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AQIS wants to revive ‘Islamic rule’ in India

Al Qaeda, AQIS, Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP, Karachi University

Opinion

AQIS wants to revive ‘Islamic rule’ in India

Following the death of Al Qaeda kingpin Ayman-al- Zawahiri, Al Qaeda in The Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) is set to promote a number of its leaders with the goal of “reviving Islamic rule” in India and several South Asian nations. According to counterterrorism experts, the minimal direct impact of Zawahiri’s death notwithstanding, it might lead to the promotion of other powerful and influential AQIS ideologues, such as Tamim Al-Adnani (Bangladesh), who may prove more effective in leadership positions for the group in the region. Tamim Al-Adnani has been prominent in to inciting and exhorting the Muslim “Ummah” in general and Bengali Muslim youths in particular to accept their “responsibilities” for defending Islam and its Prophet by waging armed jihad under the banner of AQIS.

The ongoing hijab, Kashmir and Prophet controversy in India give AQIS the opportunity to exploit such perceived persecution of Muslims in India and it uses such issues to rally incitement against Hindus and non-Muslims. After Zawahiri’s death, AQIS, under the leadership of Osama Mahmoud, the present chief, and Al-Qaeda propagandist Tamim Al-Adnani are making fresher policies of targeting India and ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) especially by branding India and BJP as “key enemies of Islam”, and giving calls for waging jihad.

In Pakistan, AQIS carried out a targeted attack in April 2015 when Waheed-ur-Rehman, a Karachi University professor, was allegedly killed for blasphemy. Subsequently, AQIS chief Asim Umar claimed responsibility and threatened to kill anyone who insulted the Prophet and Quran. There is a legitimate apprehension that AQIS could employ similar tactics to target supporters of Right-wing political parties in India.

Alarmingly, in March 2022, security force personnel (Assam Police in India) arrested five AQIS operatives with Bangladeshi connections who were operating inside India and recruiting youth for Jihad under the garb of Arabic language classes at Dakhilapara mosque in Barpeta, Assam. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is currently investigating the case to find the network’s activities inside Indian territory. AQIS’ track record in Bangladesh — where it inspired fatal attacks against prominent individuals in the past — is still a matter of concern for Indian security agencies. Again in August 2022, Police unearthed several AQIS and its Bangladesh affiliate Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) cells in the Dhubri district of Assam. It may be mentioned here that, although Indian security agencies are terming AQIS franchisee in Bangladesh as ‘Ansarullah Bangla Team’, in reality named of this jihadist outfit is Ansar Al Islam (AAI).

Counterterrorism experts said, Ayman-al- Zawahiri, during his life in hiding under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan or in secret safe havens in Pakistan, he seized every opportunity to exploit the perceived sufferings of Muslims in India for propaganda purposes, to foment sectarian schism and violence.

Even though Al-Qaeda as a group faced a jolt with Zawahiri’s death, its regional affiliate in South Asia won’t be impacted much as the leadership hierarchy seems to be stable for the time being. Ideologues and propagandists are active on social media and elsewhere waging the so called ‘Al-Qaedaesque’ long and secret jihad.

It may be mentioned here that, Al Qaeda has established affiliations with Bangladesh-based pro-caliphate group named Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI) as well as it has been using Tablighi Jamaat as the most convenient vessel for spreading religious hatred, anti-Semitism and recruitment of jihadists.

It is further learnt, despite ideological differences, Jamaat-e-Islami JeI) and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have formed alliance with AQIS via Hefazat-e-Islam and JeI has been running propaganda against Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and ruling Awami League mostly through several controversial Bangladeshi nationals in Western countries, such as

Zulkarnain Saer Khan alias Zulkarnain Sami, alias Sami alias Tanvir Md. Sadat alias Tanvir. According to information, Zulkarnain, a sacked military officer with notorious crime past was expelled from Hungary for connections with crime gangs is currently working as one of the jihadist propagandists from Britain, where he has sought asylum with false declaration of a “a victim of political vengeance”.

Earlier Zulkarnain Saer Khan alias Zulkarnain Sami made false claim of social media proclaiming himself as a member of the investigative team of Al Jazeera TV, which he had to later delete as the Qatari broadcast network raised objection, as he was blackmailing various individuals and extorting large sum of money.

According to a recent report published by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI):

The cover of the latest issue of the Urdu-language Al-Qaeda magazine Nawa-i-Ghazwa-e-Hind (“The Voice Of The Battle Of India”) is devoted to Muhammad, founder of Islam, and while calling for the killing of blasphemers, the magazine includes a series of articles advocating jihad and reports from jihadi battlefields. It honors Muslims from India to Europe who have recently protested blasphemers of Muhammad.

The magazine declares on its cover: “O the enemies of Islam! Know, that our hands will never drop our weapons, and if you see that our weapons have left our hands, then that will be in only one situation, and that situation will be that we will become martyrs. But bear in mind! Even then our weapons will not be dropped; rather our sons will pick up the weapons and will continue to wage war against you”.

The Nawa-i-Ghazwa-e-Hind is a monthly magazine and has been published regularly for over 15 years. The term “Hind [i.e., India]” refers to a wider territory from Afghanistan-Pakistan border through Kashmir and India to Bangladesh and Myanmar (formerly Burma).

The magazine was known earlier by the name of Nawa-i-Afghan Jihad (“The Voice Of The Afghan Jihad”), whose publisher was unknown. A few years ago, Al-Qaeda In The Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) formally took editorial control of the magazine, which has been published irregularly in recent months. AQIS combined two issues for the months of March and April 2022. The magazine’s latest edition – Volume 15 Issue Four – covers the three months of May, June, and July 2022.

The MEMRI report further said:

The magazine carries a long editorial, addressing Muhammad, and titled as “We Will Kill Your (Peace Be Upon You) Enemies!” It observes: “The point of the beginning of the downfall gripping the ummah will be found in the fall of Andalusia, the same fall of Andalusia with whose beginning jihad became fardh ain [obligatory for every Muslim], the same jihad in the path of Allah which is the methodology of the rise [of nations]”.

The editorial turns to the rule of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir, who ruled India from 1658 to 1707. “If we look at the region of our subcontinent, then after the death of Aurangzeb Alamgir, the Islamic rule began to disintegrate”. It notes that the fall of Islamic rule became obvious with the defeat of Siraj-ud-Daulah by the British at the Battle of Plassey, near Kolkata, in 1757 and the defeat of Tipu Sultan at the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in Mysore, near Bangalore, in 1799.

It notes that after these wars, India came under the rule of non-Muslims, under whom a new intelligentsia was born with a defamatory view of Muhammad. The standpoint of the descendants of this intelligentsia is reflected in the recent controversy following Hindu leaders’ comments – such as by Nupur Sharma and others – questioning Muhammad’s marriage to Ayesha when she was six years old and consummation of the marriage when she was nine. The editorial rues the fact that Islamic clerics in India have ruled that protests by Muslims against Hindu leaders are haram (“forbidden”).

It notes that police killed two young Muslims, Sahil and Mudassir, during protests at Ranchi, the capital of India’s Jharkhand state, during protests against Hindu “blasphemers”. It quotes Mudassir’s mother as saying: “My young child has been martyred for Islam. This mother is proud. This mother is proud that he has given his life for Prophet Muhammad. He has found the status of martyrdom. I am not sad”.

The editorial observes: “This is the love for Prophet Muhammad that even during this era, in today’s ‘saffron [i.e., the color denoting Hindus] India’ where the worst atrocities and barbarism rules, Muslims arise there and send the Hindu tailor [Kanhaiya Lal], the supporter of the blasphemer Nupur Sharma, to hell with the knife used to cut meat.” The tailor was killed in Udaipur city by two Muslim youths in June 2022 for supporting Nupur Sharma on his social media account.

It notes that the right-wing Hindu government in northern Uttar Pradesh state has demolished the homes of Muslims, namely Afreen Fatima, a student leader, who protested the blasphemers. It mentions Muhammad Zubair, a journalist arrested for questioning government policies and freed by the Supreme Court of India. The editorial observes how two Pakistani Muslim women chased a “blasphemer” who burned a coy of the Koran in Norway. It argues that the defense of a country’s national interest at the cost of Allah’s commands is not permitted.

The magazine reproduces a speech of Mullah Hibbatullah Akhundzada, the “Emir-ul-Momineen” [Commander of the Faithful] of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (i.e., the Afghan Taliban). Al-Qaeda and its affiliates owe their bay’a (“oath of allegiance”) to the Afghan Taliban leader. The speech was delivered to an assembly of Islamic religious scholars and tribal chieftains. Akhundzada recounts the sacrifices made during the 20-year jihad against America and NATO troops in Afghanistan and stresses the message of jihad in order to establish sharia rule. It has also republished guidelines by Mullah Hibbatullah Akhundzada to be followed by the Taliban mujahideen. A copy of the directive published by the Afghan Taliban regarding that women wear the burqa is also included in the magazine.

A June 5, 2022 statement issued by AQIS on blasphemy in Bangladesh over the past decade appears in the magazine. It notes how two “blasphemers” were killed by Muslims on November 15, 2014 and May 12, 2015. It says these blasphemers were not killed just for being apostates: “The two individuals were open enemies of society and humanity. In every manner, they were ready to shame and disrespect Islam and the Muslim Ummah, so much so that they committed blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad”. The trials of the killers, who belonged to AQIS, are ongoing. AQIS reminded the judges that they too will be judged before Allah on the Day of Judgment.

The magazine includes a copy of AQIS’s statement greeting Muslims on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr, which was celebrated on May 2, 2022. It focuses on atrocities against Muslims in India and Myanmar. It also reproduces a June 2, 2022, statement in which AQIS urges Muslims to fight against Nupur Sharma and other “blasphemers” in India.

An article, titled “Greetings On Sacrificing In The Honor Of The Prophet,” downloaded from the Internet and written by Indian Islamic scholar Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi, addresses the recent blasphemy-related issues in India. Maulana Islahi points out questions raised by Indian media as to who were behind inciting Muslim youths to protest against the blasphemers like Nupur Sharma. “These questions are meaningless and misplaced,” he writes, noting that “every Muslim… considers it pious to give and take life for the honor of Prophet Muhammad”.

The magazine also quotes the slain Libyan jihadi terrorist Abu Yahya Al-Libi (aka Mohamed Hassan Qaid who was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan in 2012) as saying: “What objective do we want to achieve by getting the freedom of Kashmir? For us, ‘freedom’ has a special meaning, proven by the understanding of the Koran and Sunnah [sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad], which is to return the Islamic land to its inhabitants… To return it so that this land belongs to its inhabitants in order that they can govern that land as per the religion which belongs to them… and that’s the religion of Islam”.

Some of the regular articles published as part of continuing series include: An article by slain Al-Qaeda spokesman Ustad Ahmad Farooq discussing the requirements of being a martyr; a review of social media comments regarding Islam, Pakistan, and America; the last part of a 15-part series of a novel addressing various issues concerning jihadi fighters; and a two-page article on the jihad by Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

It includes an article by slain Kashmiri jihadi Zakir Musa titled “Paradise Is Under The Shadow Of Swords”; an article on extremist Hindu ideology Hindutva, whose adherents attack Muslims; an article examining the notion of the Hindu nation advocated by Hindutva groups; an article on Bangladesh, especially examining the conflict between the secular government and the religious right-wing; three articles that advocate shari’a as the future of Pakistan, and others.

The magazine has published a review of newspaper columns on issues that concern Muslims in South Asia. It quotes two columns from the Urdu daily Roznama Etamaad and Urdu Times to condemn the use of bulldozers by government officials in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to demolish the homes of Muslims who protested government policies. The review quotes columnist Zafar Agha, who says that educated Muslims should migrate to the West in view of persecution by government officials in India.

The magazine has published the 13th and last part of a series of articles translated from an Arabic-language book on ideological wars by Islamic scholar Maulana Muhammad Ismail Rehan. It traces various categories of wars by governments characterized under particular ideologies, notably socialism and capitalism, against Muslims, and criticizes Islamic scholars who have advocated “Islamic socialism” under the influence of the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. It quotes Lenin as saying: “We should enter the door of religion in order to spread our movement in the East”. The article comments: “The truth is that both capitalist and socialist governments are the web spun by Jews. These are two factions of robbers who have crossed the limits of their looting and killing”.

Topics of other articles in the magazine are: challenges faced by India in the context of the new Hindu-Muslim politics that threatens the country’s cohesion; a speech delivered at a gathering of Islamic religious scholars in Pakistan by late Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, the jihadi ideologue killed in the 2007 military operation in Islamabad ordered by the Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf; a speech by slain Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri addressing the Muslims and stressing the demands of sharia rule; and two articles eulogizing Mullah Mohammad Omar, the late leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (i.e., the Afghan Taliban).

An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow him on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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