West Asia.
Amongst other things, classified details of the BrahMos missile programme were leaked to Pakistan.
Two viruses, Whisper and GravityRAT, were used with more than 25 Internet addresses to mask her actual identity.
This is not the first time Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) utilised digital warfare strategies on the Indian Army:
Three years ago ISI had designed a social media ‘honey trap’ online application which was operated by a Karachi-based Cyber Unit. The App was used to track the movement of the Indian Army.
The data stealing software would take control over the user’s phone. ISI targeted thousands of Indian Army officers. Once the officer downloaded the App, a woman would befriend the targeted Army officer, they would exchange obscene pictures or communicate through VOIP. Then the ‘honey trap’ would be set.
Intelligence Agencies revealed that data collected from the App was stored in a server in Germany and hosted by a company in Karachi, Pakistan.
In the first of August 2019, after the Indian government abrogated Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir and decided to change the status of J&K into a Union Territory and Ladakh into a Union Territory – a University Website in Pakistan (reportedly backed by the Pakistani Army) released an advertisement that stated, ‘Website wants to recruit ‘female’ social media specialist to attract and interact with targeted virtual communities and network users’.
In fact in 2017 a Hindu youth Ravindra Kumar, a college dropout from Akhnoor area in Jammu fell into a ‘honey trap’ and shared secret information pertaining to security data and Indian Army to his Pakistani handler. It led to the cracking down of a spy module in the region.
The Pakistani handler – reportedly an ISI agent had used a girl’s name ‘Simran’(in keeping with the popular Shahrukh – Kajol starrer ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’) to create a social media account and chat with Ravindra. He did share information on army movements and deployment, but Army Intelligence revealed that it was very sensitive.
In yet another intelligence-based operation last year, Syed Shazia, a woman in her early 30s from Bandipore was arrested. She had many accounts on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram which were being followed by many Indian youths from Kashmir.
Officials from the central security agencies had been keeping a watch on the Internet Protocol (IP) address used by Shazia for several months. She used to converse with youths and would promise to meet them only if a certain “consignment” was delivered from one place to another. She was arrested after credible and incriminating Intelligence input after the killing of Lashkar-e-Toiba operative Abu Ismail in an encounter.
During interrogation, she told the investigators about the presence of some more women in militants ranks who had been tasked with luring youths into militancy.
The new strategy is to recruit locals and give them rudimentary training in the hinterland because the Pakistan is not able to push terrorists across the line of control.
In 2017, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (Lashkar-e-Toiba wing) had published an advertisement in several newspapers of Pakistan. The advertisement said that jihad can be done at home with internet and smartphone.
Most of the youth in J&K are below the age of 30 with depleting job opportunities and they comprise almost 60 per cent of the population. Therefore the youth are easy targets for honey coupled with money.
In Kashmir, social media have evolved into a place where false narratives create heroes out of terrorists and radicalised recruits as new age icons.