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Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) has actively begun to shift its focus from Afghanistan to Kashmir. Kashmir has been fought over for decades and is no stranger to violence. The conflict is between India and Pakistan. The region is the only state within India that has a majority Muslim population.
A UN report published in May 2022 has stated that AQIS is focussing its efforts on jihad in the Kashmir region. The report outlines that a change in name of the AQIS magazine demonstrates this shift in focus. AQIS renamed the magazine Nawa-e-Ghazwa-e-Hind (Voice of the Conquest of India) in April 2021.
Key Judgement 1: It is highly likely that AQIS attacks in Kashmir against Indian government establishments will increase over the next 24 months.
- Firstly, AQIS’s success in the Kashmir region will be because of its diverse membership. Importantly, the group has members from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Myanmar. (source)
- Moreover, AQIS is ideologically inclined to carry out attacks in India. The UN report suggests these will take place in Kashmir and Jammu region of India. (source)
- Al-Zawahiri, the leader of Al-Qaeda, wholeheartedly backs AQIS in its attacks against India. Consequently, Al-Zawahiri called for Jihad in Kashmir. (source)
- Furthermore, targeting killings in the Kashmir Valley are believed to be the work of AQIS supported by Al-Qaeda Central. Importantly, these attacks are mainly against migrant workers in the region. (source)
- AQIS has begun using the internet to drive support for its Kashmir campaign framing it in a historical and religious context. This will unquestionably help AQIS with recruitment. (source)
Key Judgement 2: The success of the Taliban in Afghanistan is highly likely to provide a base for AQIS to carry out its campaign in Kashmir over the next 24 months.
- AQIS has become the linchpin in the relationship between AQ central and the Taliban. Subsequently, AQIS has made inroads with the Taliban and deepened ties culturally with the Taliban in their birthplace in the south of Afghanistan. As a result, AQ is no longer solely reliant on the Haqqani network for relations with the Taliban. (Source)
- AQIS is able to communicate with AQ central leadership with ever-increasing ease following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Consequently, al-Zawahiri has increased his activity in publishing material. (source)
- The safety net that a Taliban-led Afghanistan provides is allowing AQIS to regroup and grow its numbers, especially with new recruits from the Indian subcontinent. As a result, Afghanistan once again feared becoming the training ground for terrorist recruitment and training in the region. (source)
Key Judgement 3: It is likely that AQIS will receive an influx in recruits from within the Muslim community in India over the next 24 months.
- The Bharatiya Jamala Party (BJP) has increasingly marginalised Muslims within India since their election victory in 2014. (Source)
- In addition, in May 2022 two members of the BJP were suspended by its leadership. This was following defamatory comments made about the Prophet Mohammed by high-profile members. Consequently, the BJP was highly criticised by the Islamic world both within India and internationally. (source)
- Indian Muslims have historically not been susceptible to radicalisation. Therefore, this is unlikely to change with the continued exclusion from society under the BJP. (source)
- Moreover, the more a community feels isolated and persecuted the more likely they are to turn to extremism to fight back (source)
Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 09th of June 2022