COUNTER-TERRORISM PERSPECTIVES (CTP) deals with Armed Insurgencies, Islamist Violence, Jihad and Radicalisation issues and other forms of Asymmetric Conflicts and policy responses in South Asia and beyond.
Islamist terrorism is not a novel phenomenon in the Southeast Asian region and can be traced to a myriad of indigenous and transnational factors. From the Bali bombing (2002) in Indonesia by Al Qaeda and its regional affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah to the siege of Marawi (2017) by Islamic State (IS) linked local groups in the Philippines, Islamist violence in Southeast Asia has come a long way in the last couple of decades. Two broader categorizations often dominate the academic and policy discourse.
Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) — one of the most resilient regional affiliates of the transnational jihadist enterprise Al-Qaeda — issued multiple threats to carry out suicide bombings and other targeted attacks in India after controversial remarks about the Prophet Muhammad and the Quran were made by senior members of India’s ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
After years of hiding, Muhammed Farhatullah Ghauri, one of India's elusive yet most wanted Islamist ideologues, resurfaced with a series of audio-visual messages. Ghauri's sudden re-emergence on popular social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Telegram in early 2022 caught the attention of Indian security agencies. Since February, under the banner of Sawt-al-Haq (Voice of Truth), he has railed against the Hindu right-wing in India.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, one of the founding leaders of the U.S-based pro- Khalistan separatist entity “Sikhs For Justice (SFJ),” is notorious for his incendiary speeches and threatening messages against Indian leaders and its democratic institutions. On May 10, Pannu claimed responsibility for the rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack at Punjab Intelligence Headquarters in Mohali, Punjab and for raising Khalistani flags at the Dharamshala Assembly complex in Himachal Pradesh.
On April 21, amid an unprecedented economic meltdown, political turmoil, and social unrest, Sri Lanka observed the third anniversary of the Islamic State (IS)-claimed Easter Sunday terror attacks. To mark the occasion, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa promised once again to punish those behind the carnage that killed 260 people and injured over 500, who were mostly Christian worshippers at Easter services, foreign nationals, and tourists in hotels. Rajapaksa reiterated his government’s commitment to ensure justice for all the victims of the Easter terror attacks.
In late December 2021, Bangladeshi counter-terrorism agencies warned about the possible resurgence of Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh (AIB), which also functions as an official wing of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and staunchly supports the Afghan Taliban’s Islamic Emirate. According to these agencies, AIB has been recruiting and training in the hinterlands of Bangladesh.
In early May 2020, the Bangladeshi police counter-terrorism unit arrested 17 members of the banned terrorist group, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), in Dhaka. At the time of the arrest, the JMB operatives planned to join Imam Mahdi, the spiritual redeemer of Islam, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
After a period of relative dormancy, India’s restive Kashmir region has been struck by violence again, witnessing an increase in the targeted killings of civilians. In October alone, there were 45 deaths, including 13 civilians and 12 security force personnel. With the killing of a well-known pharmacist, Makhanlal Bindroo, and street vendor, Virender Paswan, in Srinagar on October 5, militants from newly emerging factions have triggered a new cycle of violence.
More than a month after Taliban forces stormed Afghanistan, the self-proclaimed Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan (IEA) has yet to gain international political recognition. All eyes are on the primary stakeholder countries behind the Doha Accord of February 29, 2020, which paved the way for the Taliban’s ultimate victory.