Counter Terrorism Perspectives: CTP

TM: "Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent’s Propaganda Campaign Continues Despite Digital Disruptions and Stifled Operational Capability"

February 06, 2020

In late November 2019, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS)  issued a message on its digital platforms, both through Telegram messaging channel and through al-Qaeda’s official al-Sahab web portal, urging members to ensure unity among the ranks and learn lessons from the death of Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. AQIS criticized the rival IS group and its slain leader, underscoring how the group divided the global jihad movement and almost destroyed it through sowing discord within. This message was among a series of publications released late last year by the AQIS spokesman and present leader Osama Mahmoud, who succeeded slain leader Asim Umar in September last year, with blessings from al-Qaeda central leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Despite a series of setbacks with leadership decapitations in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the last few months, AQIS, the fifth and youngest affiliate of the transnational terrorist group, maintains its propaganda campaign to mobilize a broad support base in its areas of operation—Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

Broadly, two principals are a constant focus of AQIS’ media campaign—far enemies (anti-Western propaganda, US, Israel, Christian and Jews) and the near enemy (Anti-Pakistan campaign/Pakistan military). The category of near enemy also includes the Saffron terrorist campaign (the Hindu right-wing in India) and war against secular and anti-Islam (Taghut) governments (Bangladesh and Myanmar).  Like AQAP’s Inspire magazine series, AQIS published at least two issues of Resurgence magazine. The first issue released under the editorship of Hassaan Yusuf in October 2014 covered most of the countries of South Asia and also delved into Myanmar and East Turkestan. [1]

Besides Resurgence, which has described various future targets and strategies to achieve jihadist goals, AQIS came out with more robust and specific guidelines for violent jihad after almost three years of its formation. It released its “Code of Conduct” (CoC) document in June 2017, emphasizing its allegiance to Zawahiri and the emir of the Taliban. This document remains a core propaganda literature of AQIS, reiterating its geographical focus and objectives. The document is also vital for several reasons as it provides details about AQIS’ bureaucratic structure, operations, and, more importantly, the future targets of AQIS. Though two years have passed since its release, AQIS has largely failed to act upon the document, which specified its targets in different countries in South Asia. These targets included Western assets in Afghanistan—in order to defend the so-called Islamic Emirate—and military targets in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and India.

For Full Text, Read "Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent’s Propaganda Campaign Continues Despite Digital Disruptions and Stifled Operational Capability",  Terrorism Monitor, (Vol. 18 ( 2), January 28, 2020.