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World View: ISIS and al-Qaeda in a Generational Struggle for India

World View: ISIS and al-Qaeda in a Generational Struggle for India

This morning’s key headlines from

  • ISIS and Mideast realignment energize Islamic terrorism in India
  • ISIS and al-Qaeda have generational struggle, and the prize is India
  • China to increase harassment of U.S. surveillance planes

ISIS and Mideast realignment energize Islamic terrorism in India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace Hotel during Mumbai's 26/11 terrorist attack in 2008
Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace Hotel during Mumbai’s 26/11 terrorist attack in 2008

In the past few days, we’re discussed the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war and the effect of ISIS on the Mideast realignment. However, the meteoric rise of the Islamic State / ofIraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) is firing the excitement and imaginationof young Muslim men around that world, giving ISIS an effect that goeswell beyond the Mideast.

Islam has grown organically within India, unlike other countries, andhas over centuries evolved elaborate cultures of accommodation withHinduism and other faiths. India’s last generational crisis wars –the 1947 Partition war between Western India and Pakistan, and the1971 crisis war between Eastern India and Bangladesh (East Pakistan)– were both particularly bloody, and pitted Hindus against Muslims,leaving even the Muslim survivors living in India with little desirefor more violence through terrorist attacks. What Islamic terrorismhas occurred has mostly come from external sources, namely terroristmilitias in Pakistan, often funded by Pakistan’s Inter-ServicesIntelligence (ISI) Agency.

But now two important developments, both attributable to the rise ofISIS, indicate that internal forms of Islamic terrorism are likely toincrease in India.

First, ISIS is directly energizing Islamic terrorism in India.Estimates vary from several dozen to several hundred of the number ofIndians that have gone to the Mideast and are suspected of havingjoined ISIS. A breakaway faction of the Indian Mujahiddeen hasdeclared its intention to fly the ISIS flag over South Asia. And theformerly moderate India militia Jamaat-e-Islami recently issued astatement:

“It is very necessary to welcome the announcement ofthe establishment of Islamic Caliphate by the ISIS because Islamiccaliphate is the aspiration of every Muslim and there has neverbeen a disagreement on the issue among the Muslims in any periodof history.”

An unknown is what effect ISIS is having on the Pakistan, and ISI’sfunding of anti-India militias, particularly in Kashmir and Jammu.ISIS may energize ISI as well to increase funding to homegrown Indianjihadist groups like Indian Mujhideen, or to encourage these jihadistgroups to enter the ISIS fold. South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP – India) and One India

ISIS and al-Qaeda have generational struggle, and the prize is India

The second new development attributable to ISIS is that al-Qaeda hasapparently been energized to take a new look at establishing a branchin India.

The rise of ISIS has led to a generational split within the globaljihadist community. When ISIS’s young leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadideclared himself a new “caliph,” and demanded that the entire Muslimworld bow down to him, the response has been sporadic. While youngMuslims may be drawn to the thrill of decapitating Westernjournalists, older jihadists are tied by loyalty oaths to al-Qaedaleader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and are even more repulsed by the ISIS’srecent massacre of hundreds of Sunni tribesmen in Syria. Otherssimply question the religious legitimacy of al-Baghdadi’sself-anointed caliphate.

So, some people see al-Zawahiri’s new message as opportunistic, andothers see it as desperate. His statement emerged in a video late onWednesday:

“A new branch of al-Qaeda was established and isQaedat al-Jihad in the Indian subcontinent, seeking to raise theflag of jihad, return the Islamic rule, and empowering the Shariahof Allah across the Indian subcontinent. [It will defend the]vulnerable in the Indian subcontinent, in Burma, Bangladesh,Assam, Gujarat, and Kashmir [and] your brothers in Qaedat al-Jihaddid not forget you and that they are doing what they can to rescueyou from injustice, oppression, persecution, and suffering.

This entity was not established today, but it is the fruit of ablessed effort for more than two years to gather the mujahideen inthe Indian subcontinent into a single entity to be with the maingroup, Qaedat al-Jihad, from the soldiers of the Islamic Emirateand its triumphant emir, Allah permitting, Emir of the BelieversMullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid.”

reviving Imam Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may Allah have mercy on him,to call the Ummah to unite round the word of Tawhid (monotheism),to wage jihad against its enemies, to liberate its land, torestore its sovereignty, and to revive itsCaliphate.”

The leader of the new group, Umar, said in an audio recording releasedwith the video, that Jews and Hindus, who he referred to as ‘apostatesof India”, “will watch your destruction by your own eyes”. Fighterswill “storm your barricades with cars packed with gunpowder,” Umarsaid, decrying what he called the region’s “injustice toward Muslims.”

Whether the old geezers at al-Qaeda can attract young Muslims in Indiais far from clear. The realignment of the Mideast goes far beyond theMideast, and it seems likely that ISIS will be more successful inIndia than al-Qaeda will. Pune Mirror (India) and Foreign Policy

China to increase harassment of U.S. surveillance planes

As we recently reported, a Chinesejet fighter made several passes as close as 30 feet to aU.S. surveillance plane in international waters. The incident isreminiscent of an April 2001 encounter, when a Chinese F-8 interceptorcrashed into a U.S. surveillance aircraft off the southern Chinacoast. The Chinese aircraft crashed into the sea, and its crew waskilled. The U.S. plane made an emergency landing on China’s HainanIsland, and its 24 crew members were imprisoned for 10 days.

It’s been assumed that these were the acts of rogue Chinese pilots,but now it appears that they were ordered from above, and that theharassment is likely to become even more aggressive and dangerous.According to China’s Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong:

“We didn’t give them enough pressure (before). Aknife at the throat is the only deterrence. From now on, we mustfly even closer to U.S. surveillance aircraft.”

It’s believed that China is trying to prevent the U.S. from learninganything about their missile fleet. China is continuing to buildsubmarines capable of launching nuclear missiles with a range of over4,000 nautical models, and already has 70 such submarines. China hasbeen for years on an aggressive program to develop as much militarycapability as possible, including a variety of missiles with no otherpurpose than to target American cities, aircraft carriers, andmilitary bases. The submarine fleet would permit China to launchsimultaneous nuclear attacks on hundreds of cities across the UnitedStates. Reuters

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh,Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL,Inter-Services Intelligence, ISI, Jamaat-e-Islami,Indian Mujhideen, Kashmir, Jammu, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden,China, Zhang Zhaozhong
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