TM: "Islamic State Hind Province’s Kashmir Campaign and Pan-Indian Capabilities"
When Islamic State (IS) announced an Indian-based ‘province’ (wilayah) on May 10, 2019, IS effectively consolidated previously fragmented pro-IS jihadist entities under the IS Hind (IS-H) province banner. IS aimed to increase its recruitment and operational success in embattled Kashmir, which has a long tradition of Islamist militancy. However, IS also launched a propaganda campaign to have a broader pan-Indian impact. 
IS-H sought to unite diverse pro-IS Indian groups and individuals under its purview, including those from Kashmir to Kerala as well as those fighting alongside IS-Khorasan (IS-K) province in Afghanistan (indiatimes.com, October 4, 2016). All IS-inspired groups or units, including initial groups such as Ansaru Khilafa (Supporters of the Caliphate) in Jammu and Kashmir and Jundul Khilafa (Army of the Caliphate), eventually became subsumed under IS-H. IS-H’s opaque organizational structure notwithstanding, the organization was dominated by Kashmiri jihadists and has struggled to extend its influence throughout India.
This article explores the emergence and consolidation of IS-H and how Kashmir remains Indian jihadism’s epicenter both in terms of IS’ media and armed campaigns in the country.
Kashmir: The Epicenter of Islamic State’s Campaign
Since October 2014, IS has garnered support from Indian jihadist groups and individuals marked by a series of loyalty videos. One such early video pledge, for example, came from Karnataka-born Sultan Abdul Kadir Armar, who was a Lucknow Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama-trained Islamic preacher, former Indian Mujahideen leader, and head of the pro-IS Ansar al-Tawhid Fi Bilad al-Hind (Supporters of Monotheism in the Land of India). In October 2014, he urged Muslims to kill foreigners and Hindus and pledge their loyalty to Abubakar al-Baghdadi before he himself was killed in Kobani, Syria (Indian Express, October 5, 2014; Al Isabah Media/Archive, October 4, 2014; Indian Express, March 20, 2015).
It was, however, only in May 2016 that IS’ “Homs Province” in Syria released its first official video message, which featured Indian fighters and was called “Bilad al-Hind (Land of India): Between Pain and Hope” (Zee Hindustan, May 22, 2016). The video urged Indian Muslims to travel to Syria and Iraq and called for jihad to avenge atrocities against Muslims in Kashmir, Gujarat, and Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, as well as for the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh by Hindu right-wing activists (Jihadology, May 19, 2016).
In July 2017, reports of IS outreach in Kashmir emerged when another cell called Ansarul Khilafah in Jammu and Kashmir used Telegram to disseminate IS propaganda materials along with bomb-making and attack manuals (Hindustan Times, July 18, 2017). IS’ first attacks against Indian security personnel occurred soon after in Srinagar, Kashmir on November 17, 2017 (Indian Express, November 20, 2017). Pro-IS militants also targeted separatist Hurriyat Party leader Fazal Haq Qureshi, who is pro-Pakistan but seeks a peaceful settlement with India and Pakistan, on February 25, 2018. Although Qureshi survived the attack, a policeman was killed in the gunfight. IS’ semi-official Amaq news agency claimed both these attacks (nationalheraldindia.com, February 27, 2018).
After these two attacks, on March 11, 2018, three pro-IS militants, Syed Owais, Muhammad Eisa Fazili, and Mohammad Taufeeq, were killed in Anantnag area of Kashmir (Deccan Chronicle, March 15). India’s government and security agencies, which had initially denied IS’ presence in Kashmir, finally admitted that IS had a underground existence in the state. The Director General of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Police also stated IS trendlines were a “worrying sign” (Statesman, February 27, 2018).
The Establishment of IS Hind Province
The author acknowledges the support of Government of the Netherlands and the Global Centre on Cooperative Security for an ongoing research project on Transnational Jihadist threat in South Asia. Views expressed in the paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Centre or the Government of the Netherlands.