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The new AQ “subcontinental” affiliate – Ghazwa e-Hind?

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- one of those longish posts that digests a number of other people's longish posts ]
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AQ India video
Screencap from al-Zawahiri’s video announcement

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Yesterday I tweeted that Indian Brig (retd) Anil Gupta tied al-Zawahiri‘s newly announced subcontinental AQ with the concept of Ghazwa e-Hind, and had to take my words back on closer inspection.

Gupta does indeed write on the concept of Ghazwa e-Hind — a prophesied end times “raid” from Khorasan, parallel to that from Khorasan to Jerusalem and aiming to plant the flag on Islam atop the Red Fort in Delhi.. But Gupta’s point was not to suggest the Ghazwa was directly related to the new AQ, which had not yet been announced, but to comment on an earlier report in the London Daily Mail.

Here’s a more detailed account of how things are unfolding.

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Abhishek Bhalla, writing in the Daily Mail on 16 July this year under the title Al-Qaeda plans final jihad for India: Intel report points to terror recruitment drive targeting nation’s Muslims, posted:

Intelligence agencies say the terror network is making inroads into India, sowing the seeds of a “final war” across the country. Information gathered on al-Qaeda’s India plans points to a mobilisation of its resources for jihad. The ideological goal of the group, as detailed in the report, is chilling:

Ghazwa-e-Hind, or the final battle in India.

Ghazwa-e-Hind refers to an indoctrinated view of a final apocalyptic war in which India will be conquered by a jihadi army. All soldiers of this army are guaranteed a place in heaven. This term is freely used in jihadi circles and on the web, but is considered bizarre by others.

From the report itself:

“Not only Kashmiri groups but Taliban and al-Qaeda affiliates have stakes in the larger scheme of Ghazwa-e-Hind where India is regarded as next battleground in the ‘End of Times’ battle. This ideology is likely to be used to drive Taliban and al-Qaeda affiliates into Kashmir,” says an intelligence report.

And one last point of interest from the Mail account:

Al-Qaeda’s propaganda arm, Al Sahab, released a video recently, titled ‘Why is there no storm in your ocean?’ The report states that the video and transcripts were posted on several jihadi forums.

The videos have speeches asking youths from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and South India to join the global jihad. Incidentally, these are the areas where young men were recruited by the Indian Mujahideen (IM), India’s homegrown terror group that has become synonymous with bomb blasts in public places.

There’s more detail in the Mail, of course, although there’s not much substantiation of the various claims.

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Here are some key quotes from Brigadier Gupta’s analysis:

A sensational story published last week in Daily Mail, UK revealed the ideological goal of Al-Qaeda as Ghazwa-e-Hind, or the final battle in India. It also quoted intelligence agencies to say that the terror network is making inroads into India, “sowing the seeds of a final war across the country”.

It further stated “not only Kashmir groups but Taliban and Al-Qaeda groups have stakes in the larger scheme of Ghazwa-e-Hind where India is regarded as next battleground in the ‘End of Times’ battle.” This ideology is likely to be used to drive Taliban and Al-Qaeda affiliates into Kashmir. What is this ideology? What does ‘Hind’ mean?

Ghazwa-e-Hind is a prophesied battle in which Muslim armies would invade the Indian subcontinent and would be victorious and establish Islamic law in the subcontinent. Flag the word Indian subcontinent. Hind does not mean only India but includes Pakistan as well. But anti-Indian Muslims in Pakistan have spin-doctored the ideology to mislead the community and create a hatred for India.

This school of thought is also promoted by the Pakistani Army because it suits its ambition of subverting the supremacy of the elected government. As per them, “the concept of Khilafat, armies of greater Khorasan led by Pakistan and invasion and capturing of India in the end times, is a mainstream Islamic concept. It would reshape the geopolitics of the present and future world.’ Note how cleverly Hind (which included Pakistan as well) has been replaced by India.

After a brief mention of Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid, whom he characterizes as “a jihadist-turned-religious scholar and mouthpiece of the Pakistani Army” — Gupta goes on to say:

Some Pakistanis led by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) harbour the idea of a “Greater Pakistan”. The envisioned map of Greater Pakistan and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)’s Caliphate of Khorasan are almost mirror copies of each other.

He then explains what he sees as renewed interest in the Ghazwa in terms of the impact of recent IS successes:

The doctrine of Ghazwa-e-Hind is being used by terrorists, extremists and fundamentalists to incite hatred against India and give it a religious colour and justification. Buoyed by the unprecedented success achieved by ISIS in the recent months the international jihadi outfits want to expand the conflict zone in order to achieve their cherished dream of World Dominion of Caliphates.

In mid-June this year Al-Qaeda released a video titled ‘War should continue, message to the Muslims of Kashmir.’ In this video Al-Qaeda called upon Muslims of Kashmir to follow the example of their brothers in Syria and Iraq and revolt against the authorities. It asked the Kashmiris to seek inspiration from the “new Afghanistan being created in Syria.”

and:

This was followed by the call made by the self-styled Khaliffah Ibrahim of Caliph of Islamic State at the beginning of the pious month of Ramzan. He called upon all believers to take up arms and terrify the enemies of Allah. Among the enemy countries he named both India and Pakistan. In another development, parts of northwest India and the whole of Pakistan were included in the Caliphate of Khorasan, in a map issued by the ISIS.

In yet another development Syed Salahuddin, chairman of Pakistan-based United Jihad Council and Hizbul Mujahedeen supremo, has invited Al-Qaeda and Taliban and like-minded groups to extend a helping hand to “oppressed Kashmiris”. He announced “Jihad on the lines of ISIS in Iraq is the solution to Kashmir.”

Are these actions a mere coincidence or ominous warnings to the rulers in India and Pakistan?

Gupta’s conclusion:

The concept of Caliphates does not recognise national boundaries. Pakistan has to realise that the Global jihad is as dangerous for her existence as it is for destabilising India. Ghazwa-e-Hind as prophesied includes the entire Indian subcontinent. Pakistan no longer can ignore the ominous signals. It is for both India and Pakistan to bury the hatchet and get ready to face the common enemy in the form of Islamist terror.

Both countries need to evolve a joint mechanism to fight the growing menace. One sincerely hopes that reality would dawn on the Pakistani authorities to change their anti-India outlook lest they are determined to implode. For the Indian authorities it would be advisable to take China on board. China is not merely a threat but provides a lot of opportunities as well, particularly when Pakistan has hurt China also by supporting the Uighur Islamist militants and separatist movement in Xinjiang. China may be more than willing to rein in Pakistan if it decides to ignore this sane advice.

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All of that is appropriate as background, in my view, to yesterday’s AQ announcement of a “subcontinental” branch, apparently several years in the making.

Bill Roggio in LWJ writes Al Qaeda opens branch in the ‘Indian Subcontinent’:

Al Qaeda has announced the establishment of a new branch, called “Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent.” The group reports to Mullah Omar, the head of the Afghan Taliban, and is led by a former commander in the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan who also served as a sharia official in al Qaeda’s branch in Pakistan. The ultimate goal of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent is the same as al Qaeda’s: to establish a global caliphate and impose sharia, or Islamic law.

As Sahab, al Qaeda’s official media outlet, released a lengthy video promoting the creation of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent today. The video, which was published on various Internet video sites, including YouTube, features Ayman al Zawahiri as well as Asim Umar, the new emir of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, and Usama Mahmoud, the group’s spokesman. The video was translated by the SITE Intelligence group.

“A new branch of al-Qaeda was established and is Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent, seeking to raise the flag of jihad, return the Islamic rule, and empowering the Shariah of Allah across the Indian subcontinent,” Zawahiri says in the opening of the video, according to the translation by SITE.

Specifically:

Zawahiri says the group will defend the “vulnerable in the Indian subcontinent, in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujurat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir …” and “your brothers in Qaedat al-Jihad did not forget you and that they are doing what they can to rescue you from injustice, oppression, persecution, and suffering.”

and:

The creation of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and the promotion of Asim mar highlights the close ties between al Qaeda and the Taliban groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Al Qaeda routinely fights alongside both Taliban groups against the Afghan and Pakistani governments.

Al Qaeda has promoted the Asim Umar, the new emir of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, in several propaganda releases by As Sahab in the past two years. Umar was previously identified by al Qaeda as a commander in the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, a jihadist group closely linked to al Qaeda, in a video released by As Sahab in July 2013.

Also notable:

He [Asim Umar] focused on the growing jihad in Syria, and said that “[a]fter Iraq, the black flags of Khorasan are heading for Syria.” The Khorasan is a region in Asia that includes Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is considered a key battleground by al Qaeda.

Umar also indicated in that speech that al Qaeda was integrating with other jihadist groups and traveling to Syria to fight.

“Al Qaeda and other Mujahideen have taken the leadership of this movement in their own hands,” he said. “Several groups have gone to Syria from Afghanistan and are leading the Jihad there.”

Sanjoy Majumder of BBC News, Delhi, is quoted giving this analysis:

India’s intelligence and security services are studying the announcement by al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri very closely and have also asked their state units to remain vigilant on any possible threat.

At the same time, however, they see this more as a statement of intent, aimed at attracting fresh recruits to the organisation at a time when it is facing a threat as the pre-eminent global jihadi group from a rising Islamic State.

There is no evidence as yet of any al-Qaeda presence in India.

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The only clear mention of the Ghazwa in the context of the AQ declaration that I’ve come across is in this, also from the BBC report today:

The BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says Zawahiri’s announcement was not entirely unexpected.

The Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and some allied Punjabi militant groups have long debated the Ghazwa-e-Hind, or the battle for India, which they say was foretold by the Prophet Mohammad.

My own sense is that the Ghazwa e-Hind isn’t a raid performed by militants in place, Indians in India, but by an invading army, likely Pakistani in origin — but I’d certainly welcome comments on this side of things.

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I haven’t seen the whole script of al-Zawahiri’s announcement, but as far as I know, he doesn’t mention the Ghazwa. I’m bringing the two together here because I believe one provides some context for the other, that they must surely overlap in several highly relevant minds. And the tweets I’ve seen about the AQ video have been appropriately ” keep calm” and “wait and see”:

and:

JM then made a few points specifically addressing the announcement vis-a-vis the AQ / IS “balance of power” about which he recently wrote a major piece, and closed his series of tweets thus:

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From the caliphate to Ferguson and back, it’s a small world

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- starting with the news, closing with Jay Forrester & the impact of systems dynamics on our understanding of cause and effect -- a catchup post ]
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Clearing the decks grom the last few days, I found this DoubleQuote in the Wild from Ferguson staring out at me from my twitter feed — suggesting just how intricately interwoven our world really is:

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Souad Mekhennet has a piece titled Even the Islamists of ISIS are obsessing over Ferguson in the Washington Post:

You can understand if President Obama would rather talk about the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq, where he has scored some victories, than talk about the unholy mess in Ferguson, Mo. Surprisingly, though, ISIS militants are following developments in the St. Louis suburb, and some of them would rather focus on that. According to interviews and social media, members of the group and sympathizers with its jihadist ideology are closely tracking the events in the St. Louis suburb, where protesters and police have clashed. In it, they see opportunity.

Here are a couple of ISIS-fan tweets:

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Look, the point I’m making isn’t about Ferguson, it isn’t about the Islamic State, it has to do with the way that an event in one place whill have myriad unexpected effects downstream. The classic case which really opened my eyes to this was Aum Shinrikyo — the group that released sarin in the Tokyo subway system — sending a planeload of its members to Zaire in an attempt to collect Ebola samples for their biochem weapons labs.

Someone in a medium size yoga cult in Japan read the New Yorker and learned that Ebola esisted and was lethal, and the next thing you know there’s a religious terror group, led by a guy who reads Nostradamus, Asimov and Revelation — and has been granted a photo op with the Dalai Lama — working diligently to get that capability.

That was back in the last century, but Ebola’s in the news again these days, and it turns out that epidemiology needs to take into account pervasive belief in some affected corners of Africa that the whole business is a conspiracy designed to imprison Africans in “clinics” — the result being riots against at least one clinic, and blood-stained bedclothes and live virus carriers being dispersed into a poorly protected slum.

Epidemiology as theorized and modeled should be cleaner than that. But then there are other factors — in the case of polio, there’s CIA use of a vaccination team as cover for an attempt to obtain bin Laden’s DNA in Abbottabad, resulting in widespread rumors of conspiracy, refusal of vaccinations, and a resurgence of the disease.

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Big question: how can you figure out the unknown unknowns represented by riots affecting quarantine? words spoken when a mic supposedly off is in fact on? the impact of large scale climate engineering.

One of the ideas that has most influenced me in my thinking about games, simulations and models over the last dozen or more years comes from Jay Forrester. I’ll quote him from section 4.1, Cause and Effect Not Closely Related in Time or Space, in his 2009 paper, Learning through System Dynamics as Preparation for the 21st Century, though I think I first ran across the idea in one of his books, probably Urban Dynamics (1969) or World Dynamics (1971):

Most understandable experiences teach us that cause and effect are closely related in time and space. However, the idea that the cause of a symptom must lie nearby and must have occurred shortly before the symptom is true only in simple systems. In the more realistic complex systems, causes may be far removed in both timing and location from their observed effects.

From earliest childhood we learn that cause and effect are closely associated. If one touches a hot stove, the hand is burned here and now. When one stumbles over a threshold, the cause is immediately seen as not picking the foot high enough, and the resulting fall is immediate. All simple feedback processes that we fully understand reinforce the same lesson of close association of cause and effect. However, those lessons are aggressively misleading in more complex systems.

In systems composed of many interacting feedback loops and long time delays, causes of an observed symptom may come from an entirely different part of the system and lie far back in time.

To make matters even more misleading, such systems present the kind of evidence that one has been conditioned by simple systems to expect. There will be apparent causes that meet the test of being closely associated in time and in location. However, those apparent causes are usually coincident symptoms arising from a distant cause. People are thereby drawn to actions that are not relevant to the problem at hand.

That stunned me. But it gets a little worse:

Comments such as I have just made about cause and effect carry little conviction from being stated in a text. Only after a student has repeatedly worked with models that demonstrate such behavior, and has had time to observe the same kinds of behavior in real life, will the idea be internalized and become part of normal thinking.

I don’t think that’s quite right, I think we’re now seeing generations arise for whom system dynamics and networked thinking seem progressively more “intuitive” — more in tune with the zeitgeist.

But the decision makers? As far as I can see, they are largely impervious to the kinds of thinking necessary to navigate our complexly interwoven envirorment.

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Wearing their t-shirts like football uniforms

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- preliminary thoughts about an Indian group photograph, Tamils & the calphate ]
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I talked about “caliphate” merchandise just the other day, and pointed specifically to t-shirts. I’m sorry to say those tees have now cropped up in my news feed a second time, this time under less auspicious circumstances:

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Those, my friends, are Tamil (southern) Indians who support ISIS and the “caliphate”. Prayaag Akbar at Scroll.In has this anlysis:

A photograph has been doing the rounds of the Internet of a large group of young Tamil Muslims clad in black ISIS t-shirts. On the Internet it is being brandished by Hindu nationalists as justification for their narrow parochialism, but it should worry every citizen of India. Tamils have nothing to do with Iraq or Syria. Then why this adherence to ISIS over Al-Qaeda, indeed over the jihad in Kashmir?

The answer lies in ISIS’ rallying call. The politically savvy and militarily capable self-named Caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has astutely positioned his struggle as one against not the West but against Shia overreach. While many have characterised his ideology as pan-Islamist, it is in fact pan-Sunni. He seeks to create a Sunni state stretching across West Asia and the subcontinent. Needless to say, Shias will have at best subsidiary part in it.

There’s more on the Scroll.In site, of course, but those are the key paras for my current purpose.

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Dots — as yet pretty much unconnected — to keep an eye onin the subcontinent:

  • Hindu nationanalism & Hindutva
  • Sri Lanka and a revival of Tamil sentiment
  • Jammu & Kashmir
  • Ghazwa-e-Hind
  • global jihad
  • the IS “caliphate” and
  • Sunni / Shia sectarianism
  • Oy veh. Did I mention Pakistan?

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    The ISIS flood in my twitterstream today 2: big picture

    Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- an attempt to "curate" the onrush of news, hitting the high points on a low, low morning ]
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    I have tried to keep the tweets here limited to their own texts, with illustrations only where essential, and without “parent tweets” and other encumbrances. Even so, it’s a long read — my advice would be to take it fast, first, and then come back to click on articles and other details that look like they’re of particular interest.

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    And I’m sure a lot has happened during the half-hour or more it has taken me to put even this small selection of relevant tweets together!

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    Echoes: Boko H and the LRA, Ray Davis & others anon

    Saturday, May 10th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- following up on Boko Haram "makes Kony look like child's play" while continuing my explorations in stereocognition, along with two dazzling quotes about music ]
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    It happened to be the tweet from Elizabeth Pearson in the upper panel above that alerted me to the LRA’s 1996 abduction of schoolgirls in Uganda, which Boko Haram’s 2014 abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria echoes and amplifies — so I have matched it with another of her tweets, lower panel above, offering an equivalent headline for the Nigerian girls.

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    The parallelisms.

    My purpose, explicitly stated, is not to equate but to compare the two incidents, and more specifically to allow the acts of the purportedly Christian extremists in Uganda to be in the back of our minds as a comparative, while we consider the current spate of appalling actions of the supposedly Muslim extremists in Nigeria…

    And the differences.

    I won’t attempt to detail the parallelisms and differences as I see them here, primarily because it’s the habit of analogical thinking I am exploring, not any single (“double”) instance.

    A stereocognitive view will add nuance — an additional depth dimension to our perception of these two instances — without losing the detail of either one, just as stereoscopic vision and stereophonic hearing give additional depth to our visual and sonic views of the world.

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    Here’s another one — this time triggered by an Emptywheel blogpost today. Marcy Wheeler has been following the Ray Davis story for quite a while, so I’ve matched her post noting the echo betwen “JSOC and one CIA official killing attempted abductors in Yemen” and the “Ray Davis episode in Pakistan” with an earlier post on Ray Davis.

    You know, if “news echoes” of the sort both Lizz and Marcy are noting were discussed in musical terms — rather than as history repeating itself, say — we’d call them fugal motifs, or if we’re more into Wagner than Bach, leitmotifs perhaps.

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    As is widely known, Dan Drezner views his interest through the lens of the undead in his book Theories of International Politics and Zombies — I’d like to view mine through the lens of music, as in these two quotes I’m fond of repeating — they’re a bit long to fit readably into DoubleQuotes format, so I’ll just put them in blockquotes:

    From Cornelius Castoriadis, World in Fragments

    Philosophers almost always start by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is a table. What does this table show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever started by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is my memory of my dream of last night. What does this show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever starts by saying “Let the Mozart’s Requiem be a paradigm of being, let us start from that.” Why could we not start by positing a dream, a poem, a symphony as paradigmatic of the fullness of being and by seeing in the physical world a deficient mode of being, instead of looking at things the other way round, instead of seeing in the imaginary — that is, human — mode of existence, a deficient or secondary mode of being?

    and from Edward Said, Power, Politics, and Culture

    When you think about it, when you think about Jew and Palestinian not separately, but as part of a symphony, there is something magnificently imposing about it. A very rich, also very tragic, also in many ways desperate history of extremes — opposites in the Hegelian sense — that is yet to receive its due. So what you are faced with is a kind of sublime grandeur of a series of tragedies, of losses, of sacrifices, of pain that would take the brain of a Bach to figure out. It would require the imagination of someone like Edmund Burke to fathom.

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