Terror outfit al-Qaida’s newest ally, the al-Qaida in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), is “ideologically inclined” to carry out attacks in India but its capability is “believed to be low,” according to a report submitted to the UN Security Council’s al-Qaeda sanctions committee.
The 22nd report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team looks does a threat analysis on al-Qaida (AQ) and Islamic State (IS).
It states, “AQIS is relatively isolated owing to increased security measures within the wider region, but the group continues to seek security gaps for opportunistic attacks.” Citing report from a member-state, the report states, “ISIL [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or IS] in Afghanistan is responsible for at least one attack in the Kashmir region.”
The report does not mention details of the attack.
In February, Esha Fazli, an engineer killed in a police encounter in Jammu and Kashmir, was believed to be part of the JKIS module that security agencies suspect has pledged allegiance to the IS. The police believe eight to 10 local youths are part of this module in the Valley.
In June this year, the Union Home Ministry banned new offshoots of al-Qaida under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA. The group, according to security establishments, is headed by Maulana Asim Umar, a.k.a. Sanaul Haq, who belongs to Sambhal, Uttar Pradesh, and was reportedly appointed the chief of AQIS in 2016.
Agencies believe al-Qaeda’s South Asian wing has been attempting to infiltrate India since September 2014, when the terror outfit’s chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, announced the formation of a South Asia outfit. The group had little success and was exposed in 2015, when nearly a dozen operatives were arrested from Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand.
Another attempt to establish AQIS was made in south India when a group called “Base Movement” came to public attention with a series of bomb blasts in 2016. The group was in existence since 2014 and was responsible for a series of blasts in courts in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Three suspects – identified as Abbas Ali (27), Suleiman Mohd Abdullah (23), and Samsun Karim Raja – claimed affiliation to AQIS, not Islamic State.
The UN report describes al-Qaida as the “intellectually stronger group” that remains a “longer-term threat”, while the IS poses an “immediate” threat. “It (al-Qaida) adapts to the local environment, trying to embed itself into local struggles and communities. It is closely allied with the Taliban.