Agencies examining al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent ‘statement’ extending support to terrorists in J&K

As the outfit does not have any official spokesperson, the agencies are not sure if the statement has indeed been released by the AQIS.

Security agencies are examining a statement purportedly issued by the Afghanistan-based Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), condoling the death of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani earlier this month, which extended support to the terrorists operating in Jammu & Kashmir.

As the outfit does not have any official spokesperson, the agencies are not sure if the statement has indeed been released by the AQIS. However, its content is being taken seriously for the purpose of threat perception assessment.

“This may very well be yet another ploy for taking advantage of the situation to influence the security scenario in Jammu & Kashmir. A similar modus operandi is adopted by outfits like The Resistance Front and Peoples’ Anti Fascist Front, the proxies used to claim responsibility for terror attacks, to conceal the role of Pakistan-based elements,” said an agency official.

The AQIS “statement” said Geelani died at a time when the world had witnessed the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. Earlier last month, another statement congratulating the Taliban on its “victory” against the US-led NATO forces was circulated in the social media.

“Based on the investigations so far, we know that just like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, AQIS has been supporting the Taliban and has also lost its several important leaders in the fight with the US-led forces,” said an agency official.

A commander named Dawalat Bek Tajki was killed in the Paktika province of Afghanistan in March, while a high-ranking Al Qaeda member, Abu Muhsin al-Masri, died in October last year. The then AQIS chief Asim Umar was also killed in September 2019 in Helmand’s Musa Qala.

Given that the AQIS has in the past attempted to create a module involving Indian nationals, the agencies closely monitor its activities regularly. Umar, who was originally from Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal and had shifted to Pakistan in the 1990s, had contacted the potential recruits via social media platforms. At his instance, in 2013, some of them also visited Pakistan’s North Waziristan’s via Iran and Afghanistan.

However, December 2015 onwards, most alleged members of the modules were arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell from different parts of the country following a tip-off from the intelligence agencies.

AQIS is affiliated to the Al Qaeda which has also praised the Taliban and the Haqqani Network over the Kabul takeover. “It clearly establishes that they share common ideologies and goals. The Al Qaeda’s alliance with the Taliban goes way back to 1996 when it had given refuge to Osama Bin Laden after he was expelled from Sudan,” said another official.

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