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.
Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) has dominated the jihadist landscape of Afghanistan for the past several years while sharing turf with the powerful Taliban. It has suffered several significant setbacks in recent months, including a leadership crisis and territorial losses in its former provincial strongholds of Nangarhar and Kunar. Both Afghan government forces and the Taliban claimed to have accosted and defeated IS-K in 2019. The perceived downfall coincided with Islamic State’s (IS) crumbling caliphate in the Middle East and the death of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Following the death of al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent’s (AQIS) founding leader Asim Umar and several of his associates in September 2019 in Afghanistan, it was believed that the youngest franchise of the international terrorist organization would be in disarray. However, the jihadist franchise seems to have grown in strength, at least in its virtual jihad and dawa (proselytizing) campaigns. In the months following Umar’s death, the long-serving scholar spokesman, Ustadh Usama Mahmoud (a.k.a. Osama Mahmood), has risen to prominence in AQIS.
Almost six years after al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent’s (AQIS) formation as the regional subsidiary of the infamous transnational jihadist group, the organization is reportedly shifting its violent campaign to Kashmir and India. On March 21, in one of its key Urdu language magazines, AQIS claimed that the group would change the title of its long-running publication Nawa-i Afghan Jihad to Nawa-i Gazawatul Hind, signaling the geographical shift, mostly justifying the objectives behind its name and formation.
In August 2013, a Bangladeshi court in Barguna district jailed several members of the extremist outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), including its spiritual leader Mufti Jasimuddin Rahmani, for subversive activities in the country. These ABT members were accused of widespread violence and targeted killings during the Shahabag protest movement held earlier that year. The incarceration of Rahmani brought his fellow cleric Tamim al-Adnani to the forefront of the terrorist group as its spiritual head.
The image of the Maldives as a tropical paradise received a significant jolt on February 4, when three foreign nationals—two Chinese and one Australian—were stabbed and injured by Islamist militants near the Hulhumale Redbull Park Futsal Ground in the country’s North Male Atoll. The incident happened amid growing concerns about secret extremist networks inspired by transnational jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) that are active in the country.
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.
INTERVIEW: “Recent ISIS arrests are just a needle in South India’s jihadi haystack”
By Vicky Nanjappa, Bengaluru/ January 23, 2020
Following a notable lull in militant activity, Pakistan is now facing a unique militant escalation targeted against its security forces in the North Waziristan area and bordering regions. Despite the Taliban force largely being subdued following the concerted counter-terrorism efforts by Pakistan’s military, such as Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad, a resurgent faction Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA) has been carrying out targeted attacks in regular intervals.
In a significant turn of events, on October 23 Maldivian security agencies arrested Mohamad Ameen, an Islamist militant recruiter associated with Islamic State (IS). His arrest came around a month after the Presidential Commission on Deaths and Disappearances named him as the leader of an IS-linked group operating in the Maldives. Ameen’s arrest came as a surprise for many in the region, as successive governments in the Maldives had earlier failed to act against a homegrown Islamist-criminal gang nexus and radicalized Maldivians traveling abroad for jihad in Syria and Afghanistan.
Bangladesh’s Islamist landscape unexpectedly expanded with a reported resurgence of al-Qaeda-linked Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami-Bangladesh (HUJI-B—Movement of Islamic Holy War-Bangladesh) terrorist group, which has been lying dormant for over a decade. On October 2, Dhaka police arrested three senior HuJI-B operatives from the Khilgaon area of the capital city who were reportedly engaged in reviving HuJI-B’s operations in Bangladesh.