Prophetic Forsyth

via published on October 27, 2008

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A couple of years ago, when most of Kerala didn’t even dare to suspect, English author Frederick Forsyth, best known for thrillers like `The Day of the Jackal’ and `The Fist of God’, had spoken about the radical transformation of Kerala Muslims like it was no news at all, as though it was a sociological cliche.

In the middle of his latest book `The Afghan’, which was released in 2006, Forsyth in three short pithy paragraphs makes an explosive observation about Kerala’s radical Islam in as sedate a manner as possible.

The situation that lends itself to the Kerala connection in `Afghan’ is the murder of two merchant seamen of a Venezuelan ship named `Dona Maria’ in a sleazy dockside bar in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

After the initial shock, the ship’s skipper, Captain Montalban, contacts his local agent for replacement sailors. Now, over to Frederick Forsyth.

“He (the agent) came up with two polite and eager young Indians from Kerala who had worked their passage across the world and who, even if they lacked naturalisation papers, had perfectly good seamen’s tickets.

“They were taken on, joined the other four seamen who made up the crew and the Dona Maria sailed only a day late.

“Captain Montalban knew vaguely that most of India is Hindu but he had no idea that there are also a hundred and fifty million Muslims.

He was not aware that the radicalisation of Indian Muslims has been just as vigorous as in Pakistan, or that Kerala, once the hotbed of Communism, has been particularly receptive territory for Islamist extremism.

“His two new crewmen had indeed worked their way from India as deck hands, but on orders and to gain experience.

And finally the Catholic Venezuelan had no idea that, though neither had suicide in mind, they were working with and for Jamaatal- Muslimeen. The two unfortunates in the bar had been killed precisely to put the two Indian matelots on his ship.” `The Afghan’, which plays out across Indonesia, Pakistan, Guantanamo Bay, Trinidad and Tobago, Washington and on board various ships sailing the high seas, is about a desperate American- English ploy to defeat a deadly Al-Qaeda masterplan by making a seasoned British operative pose as an Afghan Taliban commander jailed in Guantanamo Bay.

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