Counter Terrorism Perspectives: CTP

EER: "How Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent Exploits the Prophet Controversy in India"

August 20, 2022

Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) — one of the most resilient regional affiliates of the transnational jihadist enterprise Al-Qaeda — issued multiple threats to carry out suicide bombings and other targeted attacks in India after controversial remarks about the Prophet Muhammad and the Quran were made by senior members of India’s ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The comments, which were made during a televised debate in late May 2022, sparked widespread condemnation in domestic and international forums and the BJP members were subsequently suspended from the party. Since then, both members have withdrawn their comments and apologized.

Avenging the Prophet

The expelled BJP leaders’ explicit apology notwithstanding, AQIS’ official As-Sahab Media (Subcontinent) issued a statement on 6 June 2022, entitled, “May our Mothers Be Bereaved of Us […]” threatening to carry out violent retaliation against anyone who insults Prophet Muhammad. The message further noted that members of the Hindu nationalist party BJP would be targeted in major cities like Delhi and Mumbai, as well as the states of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

In an apparent attempt to appeal to Muslims in the country, the jihadist group essentially directed its propaganda machinery to capitalize on the polarized religious atmosphere. In fact, AQIS has a history of exploiting such situations in order to radicalize and incite Indian Muslims. The latest statement issued by the terrorist group appeals to the Muslim community (Ummah) to remain patient until the mythical Ghazwat-ul Hind (Islamic battle against India) brings death and destruction to Indian rulers and ultimate victory for Muslims in India. AQIS statement clearly mentioned in response to the Prophet controversy that “the hearts of Muslims all over the world are bleeding and are filled with feelings of revenge and retribution.”

For decades, Al-Qaeda has pushed these narratives that it is ‘defending’ Islam from blasphemy. The group made it amply clear in July 2021 with the audio-visual message, entitled, “An unpardonable crime”, about real or perceived insults against the Prophet. The message eulogized extremists like Mohammed Bouyeri for his fatal attack on Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in November 2004 and positioned his murder as the perfect example of avenging blasphemy in Western countries. The video message also recalls similar violence targeting “blasphemers”, such as the attack on the staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for caricatures of the Prophet, and gloats about how it succeeded in instilling fear in people against insulting the Prophet.

Read Complete Article Here: "How Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent Exploits the Prophet Controversy in India",  European Eye on Radicalization August 19, 2022.