ISIS-Rapidly Spreading Its Tentacles in South Asia

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                                                                  By Sajjad Shaukat for Veterans Today

With the backing of some state actors and after its defeat by the Russian-led coalition of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon-based Hezbollah in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL) is rapidly spreading its tentacles in South Asia.

In fact, it was due to the dual policy of the US-led Europe, Israel and India that ISIS which is most dangerous terrorist group than Al-Qaeda has accelerated terrorism-related attacks in the US, Europe, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, Iran, Iraq etc. and some African countries which besides Muslims also targeted the Christians. Now, its tentacles have reached other regions of Asia, especially South Asia.

In this connection, six police officers and six civilians were also wounded in the twin blasts set off five minutes apart by two attackers in the Kampung Melayu-area of the Indonesian capital on May 24, this year. Next day, Indonesia’s anti-terrorism unit raided the home of a suspected suicide bomber, as authorities linked attacks which killed three police officers at a Jakarta bus station—a day earlier to the ISIS claimed responsibility. The attack was the deadliest in Indonesia since January 2016, when eight people were killed, four of them attackers, after suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the capital. Andthe ISIS claimed responsibility for the assaults.

Pointing out the report of Press Trust India (PTI), under the caption, “ISIS operating on social media to recruit men from India, B’desh and SL,” a renowned English newspaper of Sri Lanka wrote on August 22, 2017, “ISIS chief recruiter in India, Tech savvy al-Hindi has been operating on Facebook and other personal messenger services to contact, brainwash and recruit young men from India…The Islamic State today claimed that an Indian suicide bomber killed a “number” of people in an attack in Raqqa, Syria, the de-facto capital of the terror group. In a statement in Arabic via its Amaq propaganda agency, the IS identified the Indian bomber as Abu Yusuf al- Hindi, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based monitoring firm…The terror group claimed killing and wounding a “number” of what it described as “Kurdistan Workers” Party (PKK) apostates” in the suicide attack involving the Indian bomber…Al-Hindi was the fugitive chief recruiter for the IS in the Indian subcontinent and was known as Mohammed Shafi Armar. He had many aliases like “Chhote Maula” and “Anjan Bhai”. The 30-year-old was named as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” by the US in June, becoming the first Indian leader of the outfit against whom America has imposed sanctions. An Interpol Red Corner notice was also pending against the bomber…Al-Hindi…escaped to Pakistan along with his elder brother after crackdown on Indian Mujahideen cadres. There have been many reports of him having been dead in a drone attack or crackdown by the allied forces…However, every time intelligence agencies began giving credence to such reports, his name or voice cropped up in intercepts. His [Al-Hindi] links to the IS were also the highlight of the interrogation of Yasin Bhatkal, who was arrested near the Nepal border in 2013.The Hezbollah used drones to strike the IS in Syria close to the border with Lebanon, a military media unit it runs said.”

In this respect, under the title, “Tentacles of terror: destruction of so-called caliphate won’t diminish IS threat”, David wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald on August 4, 2017, “It is a reminder that even as the so-called caliphate is broken up across Syria and Iraq, two years of acting as a quasi-nation has given IS capabilities, experience, ambition and influence that will roll on–in one form or another–for years…Then there was an Islamic State era in which the remnants of al-Qaeda splinter groups–too extreme ironically for the parent organisation that had murdered thousands of people–seeded a group that opportunistically filled the vacuum left by the Syrian civil war and then did a smash-and-grab on a weak, sectarian Iraq. It focussed its efforts on building its caliphate but, after the…punitive attacks on the West…Whatever form IS takes next, it will include battle-trained, experienced and desensitised jihadists who are well-networked…IS’ loss of territory wouldn’t necessarily stop them from inspiring attacks from abroad or guiding them remotely…Not only have southern Philippines groups pledged allegiance to IS, but IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has returned the nod, giving the groups a significant brand and imprimatur. In the fight for the city of Marawi, locals are using tactics straight from the IS playbook…IS money is pouring into the area…New terrorism laws and the debate that has accompanied them had created a sense that Muslims were being targeted and marginalized.”

In this context, the Daily Mail Online reported on February 22, 2015, “The terrifying rise of ISIS…tentacles now reach from Algeria to Afghanistan…ISIS began as Al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2004 and militants had just 1,000 soldiers, but it has grown to more than 30,000…Reach of ISIS now spans Middle East and northern Africa, with only the Mediterranean sea separating from Europe…Terrorist groups around the world now pledging allegiance to Islamic State as groups seize destabilised countries…Experts say ISIS’ control in Libya could create potential ‘disaster scenario’ and coalition airstrikes are fueling the militants’ manipulative propaganda ISIS has 31,500 loyal fighters according to CIA, but estimates place this far higher at around 200,000 militants.”

Besides Syria and Iraq, ISIL has also been defeated in Lebanon and was compelled to leave the region. In this regard, The Associated Press on August 28, 2017 and The Christian Science Monitor on September 6, 2017 wrote, “Islamic State militants and their families began leaving a border area between Lebanon and Syria on Monday [August 22, 2017] as part of a negotiated deal with the extremist group to end its presence there…The transfer comes nearly a week after Lebanon launched a military campaign to drive ISIS from the rugged mountainous area along its border with Syria….under cease-fire deal brokered by the Hezbollah organization. In exchange for the safe passage of some 300 militants and their families to eastern Syria, ISIS agreed to reveal the locations where nine Lebanese soldiers, captured by ISIS in 2014 and subsequently executed, were buried.

Notably, under the caption, “Where is next destination of Daesh terror group?”, Afsaneh Reshad said through the Islamic Republic News Agency or IRNA on September 4, 2017, “Almost nobody could have ever imagined that Daesh would be able to expand its terror activities within a few years and pose big challenges and threats to the world. Undoubtedly, Daesh has been one of the most dangerous and most complex terror groups which have reared their ugly head in the Middle East over the past years. Daesh is still carrying out terror activities despite the resistance of the Iraqi and Syrian armies and people, as well as the formation of global and regional coalitions against it. It seems that Daesh was established to fulfill the goals of arrogant powers. Ironically, the future advances of the terror group depend on the approaches that the West adopts in the region. Edward Snowden, former US Central Intelligence Agency employee, admitted that the US, British, and Israeli intelligence agencies had a role in creating Daesh. Citing leaked documents, he believes that Daesh was created to attract extremists from around the world to use them against countries that are opposed to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian land. Hence, it is necessary to devise plans to counter the threats that Daesh poses to global peace and security and identify the countries that it wants to target in the future. No one can surely predict what action Daesh will take in the future. As a result, experts consider the likely plots that the terror group may hatch in the future. Daesh is a terror group which is a great menace to the world. Hence, all countries, particularly the Islamic ones, must become united against Daesh, which is carrying out its terrorist activities under the name of Islam. The Takfiri group which is suffering a complete defeat in Iraq and Syria could relocate its terrorists to other Islamic countries, to establish a so-called caliphate. Libya and Afghanistan could be Daesh’s next targets. Daesh could also consider another scenario to relocate its terrorists to Central Asia or the Caucasus to set up its so-called Islamic State. Although Daesh is being dislodged from Iraq and Syria, its ideology continues to spread in the Middle East and North Africa. This ideology is nurtured by Wahhabism which is being supported by certain regional nations which have close ties with Western states.”

While mentioning the continued genocide of the Muslims in Myanmar (Burma), Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor, under the title The Debate-Plight of Rohingya Muslims wrote on the Veteran Today on September 8, 2017, “In Myanmar these Rohingya crackdowns have historically been done with impunity. The scale of this one, the media blackout from the government side, and its going so far as to even block UN aid from going to desperate people indicates this is not a spontaneous event, but a planned one. Somebody wanted to crank up another destabilization show. We don’t know who for sure, but we know that Syrian War refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan were recruited for opposition fighters, even trained by the US, and where many went over to the jihadis when they crossed back into Syria. As to the question “why now”, with ISIS in the last stages of being beaten in Syria, the major contender would be someone maybe wanting to open a new terror front in Asia. Atrocities on an ethnic and religious minority would be a logical trigger. Such things are usually done by a major Intel agency, or several working together. Israel is a major arms supplier for the regime, and “other services” are often packaged with Israeli arms deals.”

It is mentionable that the militants attacked on the Holey Artisan Bakery (Restaurant) in the diplomatic district of Dhaka-capital of Bangladesh on July 2, 2016 and killed at least 20 hostages and two police officers. It includes nine Italians, seven Japanese and one American.

The ISIS claimed responsibility for terror attack on the restaurant. But, without any investigation, Home Minister of Bangladesh Asaduzzaman Khan blamed home-grown Islamist terrorists and Pakistan’sprimary intelligence agency ISI for the restaurant assault by saying, “There is no IS or al-Qaeda presence in Bangladesh…the hostage-takers were all home-grown terrorists and not members of IS or any other international Islamist outfits.” His statement was contrary to the country’s top officials who have claimed that ISIS exists in Bangladesh. ISI has accepted responsibility for a number of past attacks in Bangladesh. On July 7, 2016, terrorists killed two policemen and a woman in an attack at Eid congregation near Sholakia Eidgah in Kishoreganj, Bangladesh. The incident came, a day after the ISI video on social media in which, three Bangladeshi youths appeared, threatening more attacks in the country, as the sources of Bangladesh had disclosed. It also proves that Bangladesh’s home-grown militants have connections with the ISIL. However, availing the opportunity of the Dhaka restaurant attack, Indian media also began a campaign, accusing ISI.

In fact, there is a co- relationship of the double game led by the US and false flag operations, being conducted by the CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad. RAW which is in connivance with the intelligence agencies of Bangladesh and has been using the ISIL terrorists, was behind the restaurant attack of Dhaka in order to distort the image of Pakistan and ISI. Therefore, it was a false flag operation.

It is of particular attention the since Bangladesh’s Awami League came into power, by following Indian directions, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid has started a deliberate propaganda campaign against Pakistan, its army and particularly ISI.

While, Pakistan’s Armed Forces have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad which have also been extended to other parts of the country, including Balochistan province and Karachi. Army and ISI have broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts. These operations are obtaining their objectives effectively and rapidly. Peace has been restored in various regions of Pakistan, including Karachi and Balochistan.

But, recent blasts in Balochistan and other regions of the country show that the US-led India, Afghanistan and Israel have again started acts of sabotage to destabilize Pakistan and to damage theChina-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Nevertheless, in the recent past, new wave of terrorism in Pakistan, killed several innocent people, while various terrorist outfits, particularly the ISIL and the affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA) claimed responsibility for these brutal acts. TTP based in Afghanistan has its connections with ISIL and other terrorist organizations and affiliated terror groups, including Baloch separatist elements, and all these outfits are promoting the anti-Pakistan agenda of the foreign entities against Pakistan. As part of the double game, CIA, RAW, Mossad and Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) which are in collaboration, are using these terror outfits in weakening Pakistan and especially Balochistan in order to fulfill the covert strategic aims of the US-led India and Israel against Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran.

These external secret agencies are especially supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP is behind several terror activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has also become center of the Great Game due to the ideal location of Balochistan.

Besides, Washington, New Delhi and Tel Aviv have been weakening Pakistan, because it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world.  They want to shift Afghan war to Pakistan.

But, in connection with the 9/11 tragedy and its aftermath, Pakistan sacrificed more than any country against terrorism and faced countless losses such as collateral damage, economic crisis and political instability. While, Pakistan faced a continued wave of suicide attacks, bomb blasts and targeted killings.

Taking cognizance of the America’s double game, Pakistan is preparing a new strategy by reviewing its relationship with America.

In case of Afghanistan, apart from recent terror attacks and assaults on the Shias by the ISIL, on January 13, 2015, at least seven personnel of the Afghan security forces died during the suicide attack which targeted the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad. The ISIL claimed responsibility for the terror assault which coincided with efforts to restart the suspended peace process with Taliban insurgents. Pakistani sources suggested that Indian RAW was behind this terror attack to thwart these peace talks. On May 21, 2016, the CIA-operated drone strike killed the Chief of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansour in Nushki, Balochistan province of Pakistan. After the incident, Afghan Taliban leaders refused to participate in the US-sponsored talks with the Afghan government. While, in the recent past, with the help of Pakistan, a series of meetings were held in Islamabad and Kabul among the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US to develop an understanding for the earliest possible resumption of stalled talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban with view to ending nearly 16 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan. This strike by the US predator in Balochistan gave a greater setback to peace process for Afghanistan under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group framework.

Nonetheless, as part of the double game, the US-led India and Israel have been using the ISIS terrorists so as to obtain the covert aims of their countries at the cost of global peace and their own peoples who are facing multiple crises. One the one hands, their intelligence agencies have been supporting theses terror groups, while radicalizing the Muslims on the other in order to increase the recruitment of the ISIS and its linked militant outfits. It is because of this dual game that besides other Asian countries, ISS is rapidly spreading its tentacles in South Asia.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Email: sajjad_logic­_[email protected]

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