Al-Qaeda’s Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) wing is urging its supporters in India to target Hindus and their religious places, reports the Times of India (TOI), citing a recently released propaganda video titled “Saffron Terror” and intelligence sources.
Al-Qaida is engaging its operatives in India to target religious places and stoke communal tensions, intelligence sources said on Monday, hours after the terror group’s Indian subcontinent unit released a video titled “Saffron Terror.”
The contents of the video, said to be the first episode, are communally charged, sources said, including morphed images and video clips pertaining to “Hindu extremism.”
AQIS’s release of the “Saffron Terror” propaganda video reportedly prompted Indian intelligence agencies to monitor an AQIS “sleeper cell” led by Sanual Haq who hails from northern India’s Uttar Pradesh (UP) region.
According to the U.S. State Department, al-Qaeda’s AQIS affiliate primarily operates in Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan where it seeks to establish an Islamic state.
“Al-Qaeda’s south Asia unit has of late been very active as far as developments in India are concerned,” reports India’s Business Standard, adding:
Several media reports have emerged about a possible war against India by targeting Indian festivals. A Malayalam audio clip was transmitted over Telegram Messenger from Afghanistan and its voice belonged to Rashid Abdullah, the leader of the Kasaragod IS [Islamic State] module who had left to join Islamic State in Afghanistan. The clip calls for conducting terror attacks on crowds in Kumbh Mela and Thirssur Pooram, as reported on Outlook.
In 2016, the United States officially designated AQIS as a “foreign terrorist organization” (FTO).
The AQIS group threatens the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon.
“In addition, al Qaeda’s regional affiliate, AQIS, has built a presence in the south and southeast of Afghanistan and in Pakistan,” the Pentagon reported this year. “Whereas al Qaeda continues to recruit from Arab populations, AQIS is composed primarily of militants from within the broader South Asia region.”
The Afghanistan-Pakistan border region reportedly provides sanctuary to AQIS.
“Sanctuary on the Pakistan side and presence on the Afghan side remain a security challenge for both countries and pose a threat to regional security and stability,” noted the Pentagon.
Al-Qaeda’s rival ISIS has also threatened India.