India Alarmed at IS Activities in Khorasan

Islamic State’s (Daesh) Activities in Af-Pak Region cast a shadow of terror
By: IMR July 2015 Issue
Taliban fighters have sanctuaries in border areas between Pak & Afganistan
Taliban fighters have sanctuaries in border areas between Pak & Afganistan
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* Af/pak
* Khorasan
* Islamic State
* Al Qaeda

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NEW DELHI - July 21, 2015 - PRLog -- According to an item published in the latest issue of Indian Military Review the Islamic State’s (Daesh) growing propaganda has cast a shadow of terror across the world with their growing attacks and recruitment, posing a serious threat to global peace.  IS’s ideology is now steadily gaining foothold in Central and South Asia.

Giving details, the new issue of Indian Military Review, published from New Delhi said that IS’s plans of expanding its presence in South Asia have led the establishment of Wilayat in Khorasan province in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

Khorasan Etymology

The concept of Khorasan refers to the specific area that encompasses modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Central Asia and China. Islamic Jihadists recognize the region where they will impose the first trounce against their enemies in the Muslim adaptation of Armageddon.

With the establishment of Wilayat, the IS seems to be in no mood to waste time in incepting their chapter in South Asia. Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who is identified as the spokesperson of the IS, made an announcement on tape, posted on Jihadi forums, about the groups’ expansion in Khorasan.

Activities in Khorasan

In recent times, multiple agencies have confirmed the presence of the IS in southern and northern region of Afghanistan including Helmand, Zabul, Farah, Kunar, Nangarhar, Logar and Badakshan. As stated by Lt Gen Murad Ali Murad, Ground Forces Cadre, Afghan National Army (ANA), masked men were active in provinces like Zabul and Helmand. They have raised black flags in these regions and aim to expand their presence in the northern region too.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his visit to US in March 2015, had stated that IS poses a serious threat to Afghanistan.Validating this further, a report compiled by the United Nations, has suggested that more than 65,000 IS Jihadists had come to Afghanistan.

Other Terrorists Outfits and IS

The entry of the IS in the Khorasan region of Af-Pak has struck an important chord, especially at a time when there is an identity crisis, trust deficit and lack of direction among various Islamic Jihadist outfits. The Pakistan government has been running Operation Zarb-e-Azb. It managed to flush out large numbers of terrorists.  Many Jihadists, who were flushed out during the operation, along with dismayed Afghan Taliban, seem to have pledged their allegiance to the IS.

Also with the continuous “invisibility” of Afghan Taliban leadership of Mullah Omar, many Taliban men have become disillusioned. They see the IS as a structured faction to redefine their goals. Although sources have stated that Afghan Taliban may not mind working with the IS, if the latter will work the same way like other Islamic outfits such as Al Qaeda, TTP, Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbaddin (HiG), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and few other Jihadi outfits, have worked in the past.

Pakistan’s Role

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has sought Pakistan’s intervention in settling political scores with the Taliban to which Pakistan seems to be providing cooperation. However, the rolling back of the Afghan Taliban and unleashing the IS may seem to be in the interest of Pakistan. Also, It has to be noted that majority of the Khorasan Council comprises Pakistani Jihadists.

Concern for India

Clearly, these developments confirm that the IS aims to gain a strategic foothold in the Af-Pak region as part of the Islamic Caliphate running across the entire sub-continent.

The possibility of strong links between the Wilayat Khorasan (WK) leaders and the terror groups abetted by Pakistan’s ISI could be alarming for India, especially when WK’s leader Asmatullah Muawaiya, who had strong ties with Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Al-Qaeda, is believed to have reconciled with the Pakistani establishment in 2014 and has even threatened India in recent times.

Also the former Guantanamo Bay detainee Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost, who was handed over to Pakistan in 2008, has been appointed as Wilayat Khorasan’s religious head.

However, recent reports have confirmed that Hafeez Sayeed Khan, a former member of TTP, has replaced Dost as the leader of Khurasan. Hafeez is a Maulvi and belongs to the Mamozai province of Awrekzai in the tribal region of Pakistan. After the killing of Hekamatullah Mehsoud, Hafeez along with other dreaded TTP members Mullah Fazlullah, Khan Sayeed Sejna and Shahryar Khan, were expected to head the TTP. On January 11, 2015, a video unearthed in Pakistan showed 100 armed men holding IS flags and pronouncing Hafeez Sayeed Khan as the leader of Khorasan.

The growing concern for India, which has the world’s second largest Muslim population, is that the IS has been very subtle and effective in their propaganda, which has influenced many Muslim youths across the globe. Besides religious fundamentalism, the other factor, which is seen playing a role amongst Indian Muslim joining the IS, is the growing insecurity and identity crisis among them. The Modi government has encouraged Hindu immigrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh and even promised them permanent Indian residency. This move has led to some resentment among the Indian Muslim community and they feel alienated and, perhaps, this vulnerability will play into the hands of the IS outfits’ agenda of recruiting more Indian Muslim youth.

Moreover, India has not clearly defined its strategic plan to tackle the IS. Indian authorities did not show any inclination to pro-actively engage with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, whose visit to India in April remained lack lustre. It is pertinent to note the power that Ghani wields in the orientation of various erstwhile Taliban chiefs and now political heads in Afghanistan.

India needs to pay more attention to the Khorasan chapter in order to safeguard its geo-strategic interests in the region and to stay relevant. While the new proactiveness in foreign policy by the Indian prime minister has earned accolades in the corridors of South Block and the Parliament, a mechanism to engage similar thinking parties in Af-Pak region must be formulated urgently.

China’s goals against the IS may also coincide with India’s. Such realisation could be a starting point for cooperation between the both countries.Both India and China are wary of any terror activities, India must take advantage of the thaw that it has been able to achieve during Modi’s visit to China.

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