What is the so-called “Wilayat al-Hind” established by ISIS after clashes in J&K?

WordForPeace Special Correspondent 

Defeated in the Middle East, Isis is heading towards Asia and India in particular now. The Islamic State has announced the creation of the so-called “Wilayat al-Hind” (Meaning: Daesh province in India).

After having lost control over significant parts of Iraq and Syria to the Syrian and Iraqi armies, recently the ISIS or Daesh has announced establishing the so-called “Wilayat al-Hind” reportedly after the killing of one of the group’s members in a clash with security forces in Jammu & Kashmir.

The ISIS announced it through A’amaaq, one of their propaganda organs on the web. The Indian armed forces have denied the possibility, stating that it is merely a propaganda, as only two militants of ISIS had remained in the region. One, called Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi, died in clashes with the military and the other would have joined a different organization. But the argument does not convince terrorism experts and security analysts.

This declaration of new ISIS front in India, that too in the conflict zone of Jammu & Kashmir appears to be an attempt to bring life to the geographical ambitions of the ISIS under the “Caliphate” expansionist designs. Thus, the choice of ISIS of Kahsmir as its “Wilayat” is extremely plausible, where several other terror outfits have earlier set up their operational bases. The ISIS jihadists have long been looking for a new area to reorganize their groups after they have suffered in Iraq and Syria. Only a few years ago, they began to work to extend their influence in South Asia.

From Isis-Khorasan (ISKP) in Afghanistan to groups that have brutally attacked Christian churches in Sri Lanka, via the Abu Sayyaf formation in the Philippines. The disputed region between India and Pakistan lends itself very well as a hub of ISIS recruits to coordinate operations and expansion of the Islamic State. At a time when the armies of the two nations are preventing each other from entering into their areas, ISIS is another competitor in the region which is gaining ground.

Not to mention that this is not currently considered a priority either by New Delhi or by Islamabad. Furthermore, the quadrant is close to western China, where the Uighurs are located. They are a Turkic ethnicity which lives mainly in the autonomous region of Xinjiang, but is present throughout the western area. For years, they have been separatists looking for autonomy from the country resorting sometimes to violent methods. So much so that many of their members have joined the ranks of the Islamic state and fought in the main operational theaters.

They also provided logistical support to ISIS cells operating in Asia on multiple occasions. After all, Kashmir is not even too far from Nangarhar in Afghanistan, where ISKP has its stronghold in Achin. A hub in the area would therefore bring great benefits to local groups, following the Taliban offensives. If the creation of Wilayat al-Hind is confirmed, there could be serious repercussions. Both in the context of the Indo-Pakistani conflict for the region and in relation to the threat of global terrorism, to India and beyond. Eliminating extremists, however, would be difficult and time-consuming, with no certainty of the result. The geographical morphology of the region, characterized by very high mountains, provides infinite shelters and natural hiding places to “disappear” from the sight.

The ISIS-affiliated militants reportedly inflicted casualties on Indian army soldiers in Amshipora town in the Shopian District of J&K. It is only in the wake of these incidents that the ISIS propaganda website A’amaq announced the establishment of its new branch-Wilayat-ul-Hind. Furthermore, the IS released a statement indicating that a militant (Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi) was killed in an encounter with the Indian soldiers in Shopian District.

It is noteworthy that the Islamic State group announced the establishment of the new branch after the group was driven out from its so-called “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.

Going by a report in Iraqi News, the ISIS gained global prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive, followed by capturing Mosul and committing a massacre in Sinjar.

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