Kashmir's Islamic State seeks to cash in on Delhi communal violence through new online call to arms

The Islamic State's subcontinental branch has called on Indian Muslims angered by the Citizenship Amendment Act to abandon political protest, and instead turn to jihadist violence

Praveen Swami February 25, 2020 14:14:22 IST
Kashmir's Islamic State seeks to cash in on Delhi communal violence through new online call to arms
  • The Islamic State magazine's release came amidst murderous communal violence in northeast Delhi, pitching protesters against supporters of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act just as President Donald Trump began a high-profile visit to India on Monday.

  • The magazine attacks Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, alleging they are responsible for 'vicious atrocities against the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, and their unconcealed hatred and enmity against Allah'

  • It attributes the problems of Indian Muslims to their syncretic accommodation with their milieu, saying they have 'stooped so low that that you differ from the Hindus only in name'

New Delhi: The Islamic State's subcontinental branch has called on Indian Muslims angered by the Citizenship Amendment Act to abandon political protest, and instead  turn to jihadist violence. "Democracy is not going to save you," asserts the terrorist group's new digital magazine, Sawt-ul-Hind, released on jihadist online fora late on Monday. "Only shari’ah implemented in its purity in the shade of Khilafah [the caliphate] can now save you."

The Islamic State magazine's release came amidst murderous communal violence in northeast Delhi, pitching protesters against supporters of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act just as President Donald Trump began a high-profile visit to India on Monday.

"Islamist groups have been trying to capitalise on Muslim fears and anxieties around the CAA to create some kind of legitimacy for themselves," said Khalid Shah, an expert on Kashmiri jihadist groups at the Observer Research Foundation.

"They are sensing an opportunity for themselves in these largely leaderless protests, but until now they did not appear to be getting a great deal of traction. That could, of course, change."

"O Muslims of Hind!," Sawt-ul-Hind [Voice of Hindustan] exhorts readers, "Has the time not come for you to wake up from the deep slumber, which has overtaken all of you to the point of an intoxicated stupor [sic]? Haven’t you yet realised that the idolatrous Hindus would never ever be pleased with you until you renounce the Deen [religion] of Islam?"

Kashmirs Islamic State seeks to cash in on Delhi communal violence through new online call to arms

Protesters vandalise a car during a clash between a group of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters and supporters of the new citizenship act. PTI

The magazine attacks Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, alleging they are responsible for "vicious atrocities against the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, and their unconcealed hatred and enmity against Allah".

But it also attacks Communist Party of India youth leader Kanhaiya Kumar, All-India Majlis-e Ittehad-ul Muslimeen Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi and well as Deoband-school scholars Mahmoud Madani and Arshad Madani, for "misguiding Muslim youth".

"Do you really think that this is the way that pure Kalimah [declarations of religious faith] is raised up to the throne of the Lord of the Worlds," the magazine asks? "Do you really think that rubbing shoulders with Communists, Atheists, Christians and Secularists will help you achieve what you desire?"

It attributes the problems of Indian Muslims to their syncretic accommodation with their milieu, saying they have "stooped so low that that you differ from the Hindus only in name".

The Islamic State announced the creation of its subcontinental wilayah, or province, in May 2019, soon after the police shot dead ethnic-Kashmiri jihadist Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi near Shopian. This issue of Sawt-ul-Hind — a name earlier used for at least two Islamic State-linked online fora — is the organisation's first digital publication.  The issue is dated only to the month of Rajab, which corresponds to 25 February to 24 March, in the common era calendar.

Eisa Fazili, an engineering student turned-jihadist slain in 2018 and Mughees Mir, whose body was laid to rest draped in an Islamic State flag at Parimpora in 2017, are among several Kashmiri jihadists linked to the organisation of whom the magazine makes special mention.

The magazine also commemorates Pakistani jihadist Amir Sultan, also known as Abu Huzaifa al-Bakistani, who was killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan's Nangarhar region last summer.

Kashmir's fledgling Islamic State unit was, intelligence officials say, founded by Aijaz Ahanger, a Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen jihadist who fled India for Pakistan in 1996. Infuriated by the Pakistani State's growing confrontation with jihadists hostile to the United States, he travelled to Afghanistan in 2015 with his family, to join the Islamic State in Nangarhar. In 2016, he took charge of the jihadist group.

Abdullah Ibn Aijaz, Ahanger’s teenage son, was killed fighting rival Taliban jihadists in the summer of 2017, followed in short order by his father.

The Islamic State leader's older daughter, 1997-born Sabira Ahanger, was married to Amir Sultan, and is among a group of women now awaiting repatriation by the Indian government while being held in prison in Kabul, as first reported by News18.

Tooba Ahanger, Sabira Ahanger's younger sister, and mother, Rukhsana Ahanger, are also with her in prison.

Rukhsana Ahanger’s father, Badgam-based jihadist-turned-cleric Abdul Gani Dar, had founded the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen — linked to the neo-fundamentalist Ahl-e-Hadith sect, from which several terrorist groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Islamic State have raised recruits.

Alleged to have organised the assassination of his rival in Kashmir's Ahl-e-Hadith, Shaukat Shah, Dar himself was found murdered in a Srinagar mosque earlier this year, a killing police say was linked to a personal feud.

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