Al Qaeda’s quest for an Eastern caliphate – The Syrian model of building a Sunni Islamist insurgency in India

published on October 6, 2014

The Al Qaeda’s Indian branch was launched by the emir of this preeminent Global Islamic Terrorist organization Al Zawahiri himself with a humongous name ‘ Jamiat Qaedat al-Jihad Fi Shibh al-Quarrat al-Hindiya’ that translates in short -Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent.

Kashmir, Gujarat and Assam were specified at the top of a list, where Al Qaeda meant to open its shop.

Media reports indicate National Security Agencies have taken this with appropriate seriousness and Vital installations and potential targets inferred from previous Interrogation reports of Indian Mujahadeen convicts and intercepts have been for security ramp up.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant which was its affiliate branch has now emerged as front runner in the campaign of Global Jihad. It has managed to materialize the long dreamt Caliphate collapsing borders of Syria and Iraq into a contiguous territory larger than Belgium and roughly the size of Jordan.

The restoration of Caliphate that ended with Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I has been the utopian quest for Islamists of all kinds- the Muslim Brotherhood projected as ‘moderate’ was started towards that goal and so was Hamas that has it as its charter dream. Al Qaeda had pronounced the restoration of Caliphate as its ultimate goal.

This tangible materialization on ground of what was once a distant dream had lead to an irresistible pull to Islamists and activists from those movements and Terrorist groups began gravitating towards the Islamic State or ISIS.



The attrition from Al Qaeda and its loss of its lead position in Global Jihad had compelled Al Qaeda to match if not outdo this feat accompli of ISIS.

While formerly Al Qaeda’s strategy was to remain unconcerned about territorial affirmations and shunning conventional warfare, now it could no longer afford to remain the shadowy Terrorist group.

It has to manifest something by way of its own territory, its own Caliphate where its black flags fly and its Sharia State function and showcase a Dar ul Islam by way of territory.

The changed strategy of Al Qaeda now is streamlined towards that end of gaining territories to claim for itself like the ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

That quest now can only fulfilled by turning to areas that had so far been its secondary interest.

Formerly as a shadowy Global Terror network it left the actual running and control of areas to the Taliban and focused on the Terror strikes on the West.

Now it seeks to embrace the model of ISIS learning from its successes and its mistakes and seems to have evolved an improvised Strategy- of combining the elements of Terror, State sponsoring of it and Territorial quests-which implies ability to run Conventional warfare.

This territorial need of Al Qaeda cannot be obtained at Pakistan where its affiliates have been crushed by the Pakistani Army and difficult in Afghanistan that is an asset of Pakistan’s Strategic depth.

But that need for territory fits well in the rest of Indian Subcontinent.



By focusing its energies towards ‘liberating’ Kashmir, it is possible for Al Qaeda to simultaneously regain its relevance and retain the covert backing of Pakistan’ military establishment.

The meeting of Kashmiri Separatists with Pakistan’s establishment was to work out this new arrangement between the Al Qaeda and the ISI on one hand and toe line the Kashmiri Jihadis leadership into entering the Pact.

Al Qaeda seeks to reintroduce Kashmir as the Syria base of Global Jihad and attract the mujahadeens from around the world and particularly rest of India.

To avoid Pakistan the fall out of this escalation of conflict and adverse world attention- Al Qaeda is pitching North East with Assam and Myanmar as battle grounds.

Pakistan has already promptly begun in anticipation of the coming conflict, raking up ‘Kashmir dispute’ in the United Nations.

Its media managers have begun floating Scotland solution, the outdated and irrelevant Plebiscite that Pakistan had rendered impossible by refusal to withdraw troops- the talk of referendum would serve as justification for the violence to follow.


An Eastern Caliphate may theoretically seem to impact on the sovereignty of the Pakistan State.

But in Islamic real politik of Pakistan’s ISI, this loyalty to any Eastern Caliphate can be actually the tail wagging the dog.

With a nominal expression of loyalty to such an Eastern Caliphate when it manifests, Pakistan’s ISI is confident that the Caliphate would be actually an expansion of Pakistan and regain of territories lost by break up of East wing as Bangladesh.

The Al Qaeda is striving to base its Caliphate in a contiguous area of Afghanistan and the Kashmir valley and pockets in the East with Assam, Myanmar and Bangladesh eventually.

The first step in this direction is the rekindling the flames of Jihad in all those areas and obtain recruits.  


The earlier strategy of ISI’s Operation Topaz- bleeding India slowly through a hundred cuts, meant outfits like SIMI and Indian Mujadeen carried out isolated terror strikes and expected a backlash of communal violence like in Gujarat 2002.

The present strategy goes farther than that- it has learnt from its failure to win recruits and failure to bring about a communal polarization through a Hindu backlash.

Recruitment is now based on Wahabisation and political indoctrination at the mosque level.

The Mass drive consists of leading through its operatives who will mobilize public behind every Conflict as a gradual build up of Communal issues and nurture Hindu phobia and distrust of both Infidels and the Infidel State.

It is from such a wide base of isolated communal pockets of simmering unrest, the Recruitments will happen.

This is in fact the Arab Springs model or Syrian model.

The Indian State must be made clear to the Umma that it is an Oppressor of Muslims who is cahoots with Infidel majority.

The Sunni insurgencies began innocuously as Protests against the Shia dominated State in both Syria and Iraq.

This resentment simultaneously against Shia majority and the Shiite dominated State became the justification to pick up arms against both and begin violence.


The sudden spurt of Communal disturbances in Ahmedabad can be mistaken as revived communalism in Gujarat after Modi’s departure.

But if we don’t forget this announcement of formation of Indian branch of al Qaeda and specific warnings of its imminent attacks in Gujarat, Vadodara will reveal the Syrian model of nursing an insurgency.

A sure pattern also will begin to emerge behind the disturbances, quickly in succession with Ahmadabad violence on eve of Bakrid.

The Vadodara violence was about an insulting post at social media about an Islamic shrine-in other words an offense to Islam.

The anger was turned against majority community.

The Ahmadabad violence was about animal slaughter that is part of Islamic festivity of Bakrid and its deliberate choice of Cow that is scared to Hindu community and protected by law against slaughter.

In other words, it’s a deliberate projection of Oppressive interference with practice of Islam, knowing too well the Offense of slaughtering what is sacred to the other community would ensure sustaining the conflict and deepening the divide.

The Recurrent theme is clearly different from Indian Mujahadeen drives through bomb attacks where the victimhood acted against more recruitment by creating revulsion towards it.

But this doesn’t mean Al Qaeda would ever grow less fond of bomb attacks. They would follow after this initial recruitment campaigns attain critical mass support.


The discovery of a Grenade like explosive device in a standby aircraft of Narender Modi also must be not seen in isolation but as fitting with these Al Qaeda’s ongoing activities.

The Khorasan is a Hardcore of Al Qaeda. 

The term Khorasan refers specifically to the Indo Iranian Khorasan region and therefore read together with Zawahiri’s announcement of formation of Indian Wing of Al Qaeda, the Khorasan hardcore naturally should be masterminding Plots against India.
Khorasan movement is a Prophesy tradition linked to Gazwa –e-hind, the Conquest and Islamisation of India- that calls upon Muslims to join this Jihad behind Black Flags.
Since it is based on Islamic Tradition and Scriptural Sanction- its potential appeal for Recruitment among orthodox youth is dangerously high.
Not just in Afghanistan and Pakistan where it has obtained a huge following but Kashmir and rest of India.    
Counter terrorist experts are divided in the evaluation of Khorasan Group recently revealed by White House spokesmen for their airstrikes on them.
Some doubt if it is ‘more dangerous than even ISIS’, others dismiss it as a Decoy and diversion from real threat of ISIS.
What is pertinent to Indians is that some analysts point to Khorasan’s past levels of sophistication and present desperation of both Al Qaeda and the Pakistan’s ISI should push this group towards India.
When read together with Zawahiri’s announcement of formation of Indian Wing of Al Qaeda, the Khorasan Group naturally should be masterminding Plots targeting India.
What is important to note is Khorasan are two things-
1. They are experts in Explosive devices. These devices can pass even the most stringent Air line Security Checks.
Khorasan bomb makers are deft in putting together IEDs with liquid explosives and volatiles that cannot be detected by current methods of detection.
In the Middle East and Pakistan this group has wide connections and their network can compromise Security by Infiltration of their sleepers.
So the finding of a ‘Grenade’ like IED in Modi’s standby craft must be read in this context.
2. Khorasan was accused of plotting a spectacular 9/11 like attack on Airliners by Washington this September.
This means they had the means to infiltrate and bypass security of Air lines and airports.
This detection must therefore be taken up as a wakeup call to ramp up Security for not only our PM but all VIPs, Vital installations and Religious Centers.
Khorasan has predilection with Airlines.
The planting on a Standby Craft means they have Insider information that it should be used.
The Al Qaeda is keeping good its words of threat and intention.

What to expect?
Hard to detect and Sophisticated Improved Explosive Devices will be playing a role in this attempt create Communal Clashes.

Unlike previous random attacks, Al Qaeda will first build a popular base on a theme of Sectarian issues and resentments. The bombs will therefore be selectively deployed.
The recurrent theme will be around ‘Islam’ and a clear Divisive bottom line- of Us versus Them.
It seeks first at Polarization and a Line of divide with Islam and its ‘defense’ against an Infidel state and Infidels.
This is the Syrian Model of building a Sunni Islamic Insurgency, along Sectarian lines and as a sectarian State.  
Al Qaeda’s Indian wing seeks to tap on the Resentment and popular mobilization to feed an actual insurgency elsewhere as ‘liberated territory’ – which must be in Kashmir and Assam.  
Mosques, shrines and symbolic equivalents of ‘Defilement of Koran’ etc should be the recurring issues making a case for Oppression and a sectarian victimhood.
Therefore Monitoring of Mosques and sermons are imperative.
Both ISIS and Khorasan are in competition to gain Recruits.
Strict vigilance and preemptive thwarting of Recruitment drives are imperative.
This is a very difficult time for Nation to pass.
We hope our NSA and Government remain alert and pray for their success.

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