Monday, December 21, 2015

ISIS Sets Its Sights on the East - Vijeta Uniyal



by Vijeta Uniyal

  • This month's ISIS manifesto claims India as part of Islamic Caliphate and, referring to the recent resurgence of Hindus in the country, states: "a movement of Hindus is growing who kill Muslims who eat beef."
  • ISIS flags and insignia are regularly displayed at protest rallies and religious gatherings in the Muslim-majority province of Kashmir.
  • Indian officials seem just as afraid of calling Islamist terror by its rightful name as their Western counterparts. Instead, they appear to be trying to distract the public by throwing money at ineffective social welfare programs. Perhaps these officials hope the public will think that at least "something" is being done.
The Islamic State (ISIS) is apparently planning to subjugate and conquer the ancient civilizations of the East as part of its worldwide jihad.

The Islamic State's newly-released manifesto contains, among the ideological positions and strategic objectives of the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate, direct threats to Hindus and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The 130-page English-language manifesto, entitled "Black Flags from the Islamic State (2016)," was uploaded in early December on various online forums sympathetic to the Islamic State. Previously, in July 2015, ISIS had circulated another document declaring its ambitions of expanding its Jihad into India.

This month's ISIS manifesto claims India as part of Islamic Caliphate and, referring to the recent resurgence of Hindus in the country, states: "a movement of Hindus is growing who kill Muslims who eat beef."

Hindu groups have lately been campaigning for a national ban on the slaughter cows, in keeping with the religious sentiments attached to the animal, which most Hindus consider sacred.

The social and political movement of reviving Hinduism in India was also strengthened by the historic election, 18 months ago, of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his nationalist BJP party.

The ISIS manifesto mentions India's Prime Minister Modi as a "right-wing Hindu nationalist who worships weapons and is preparing his people for a future war against Muslims."

Modi's government wants to reduce India's dependence on foreign defense suppliers by encouraging foreign firms to set up manufacturing operations in the country. Encouraged by the deregulation of the defense sector, several foreign companies have set up production lines and set up joint ventures with local partners.

Undeterred by the current losses on the ground in Syria and Iraq, ISIS propaganda on social media has repeatedly proclaimed the group's dream of an Islamic Caliphate or theocratic empire ruling the entire Indian subcontinent, parts of East Asia, the Middle Eastern and North and Central Africa.

The new manifesto recognizes the Mumbai 2008 massacre, which targeted tourist, commercial and cultural targets in the city -- including a Jewish synagogue -- as the blueprint for the Paris attacks. "In the centre of Paris," the booklet states, "some Mujahideen holding AK-47s copied the Mumbai attacks' style of shooting through the window of a Cafe bar (where alcohol and food was served), then the people fell on the floor, so they threw a grenade into the building."

After last month's Paris attacks, India issued a nation-wide alert.

Seeking to broaden the 'intellectual' horizon of its sympathetic readers, the manifesto recommends earlier texts published by ISIS such as; "Black Flags from the East," "Black Flags from Rome" and "Black Flags from Palestine."

According to India's intelligence agencies, which monitor ISIS activities, at least 20 Indians have joined the ranks of the Islamic State as fighters in Iraq and Syria, and an additional 150 people are being monitored because of suspected involvement in activities related to ISIS. Since 2005, India has lost over 7,400 civilians and 3,200 security personnel to terrorism.

Support for ISIS is not, however, limited to a handful of identifiable operatives. ISIS flags and insignia are regularly displayed at protest rallies and religious gatherings in the Muslim-majority province of Kashmir. In July, the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Fitr was marked by widespread vandalism and stone-throwing, carried out by rioters waving Pakistani, Palestinian and ISIS flags.

The Islamic State's social media operation also bears at least one Indian signature. Last year, police in southern Indian city of Bangalore arrested a 24-year-old engineer who operated one of the main Twitter accounts associated with ISIS. The India-based Twitter account had 17,700 followers and circulated ISIS propaganda, including beheading videos.

The stated ambitions of ISIS to make India part of Muslim empire are not based on the historic Islamic conquest of India, mainly from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries, but are rooted in established, mainstream Islamic theology, central to an Islamic end-of-time prophecy in the hadith. Those reports of the sayings and actions Islam's prophet Mohammad -- collectively called Ghazwa-e-Hind -- predict a final battle with India, and resulting in victory over the Hindus by the invading Muslim armies.

Instead of tackling the problem head-on, Indian Muslim organizations continue to deny the presence of the Islamic State and its affiliates in the country. On December 9, 2015, the umbrella body of Muslim organizations, the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat (AIMMM), issued a press release calling the reports of ISIS's penetration into India "baseless and misleading."

In 2014, this photo of Muslim ISIS supporters in India's Tamil Nadu state went viral on Twitter.

Despite regular video footage broadcast by Indian news channels, showing Muslims regularly carrying ISIS flags during religious gatherings and protests in the Muslim majority region of Kashmir, Muslim leaders maintained their claim that "ISIS does not exist in Kashmir." Instead, they portray themselves as victims of an elaborate conspiracy hatched by the Indian security forces to "pave the way for their large-scale arrests."

Prime Minister Modi's government has reacted to the heightened security threat posed by ISIS with a new counter-terrorism strategy. The measures could best be described as an attempt at "social engineering," with the government pledging more spending on education and employment programs in the hope of keeping Muslim youths away from the influence of radical Islamists. The problem with this approach is that it addresses a problem that is not relevant. Most of the Indian Muslims known to have joined the ranks of ISIS seem to come from affluent families and hold professional degrees. All of them had the means to travel abroad to join ISIS -- in a country where majority of people earn less than 3 dollars a day. Poor people are too busy just trying to exist.

If poverty were driving people to commit acts of terrorism, why are Indian's Hindus not lining up to join their version of "jihadi" outfits?

Indian lawmakers and officials are trapped in the same politically correct -- if in every other way incorrect -- assumption as their Western counterparts. They also seem just as scared of calling Islamist terror by its rightful name. Instead, they appear to be trying to distract the public by throwing taxpayer money at ineffective social welfare programs. Perhaps these officials hope the public will think that at least "something" is being done and fail to see that, instead of countering ISIS, in they are really just fleeing from the problem.

Vijeta Uniyal is an Indian current affairs analyst based in Europe.

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7050/isis-india-hindus

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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