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The new AQ magazine: Ghazwa e-Hind & more

Monday, October 20th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- while one prong of the AQ jihad marches on Jerusalem, the other has its sights set on India ]
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Resurgence cover and back

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Well, you only need to get as far as page 5 in the new, 117-page magazine Resurgence from As-Sahab Media (Subcontinent) — AQ with an eye on India, in other words — to read this:

The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Allah has saved two groups of my Ummah from the Hellfire: the group that will invade Al Hind (the Subcontinent) and the group that will be with Eesa (A.S), the son of Mariam.” It is also narrated on account of Abu Hurrairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) promised us the conquest of Al Hind (the Indian Subcontinent). If I am able to join it, I will spend on it my wealth and my life. If I am killed, I will be the best of martyrs and if I return, I will be Abu Hurrairah, the freed one (i.e. from Hellfire).”

That’s the Ghazwa, folks – prong #2 of the end times jihad from Khorasan (for these purposes, roughly speaking Af-Pak), in which a second victorious army sweeps down to take the subcontinent and place its banner atop Delhi’s Red Fort, while the first sweeps westward from the same region to take Jerusalem and much else besides.

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  • Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid is not always taken seriously when he talks about it
  • Ambassador Husain Haqqani however takes it seriously
  • as does Ahrar-ul-Hind
  • The Daily Mail says British intel is on it:
    17Fir08-09.qxp

  • and now, as seen in the para at the top of this post, AQIS makes it a focus of the first edition of its very own magazine
  • There’s a section on Khorasan, too, but I’ll deal with it separately. It’s about miracles.

    **

    A few more quick notes.

    It is mid-to-late October — and the magazine was announced as “coming soon” in this video from March:

    Note that the video voice over is that of Malcolm X. A quick word search suggests that Malcolm X is not, however, featured in the magazine itself.

    **

    The magazine at one point quotes Michael Hayden, ex-chief of both NSA and CIA,

    One of the points I am beginning to think through now is that those lines drawn after World War I by Mr. Sykes and Mr. Picot don’t matter the way they used to. At the end of this, we may see those lines go away.

    I haven’t been able to find a record of that statement in those words, but Hayden talked about Sykes-Picot at the Jamestown Foundation conference in December 2013, suggesting that the “dissolution of Syria” was one possible, unpleasant scenario to consider. He is quoted elsewhere as saying:

    It means the end of the Sykes-Picot (Agreement), it sets in motion the dissolution of all the artificial states created after World War I .. I greatly fear the dissolution of the state. A de facto dissolution of Sykes-Picot.

    The Resurgence quote makes it almost sound as though Gen Hayden liked the idea of the Sykes-Picot lines “dissolving”.

    **

    There’s a page on which Zawahiri takes on the IS / Daesh “caliphate” — addressing the footsoldiers both affiliated and perhaps considering affiliation:

    O’ My Mujahid Brother!

    The order of your ameer does not absolve you of responsibility. No Zawahiri, Jawlani, Hamawi or Baghdadi will be able to absolve you of your responsibility if you ever aggress upon your Mujahid brothers. On the Day of Judgment, each one of them will be in need of someone to save them from accountability ..

    Know that you will die alone, be buried alone, resurrected alone, stand in front of your Lord alone, and be answerable for your actions alone. Your Ameer will not be with you in any of these instances. So prepare yourself for that critical day.

    Let me tell you this: If I were ever to tell you to aggress upon hyour Mujahid brothers, disobey me; for I will be of no avail to you on the Day of Judgment.

    Zawahiri presumably still believes his supporters — in Jabhat an-Nusra eg — can defend themselves if attacked by IS jihadists, though ..

    **

    There’s probably more to note — as I said, the entire publication runs more than a hundred pages — but those are my first notes.

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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.

    **

    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.

    **

    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.

    **

    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.

    **

    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.

    **

    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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    Book Recommendation: Ancient Religions, Modern Politics

    Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

    [by J. Scott Shipman]

    ancient religion

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Ancient Religions, Modern Politics, The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective, by Michael Cook

    Charles Cameron recently had a post here at Zenpundit, Which is mightier, the pen or the sword?  Frequent commenter T. Greer recommended this volume in the comment section and I ordered immediately. My copy arrived this morning and I had some quiet time and a bit of commuting time to devote to Cook’s introduction and the first few chapters. This is a very good treatment of roots of Islam and how those roots affect today’s political climate. Cook divides the book into three large parts: Identity, Values, and Fundamentalism. The comparative element is his use of Hinduism and Latin American Catholicism when compared in scope and influence to Islam.

    Here are a couple of good pull quotes from the Preface:

    I should add some cautions about what the book does not do. First though it has a lot to say about the pre-modern world, it does not provide an account of that world for its own sake, and anyone who read the book as if it did would be likely to come away with a seriously distorted picture. This is perhaps particularly so in the Islamic case—and for two reasons. One is that, to put it bluntly, Islamic civilization died quite some time ago, unlike Islam which is very much alive; we will thus be concerned with the wider civilization only when it is relevant to features of the enduring religious heritage. (emphasis added)

    Cook’s emphasis on shared identity is one of the best and most cogent descriptions I’ve found:

    “…collective identity, particularly those that really matter to people—so much so that they may be willing to die for them. Identities of this kind, like values, can and do change, but they are not, as academic rhetoric would sometimes have it, in constant flux. The reason is simple; like shared currencies, shared identities are the basis of claims that people can make on each other, and without a degree of stability such an identity would be as useless as a hyperinflated currency. So it is not surprising that in the real world collective identities, though not immutable, often prove robust and recalcitrant, at times disconcertingly so.”

    In the same comment thread where T. Greer recommended this Ancient Religions, Charles called Cook’s work his opus. Based on the few hours I’ve spent with the volume and the marginalia, Charles was characteristically “spot-on.”

    Published in March of this year, this is a new and important title. With any luck, I’ll complete the book and do a more proper review sometime soon.

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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:

    **

    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.

    **

    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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    Today’s twitterstreaming comes from Ibn Siqilli

    Friday, June 13th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- a strong series of tweets on various aspects & implications of ISIS in Iraq ]
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    Ibn Siqilli, aka Christopher Anzalone, is a PhD student in the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University. Today he was tweeting on religious aspects of the situation in Iraq, beginning with the “quiestist” and certainly cautious Grand Ayatollah Sistani‘s call to arms:

    Sistani’s words, as reported by the (Lebanese) Daily Star:

    In a rare intervention at Friday prayers in the holy city of Karbala, a message from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is the highest religious authority for Shiites in Iraq, said people should unite to fight back against a lightning advance by militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. [ ... ]

    “People who are capable of carrying arms and fighting the terrorists in defence of their country … should volunteer to join the security forces to achieve this sacred goal,” said Sheikh Abdulmehdi al-Karbalai, delivering Sistani’s message.

    **

    From here on, I’ll avoid commenting and let Ibn Siqilli speak for himself until the very end:

    Chris’ next tweet is too long for twitter, so he posted it via TwitLonger. It reads:

    Keeping Sistani's call in perspective, he did not even issue such a call after the multiple bombings of the ‘Askariyya Shrine or years of targeting of Iraqi Shi’i civilians by Sunni militants.

    He continues:

    **

    There’s much to ponder in all this, and I have a minor qualm or two regarding emphasis, but I’ll reserve my comments for the last tweet in the series:

    That last tweet is of particular interest, extending the “ecumenicity” of Kerbala as it does beyond the Sunni / Shia divide to include those of other faiths. Thus Hashim Razvi writes under the title Commemoration of Musharram in India by non-Muslims:

    The observance of Muharram ceremonies in India in particular has attracted the deep reverence and devotion for the performance of its rituals and customs by the Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Thus, the observance of Muharram ceremonies has introduced Islam as the harbinger for interfaith understanding in India.

    Imam Husain’s great sacrifice is commemorated by Muslims everywhere in the world, but it is observed with great emotional intensity in India. What is particularly striking about the observances of the month of Muharram in India is the prominent participation of Hindus in these rituals. This has been a feature of Hinduism for centuries in large parts of India, and continues even today. In towns and villages all over the country, Hindus join Muslims in lamenting the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A.S.), by sponsoring or taking part in lamentation rituals and tazia (replica of the mausoleum of Imam Husain in Karbala) processions.

    The commemoration of Imam Husain’s sacrifice every year creates the most dramatic impact in India. The majority of the population in India is non-Muslim. It is curious to see these non-Muslims participating in the many colorful and devotional ceremonies during the month of Muharram. Also, it has affected the rich and the poor alike.

    In India the non-Muslims like Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Christians observe Muharram ceremonies with great devotion.

    On a historical note, the Chapati Mystery blog has an fascinating post titled Muharram in Bombay, c. 1893-1912, which opens with this paragraph:

    Muharram rituals associated with Shi’a communities in the Middle East and commemorating Ashura signify the division of Shi’a from Sunni communities. However, Muharram rituals metamorphosed into non-Shi’i rituals in India. As Kidambi (2007) remarks, even Hindus participated in the rituals in Mumbai during the nineteenth century. In fact, observing Ashura day was an inter-community/inter-religion event and the procession on Ashura day was the greatest festival of Mumbai during the nineteenth century, often called the taboot procession. Birdwood (1915) described the procession as the most picturesque event of South Asia.

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