India in ISIS cross-hairs
by Sandhya Jain on 27 Dec 2016 11 Comments

Al Qaeda’s virulent offshoot, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS; Arabic, Dawlat al-Islamiyah f’al-Iraq w Belaad al-Sham, Daesh), currently under stress owing to combined operations by Russia and the Syrian Arab Army of President Bashar al-Assad, poses a threat to the world as its foreign cadres flee back home. The New York-based Soufan Group estimates that up to 60,000 jihadi fighters could return to various nations.


Led by Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri, who calls himself Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after the first Caliph and also Caliph Ibrahim after the patriarch Abraham, Daesh seeks to conquer the whole world for Islam. In Global War Against Kaffirs, a timely analysis of this dreaded body, R.K. Ohri, IPS, (retd.), traces the origins and rise of Daesh, its ideology, and the threat it poses to India and the world.


Islamic conquerors used savagery as a force multiplier in wars against non-Muslims since the seventh century, and ensured Islam’s dramatic victories. This strategy was honed by Daesh ideologue, Abu Badr Naji (né Muhammad Khalil al-Hakaymah), in Management of Savagery (2004), to create the tactics that have horrified the world - beheading captives, and abduction and violation of Yazidi and Christian women. Islamic scholar Al-Tabari and other sources trace burning captives alive to first Caliph Abu Bakr, even though the Prophet is credited with saying that Allah alone had the right to punish by fire. The act originates in the belief that a burnt Muslim cannot go to heaven (jannat).


Islamic State emerged from the Jamaat al-Tahwid Wal-Jihad in 1999, when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi sought regime change in Jordan. After the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Zarqawi turned his attention towards the American forces. But his hatred for Shias was an integral component of ISIS ideology; in February 2004, 150 Shias were killed in simultaneous attacks in Baghdad and Karbala, the holiest Shia city, during the Ashura festival. Zarqawi personally beheaded two American hostages, Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley, in September 2004.


Later, he joined hands with Al Qaeda and re-named his group Al-Qaeda in Iraq. After his death in an airstrike by US forces in 2006, the group renamed itself Islamic State in Iraq. It aimed at a Sharia-compliant State and began capturing large swathes of territory in the desert region of Anbar province.


Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took command in 2010 and renamed the group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In January 2014, ISIS captured parts of Falluja and Ramadi in Anbar province; in June it captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. The same month, on the first day of Ramadan, ISIS declared establishment of a caliphate with al-Baghdadi as caliph Ibrahim. In little over two years, ISIS acquired partners and affiliated groups across large parts of the world.


India has been in the cross-hairs of jihad even after Partition. Pakistan’s Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have regularly aided several militant groups in Pakistan and India to wage multiple jihads to destroy the country’s Hindu identity. The Kashmir dispute is only a pretext; the war is civilisational, says Ohri.


Islamic State has set up an India-specific outfit called Junod-al Khalifah-al Hind to escalate recruitment of Indian youth for jihad. In January 2016, the arrest of 20-year-old Rizwan Ahmed of Kushi Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, and subsequent cross-country raids revealed a deep conspiracy to target major cities. The National Investigation Agency’s investigations exposed Karnataka to be central to the conspiracy to recruit more youth for jihadi attacks and to establish a caliphate in India (Wilayat Hind).


Supporters of Islamic State have been especially active in West Bengal, particularly in Nadia and Murshidabad districts, and neighbouring Bangladesh, where nearly 150 critics of radical Islam have been murdered and about 1200 injured. The number of ISIS modules in Bangladesh is almost uncountable. Dhaka estimates that there are nearly 60 terror modules and sleeper cells in West Bengal. What is certain is that but for the chance bomb blasts in Burdwan district in the wee hours of November 1, 2014, Indian authorities would have remained unaware of the bomb-making facilities created in Bengal.


Islamic State formally announced plans to target Hindus of Bangladesh in April 2016; accordingly, there were a series of attacks on non-Muslims, including the killings of foreign nationals, Hindu priests and several intellectuals. The Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh is an ISIS ally, and will be instrumental in launching jihadi operations in India.


Islamic State’s journal, Dabiq, announced in April 2016 that Sheikh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanafi (a pseudonym) has been appointed the new Emir (leader) of Soldiers of Khilafah in Bengal. He vowed to impose Daesh’s version of puritanical Islam on Bengal and Bangladesh, and to target Myanmar as well. He condemned Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as an ally of India.


Since 2015, nearly 40 Hindus, several Christians, a number of Muslim agnostics and some foreign nationals have been executed by cadres of the Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh. Besides attacks in West Bengal and Bangladesh, ISIS has threatened the monks of the Ramakrishna Mission and ordered them to quit Bangladesh or face death. Other Hindu and Buddhist monks received similar threats to quit Bangladesh after six Hindu priests were hacked to death by suspected Islamic militants in the first six months of 2016.


The think-tank, Foresight Group, reveals that by 2004 the ISI had established as many as 60 Espionage Centers across India, employing nearly 10,000 trained spies; these could now range up to 60,000 agents, or more. Several identifiable pro-jihadi lobbies function brazenly in States and at all-India level, mostly masquerading as bleeding heart liberals and preachers of peace and communal harmony. These persons openly plead the cause of jihadi outfits.


In this context, it is pertinent that Mohammed Danish Ansari, an associate of Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal, recorded a statement before a magistrate under Section 164 Cr.P.C. that in 2010 Bhatkal claimed to have raised a committed group of 33,000 jihadis in India. Ansari’s disclosure shows the extent to which fifth columnists have laid siege to the Republic. This is evident from the fact that nearly 30,000 Muslims joined the namaz-e-janaza for terrorist Yakub Memon on 31 July 2015, after he was hanged for his role in the Mumbai blasts of 1993.


Ohri’s book contains a wealth of information on jihadi operations and plans for India. It is a must reading for counter-terrorism experts and ordinary citizens whose alertness could help avert many a tragedy. Savagery is intimidating, but it can be managed, and defeated. 

User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top