View Full Version : Islamic Fundamentalism in South Asia

09-22-2007, 01:01 PM
A series of "Of Interest" papers published by SSI:

....This paper is about the history, rise and current state of Islamic fundamentalism in South Asia, the most populated region in the world and home to the largest concentration of Muslims on earth. There are over 1.5 billion people in South Asia, which includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.

If one includes China, directly north, there are 2.7 billion people in this region, nearly one-half of the world’s population. South Asia is home to nearly one half of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims. Nearly 30 percent of this region is Muslim.

From October 2006–March 2007, I traveled in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, countries I have worked in before as a journalist. I briefly visited Indian-administered Kashmir, where I had not been before. I had visited Pakistani-administered Kashmir in December 2005. Drawing on my own experiences in the past, I wanted to study the history and rise of Islamic fundamentalism and see where it is today.

This is a report on my trip and on my conversations with academics, activists, politicians, writers, and religious leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kashmir, and Bangladesh....
Part I: The History, Rise, and Future of Islamic Fundamentalism in South Asia (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/of-interest-2.pdf)

Part II: Afghanistan and Pakistan (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/of-interest-3.pdf)

Part III: Bangladesh (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/of-interest-4.pdf)

Rex Brynen
01-26-2009, 08:27 PM
A forthcoming event from the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project at CSIS & The Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University:

Public Attitudes and Discontent: Extremism and Governance in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia (http://www.csis.org/component/option,com_csis_events/task,view/id,1901/)

This Thursday, January 29, 2009 from 4:00 – 5:30 pm at CSIS
4th Floor Conference Room

Presentation and discussion by:
Craig Charney, Ph.D., President, Charney Research
Lincoln Mitchell, Ph.D., Arnold A. Saltzman Assistant Professor in the Practice of International Affairs, Columbia University

Please join us for the release of a major new study detailing survey findings on public attitudes towards extremism and governance in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. The research is based on comprehensive, comparative nationwide surveys in three key Muslim states. The research explores public opinions on terrorism and extremism, the United States and its allies, and satisfaction with government performance, public services, and security forces

Discussion Followed by Reception

To RSVP, please contact Justine Fleischner at JFleischner@csis.org

03-31-2009, 05:24 PM
IISS Strategic Insights, Apr 09: Islamic Extremism in India (http://www.iiss.org/publications/strategic-comments/past-issues/volume-15-2009/volume-15-issue-3/islamic-extremism-in-india/)

In March, India announced that its prestigious cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League (IPL), would move to South Africa, citing security fears during the country’s elections, which also take place in April–May. Organisers were most concerned about a ‘spectacular’ like that in Mumbai in 2008, or an attack similar to that on the Sri Lankan cricket team recently in Pakistan.

But the move also focused attention on the rise in home-grown Indian jihadi terrorism. Although it long insisted that Islamic extremism had not developed among its Muslim communities, India is now having to accept that a small section of its 160-million-strong Muslim community – the second largest after Indonesia’s and accounting for 14% of the largely Hindu population – has become radicalised.....

12-10-2009, 08:08 PM
A fine-grained analysis of the mostly Punjabi terror groups in Pakistan:

The Jihadi Terrain in Pakistan: An Introduction to Sunni Jihadi Groups in Pakistan and Kashmir (http://spaces.brad.ac.uk:8080/download/attachments/748/resrep1.pdf)- Pakistan Security Research Unit

After the U.S.-led coalition ousted the Pakistan-allied Taliban the spotlight was once again on mujahideen in Pakistan. By this time, however, anti-American, anti-Jewish, and anti-Hindu ideologies were already common narratives among these groups, despite operations remaining regionally focused. It does appear that the message of jihad is becoming increasingly transnational for some of these groups, but reports that conflate them with the broader global Salafi jihad seem oversimplified.

This is certainly not to downplay the danger that these groups pose to human security and overall stability in the region. Their goals, organizational structures, and demographics differ in several ways from the global Salafi jihad, but they are no less lethal in their mission. The ability of these groups to incite Islamic fervor against India and the West and in the name of Kashmir has left a bloody trail, and their ability to cleave sectarian rifts in Pakistan has taken a massive toll on the country’s society and national identity. Their availability as a cheap and able proxy against India has helped keep the Pakistani military a state within a state. Aside from their role in broader Islamist militancy, these groups are entrenched as obstacles to security and state-building in Pakistan ...

I think it's quite clear with the Punjabi origin of many of the attackers in Lahore, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi that some of these groups have allied with the TTP. Increasingly these groups are acting in direct opposition to their former state sponsors in the Pakistani security services.

12-10-2009, 11:24 PM
A fine-grained analysis of the mostly Punjabi terror groups in Pakistan:

Increasingly these groups are acting in direct opposition to their former state sponsors in the Pakistani security services.

I think the correct wording would be "some of their sponsors in the Pakistani security services".
Not only does the army distinguish good jihadis and bad jihadis (a continuously moving line that causes much confusion within the security establishment), the jihadis also distinguish bad army and good army. Being Jihadis, they dont really care too much who they kill ("god will know his own") but they retain a soft spot for the army and will run home to papa if circumstances change....

05-14-2010, 06:39 PM
IPCS, 13 May 10:

Understanding Religious Radicalization: Issues, Threats and Early Warnings in Kashmir Valley (http://www.ipcs.org/pdf_file/issue/IB149-BPCR-Arjimand.pdf)

.....There are two facets of the debate on religious radicalization in Kashmir. At one level, the trends of organized radicalization are on a clear decline. The decimation of the structures and cadres of organizations like the once influential Jamaat-i-Islami and its offshoot organizations during the last twenty years has seen a systematic decline in the trend of organized radicalization. On the other hand, events like the Amarnath land controversy of 2008 have served to radicalize vast sections of Kashmir’s youth, who see such developments as a clear manifestation of furthering ‘Hindu India’s religious domination over Kashmir’ and the ‘dilution of its overwhelmingly Muslim character’....

12-05-2010, 08:41 PM
is at

09-13-2014, 08:13 PM
Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, the new group announced last week by Ayman al-Zawahiri to bolster his flagging fortunes, suffered a setback when three of its fighters were killed and seven arrested in its first ever terror attack.

Heavily armed militants attacked a naval dock in Karachi's sea port on Saturday night and targeted what they believed was an American aircraft carrier, but instead found a Pakistan Navy frigate and were overwhelmed before they could cause any damage, investigators said.

Three jihadis were killed in the attack, four were captured and another three arrested the following day on information from interrogations. Two Pakistan Navy guards were wounded in the fighting.

"It was a complete failure, they did not do any kind of damage, some were captured and we caught more, seven so far and may be more to come. They were well-equipped and came with the intention of taking a ship into their custody but they were caught in the initial stages," a senior source close to the investigation told the Telegraph.


Bill Moore
03-25-2015, 10:50 PM
The Rise of Extremism In Tamil Nadu (ISIS influence)


The discovery of groups and individuals in south India pledging allegiance to various militant factions in Syria’s civil war has led to a deterioration of security of that region.

The recent penetration of contemporary global jihadism into Tamil Nadu is unprecedented. The politico-cultural defences of language and emotional attachment to the homeland that have kept the threat of jihadism away from Tamil Nadu have proven less effective against the appeal of the play of symbols of the warring factions in the Syrian civil war. Considering the long history of communal conflicts there, any violence issuing from global jihadism will provoke communal clashes between Hindus and Muslims, which could prove catastrophic for India particularly at this time when Hindu nationalism is in the ascendancy. This will have security concerns beyond the Indian sub-continent to places like Malaysia and Singapore where the south Indian diaspora is substantial.

Since AQ reportedly already opened a franchise targeting South Asia with India as the grand prize, but there also seems to be increased extremist activity in Bangladesh, which may or may not be related to AQ's effort to expand operations in South Asia. The fact that ISIS is now penetrating Tamil Nadu is interesting and alarming. As the President of Afghanistan said during his visit to the U.S., ISIS is AQ 5.0, and it presents a threat to the region that countries must address proactively to keep it from forming roots.

The greatest vulnerability in India, as the article points too, isn't Islamism (though that can change rapidly), but the potential backlash from those embracing the growing Hindu nationalism in India. I agree with the author that if this happens it will quickly expand beyond the borders of India. As most know, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh have the highest concentration of Muslims in the world. Fortunately, they're usually of a different character than those from the Arab world, but that can change quickly.

Bill Moore
03-29-2015, 01:15 PM

Prophecy And Jihad In Indian Subcontinent – Analysis

The newly proclaimed caliph’s speech contained several references to India, Kashmir and Pakistan, in addition to Afghanistan, Burma and China. In the past, al-Qaeda has successfully recruited fighters from each of these countries and regions. Other than accepting Baghdadi’s caliphate, Zawahiri’s only option now seemed to be to protect his turf, to take advantage of Pakistan’s rivalry with India and to rally groups that have pursued jihad in South Asia based on the Ghazwa-e-Hind prophecies.

In January 2015, ISIS announced the formation of the Khorasan Group, with former Taliban leader Hafiz Saeed Khan – also known as Mullah Saeed Orakzai – as its commander. The new ISIS offshoot would cover Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh, as well as some parts of Central Asia – areas deemed by jihadists as part of the historic Khurasan and Hind mentioned in the Islamic prophecies.


The Real Reason al-Qaeda Is Establishing an India Branch
The terrorist outfit looks to be playing a long game.

So why would Ayman al-Zawahiri, an extremely intelligent and careful man who was more instrumental in the planning of 9/11 than Bin Laden himself, and managed to survive almost 50 years of serving in Islamist terrorist organizations notorious for their attrition rates, come out after two years of media silence to announce such an apparently quixotic bid?

Because AQIS isn’t about India – it’s about preserving al-Qaeda’s safe havens in Pakistan and Afghanistan. AQC faces pressure on multiple fronts on its home turf: ISIS is actively recruiting in Peshawar and ISIS flags are flying at anti-Indian rallies in Indian Kashmir. This encroachment cannot be allowed to pass without at least a token reply. More seriously, the Pakistani Army recently undertook an invasion of Northern Waziristan, home of the Pakistani Taliban, which provides shelter and support to AQC.

Bottom line is that both ISIS and AQ now consider S. Asia a prize that they will compete for. Divide and conquer, often considered a viable strategy, will likely backfire in this case, because both groups will have a tendency to accelerate operations to win their competition for recruits and influence.

04-03-2015, 03:46 AM
The Tamil Nadu incident took many by surprise. You can associate Tamil Nadu with extremism of some kinds but Islamic was definitely not one of them. A significant amount of Tamils have deep sympathies for LTTE even today and mild? hatred for Hindi and Hindi speakers but this was completely out of the blue. It's neighbouring state, Kerala however is a different story. With highest per capita migrants to Middle East who return every year or two with a lot of money and radical world view, it is a caliphate in making. Supposedly "secular" parties ruling the state is another great catalyst.

There are many proponent of the “Gazwa-e-Hind” story which is based on an alleged hadith which allegedly predicts a final battle in India and as a result, a conquest of the whole of Indian sub-continent by Muslim warriors. Pakistan Army’s lower and younger ranks are getting even more radicalised than its older generation and it readily accepts this “hadith” as their “destiny” to achieve. These younger generations will lead the Pakistani Army very soon.


Author is a senior member of Defence Forum India.

Another point I would like to touch is the one mentioned about the rise of Hindu right wing. I was out on the streets about two months back canvassing for the BJP candidate in the local elections, the effect is so massive no sane man will disagree. What most right wingers know and repeatedly avoid saying is that it is not right wing but so far right that the right wing looks far left to them. The sheer over compensation for the last 10 years is mind boggling.

All of this when the guy who brought them to the power (Narendra Modi) is working so hard that a desi IT guy working on sundays looks lazy in front of him. For every time he promises that development he will bring will be shared equally by all communities, some part time holy man and a full time politician will say that we will bring down the mosques and such.

04-03-2015, 08:23 PM
I have long thought - in strategic terms - that if India's Muslims moved in numbers to actively support the violent Jihad then it would be a significant change. With India and Indians noticing first as they live there and sometimes in close proximity.

So along comes a Pew Research report to reinforce my view:
By 2050, the study projects India to be the country with the largest number of Muslims – more than 310 million – even though Hindus will continue to make up a solid majority of India’s population (77%), while Muslims remain a minority (18%).

Link which I suggest is not used, as it tries to download an advert and blcoks the screen:http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-will-surpass-indonesia-to-have-biggest-muslim-population-by-2050/article1-1333402.aspx

The actual Pew report is here:http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/

04-04-2015, 01:40 PM

As most know, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh have the highest concentration of Muslims in the world. Fortunately, they're usually of a different character than those from the Arab world, but that can change quickly.

The Indian Muslim and quite a sizeable numbers of Bangladeshi Muslims are not of the same character of Arab Muslims.

But the majority of Pakistani Muslims claim to be of Arab descent, when most are converts and dismiss the fact, even though documentary evidence lies.

It is only after the War on Terror where they are made to believe that it is a War against Islam, that they are getting dogmatised. And Saudi money flows freely in the effort to radicalise them.

04-04-2015, 03:13 PM
I have long thought - in strategic terms - that if India's Muslims moved in numbers to actively support the violent Jihad then it would be a significant change. With India and Indians noticing first as they live there and sometimes in close proximity.

So along comes a Pew Research report to reinforce my view:

Link which I suggest is not used, as it tries to download an advert and blcoks the screen:http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-will-surpass-indonesia-to-have-biggest-muslim-population-by-2050/article1-1333402.aspx

The actual Pew report is here:http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/

I have sincere doubts about the findings of this survey. Pakistan has higher birth rate and unlike India, contraception and family planning is a sort of taboo subject.

Government of India has been actively preaching the positive aspects of having a small family for quite some time now. Costs of raising a child is increasing disproportionately to the family income and as more and more people are leaving the lower strata to join the middle class, having more than two kids is not only a very expensive exercise but is also socially frowned upon. This is equally true for both Hindus and Muslims.

05-04-2015, 09:48 AM
The leader of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) made the claims in a 9-minute video, SITE intelligence group says, but police say it was the work of a local militant group called Ansarullah Bangla Team Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/bangladesh/11580758/Al-Qaeda-in-the-Indian-Subcontinent-claims-murder-of-US-citizen-in-Bangladesh.html

There is more detail here:http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/04/world/asia/bangladesh-al-qaeda-indian-subcontinent-attack-on-bloggers.html?ref=world&_r=0

This reminds me of the 'Accidental Guerilla' model. A local group commits an act, which is later claimed by an aspiring global movement.

Bill Moore
06-04-2016, 06:56 PM
People tend to get distracted by the shinny objective in the headlines, which today is the Islamic State, but Al-Qaeda is still alive and regrouping slowly. Beyond their presence in the Middle East, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent should be a concern for their potential to destabilize a strategically important region, perhaps on a scale that exceeds the Middle East. It is generally best to be proactive and prevent the larger crisis if you can see it coming, we saw the risk of inaction by failing to go after Al-Qaeda in the 1990s, and failing to go after Al-Shabab when they were emerging.


An offshoot of Al Qaeda is regrouping in Pakistan

But the formation of AQIS is again allowing al-Qaeda to tap into Karachi’s wealth and network of madrassas in search of recruits and technical expertise — and sparking deadly clashes with Pakistani security forces.

In Karachi, AQIS has divided itself into three operational segments — recruitment, financial and tactical — made up of four- to six-person cells.

“What still makes al-Qaeda different and more dangerous from other militant groups is a disciplined management system,” said Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based militancy expert. “Another dangerous thing is they are always looking to penetrate into the armed forces looking for sympathy.”

“Al-Qaeda is just an umbrella, and the top of the pyramid is what is controlling and enduring,” he said. “They don’t have to put much effort into Pakistan because all they have to do is pick up all these existing, bloodthirsty splinter organizations and they have a ready-made killing machine.”


Bangladesh saw rise in attacks
Says US country report on terrorism 2015

Transnational groups such as ISIL and al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed several attacks in Bangladesh, targeting foreigners, religious minorities, police, secular bloggers and publishers, stated the report.


AQIS releases message telling their militants not to harm innocent Muslims and severe their link with the people. Will they eventually out compete with IS for influence in the region?

06-13-2016, 07:54 PM
On a quick scan of CTC's Sentinel Bangladesh has a bigger problem than India, it is a moot point where Pakistan sits:https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/how-bangladesh-became-fertile-ground-for-al-qaida-and-the-islamic-state

I remain puzzled that India's Muslims appear not to have responded to the call for the violent Jihad; as have nearly all Muslims - except in a few places. There are IIRC more Maoist fighters in India that jihadist insurgents.

01-07-2019, 10:42 AM
I have re-opened this thread to add the following post. The title was Al Qaeda in India's Massive Fail, given posts cover AQ and IS I have changed it to AQ and IS in India: a failure so far.

01-07-2019, 10:50 AM
I had spotted a news item on the seizure of equipment in India in India after Xmas, partly as the weapons appeared odd. Missed it was an operation ti disrupt an IS plot.

There are many Indian reports on the action taken, none in the Western press I could quickly see. The link is to an Indian news site and appears to repeat the official statement and the photo shows the weapons found.

The second link is to a commentary by an Indian SME, he opens with:
By unearthing ‘terror mastermind’ Mufti Suhail’s conspiracy, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has disproved Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s assertion, made on May 23, 2016, that there was “no threat to India from the Islamic State (IS) as people of the Muslim community are against the IS”. Rajnath Singh had repeated this argument on March 15, 2018, saying that the IS would have no impact on India. He should have known that the IS is not supported even in Sunni-majority Arab areas, not to speak of Muslims globally.