We are pleased to release this month’s issue on ‘South and Central Asia’.
As we enter into the second half of 2016, South Asia remains a front line in the battle against terrorism. Regional rivalry for dominance between the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda (AQ) has highlighted the likelihood of an increase in scope and frequency of terrorist attacks across South Asia. The establishment of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) in September 2014 as well as the Islamic State’s Wilayat Khorasan in January 2015 has transformed South Asia into an important focal point for both organisations.
As evidence of IS’ focus on South Asia, the group released its latest issue of the English-language magazine, Dabiq, featuring a prominent interview with the purported IS chief in Bangladesh, Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, speaking on launching a large-scale attack against India. Against the backdrop of the Islamic State (IS)’ increasing inroads into India, the country remained a target of terrorist attacks, including terrorist operations launched by Maoist insurgents and domestic and transnational groups. In Afghanistan, terrorist attacks by the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network and IS contributed to the region’s high casualty rates. Sectarian violence and attacks against religious minorities associated with the numerous factions of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have also adversely affected Pakistan’s stability, even as targeted killings of celebrities and musicians continued in the country. Moreover, the unresolved Kashmir conflict continues to see a presence of domestic militant groups. In Bangladesh, killings of secular bloggers and minorities continue to shock the international community. On 1 July 2016, a deadly attack took place at a café in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, killing 21 hostages and 2 police officers. The attack, which killed Japanese and Italian nationals, was claimed by IS. The fallout from the attack, however, triggered a confused reaction from the Bangladeshi government, as the government continued to reiterate the absence of IS in the country. This was despite the group claiming responsibility for a number of attacks there.
In this issue, we examine how the regional threat landscape has evolved with IS’ dominance on the global jihad scene. Rohan Gunaratna sheds light on how IS-inspired and IS-directed attacks witnessed in North America, Europe, Africa, Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia have demonstrated the growing threat of IS. While the anti-IS coalition is making strides in Syria and Iraq, he explains why the threat from IS will not be easily wiped out in the near future.
With both IS and AQ competing for pre-eminence, we also explore the likely outcomes of this battle. Vikram Rajakumar explains why this rivalry will be coupled with a growth in support for extremism and terrorist attacks carried out in the country.
Kashmir has been embroiled in militancy since 1987 and the conflict remains a point of contention between India and Pakistan. Akanksha Narain explains why India needs to move beyond the politics of blaming and into more proactive measures in order to effectively counter the Kashmiri insurgency.
In Afghanistan, the death of Mullah Omar and fractionalisation of the Taliban has provided IS with an opportunity to establish a stronghold in the region and increase its recruitment. Inomjon Bobokulov provides us with some insight into the range of domestic conditions in Afghanistan that have allowed IS to establish its presence in the war-torn country.
The death of the Afghan Taliban chief, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, in a US drone strike is thought to mark a new chapter in the Afghan militant landscape. Abdul Basit questions the possibility of peace under the current Taliban chief, Haibatullah Akhundzada, given his refusal to engage in peace talks with the Afghan government and given the increased insecurity among the local population due to the presence of foreign troops in the country.
With reports that Al Qaeda is making efforts to establish its first emirate in Northern Syria through its affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, Mahfuh Halimi explores whether Al Qaeda Central (AQC), presently located in terrorist safe sanctuaries in the Afghanistan-Pakistan (AfPak) region, will relocate itself to Syria and participate in the battle head-on.
Central Asia / Commentaries / Conflict and Stability / International Politics and Security / South Asia / Terrorism Studies
Last updated on 27/07/2016