South Asia’s Islamic State

article-2663558-1EF50F3E00000578-427_634x356ISIS recruitment campaigns seek allegiances in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even India

By Animesh Roul.

There are those who want a second Islamic State, one encompassing Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of Central Asia and India. In January, Abu Muhammad al Adnani, a chief spokesperson of ISIS, announced the establishment of “Wilayat Khurasan”, an imaginary territory made up of those nations within South Asia.

The 2014 push by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to establish a caliphate marked a definite shift in the Jihadist landscape previously dominated by Al-Qaeda. Unhindered almost until now, the successful rise of ISIS under the leadership of Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed Caliph Ibrahim, has given the organization enough clout to push the ideals of the Islamic State (I.S.) in other Muslim-dominated regions.

ISIS first began outreach efforts in South Asia to acquire recruits and resources for its battles in Iraq and Syria. Several Muslim youths from India, Pakistan, the Maldives, and Bangladesh have reportedly travelled to fight under the I.S. banner in Iraq and Syria. Since June 2014, the call of ISIS has not only resonated within the region’s myriad militant groups, it has also reached many unconnected individuals through propaganda disseminated on social media.

The January announcement of the formation of Wilayat Khurasan, an ‘Islamic State of South Asia’, may be wishful, but it marks a new direction for recruitment efforts. ISIS is not only seeking to draw young soldiers to its side but to empower them to spread its cause in other regions. Adnani announced that the new I.S. province would be headed by Hafiz Saeed Khan, a former Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan commander, who earlier released a video message pledging allegiance to the I.S. along with at least 100 Taliban fighters. The video also showed …

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