Keralites had stayed in Islamic State (IS) safe-houses in Colombo before joining the IS, The Hindu newspaper reported.
The State police believe that at least 90 Keralites had joined the Islamic State militia since 2016.
They included an estimated 21 persons from Kasaragod and 38 from Kannur. The police have also added the names of 12 Keralites from Bahrain and 10 from Ras-Al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates to their list of IS defectors.
Top investigators said that most appeared to have been attracted by the organisation’s slick online propaganda and its self-styled local recruiters and franchises.
The defectors were mostly dentists, doctors, IT experts, and their families. The groups from Kerala were a zealous amalgam of radicals and recent converts.
The police said they had tracked the Kasaragod group in virtual space to Afghanistan. They narrowed down those from Kannur to Syria. Both groups had taken a circuitous route through Sri Lanka to reach the combat zones. En route, they had camped in IS safe-houses in Colombo.
The Keralites who defected to the IS from the Gulf also comprised children of NRIs. Peer pressure appeared to have played a serious role in their radicalisation.
Members of the Bahrain and Ras-Al-Khaimah groups were believed to be in Syria. Investigators said since 2016, sixteen Keralites were reported killed in the combat zones.