May 20, 2016: A 22-minute video released on Friday has sounded alarm in the Indian subcontinent with a well known Indian face of Abu Amir al-Hindi alias Fahad Shaikh of Maharashtra among the group declaring an attack on India in the near future.
As the Indian Intelligence services battle with already established terror groups like the Indian Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba, this acts as a deadly overcast looming over the region. The intelligence has been trying to trace the exact number of fighters recruited by the ISIS from the country and till now, 23 remains the identified number.
“In this land you get to have hatred for the kuffar (disbelievers). In this land you get to perform jihad,” said an Indian fighter identified as Abu Salman al-Hindi, in the video. While the IS fighters are seen to be mocking Indian Muslims for their living in harmony with a majority Hindu population, they are also seen to be urging them to participate in the bigger cause of ‘jihad’ by supporting the organization.
The chilling words come at a time when increasing influence of the fighters is seen to be creating ripples in Bangladesh. Local terrorist factions connected to the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) are reportedly seeking intervention from the jihadist force to launch “guerrilla attacks inside India” with the help of recruits in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Incidentally, a report by the Indian intelligence marks a trend shift in the subcontinent as more and more radicalized Muslim youth who earlier joined Lashkar-e-Taiba and Taliban, are now gravitating towards their new jihadist-leaning favourite – the Islamic State. “If IS does strengthen its grip and ‘liberates’ new territories, its following among Indian youth may pose a threat,” warned a senior official.
The video goes on to inform that its (ISIS’) Indian members would be returning to avenge the demolition of Babri and the Godhra riots. A section of the film also mentions Kashmir. With a severe warning that Hindus are on a mission to convert the Indian Muslims, the video ends on an oath by its Indian recruits who swear allegiance to the organization and echo that they would return and carry out attacks in the country.
The Islamic State terror group has set conditions for a comeback that “could be faster and even more devastating” than when it first burst onto the world stage, according to a new report out Wednesday.
ISIS’s Second Comeback: Assessing the Next ISIS Insurgency, by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW), also warns the terror group, often referred to as IS or ISIS, is likely to reclaim territory both in Syria and in Iraq, where it is already seizing control.
“ISIS has systematically eliminated village leaders and civilians who cooperated with anti-ISIS forces,” the report says. “It has re-imposed taxes on local populations in its historical support zones, displacing civilians and de facto controlling small pockets of terrain in Iraq.”
In Syria, IS faces a more daunting task, where it is still battling the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al Assad, and Hay’at Tharir al-Sham, al Qaida’s Syrian affiliate.
Still, the report’s authors believe IS is well-prepared for the fight, having taken advantage of the slow and methodical U.S.-backed campaign to roll back the terror group’s self-declared caliphate.
“ISIS deliberately withdrew and relocated many of its fighters and their families,” the reports states.
“ISIS’s forces are now dispersed across both countries and are waging a capable insurgency,” it says. “ISIS retained a global finance network that funded its transition back to an insurgency and managed to preserve sufficient weapons and other supplies in tunnel systems and other support zones in order to equip its regenerated insurgent force.”
The concerns about a possible IS resurgence are not new.
As far back as August 2018, U.S. defense officials were warning IS was “well-positioned to rebuild and work on enabling its physical caliphate to re-emerge.”
More recently, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Stabilization Denise Natali warned, “the threat persists.”
And even this week, a statement by the Global Coalition to Defeat IS, admitted the terror group remains both resilient and undaunted, with cells in Syria and Iraq to conduct an increasing number of attacks against coalition partners and coalition partner forces.
“This is a major concern for the entire Coalition, as it puts at risk key military gains and the stability necessary for recovery,” the statement said.
Data compiled by the Syrian-based Rojava Information Center and published earlier this month seems to support such concerns.
The center found there were 139 attacks by IS sleeper cells in northeastern Syria alone in May, an increase of 61% over the previous month. The number of deaths also rose, 42% in May to 78, with increases even in previously secure areas.
In addition to the attacks, IS has been blamed for burning hundreds of hectares of farmland in Syria and Iraq.
According to the most recent U.S. estimates, IS still commands at least 10,000 fighters across the two countries. But despite the threat, U.S. troops involved in supporting the fight against IS have been leaving Syria.
“The number of U.S. forces that are present now is quite a bit lower than when the drawdown began,” Chris Maier, the director of the Pentagon’s Defeat IS Task Force, told a small group of reporters last month.
“U.S. force numbers will continue to draw down as conditions continue to, we hope, improve,” he added.
Since then, some U.S. forces have been assigned to return to Syria, but according to U.S. defense officials, their primary mission is to protect forces there from growing threats from Iranian proxies in the region.
The overall trendlines, though, concern the authors of the ISW report, calling the lessening U.S. engagement, especially in Syria, “a critical mistake.”
Instead, the report calls on the U.S. to develop a long-term strategy that combines both military and a plan to address ongoing economic and humanitarian problems.
“Another limited intervention will not be sufficient,” concludes study co-author Jennifer Cafarella.
“The ISIS campaign in Iraq and Syria has demonstrated to ostensibly liberated communities that they are not safe, perpetuating conditions of fear and distrust that will make it increasingly difficult to establish durable and legitimate security and political structures.” (VOA)