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Al Qaeda Attempting to Exploit Rising Hindu-Muslim Tensions, Says Report

The Soufan Centre report said that the growing communal divide and increased incidences of violent attacks on Muslims in India has created an atmosphere of fear, which the terrorist group - the Al Qaeda is attempting to exploit.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:February 12, 2019, 10:58 AM IST
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Al Qaeda Attempting to Exploit Rising Hindu-Muslim Tensions, Says Report
Representative Image (Image: Reuters)

New Delhi: A report put together by a leading think tank on global security issues has stated that the Al Qaeda is attempting to exploit the rising tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India. In its report titled - ‘Al Qaeda In The India Subcontinent: The Nucleus Of Jihad In South Asia’, the Soufan Centre, which was founded by former FBI agent Ali Soufan, has said that the growing communal divide and increased incidences of violent attacks on Muslims in India has created an atmosphere of fear and exacerbated tensions between the two religious communities.

“Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) is attempting to exploit this hostility through repeated Urdu language rhetoric in the form of propaganda pushed out on various social media channels,” the report published in January earlier this year stated. It also quashed the common notion that the outfit and its affiliates only operate and thrive in conflict zones such as Yemen, Libya and Syria. “AQIS illustrates how Al Qaeda successfully infiltrates, operates and spreads its ideology in countries experiencing relative calm, like India. This model may prove to be Al-Qaeda’s blueprint for the future,” the report further stated.

The report also talked about how the situation in Kashmir “has taken an unprecedented turn”. “For the first time since the onset of conflict in Kashmir, the region is responding to the appeal of groups like Al-Qaeda. Local Kashmiris lead the AQIS wing in the contested territory which reflects the growing Islamization of Kashmiri militancy.”

Elaborating further, it states that Al Qaeda is making efforts to reframe the jihadi narrative in Kashmir, which in turn will bolster its operations in India. “Since 2007, Al Qaeda has worked to delegitimize Pakistan’s role in the Kashmir conflict through a targeted Urdu-language messaging campaign. It has repeatedly posited Kashmir militancy as an ISI-sponsored jihad, rather than a legitimate jihad and wants to wrest control of jihad in Kashmir from Pakistan,” the report read.

The primary argument to the above, the report cited, was that the Pakistani regime due to its close proximity to the United States, was an apostate un-Islamic government, “Such a framing has helped Al-Qaeda to claim that Pakistan, and its militant proxies focused on Kashmir, are fighting a corrupt jihad and misappropriating critical resources that could be harnessed by Al-Qaeda toward more effective ends,” the report said.

The Soufan Centre report also mentioned a “potent faction of Hizbul Mujahideen”, headed by Zakir Musa that has pledged its allegiance to AQIS. “Additionally, Al-Qaeda’s ideological influence over groups lie HUJI and Jaish-e-Muhammad, which have historically operated in Kashmir, is also strengthening its narrative in Kashmir. This demonstrates the prospective threat posed by AQIS through its efforts to shift both ideological terms of jihad and the source of the conflict’s legitimacy in an effort to transform Kashmir into the centre of gravity for jihadists in South Asia,” the report further said.

Such an alignment of interests between AQIS and local Kashmiri groups, the report further stated, would transform the political struggle of Kashmiris into a religious one and also pose a grave threat to the Indian hinterland. “India may see a revival of the violence of the 1990s, when Kashmiri groups launched frequent attacks,” it added.

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