Pakistan, is under a new threat of the deadly terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS), also called Daesh, resulting from a major shift from the Middle East, a recent study has found.
According to a new research conducted by Abdullah Khan, the Managing Director of Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), ‘Wilayat-e-Hind’ (WeH) is the new chapter of Daesh which is quickly attracting the educated youth in Pakistan and some from Bangladesh and a few misguided hand full from even India and promoting its extremist ideology.
The ongoing military operations in and around Pakistan’s border areas with Afghanistan have provided gaps to the IS militants who have swiftly moved in either from Syria or Iraq and have presence in across the bordering areas in Afghanistan, the study found. The terror group is planning to provoke the governments of India and Bangladesh which are known for their declared intentions to hunt down and eradicate all forms of terrorism and religious extremisms.
PROSPECTS OF IS IN SOUTH ASIA:
The study titled “Prospects of Daesh’s Expansion in South Asia” says that an unorganised presence of WeH militants has been identified in many parts of Pakistan and even in some parts of Bangladesh. They are trying to get into India too but with little success and other countries of the South Asian region. The WeH has announced itself as the Indian chapter of the IS.
The study highlights that a few Indian citizens, from Kerala State, have reached IS as they found it more attractive than any other group and at least a dozen people from Kerala have managed to join the IS during the past three years.
“Those who have joined the Wilayat-e-Hind are mostly madarsa educated though some of them are engineers, doctors and MBA degree holders also. Indian citizens are joining Khorasan chapter of Daesh than the core group in Syria or Iraq. However, the possible launching route of Indian IS members to Afghanistan is not clear yet,” the study reads.
The study also identifies the Pakistani sponsored jihad in Kashmir as a key reason that more Pakistani youth are joining the IS.
Growing unrest in Pakistan and protracted conflict is going to further complicate security dynamics of the region. More Pakistani citizens joining Kashmir militancy is going to deepen the divide between the two countries which will certainly impact the whole region and one day lead to break up of Pakistan.
The ongoing torture and killings of Baluchs and Muhajirs in Pakistan at the hands of Pakistan Army and various extremist groups and others under the ongoing campaign of forced labour — is also a major factor in growing demand for Balooch Freedom.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Abdullah Khan said that the WeH Bangladesh chapter was another surprise addition where the secular regime of Prime Minister Hasina Wajid was targeting religious fanatics Muslim groups to eradicate all forms of terrorism.
The ongoing targeting of scholars linked to Jamat-e-Islami and other religious right-wing outfits has provoked educated youth to take up arms. On November 7, 2015, Dr Sajit Debnath, aka Muhammad Saifullah Ozaki, gave a lecture to the audience at the Asia Pacific Conference at Ritsumeikan University. The topic of the lecture was Womenomics in Business. But this was one of the last public appearances of Dr Sajit before he disappeared along with his family in December 2015. Dr Sajit is a PhD and was considered an expert on the Islamic finance and economic theory. Later, he announced to join the IS.
Abdullah Khan said that Daesh has successfully replaced Al-Qaeda as global champion of terror and it uses the concept of Khilafah to inspire Muslim youth from around the globe.
“The concept of Khilafah is the next level of the concept of global Jihad or ultimate goal of global Jihad. The conquering of most parts of Iraq and Syria helped IS get a global attraction. Some Pakistani and Afghan Taliban commanders and commanders of some smaller groups got in contact with ISIS,” he said.
“Abdur Rauf Khadim, an Afghan Taliban Commander from southern Afghanistan and former Guantanamo detainee, Abdur Rahim Muslim Dost, were the first to join ISIS and propagate for the IS.
In January 2015, Wilayat-e-Khorasan was officially formed after pledging of the allegiance by some senior TTP commanders and commanders of at least ten smaller groups.
Abdullah Khan also sheds light over Khurasan chapter’s different approach to recruit militants.
“In this part of the world, IS focused on making allies. Except for Afghan Taliban, the IS is pursuing a policy of cooperation instead of confrontation with other militant groups of the region. It found an ally in the form of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Aalami (LeJ-A),” he said, adding that Daesh was part of the five-member alliance formed against Pakistan in Paktia in 2016, including TTP, JuA, LI, LeJ-A.
Differences have developed with Lashkar-e-Islam as they are fighting at some places, but cooperation with other groups continue. He said that IS Khorasan militants have developed an arch along Pakistani border to target the local areas and are interested in waging a war from the Afghan soil.
“The arch was developed by creating bases of IS militants in Badakhshan, Nuristan, Kuner and Nangarhar provinces of Afghanistan,” he added.
Khan argued that the IS terrorists had resorted to guerrilla-style attacks and they are capable of penetrating high-security zone of the Afghan capital.
“The quality of attacks and ability of IS militants to inflict heavy losses on the enemy is improving. More militants from Syria and Iraq are joining Khorasan chapter which will further enhance operational capabilities of the group,” he stated.
Asked about the ideological aspects of IS terrorists, Abdullah Khan reacted that the group professes extremist views of Islam and mostly people from Deobandi and Salafi (Ahle-e-Hadith) schools of thought have joined the group in the region.
“All major organisations of Deobandi and Ahle-e-Hadith have condemned Daesh and consider it as a threat to their following. Ideologically, the group’s prospects of growth are bleak, however, political issues will provide the required ground for expansion,” he said.
WAY FORWARD ::
Talking about the way forward, Abdullah Khan said that the solution of the key political issues of Muslims in the region need to be resolved amicably.
“Afghan peace process needs to be stepped up but should never provide Daesh a justification to market the possible deal as ‘sell out of Jihad’,” he said while adding that mistrust between regional security forces/intelligence agencies needs to be removed for the betterment of the region. “Islamic State should be seen as a common threat instead of using it as leverage by one state against the other,” he concluded.