Home Contact Us  
   

Terrorism - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4646, 7 September 2014
 
Al Qaeda in South Asia: The Terror World Championship Begins
Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy
Research Officer (IReS), IPCS
E-mail: rajeshwari@ipcs.org
 

Earlier this week, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a video message, launched an al Qaeda wing in the Indian sub-continent to “raise the flag of jihad.” What does the Al Qaeda in South Asia (AQSA) mean to South Asian security? What are the significances of this branch and the timing of its launch? How will it impact the global terrorism environment?

Project Al Qaeda in South Asia: Towards an Understanding
Al-Zawahiri’s AQSA launch has already led to a slightly mistaken interpretation that the group is targeting only India. However, the launch has more to do with the developments on the international front than its long-sustained ambition to establish a stronger presence in India and other countries towards the east.

Following the death of Osama bin Laden, al-Zawahiri took charge of operations, and in the face of the changing geopolitical environment – especially the Arab Awakening – decentralised operations, making the terror network a more franchisee-based model. With many allies viewing al-Zawahiri as a weak leader and ‘uncharismatic’ as compared to his predecessor, the localised jihadist groups – allies and affiliates of the al Qaeda – grew stronger in stature.  Some became more ambitious, and one of them, the present-day Islamic State, began acting independently.

The rise of the IS has polarised the global jihadist community, with many viewing it as more effective that the al Qaeda. 

When the IS unilaterally launched the ‘Islamic Caliphate’ and began administering towns they controlled – by collecting taxes, selling northern Syrian oil to Damascus etc, the al Qaeda felt the threat to their existence grow exponentially. The IS’s release of a map charting all the territories it wants under its ‘Caliphate’ only reinforced the threat. The map spread from West Asia to Southeast Asia, and explicitly identified Greater Khurasan – the historical geographical construct that includes parts of Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India – the very region the al Qaeda basecamp is located in.

Although the al Qaeda always had plans for India, the potential jihadists’ reading of the IS as more effective, increased the immediacy in the al Qaeda’s need to act quickly. Essentially, the al Qaeda’s launch of its South Asian wing is its attempt to consolidate power in the region where it’s based in – in the face of international competition.

AQSA and South Asia: What Next?
South Asia is a volatile region, with two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan – in turmoil of various kinds, and other countries – especially India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – that are vulnerable to an onslaught. The AQSA will tighten its existing terror network in the Af-Pak region.  Although Indian states of Gujarat and Kashmir too remain vulnerable – as will Punjab given the geographical proximity to the Pakistan-based Punjabi Taliban – Assam is key for the al Qaeda to spread its activities east. Given the rising levels of fundamentalism in the subcontinent, thanks to Saudi Arabian petro-dollars that flow into the many madrassas that impart hard-line interpretations of the Quran in the region, the likelihood of terror networks allying and growing is very real.

The AQSA Cook to the Global Jihad Broth
Today, in several areas of South Asia, interpretation of the Quran is societally more fundamentalised than it was a decade ago. South and Southeast Asia are home to as many (or more) Muslims in West Asia. Adding to the already delicate situation is the perception of marginalisation among South Asian Muslims. The dastardly treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, the rising intolerance towards Islamic ways of life in Sri Lanka, the increasing radicalism in the Maldivian polity, the disquiet over governance in Bangladesh, the politico-social flux in Pakistan, and the indecisiveness apparent in Afghanistan, provide for an excellent ground and timing for an entity like the AQSA to actually consolidate itself quickly. That al-Zawahiri spoke in a mix of Arabic and Urdu is telling. He is reaching out to his target audience by taking on their contours.

The countries of the region will have to beef up security, and communication between the al Qaeda and its regional allies, especially potential allies such as the recently-formed Arakan Mujahideen in Myanmar, will have to be meticulously tracked. It would also important would be to keep a close watch on Indonesia-based Mujahidin Indonesia Timur – an umbrella organisation consisting other groups such as the Jemaah Islamiah (of the Bali bombings) and the Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid, and the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

There is a possibility that the al Qaeda’s generous funders sitting in Saudi Arabia might have egged al-Zawahiri on to ensure that the ground they hold now isn’t lost to the IS – that poses serious threats even to the Saudi state. The al Qaeda, in continuation with its desperate efforts to do damage-control/salvage its existence – which isn’t entirely undermined yet – will now move east, where the IS hasn’t spread its tentacles much. It will increase activities in Assam, use it as a bridge to spread to Bangladesh, and from there, to Myanmar, the increasingly radicalising Indonesia and Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei Darussalam.

Regardless of other motivations, the world is now witnessing a full-blown power-struggle between an established global leader of terror, and a fast-emerging entity that is vying for the top title.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
India-Afghanistan Relations: Innovating Continuity

Afghanistan and the Attempted Exhumation of the QCG

FSI Afghanistan: Limited Scope for Use

Brass Tacks of the Emerging Afghan Taliban

Forecast 2016: Afghanistan

Countering Extremist Propaganda: A Strategy for India

India-Afghanistan: Interesting Times Ahead

Afghanistan: Takeaways from the Kunduz Offensive

What is the Afghan Taliban Up To?

What�s Brewing between Afghanistan and Pakistan?

What�s on Pakistan-based Militants� Minds?

Islamic State in Af-Pak: The �Wilayat Khurasan� Conundrum

IPCS Forecast: Islamic State in 2015

China and the Uyghur Issue: Can the New Silk Route Really Help?

China in Afghanistan: Is the Engagement Really a Win-Win?

Islamic State and Foreign Fighters: Jihadists from Central Asia

Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Implications of Pakistan's Nuclear Developments

Afghanistan: The New President and a Joint Venture Government

Islamic State and South Asia: How Real is the Threat?

The Islamic ‘Caliphate’ and Sectarian Violence: Ramifications for Pakistan

Sri Lanka and Myanmar: Understanding the Rise of Buddhist Radicalism

Pakistan: Potential Blowbacks of Operation Zarb-e-Azb

A New Foreign Policy Agenda for Modi: ‘Look West’

Afghan Presidential Run-off: Things that Matter

Media in Pakistan: Divided They Fall

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.