Although according to 2020 United Nations report stated the number of Al Qaeda fighters from India, Myanmar, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are between 150-200, the real number if much higher! The 26th Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team said in the report that there are an estimated 400-600 Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. But, according to credible report of a non-Indian intelligence agency, the size of fighters in the Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent or AQIS is over one thousand, while a large portion of these AQIS members are being given commando training as well as special training on bomb making. The report claimed, Pakistani spy agency Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) is secretly training these AQIS fighters in a number of military training camps. But the most disturbing information is – members of Pakistan-based Haqqani network as well as Tehrek-e-Taliban Pakistan have joined hands with AQIS in a common plot of launching series of terrorist attacks in India and Sri Lanka.
The intelligence report said, over 500 AQIS members from India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka have graduated after training from Al-Qaeda’s military centre located at Miranshah in North Waziristan, Pakistan on October 30. The graduates are likely to be shifted to Khost, Paktia, Pakitka, Kunar, Logar, Nuristan and Kabul provinces to carry out coordinated attacks along with Haqqani Network fighters,” the report said.
It is also learned that, these AQIS men may carry out coordinated attacks along with the Haqqani network from Pak-Afghan region. The Haqqani network is an Afghan terror group and considered an offshoot of Taliban with links to Al Qaeda.
Meanwhile, an Indian intelligence report also identified the areas — like Nirmuz, Helmand and Kandahar in Afghanistan — where the AQIS was working under Taliban.
The activities of AQIS have been under the lens of intelligence agencies in India with local modules and recruits active in the last few years within the country.
The Delhi Police claimed to have busted one such module earlier and filed a chargesheet in 2016 against 17 individuals for allegedly establishing an AQIS base in India.
The investigation also mentioned how some of the members are in Waziristan, Pakistan.
A matter of grave concern for India
A memorandum sent from the ‘Oversight and Investigation Unit’ of the Finance Committee of the United States Senate on 22 December 2020, made available online, shows some interesting data and even more interesting undercurrents that are left unreported.
The memorandum deals with the financial transactions entered into by World Vision division of the United States, ‘an Evangelical 501(c)(3) non-profit organization’ with a ‘terrorist-funding organization, the Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA).’
The money itself came from the ‘United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’, an independent agency within the federal government which provides ‘developmental assistance’ to developing countries.
The US government had placed sanctions on ISRA in 2004 after ‘they had funneled approximately $5 million to Maktab Al-Khidamat, the predecessor to Al-Qaeda controlled by Osama Bin Laden.’
The document explains that after getting approval of a grant of $723,405 by USAID for a project in ‘the conflict affected areas in the Blue Nile region of Sudan’, WV-USA ‘entered into an agreement with ISRA whereby ISRA would provide humanitarian services to certain parts of the Blue Nile Region on behalf of World Vision’.
While it is the USAID that invited particular scrutiny over partnering with the ISRA, the WV-USA had even earlier worked with ISRA ‘from 2013 through 2014.’
In late September 2014, World Vision’s legal department was notified of ISRA’s potential status as a sanctioned entity.
On 19 November 2014, World Vision sent a letter to Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) requesting clarification of ISRA’s status.
Then in two months, World Vision General Counsel sent an email to OFAC informing them of World Vision’s intent to resume its work with ISRA in a week’s time unless it received a response from OFAC confirming ISRA’s sanctioned status.
Interestingly, in the same letter, WV-USA had also requested ‘for a license to transact with ISRA’.
On 23 January 2015, the Treasury responded to World Vision’s November inquiry and informed it that ISRA is indeed a sanctioned entity and also denied the WV-USA’s request for the license.
On 19 February 2015, World Vision again requested for a license to transact with ISRA in order to pay ISRA US$125,000 for services rendered.
On 4 May 2015, the Obama Administration’s State Department recommended that OFAC grant World Vision’s request for a license to pay ISRA US$125,000 in monies owed.
Then on 14 May 2015, OFAC sent WV-USA a “Cautionary Letter” notifying it that the transactions they engaged in with ISRA appears to have violated the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, in direct opposition of U.S. law and international sanctions.
While the committee itself did not find any evidence of WV-USA having prior knowledge of ISRA being a body under sanctions, it also found that though WV ‘had access to the appropriate public information’, it somehow ‘failed to, properly vet ISRA’ though ‘ISRA’s status was easily searchable.’
Curiously though, ‘Watchdog’— the software that WV uses — clearly shows ISRA as being under sanctions.
Is it merely a question of oversight or is there something deeper and sinister under this ‘oversight’?
In 2015, Vicky Nanjappa, a reporter specialising on terrorism, wrote that there was room to believe ‘several terrorist outfits such as the Taliban and the al Qaeda are being rebranded’.
Analyzing the statement of made by James Clapper, who was then the director of National Intelligence (US), he observed:
James Clapper said that arming moderate forces is a problem due to international laws. The US and the world have banned the Al-Qaeda and they cannot lift the ban at any cost. For the US to create a moderate force, it would need an outfit which is banned so that arming them could be justified. The creation of a new outfit is not feasible as the question of acceptability among the locals would be difficult. Who better than the Al- Qaeda for the job? The Jabhat is the Al-Qaeda. In fact, the Al-Qaeda uses the name Jabhat in its Syria battle. The Jabhat is not banned and hence arming them would look like a justified action against the evil ISIS for the US.
Then what the WV-USA did may not be an ‘oversight’ at all, but a well thought out strategy that was allowed to happen as if it were an oversight.
One can note that the time of WV-USA and ISRA’s cooperation coincided with the statement of the then director of US-NIA.
World Vision and US Intelligence
Sara Diamond, a sociologist and author of Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right (South End Press, 1989), had, in quite some details, shown the long record of WV in working for the strategic interests of the US:
In tandem with its food distribution and ‘leadership training’ for indigenous believers, World Vision has on a number of occasions functioned as an intelligence gathering arm of the U.S. government. In the 1970s, World Vision was charged with having collected field data for the CIA in Vietnam.
In 1981, after drawing widespread criticism, both on the domestic front and internationally, for its role in Vietnam when the US launched the utterly false ‘yellow rain’ campaign alleging that the USSR supplied T-2 mycotoxin to Communists in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, WV was used in the sample collection while fabricating this propaganda lie. These are just a few glimpses. WV also has worked in a way complementing CIA strategy in South America as well.
So, the oversight may not be an oversight at all, but a pilot study strategy — gauging how much of a networking is possible for working out future scenarios.
Al Qaeda spreading in West Bengal
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who called upon Home Minister Amit Shah, raised concerns about the security situation in Bengal saying the environment is under threat. Dhankhar raised serious concerns that terror outfit Al Qaeda is spreading in West Bengal, asking what the administration is doing.
“Al Qaeda is spreading, illegal bomb-making is rampant. I’d like to know what are they (administration in the state) doing? The position of DGP in WB is an open secret. That’s why I say we have political Police, Dhankhar said.
During the past few years, especially after Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress came into power, West Bengal has turned into almost safe haven for radical Islamic terrorist groups, which has been expanding with the help from separatist groups in the northeastern states. A number of key figures in the Trinamool Congress are accused of having secret connections with the jihadist outfits, which they consider as one of the tools of exerting pressure on the Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, while Mamata and her top aides also are reportedly in favor of letting jihadist and separatist groups establish reign of terror once West Bengal slips into BJP’s grips. Almost similarly, in a number of states, where BJP is having rival political forces in power – radical Islamic jihadist outfits are getting hidden support from the anti-BJP forces.