zenpundit.com » Blog Archive » Ahrar-ul-Hind, Ghazwa-e-Hind?

Ahrar-ul-Hind, Ghazwa-e-Hind?

[ by Charles Cameron — in which the “second shoe” of Islamist eschatology will land on India ]


Bill Roggio, over in Long Wars Journal a day or two ago, posted an article titled Pakistani jihadists form Ahrar-ul-Hind, vow to continue attacks. In it, he introduces the group, Ahrar-ul-Hind:

A new global jihadist group that is unwilling to negotiate with the Pakistani government has announced its formation and vowed to continue attacks in the country despite the outcome of ongoing peace talks. The group, which is calling itself Ahrar-ul-Hind, said its goal is the establishment of sharia, or Islamic law, and that the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan are still “our brothers” despite separation from the group.

Ahrar-ul-Hind emailed two statements to The Long War Journal on Feb. 9: one from its spokesman, and another that outlined its “aims and objectives,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which translated the communiques. Ahrar-ul-Hind has also posted both statements on its Facebook page.

He has much more to say about it, but what caught my eye was one observation in particular:

In the statement announcing its “aims and objectives,” Ahrar-ul-Hind threatened to wage war on the “Indian subcontinent” and beyond, with the ultimate goal of imposing sharia worldwide.

“We aim to carry an armed struggle on the Indian subcontinent with an aim to establish Islamic Shariah in the whole world,” one bullet announced.

A final, significant detail:

Mansour identified Ahrar-ul-Hind’s emir as Maulana Umar Qasmi


Readers of Zenpundit will be familiar with the idea of a Pakistani jihad aiming to take over India — the Ghazwa-e-Hind, about which we have written, among other posts:

  • One hadith, one plan, one video, and two warnings
  • So many browser tabs, so little time
  • Pakistan’s Strategic Mummery
  • Khorasan to al-Quds and the Ghazwa-e-Hind
  • In the last of those I quote from a discussion Ambassador Haqqani had with Bill Roggio:

    And then the other part is this famous Ghazwa-e-Hind, and the Pakistani groups use it – actually, just as jihad is the war, a holy war or war for religious purposes, ghazwa is a battle — and there is ostensibly a saying of prophet Muhammad that before the end times, the final, biggest war between good and evil and between Islam and kufr is going to take place in Hind, which is India, which is the land east of the river Indus.

    So Khorasan takes care of what is today Afghanistan and some parts of central Asia, and all of that – it means a lot to people who believe in it, these end times prophecies etcetera. So one of the unwritten books it has been my desire to write, I wrote a piece on it once, an article I think, which said, that, you know, Americans pay a lot of attention to their own end time prophecies, but getting into that whole theater, they have totally neglected this.

    And so far as recruitment is concerned I am totally agreeing with you, that failure in Afghanistan is going to be a big boon for both. The TTP — the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan — and the Pakistani groups are going to start saying, Right, now is the time to start recruiting, and fighting in that famous Ghazwa-e-Hind –let’s get ready for that. And the Arab groups are going to say, Ah, salvation is coming by joining up with the folks who are fighting in Khorasan.

    You might say there are two “shoes” to the end times jihad — one foot marching from Khorasan / Afghanistan with Jerusalem its objective, the other marching from Pakistan to take India. We have discussed the “army with Black Banners from Khorasan” theme, too, in these pages:

  • Iran or Afghanistan? The Black Flags of Khorasan…
  • Ali Soufan: AQ, Khorasan and the Black Banners
  • The matter of the Black Banners and Benghazi
  • Twitter combat, al-Shabaab, black banners, Tahrir and more
  • An army in Sham, an army in Yemen, and an army in Iraq
  • Those black banners / AQ flags, revisited
  • and pointed to Aaron Zelin, writing on al-Wasat:

  • On Flags, Islamic History, and al-Qa’ida
  • I am always on the alert for news of that second shoe…


    Many people treat Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid, the loudest proponent of the Ghazwa, as a joke — there’s even a satirical blog attacking him — but our blog-friend Omar Ali put things in perspective in a comment here not so long ago:

    The major mistake of Western (and Western educated Pakistani left-liberal academics) is to regard this nonsense as so nonsensical that no sane person could possibly take it seriously.

    Manan Ahmed, a Pakistani historian blogging at Chapati Mystery, describes him as having:

    from most accounts, secured a niche similar to Glenn Beck in Pakistani media – combining ultra-nationalism with a taste for finding Zionist or Hindu involvement in the Pakistani sphere.

    And the “500 Most Influential Muslims” listing for 2013-14 includes him:

    One of the most influential television personalities in Pakistan, Zaid Hamid is a security consultant and strategic defence analyst by profession. He is also a popular political commentator, and is the founder of Brass Tacks, a Pakistani think tank on global politics. Hamid also hosts ‘BrassTacks with Zaid Hamid’ on News1 Channel Although he has been deemed by some as a conspiracy theorist, he maintains a substantial audience.


    It is unlikely that Zaid Hamid would be enthusiastic about Ahrar-ul-Hind, since they are a TTP offshoot and Hamid has decried the TTP as khwarijites, ie sectarian extremists — and also because Hamid clearly sees himself as the leader of the Ghazwa, and Maulana Umar Qasmi, the emir of Ahrar-ul-Hind, is not Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid.

    Nevertheless, the appearance of a group specifically not affiliated with Hamid, but preaching the Ghazwa, may in fact represent a more serious and bdeadly version of Hamd’s vision — for as Omar Ali notes:

    What Zaid Hamid is saying is just an extreme version of the mainstream Paknationalist framework.


    Also of possible note in this context is the late, brilliant, not always reliable Syed Saleem Shahzad‘s interview with Ilyas Kashmiri in Asia Times [Note: 2 pp.], in which the following exchange took place:

    “So should the world expect more Mumbai-like attacks?” I [Shahzad] asked.
    “That was nothing compared to what has already been planned for the future,” Ilyas replied.

    Once again, Bill Roggio noted this particular exchange (making this a triple hat-tip) — though his focus was more on Kashmiri’s interest in the American “far enemy” — in his report on LWJ, Asia Times interviews al Qaeda commander Ilyas Kashmiri.


    Tying Ilyas Kashmiri and AQ’s 313 Brigade more closely into the “Ghazwa e-Hind” context from an Indian perspective, we have this article from Rediff News in 2009:

    Ilyas Kashmiri’s Ghazwa-e-Hind plans to spread terror in India
    Last updated on: October 16, 2009 20:47 IST

    Dreaded terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri runs Al Qaeda’s 313 Brigade. A few weeks ago the United States declared that Kashmiri had been killed in a drone attack. However, Kashmiri resurfaced with an interview to Asia Times this week, declaring he had survived the attack.
    In the interview Kashmiri said the 26/11 Mumbai attacks were nothing compared to what was really planned. While India has maintained that the attacks were masterminded by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Kashmiri’s statement has come as a surprise.

    Syed Saleem Shahzad, chief of Asia Times’s Pakistan bureau who interviewed Kashmiri, told rediff.com that the 313 Brigade is Al Qaeda’s commando force which trains youth for terrorist operations.

    Indian Intelligence Bureau sources suspect Kashmiri is planning terror strikes on the lines of the Mumbai attacks, but much larger in scope.

    Kashmiri’s statements indicates that the 313 Brigade was involved in the Mumbai attacks. Indian intelligence sources believe that while the Lashkar undertook a major part of the operation, including identifying the terrorists who participated in the attack, the 313 Brigade was also involved.

    11 Responses to “Ahrar-ul-Hind, Ghazwa-e-Hind?”

    1. Timothy Furnish Says:

      Fascinating.  Once again–as I’ve warned on my website since 2007–jihad and Islamic eschatology prove synergistic.
      I should point out that “ghazu/ghazw” really differs little from jihad, and in fact under the Ottomans (and Seljuqs before them) their jihadists were called “ghazis.”  THE “magzah” (same Arabic trliteral root) was Muhammad’s military campaign(s), a term which carried even more Islamic weight than “jihad.” 

    2. Charles Cameron Says:

      Thanks, Tim.
      I’d always taken jihad for a campaign and ghazwa for a single raid, but for some reason the leg of the jihad that extends into India has come to be referred to as a ghazwa. I don’t expect a single raid would do the trick of planting the Pakistani flag atop the Red Fort in Delhi, however…

    3. zen Says:

      yeah, I have always read about ghazis in a military context, as a local Muslim adaptation of the long tradition of mounted raiders coming from the steppe and sweeping down into the plains of India, the iranian plateau or Eastern Europe

    4. larrydunbar Says:

      “…as a local Muslim adaptation of the long tradition of mounted raiders coming from the steppe and sweeping down into the plains of…”

      Ah yes, centralized and, even, decentralized networks have long been terrorized by the thought of a distributed network “sweeping” down on them.

      A distributed network, like the Khan Genghis had, needs the environment to survive. Which is great for the locals, but not for those of the centralized or decentralized networks.

      The “locals” can lay siege, and, like Genghis Khan, fight while running away. All the distributed network needs is to adopt the “tactics” that are need to distribute backwards as well as forward, something those of Eastern Europe had a real problem with.  

      And it should be noted that the Pakistanis were impressed with those “sweeping’ in from the sea. But I imagine the thing was: those “decentralized” units, sweeping in from the sea, needed the Pakistan network, the ones who put the Taliban in place to begin with, in order accomplish its mission. Plus, the Pakistanis may have figured that Iraq was the U.S. ultimate goal, but I don’t know the real reason the Pakistanis gave in and let the Americans in.

      That “in” was always going to be a tough row to hoe, as Colin Powell showed us on TV, as the U.S. ripped those roots that supported Obama out by hand. Maybe it all happened so fast that everyone kinda forgot what we were doing in Afghanistan?

    5. Morgan Says:

      Ah, Larry, I think you meant Osama not Obama–oh, if we could only rip out those roots that supported Obama!!

    6. Amen Says:

      Adding confusion and more splinter cells to destabilise and twist the foolish Pakistanis and continue the wedge between the West and Pakistan.
      This group emerges out of thin air, with a highly sophisticated blazen attack do you not smell foul play.
      In whose benefit is it that TTP who have zero ideological credibility within Pakistan and are deluded brainwashed fools of foreign states has PEACE with Pakistanis.
      Indiscriminately killing Pakistanis and then talk of liberating Muslim is utter nonsense.
      This serves only one nation and it is India and the sooner The West look deeper into Indian nefarious clandestine operations against Pakistan through consulates along the Pak Afghan birders the sooner you will realise who these terrorists are.
      This is the Great game people and for the first time envisaging it’s global dream India has sat foot on the playing field where as previously hidden behind real home grown Afghan proxies like Northern alliance.
      In this occasion it is different Indian intelligence is on the ground and waging a covert war against Pakistan. South Asian non Afghan fighters have been killed amongst the ranks of Balochi and TTP terrorists what is more these were UNCIRCUMCISED I.e. Non Muslim South Asian pertaining to be Afghans?.
      Furthermore India is incapable of acting alone as it has zero credibility amongst Pashtuns therefore uses the Tajik / Uzbek power hungry ex Northern Alliance warlords who are now the government of Afghanistan and RAM which is Afghan Intelligence.
      These attacks will only get blazen and more violent until Americans withdraw from Afghanistan and Indian consulates are shut down.
      Do not be fooled by India, read on terrorist activities India has waged on every single neighbour with Pakistan her prize.
      This is just another TTP tactic, seeking to create delusions of grandeur between Pak governments and their approach to TTP creating mistrust between people of Pakistan and Army against an incompetent Pakistani government.
      If this Pak government does not mature and grow up and smell the coffee and STOP these doomed fake peace talks expect TTP regrouping for one final onslaught like SWAT in 2008 before the last American boots leave Afghanistan.
      If India gets to destabilise and destroy Pakistan it will be a dream come true but as she parts from her nefarious bases inside Afghanistan under ISAF protection she will want to see Pakistan bleed.

    7. zen Says:

      Hi Amen
      I will let Tim, Charles or someone else address the TTP but a quick note on RAW: I have real trouble crediting them with machiavellian super-powers as an intel agency. During the Cold War both the CIA and the KGB used India as essentially a training ground for newbie intel officers because Indian CI tradecraft was so feeble, that recruiting indian officials was so easy (and importantly, cheap) that officers could gain valuable field experience with very little danger of being caught and being declared persona non grata. And it is not like Russians and Americans did not stick out from the crowd in Delhi or Mumbai.
      Perhaps in the past twenty plus years RAW has drastically improved it’s reach and professionalism but at one time their reputation here was rather poor. 

    8. omar Says:

      I dont pay much attention to the alphabet soup of groups that appear and reappear as needed to claim responsibility. In a tactical sense (e.g., for security agencies tracking particular terrorist cells and leaders) this kind of detail is obviously of some importance, but for everyone else, its just a red herring. There is one large network of extremist Sunni terrorist groups that were either set up by our blessed strategic geniuses or have descended from those earlier parents. They all share the same broad ideology and targets. They all help each other. And they frequently invent new names just to evade specific bans or to help their handlers escape specific criticism (I am not saying all are still handled from Islamabad…obviously some gangs are more or less out of control). 
      The hadith about ghazwa e hind was an obscure and practically unknown hadith (one among thousands of “weak hadiths” that are lying around, ready to spring to life when someone takes an interest) until our blessed geniuses started paying Zaid Hamid and he hit upon it as the central plank of his pysops operation. Of course, now its available for others to use as well.
      Ghazwa literally just meant raid, but over time, especially in our parts where people are not that familiar with Arabic, it came to refer almost exclusively to the battles fought by the prophet. This misunderstanding was so common that our Islamic studies teachers (more than one of them) told us that it means “a battle in which the holy prophet himself took part”. Their misunderstanding came from the fact that early Islamicate historians, unaffected by modern prejudice against raiding other tribes for booty, proudly drew up lists of “raids” in which the prophet took part. Since our teachers never read anything in Arabic except the stories of these particular battles, they took the word to mean as noted above. 
      A ghazi would be anyone who has taken part in a  raid and lived to tell the tale, but it then took on the narrower meaning of a warrior who took part in one of Islam’s many raids and battles and survived. (Shaheed, literally witness, being the term for martyrs in these battles). Since the early Arab empire paid pensions to those who participated in the early conquests, this designation had very practical importance. Later Islamicate societies kept the term for all their warriors (and since it is an honorable term, it was also increasingly used for all soldiers, including those who have not YET gone to war, but who have joined up to do so). 
      The Jihadit modernist Islamist poet Allama Iqbal has a famous poem about Ghazis that is very popular in the various jihadist organizations. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANpzbyMWBVo — Translation here: http://urdushairii.blogspot.com/2012/07/ye-ghazi-ye-tere-purisrar-banday-with.html
      Pakistan’s army, caught between its own children and its own past psyops and the need to stay in the modern world as partners (they do not really want to be an Islamic North Korea) is trying its level best to finesse a very very fine balancing act.
      It may or may not succeed. My optimistic take from a couple of weeks ago: http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2014/02/pakistan-negotiations-and-operations-and-islamicate-rationality.html 


    9. Timothy Furnish Says:

      Charles, et al.: 
      I am particularly struck by Haqqani’s perceptive observation that :Americans pay a lot of attention to their own end time prophecies, but getting into that whole theater, they have totally neglected this.”
      I’ve commented/written on this topic a number of time–regarding Syria (http://www.mahdiwatch.org/2013.09.01_arch.html#1378502364220) and regarding CT analysis in an interview in the “Jerusalem Post” (http://blogs.jpost.com/content/israel-middle-east-and-islam-intelligence-consulting).
      Many articles in recent years in CNN, “Mother Jones,” and other mainline/left-of-center venues havfe obsessed over Evangelical Christian eschatology.  Yet persual of Islamic eschatology–operative in many sectors of Islam (as per my HNN piece using Pew data: http://hnn.us/article/147714) is virtually non-existent to most of the media and, for that matter–and more importantly–the vast majority of regional and CT analysts.   This is myopia, nay blindness (willful or not) on a grand and disturbing scale. 
      As to the specific  issue of Ahrar al-Hind being a real and present danger to the subcontinent, and its alleged split with TTP: perhaps the issue is not so much one of disagreement over negotiating with Islamabad as it is that some in TTP are truly infused with eschatological fervor and this brought them into conflict with more mundane members of TTP.  Hard to say with so little data. But considering 6 in 10 Pakistanis believe in the Mahdi’s imminent return (http://www.pewforum.org/2012/08/09/the-worlds-muslims-unity-and-diversity-3-articles-of-faith/), I’d be surprised if terrorist groups in the subcontinent did NOT evince eschatological beliefs. 

    10. Charles Cameron Says:

      My thanks to you both.

    11. larrydunbar Says:

      “Ah, Larry, I think you meant Osama not Obama–oh, if we could only rip out those roots that supported Obama!!”

      Ah yes, my worst fear of writing ‘Obama” instead of “Osama” has been realized.

      Your ability to rip out those roots that supported Obama is going to have just about as much success, as you tried in Afghanistan. There is a structure stopping you.

      In Afghanistan it was Pakistan. In the U.S.A it is the Constitution of the U.S.A. that command the government to stop  interfering in religious matters, a structure Afghanistan never had and America is losing. 

    Switch to our mobile site