Islamic State’s sudden emergence and rapid expansion alarmed many countries, perhaps beyond the point they should have been. A paranoia similar to the one that griped countries during the Ebola outbreak prompted many states, including those geographically distant from the Middle East, to undertake security measures. Following the US bombing campaigns and the Peshmerga counter offensive, the threat of IS’s territorial expansion is held at bay, but countries like India are not lowering their guard just yet.

The Federal government has declared Islamic State a banned terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, stating that it is involved in radicalization and recruitment of vulnerable youth from various countries including India. The notification is a mere formality, for all intents and purposes IS was a banned organization in India. The present announcement makes the status official. Perhaps more than a formality, it is a signal that more so than other countries India needs to be on guard. India’s top security advisors were repeatedly warning the public about the IS threat far before Al-Qaeda’s decision to open a chapter in India. When Al-Qaeda started losing ground in global jihadist standing to IS, India was chosen as the new frontier where Al-Qaeda will carry out operations in a bid to revive its lost fortunes. Certainly, IS will not be far behind, it has already wrested control from Al-Qaeda in several areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan; accepting pledges of allegiance from splinter groups and being foremost in recruiting fighters. Most importantly, IS will be a threat to India, for India offers a unique demographic unlike any other country. IS has restricted its activities outside the Middle East to finding new recruits. India is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the world – one that lives as a minority in a country which is rapidly adapting to radical Hindu nationalism. Furthermore, this minority is relatively impoverished compared to its Hindu counterparts, and in some places, it is in open conflict with the federal government. IS will find plenty of prospective recruits here – young religious men, with little prospects in an increasingly competitive job market and full of resentment against the state. The capture, interrogation and confession of Areed Majid, an Indian engineering student from Mumbai who was recruited by IS to fight in Iraq, presents tangible proof of this possibility.

India, although geographically distant from Islamic State’s circle of power, is certainly within its crosshairs as a fertile recruiting ground. At this moment the recruits are fighting in Syria, one day they are bound to return.