A Profile of Asim Umar: Amir of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinet

Dr. Farhan Zahid

Special Contribution to the AIS Website, October 1, 2014

The rise of the Islamic State (former ISIS) and its establishment of a self-proclaimed Caliphate) not only shocked terrorism and security analysts but also the Islamic State’s parent organization – al-Qaeda. Dr. Ayman al- Zawahiri, the current Amir of al-Qaeda, must have serious concerns about the arrival of a new competitor in the arena of global jihad, once considered synonymous with al-Qaeda. There is no doubt that with experience, global reach, affiliated groups and associated movements in more than 60 countries, al-Qaeda is going to be in the jihadi business for a long time, whereas the Islamic State may not survive long. Whatever the course of events, al- Zawahiri is currently in a fix. Thousands of al-Qaeda sympathizers across the globe have expectations that their Amir will compete with the so-called Islamic State with new strategies and tactics. Al-Zawahiri would obviously not like to be seen as meek. It appears that in this dog-eat-dog situation, al-Zawahiri is set to compete with the Islamic State to preserve al-Qaeda’s status in the world of jihad.

The establishment of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) is one such step in this regard. Though al-Qaeda already has two associated groups in India and six in Pakistan, it seems that al-Zawahiri intends to reinvigorate the current set up. The al-Qaeda associated groups in the region are:


1. Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI)
2. Indian Mujahideen (IM)


1. Harkat ul-Jihad-e-Islami(HuJI)
2. Harkat ul-Mujahideen (HuM)
3. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
4. Jaysh-e-Mohammad (JeM)
5. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)
6. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

Al-Zawahiri selected Maulana Asim Umar as the Amir of AQIS. Umar is a known jihadi ideologue and propagandist as well as an active figure amongst jihadi forces in Pakistan. His selection by al- Zawahiri from the available lot of senior jihadi is by no means a coincidence. Umar has worked with almost all jihadi organizations of Pakistan and he may help al-Qaeda Core to strengthen ties and possibly merge with these organizations. The immense number of jihadis in Pakistan and the number of attacks over the last 12 years prove the point that Pakistan’s huge youth bulge may provide a pool of new recruits to al-Qaeda. Umar’s connections with Pakistani sectarian outfits and Islamist Kashmiri jihadi organizations would be an asset for al-Qaeda’s expansion in Pakistan and India.
According to unconfirmed sources, Umar hails from the southern Pakistani metropolis of Karachi, a city distinguished by its relatively secular and modern atmosphere in comparison with other Pakistani urban centers.

Umar studied at the Jamia Uloom-ul-Islamia madrassa in Karachi, a seminary notorious for producing jihadis. Mufti Nizam Uddin Shamzai, the slain former principal of the seminary, had been a staunch supporter and mentor of the Afghan Taliban regime. Shamzai also patronized Pakistani jihadi organizations Harkat ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI), Hakat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), Jaysh-e-Mohammad (JeM), and sectarian jihadi organizations like Sipha-e-Sahaba (SeS) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) (Express Tribune [ Karachi], February 12, 2011). Shamzai was shot dead in front of his own madrassa in May 2004 by unknown assailants.

Shamzai declared jihad against the United States and its allies in Afghanistan in 2001. Upon proclamation of his fatwa, thousands rushed to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban and al-Qaeda during the U.S. invasion in October 2001. When the Pakistani military regime sided with the United States at the beginning of Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), Shamzai issued another fatwa, this time against the Pakistan Army (Daily Times [Lahore], May 31, 2004).

Shamzai’s two most prominent students were Qari Saifullah Akhter and Fazal ur-Rehman Khalil. After graduating from Shamzai’s madrassa in Karachi, Akhter and Khalil laid the foundations of Harkat ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI), the oldest Pakistani Islamist terror group, in 1983. A few years later Khalil parted ways and established his own terrorist outfit, Harkat ul-Mujahideen (HuM) in 1987. In February 1998, HuM organized Osama bin Laden’s press conference in Khost, Afghanistan, where he proclaimed his fatwa against the U.S. and its allies and also announced the formation of the Islamic Front against Jews and Crusaders. [1]

Both terrorist groups remain involved in the Indian Kashmir insurgency. Masood Azahar, another of Shamzai’s students and a high-ranking member of HuM, founded Jaysh-e-Mohammad (JeM) after being released from an Indian jail in exchange for the release of Indian airline passengers hijacked by HuM militants in 1999. HuJI and HuM turned against the state of Pakistan as the military regime of General Pervez Musharraf decided to side with the United States. A HuM splinter group, HuM al-Alami, twice attempted to assassinate General Musharraf in 2002 in Karachi. [2]

Umar also studied at Darul Uloom Haqannia madrassa, located in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The seminar y has a reputation as a jihad factory because of its decades- old practice of sending students to Afghanistan to fight against Russian and later American forces. With more than 10,000 students, the madrassa is headed by Sami ul-Haq, leader of the Deobandist Jamiat-e-Ulea Islam political part.
More than 10,000 strong student body the madrassa is headed by Sami ul Haq, leader of Deobandi sect Islamist party Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam. Half of the Afghan Taliban cabinet considered Darul Uloom Haqannia as their alma mater. Mullah Omar, the supreme commander of the Afghan Taliban, reportedly studied at the madrassa. (Reuters Pakistan, September 9, 2014)

Works of Asim Umar

Umar, the newly appointed Amir of AQIS, has written a number of conspiracy theory books. Umar writes in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan. His favorite topic is Dajjal (the Islamic equivalent of the Anti-Christ). Despite being part of Pakistan’s jihadist network, Umar focuses on cosmic and Manichean issues like second coming of the Nabi Issa (the Prophet Jesus), the appearance of the Mahdi, Armageddon, and Dajjal. Umar connects these upcoming scenarios with current events like the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the activities of private security contractor Blackwater/Xe (known since 2011 as Academie) and the Bermuda Triangle.

Dajjal Ka Lashkar: Black Water (Army of Anti-Christ: the Black Water)

Umar describes events related to private security company Blackwater/Xe activities in Pakistan, and narrates some of his own experiences. In Umar’s view, the employment of Blackwater/Xe in Pakistan and their growing influence at the behest of Pakistani apostate rulers, is part of a Christian-Jewish conspiracy against Pakistan, much bigger than anyone could imagine. Umar considers Blackwater/Xe an organization of religious fanatics spying in Pakistan. Blackwater/Xe, according to Umar, is working to steal Pakistan’s nuclear assets and is part of a wider plan for setting appropriate conditions for the arrival of Dajjal. In this view, Black Water has managed to create an economic crisis in Pakistan while recruiting thousands of apostate Pakistanis and trying hard to push the Pakistani government to provide them with bases and air strips in Pakistani territory. In the last chapter of this work, Umar lists U.S. military bases in the Indian Ocean and the Middle East. [3]

Umar 1Teesri Jang -e- Azeem Aur Dajjal (World War III and Dajjal)

Umar links the impending outbreak of the Third World War with the arrival of Dajjal while describing signs and events before the Battle of Armageddon. Umar identifies a long list of events from wars in Bosnia, Chechnya, Pakistan, India, Syria, Iraq and even relates the roles of the IMF, World Bank, international media , private firms like Blackwater/Xe and multinationals like Nestle to a “Western plan” to depopulate Muslim countries by launching population control campaigns. [4]

Imam Mehdi ke Doost aur Dushman (Friends and Foes of the Mahdi [Messiah])

In this work, Umar links various different conspiracies to the role of Shi’a clergy and the collusion of various different Shi’a sects (such as the Ismailis, Alawis, etc.). Another important sign, according to Umar, is the emancipation of women. Umar claims families such as the Rockefellers, Bushes and the family of the Agha Khan have been hatching conspiracies against the Imam (Messiah). In a tacit manner, Umar cites the Yemeni people and, indirectly, Osama bin Laden, in upholding the truth and acting as friends of the Imam. Umar dedicates the book to Ghazi Abdur Rasheed, leader of the radical Islamists killed during the Red Mosque Operation (Operation Silence) in Islamabad in July 2007. [5]

Umar 2Bermuda Tikon aur Dajjal (Bermuda Triangle and Dajjal)

Umar describes the Bermuda Triangle and alleged disappearances of vessels in detail. He narrates eye-witness accounts and then elucidates the links between extraterrestrials and Dajjal with the involvement of the U.S. government, NASA, Pentagon and American scientists. Umar then explores his favorite conspiracy theory, one suggesting the Shi’a, the U.S. government, the European Union, apostate Muslim regimes, Blackwater/Xe, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and others are working together to side with Dajjal in the end days. Umar dedicated this book to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. [6]

Association with Pakistani Islamist Terrorist Groups

Before becoming the Amir of AQIS, Umar has tagged along with Jihadi organizations in Pakistan in various capacities. He served as propagandist of Harkat al Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) and Harkat ul Mujahideen (HuM). Umar was also close to Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and has written openly against “Shi’a designs” in Pakistan in his books. The moment when Umar became associated with al-Qaeda is not known, but it is assumed that the relationship developed in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan where al-Qaeda was running training camps and graduating thousands of HuJI and HuM militants every year from 1996 to 2001. The relationship strengthened after hundreds of militants escaped the Red Mosque Operation and joined hands with al-Qaeda in tribal areas. [7]

Umar has a long association with al-Qaeda Core in tribal areas of Pakistan under the protection of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Because of his jihadi credentials he was earlier selected by al-Zawahiri to head al-Qaeda’ss Shari’a committee in Pakistan (NDTV [New Delhi], September 4, 2014). After taking charge of AQIS, Umar has reaffirmed his stance by declaring the United States his prime enemy. In his message to Indian youth he asked: “Why is it that the Muslims of India are totally absent from the fields of jihad? Rise! Awaken! Participate in this global jihad to give a final push to the collapsing edifice of America” (Hindustan Times, September 4, 2014)

As a result of his long jihadi career in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Pakistan, Umar speaks fluent Arabic, Urdu, Uzbek and Pashto. While working for the overwhelmingly Pashtun TTP, Umar translated jihadi material from Pashto to Urdu. Because of his Islamic clerical education, Umar is well versed in Islamic issues. He is a good orator as well as an effective propagandist. However, little is known about his jihadi credentials as far as field operations are concerned. According to one source, Umar is more of an ideologue than actual fighter. [8]

Umar’s current focus is on jihadi activities in Indian Kashmir, Assam, Myanmar and Pakistan. He has capitalized on the available pool of jihadis in Pakistan to raise a new cluster from regions experiencing jihadi turbulence. Umar has denounced taking refu
“Those (Kashmiris) who swore to martyrs to walk their path till their last breath and vowed to continue jihad; who convinced them to shun jihad and dream about [obtaining the] freedom of Kashmir by resorting to protests, shutdowns and democratic ways?… Caravans are heading from Afghanistan to liberate India and it is not being done on instructions of any intelligence agency, and not as part of some governmental policy, but simply to abide God’s command…”  [9]


Al-Qaeda Amir Ayman al- Zawahiri is ready to compete with the Islamic State. In a country like Pakistan where a range of jihadis is available, hoping to recruit and revive many of the dormant jihadi groups under the banner of AQIS. Elevating Asim Umar to Amir of AQIS is a tactical move; Umar’s experience of working with jihadi organizations will enable him to widen the al-Qaeda network in Pakistan and India.


1. HuMA, South Asia Terrorism Portal, http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/Pakistan/terroristoutfits/HuMA.htm)
2. (HuMA, South Asia Terrorism Portal, http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/Pakistan/terroristoutfits/HuMA.htm)
3. Asim Umar, Dajjal Ka Lashkar: Black Water, Jamia Hafsa Urdu Forum, Islamabad, 2009.
4. Asim Umar, Teesri Jang -e- Azeem Aur Dajjal , Al-Ghazi Welfare Trust, Bagh, Azad Kashmir, October 2006.
5. Asim Umar, Imam Mehdi ke Doost aur Dushman, Al-Hajira Publications, Karachi, May 2009.
6. Asim Umar, Bermuda Tikon aur Dajjal, Al-Hajira Publications, Karachi, 2009.
7. Interview with a local journalist in Islamabad who requested anonymity, September 10, 2014.
8. Ibid
9. As-Sahab Media video: War Should Continue, Message to Muslims of Kashmir, Shamikh, June 16, 2014.

The Author

Farhan Zahid earned his Ph.D. in Counter Terrorism Studies from the University of Brussels, Belgium. Dr. Zahid has authored more than 20 research papers and articles. He writes on counter-terrorism, al-Qaeda, Pakistani al- Qaeda-linked groups, Islamist violent non-state actors in Pakistan, jihadi Ideologies and the Afghan Taliban.

The preceding is a guest contribution to Aberfoyle International Security (AIS) and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of AIS.

Will India Deploy Its Army against Maoist Terrorists?

Andrew McGregor

June 17, 2010

India is considering a large-scale redeployment of specialized counterterrorist commandos based in Kashmir-Jammu and a paramilitary force based in Northeast India to combat a growing Naxalite (Maoist) insurgency in East India. With nearly 300 deaths attributable to Naxalite violence since April, there is concern that existing security forces are losing their grip over the region.  The deliberate May 28 derailment of the Jnaneswari Express that killed 150 people appears to have convinced the Home Ministry that new measures were needed to deal with the Maoists (Telegraph [Kolkota], June 8; The Hindu, June 12).

Assam RiflesThe Assam Rifles

The new plan calls for the redeployment of roughly 10,000 men in 10 battalions drawn from the Rashtriya Rifles and the Assam Rifles. The force would operate across four states, Jharkhand, Bengal, Orissa and Chhattisgarh, to aid the existing state police and federal paramilitary forces. The heartland of the insurgency is in the thick forests of Dantewada in Chattisgarh state. The Home Ministry is also calling for the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to be imposed on the region in order to give the military a freer hand in conducting operations.

A June 10 Meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh failed to come to a decision about the redeployment. Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s requests for Army support in the Eastern states were rebuffed by Defense Minister A.K. Antony, who opposes weakening forces currently deployed near the borders with China and Pakistan (Times of India, June 11). Chidambaram’s presentation may have been better received by the Prime Minister, who recently identified the Naxalites as the greatest internal threat to India’s security.. It is expected the CCS will meet again soon on the issue.

East IndiaNortheast India

More specifically, the Army turned down calls for mine-clearing teams to operate in the region, saying such teams could not operate without the prior establishment of intelligence networks and control of the region by infantry forces. Similarly, the use of Special Forces could not happen until the infantry had already taken control on the ground. The Special Forces could not be asked to hold ground, only carry out targeted operations (Chandigarh Tribune, June 1; Times of India, June 11).

The Assam Rifles is a paramilitary organization with 46 battalions reporting to the Home Ministry but operating under the administrative and operational control of the Indian Army. The unit was originally raised as the Cachar Levy by the British in 1835 for use as a police force against the tribes of the Northeast. Their mission expanded during World War One, when they served in Europe and the Middle East as part of Britain’s Gurkha regiments. In World War Two they served closer to home against the Japanese in Burma. The Rifles also fought a successful delaying action against the Chinese in the high-altitude Sino-Indian War of 1962.

These days the Assam Rifles are occupied with small operations against Northeastern insurgent groups such as the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), the tribal Zou People’s Army (ZPA), the United National Liberation Front (UNLF – seeking independence for Manipur state) and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) (Sangai Express, June 9; Nagaland Post, June 1; Hueiyen News Service, June 7; Imphal Free Press, June 6). Eighty-five percent of the Assam Rifles is officered by regular army officers on three year assignments and recruiting is now carried out across India (IndiaDefence.com, June 19, 2007).

The much newer Rashtriya Rifles consists of 40,000 men organized in five Counter Insurgency Forces (CIF) named Delta, Kilo, Romeo, Uniform and Victor.  The Rashtriya Rifles is an elite counterterrorism unit first raised in 1990 to exclusively tackle terrorists and insurgents active in India’s Jammu-Kashmir region. The force is lightly armed but has established a reputation for effectiveness. Personnel are drawn from all Army services and earn additional pay and benefits while serving in the counterterrorist force.  Men and officers usually spend four to five years in the unit before returning to the regular army (India Today, June 2).

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will also be asked to do more. At present, the IAF has four helicopters on rescue and evacuation duties in the region, but will land only when a site has been completely secured, even if the mission calls for the evacuation of wounded troops (Telegraph [Calcutta], June 8). The Home Ministry is looking for Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters to help ground forces with transport, surveillance and evacuation (Chandigarh Tribune, June 10; India Today, June 2). Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been offered instead.

If a decision to redeploy is not made soon, the onset of the June-September Indian monsoon season may postpone any mass movement of troops and equipment. There are also signs that the Maoists may make a transfer of the Assam Rifles difficult by intensifying insurgent activities in Northeast India (Asian Age [Mumbai], June 8).

India Claims Fake Currency Flow from Pakistan Is “Economic Terrorism”

Andrew McGregor

August 13, 2009

In an official acknowledgement of a growing problem, the Indian government told both houses of parliament that a network involving Pakistani intelligence, Kashmiri terrorist groups and Indian organized crime boss Dawood Ibrahim was flooding India with counterfeit banknotes. The purpose is alleged to be twofold: to destabilize India’s economy and provide financing for anti-Indian terrorist groups. The problem of counterfeiting has become so pervasive in India it has even developed its own jargon: Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN).

fake indian currencyPolice seizures of counterfeit currency increased after last November’s terrorist attack in Mumbai. The states of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra appear to have been the most affected (Associated Press of Pakistan, August 4).

The problem with the counterfeit cash is that it is almost indistinguishable from legitimate Indian currency. There have been several cases of trained agents unable to separate real from fake banknotes after major seizures of counterfeit currency. It is not surprising, therefore, that the fake currency is being redistributed by banks via ATMs (India Daily, July 30). It appears that low-denomination fakes are actually more common than higher-denomination fakes, so that merchants and banks spend their time examining high denomination notes while the others receive far less scrutiny as they pass into circulation.

Measures to reduce the circulation of fake banknotes include increased vigilance by customs officials and the Border Security Force, increasing the security features on the most commonly forged notes, switching to polymer banknotes (as in Australia) and snap inspections of ATMs by security teams from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Security features on Indian banknotes were last improved in 2005.

A high-level committee has been formed to create a strategy to deal with the problem. In the meantime the investigation has been turned over to the newly formed National Investigation Agency (Economic Times, August 5). The government has also promised to bring up the problem with international institutions such as Interpol. Some observers have pointed out that counterfeiting U.S. dollars or Euros would be understandable, but manufacturing fake Indian rupees can only be done with a specific purpose in mind – the destabilization of the Indian economy (Daily News and Analysis India, August 11).

There are only a handful of companies worldwide involved in the tightly-controlled manufacture and distribution of currency-quality papers and inks. Indian intelligence agencies claim their investigations show Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) prevailed upon the government in Islamabad to order printing paper and inks in excess of its needs from suppliers in the UK, Sweden and Switzerland (Times of India, August 4). According to an Indian government official, “After using the country’s normal requirement for printing its own currency, Pakistan diverts the rest to its ISI with the intention of destabilizing the Indian economy by pumping in as many FICNs as possible into India and also to fund terrorist organizations. It has been involved in printing and circulation of the fake currency notes with the help of the organized crime network of Dawood Ibrahim and others” (Times of India, August 4). Police say interrogations in an earlier case revealed the existence of a clandestine printing plant run by the ISI in Quetta, Pakistan (Times of India, August 1). The intelligence agencies say the counterfeit currency is transported by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the UAE to be smuggled into India. Printing inks have also gone missing in transit within India (Daily News and Analysis India, August 11).

The distribution network inside India appears to be highly sophisticated—so far it has resisted all attempts to trace the network back from the many street-level distributors who have been apprehended. According to a police investigator in Maharashtra: “The carriers are briefed on a need-to-know basis and are not aware of the entire network” (India Daily, July 30).

This article first appeared in the August 13, 2009 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor

Al-Qaeda’s Leader in Afghanistan Returns from the Dead to Threaten India

Andrew McGregor

February 19, 2009

Despite Pakistani claims to have killed al-Qaeda’s commander in Afghanistan last summer, the veteran Egyptian militant Mustafa Ahmad “Abu al-Yazid” (a.k.a. Shaykh Said al-Misri) appeared in a 20-minute video last week threatening India with a repetition of last November’s terrorist outrage in Mumbai. Al-Yazid spoke of the shame India endured through its inability to contain the Mumbai attack and warned India that it could expect more of the same if it dared to attack Pakistan: “India should know that it will have to pay a heavy price if it attacks Pakistan… The mujahideen will sunder your armies into the ground, like they did to the Russians in Afghanistan. They will target your economic centers and raze them to the ground” (Press Trust of India, February 10; BBC, February 10).

Abu al-Yazid 2Mustafa Ahmad “Abu al-Yazid”

Lest anyone think the al-Qaeda commander was in league with Pakistan’s government, al-Yazid urged the masses of Pakistan to overthrow the government of President Asif Ali Zardari and declared that former president Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on the order of al-Qaeda leader Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Abu al-Yazid is a former member of al-Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad group and served several years in prison before leaving Egypt for Afghanistan in 1988. Already under an Egyptian death sentence issued in absentia for terrorist activities in that country, Abu al-Yazid spent two years in Iraq before being appointed leader of al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan in May 2007. The 54-year-old appears to be primarily a financial and logistical manager for jihad activities (in the original intention of al-Qaeda) rather than a military leader.

Reports of Abu al-Yazid’s death in an August 12, 2008, Pakistani airstrike were carried widely in the international press at the time, though Pakistani authorities offered no evidence for their claim. A spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) denied the reports of Abu al-Yazid’s death (AFP, August 11).

One of Pakistan’s largest newspapers carried a report saying intelligence experts had determined Abu al-Yazid’s statement was actually the work of India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) (Jang [Rawalpindi], February 11). The intent was to “defame Pakistan and show that it has links with Al-Qaeda.”

This article first appeared in the February 19 2009 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus


Pakistan’s “Anti-Terrorist” Taliban Vow to Fight India if Necessary

Andrew McGregor

December 12, 2008

Recent statements from Pakistani Taliban leaders suggest an Indian attack on Pakistan in response to alleged Pakistani responsibility for the Mumbai terrorist assault could do what the Pakistani military and politicians have been unable to do so far – bring the Pashtun militants of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) onside with the Pakistani government in a common cause.

Qari Saifullah AkhtarQari Saifullah Akhtar

Taliban spokesman Qari Saifullah Akhtar announced the Taliban was ready to “annihilate” the 8,500 Indian troops it claims are operating in Afghanistan. Akhtar pledged the Taliban would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the Pakistani army if India “committed aggression” against Pakistan; “We’ll put all the differences aside at this juncture and unite… We’ll stand by the army against external powers… The Taliban are like lions before whom all the powerful have to bow down.” The Taliban spokesman added that Indians rather than the Taliban were responsible for the Mumbai attacks. According to Akhtar, the Taliban condemn the killing of innocent civilians and are “opposed to terrorism across the world” (Nawa-i-Waqt [Rawalpindi], December 3).

Though India is not part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Pakistan has recently complained about an un-mandated Indian military presence in Afghanistan (ANI, November 25). In 2006, India announced it would send 3,000 members of the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police to Afghanistan to guard Indians working on a new road between Kandahar and the Iranian port of Chabahar (Daily Times [Karachi], February 8, 2006). Great Britain has asked India in the past to commit troops to the ISAF mission (The Tribune [Chandigarh], May 2, 2006).

Maulvi Omar, another Taliban spokesman, was also quoted as saying the Taliban would defend the Line of Control (the unofficial military border between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir) in the same way they defend the Durand Line (the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan). Since the Taliban basically ignore the Durand Line, the meaning of Omar’s statement is somewhat elusive. Maulvi Omar added, “in the event of an Indian attack, we’ll make it clear to the Pakistani people whether we are defenders of this country or militants” (Nawa-i-Waqt [Rawalpindi], December 3).

The Taliban’s newfound nationalism and opposition to terrorist attacks will come as a revelation to many. Pakistan’s regular forces are unlikely to accept Taliban assistance in any but the most extreme circumstances, though the option may be preferable to leaving the NWFP in Taliban hands in order to move Pakistani military assets currently deployed there up to the border with India. A major military withdrawal from the NWFP and tribal agencies would effectively leave Taliban and al-Qaeda elements free to operate in the area just as Pakistani forces have taken the initiative in a large regional offensive. It would also disturb the United States, which is encouraging Pakistan to intensify its campaign against the militants. The Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, was in Pakistan earlier this month to urge Pakistan to take “more concerted action against militant extremists elsewhere in the country,” according to a U.S. embassy statement (Reuters, December 3).


This article first appeared in the December 12, 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus

Indian Mujahideen Exploit Internet Security Weaknesses in Bombing Attacks

Andrew McGregor

September 18, 2008

A lengthy email statement claiming responsibility for the September 13 bombings in New Delhi that killed over 30 people and wounded over 100 more was issued minutes before the attack began.

The 13-page Indian Mujahiden (IM) email (which included video and graphics) was sent to various TV stations from al_arbi_delhi@yahoo.com (al-Arbi = “The Arab”), the same address used in the IM statement that accompanied the July 26 Ahmedabad bombings. IM is believed to be a front for the radical Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

The IM message informs the Indian government that the movement will “make you face the disastrous consequences of the injustice and oppression inflicted upon the Muslims all over the country… We will continue to punish you even before your earlier wounds have healed.” The bombings are intended to “prove to you the ability and potential of [the] Indian Mujahideen to assault any city of India at any time.” The Delhi bombings are described as “a tribute to all our brethren martyrs in Kashmir.” The authors included a challenge to Indian police: “Do whatever you want and stop us if you can” (Times of India, September 14; The Hindu, September 14).

Within hours of the New Delhi attack Indian investigators arrived at the originating point of the email, the offices of Kamran Power Control Pvt Ltd, located in the Chembur suburb of Mumbai, where they began searching through the company’s computers for evidence (Times of India, September 14; The Hindu, September 14). The 25-year-old firm manufactures electronic control panels for industrial use. It was eventually determined that the email’s author had hacked into the company’s wireless network.

The Mumbai firm’s wireless network was unsecured, making it a simple task for IM to hack into it. The Indian government has been slow to develop cyber-crime legislation and internet security provisions and software are widely ignored. A New Delhi-based internet security firm estimates that “Ninety-nine percent of people [in India] don’t know how to secure their wireless connection, even big companies” (Economic Times [India], September 14).

This is the third time IM has hacked into a computer’s wireless internet connection to make a claim of responsibility in a terrorist attack. The IM leadership is believed to include several IT experts, including its leader, former software engineer Abdul Subhan Qureshi, and a computer graphics designer from Gujarat named Qayamuddin. An email claim of responsibility for the July 26 blasts in Ahmedabad was traced to the Mumbai computer of an American national who was cleared of any role in the case after it was determined his WiFi connection had been hacked. The last three IM email messages have all come from Mumbai, thought to be Abdul Subhan’s base (Times of India, September 14). Besides the Mumbai-based Subhan, a number of other leading members of SIMI are believed to operate from Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh states. IM emails are typically sent only five minutes before a bombing, allowing no time to take preventive measures. The IM bombs are usually planted in areas of dense activity, with shrapnel and ball-bearings included to insure maximum casualties.

Indian authorities believe that the authors of earlier IM email manifestoes, cleric Abdul Bashir Qasmi and Lucknow businessman Shahbaz Husain (a.k.a. Guru al-Hindi), are now under detention. Though the latest statement was co-signed by Abdul Subhan and Guru al-Hindi, the electronically reproduced signature of the latter differs from earlier examples (The Hindu, September 14).

This article first appeared in the September 18, 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor

Deobandis Define and Reject Terrorism in New Fatwa

Andrew McGregor

June 4, 2008

An important Islamic seminary once blamed for inspiring the militancy of Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan has issued an important new fatwa (Islamic ruling) on the illegitimacy of terrorism. The 152-year-old Darul Uloom Deoband seminary is located in the town of Deoband, in India’s Uttar Pradesh province. The new fatwa was issued in the name of the seminary’s Grand Mufti, Habibur Rehman, who told a meeting of thousands of Islamic scholars and students: “Islam rejects all kinds of unjust violence, breach of peace, bloodshed, murder and plunder and does not allow it in any form” (Independent, June 2).

dar usoolDarul Uloom Deoband Seminary

The announcement of the fatwa came in New Delhi during the Anti-Terrorism and Global Peace Conference. Based on a re-examination of relevant Islamic texts, the fatwa stated: “It is proved from clear guidelines provided in the Holy Quran that allegations of terrorism against a religion which preaches and guarantees world peace is nothing but a lie. The religion of Islam has come to wipe out all kinds of terrorism and to spread the message of global peace” (Times of India, June 1). The ruling was ratified by a host of other Muslim organizations and a mass “oath of allegiance” to the fatwa was given at the gathering. India’s 140 million Muslims, 13 percent of the population, comprise the world’s third-largest national community of Muslims.

The Deobandi scholars also issued a definition of terrorism to support the fatwa: “Any action that targets innocents, whether by an individual or by any government or by a private organization anywhere in the world constitutes, according to Islam, an act of terrorism” (Hindustan Times, June 1).

Speakers from the Deoband seminary still took the opportunity to condemn the United States and its support for Israel. Deputy Rector Hazrat Maulana Qari Sayed Muhammad Usman told the crowd: “Whenever Christian and American interests are hurt in any part of the world, they take prompt action to set things right even at the cost of human lives. They maintain silence though when Muslims are the victims” (Times of India, June 1).

India’s opposition Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), which has adopted a strong anti-terrorism stance, welcomed the ruling. Party leader Rajnath Singh declared: “Deoband is seeking to dissociate Muslims from terrorism. But the central government wants to equate Muslims with terrorism and on this very basis is rejecting an anti-terrorism law” (Times of India, June 2). The party is critical of the government’s decision to repeal India’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (The Hindu, June 1).

While the Deobandi movement has spread across the world, the latest fatwa will be of particular interest to Britain, which now hosts 17 Deobandi seminaries providing 80 percent of Britain’s domestically-trained imams (Independent, June 2).

Following the Deobandi ruling, another of India’s major Muslim organizations, the Jamiat Ulema-e Hind, issued its own anti-terrorism fatwa (Calcutta Telegraph, June 1). It remains to be seen if the Deobandi fatwa inspires Muslim groups in other parts of the Islamic world to do likewise.

This article first appeared in the June 4 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus