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Kozhikode: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into 21 missing persons from Kerala has unearthed that more than 30 youths from the state had attended ISIS training camps in Afghanistan.

According to a report, many of these youth may have returned to India to set up sleeper cells.

Many educated Muslim youths from Kerala who were working in Gulf countries had strong links with IS terror networks, the report also said.

Furthermore, some NRI businessmen had funded the terror activities of these youth.

“The image of secular Kerala is a vanity. The state has been a breeding ground of terror networks”, a police officer was quoted as saying.

Apart from radical Muslim outfits operating in the state, so-called secular religious groups are also involved in encouraging youth to join ISIS, said the report.

Handlers of terror outfits have used social media effectively to recruit the youths from the state without alerting the police and intelligence agencies.

Earlier, NIA identified Sajeer Abdulla Mangalaseri as the chief of the Islamic State network in Kerala. 35-year-old Sajeer, a Civil Engineer from National Institute of Technology, Kozhikode and a Salafist who hails from Moozhikal in Kozhikode had been recruiting people from Kerala in IS fold.

Intelligence agencies now believe that Sajeer is no more working in UAE, but hiding somewhere in Afghanistan, keeping in close touch with the missing youth from Kerala.

The scandal broke earlier this year when 21 youth from the coastal state were found to be missing, including four families. They are suspected to have joined ISIS last year in May.