In a worrying development, the Islamic State (ISIS) has issued a statement claiming to have established its province in India. The announcement was made through its Amaq News Agency on Friday confirming the presence of ‘Wilayah of Hind’.
THREAD: Islamic State (IS) group casually announces new India branch pic.twitter.com/kkHkTHucLZ
— BBC Monitoring (@BBCMonitoring) May 10, 2019
According to a report published in India Today, the terror group responsible for recent serial blasts in Sri Lanka, declared its presence after a clash erupted between terrorists and security forces in Kashmir. During this clash, one terrorist with alleged ties to the group was shot dead.
In its statement ISIS, a designated terrorist group by the United Nations also claimed responsibility for inflicting casualties on the Indian army soldiers in Amshipora, a town in the Shopian district of Kashmir region. The statement issued by this terror organization corroborates the Indian police statement confirming the death of terrorist Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi in the Shopian encounter.
This announcement is seen as a morale-boosting exercise by ISIS after being dethroned from its self-styled “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in April. At one point, the terror group controlled thousands of miles of territory in the region. ISIS has now increased its hit-and-run raids and suicide attacks including the recent Sri Lanka easter bombings that killed at least 253 people.
“The establishment of a ‘province’ in a region where it has nothing resembling actual governance is absurd, but it should not be written off,” said Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intel Group that tracks Islamic extremists.
“The world may roll its eyes at these developments, but to jihadists in these vulnerable regions, these are significant gestures to help lay the groundwork in rebuilding the map of the ISIS ‘caliphate’.”
According to a military official on Saturday, Sofi was involved with several terrorist groups in Kashmir for more than a decade before pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State. Sofi had earlier confirmed the same in an interview given to a Srinagar-based magazine sympathetic to ISIS. Police and military records suggest that he was also suspected of several grenade attacks on security forces in the region.
“It was a clean operation and no collateral damage took place during the exchange of fire,” a police spokesman said in the statement on Friday’s encounter. The military official, however, expressed the possibility that Sofi might have been the only terrorist left in Kashmir associated with ISIS.
Islamist terrorists have for decades fought an armed conflict against India in Kashmir. Pakistan has been fighting a proxy war with India for decades. The relationship between both the countries came to a standstill post the Pulawama attack wherein JeM, a Pakistan based terror outfit, had claimed responsibility for the suicide attack that martyred at least 40 paramilitary personnel in Pulwama.
There is no official confirmation from the Home Ministery yet on this matter.
We had reported earlier that the success of Balakot airstrikes in retaliation to Pulwama suicide attack has rattled Pakistan. Since the Pulwama attack, a total of 31 Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) terrorists have been shot dead.