Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mujahid manifesto. IM and p-sec nexus

Mujahid manifesto. IM and p-sec nexus

A penetrating, lucid analysis by Ashok. Congratulations, Ashok.

Many security analysts have drawn some technological clues from the Indian Mujahideen (IM) emails. Some have also highlighted the roots of islamist jihadi terror in the religious texts cited in the emails. This is the first analytical piece I have come across placing the IM's viewpoint in a clear-cut present-day political context. Calling it a 'manifesto' may be a hyperbole, but the message is clear.

Politico-s will be at peril if they draw wrong conclusions from the IM emails and if they fail to identify the IM email scribes.

Ashok is on the dot; there is an ideological nexus between 'thehoot' -- see the URL cited below -- and the IM scribe who cites 'thehoot' approvingly.For info. on promoters of 'thehoot' see

When IM cites pseudo-seculars, the mixture is potent and explosive (not unlike ammonium nitrate + RDX), denying the very fabric of nationalist Hindusthana and the fact that the ancestors of all these folks were Hindu.


Mujahid Manifesto (Ashok Malik, Pioneer, 28 Sept. 2008)

[Before the Ahmedabad and Delhi bombings, Indian Mujahideen sent out long e-mails outlining its historical inspirations and its contemporary politics. Ashok Malik compares the two letters to understand the new jihad --]

In Ahmedabad on July 26 and in Delhi on September 13, the Indian Mujahideen terrorist group carried out bombings and killed about 80 people. On both occasions, the perpetrators sent out elaborate, 13-page e-mails just before the bombs went off (in the case of Delhi, the first bombs had already exploded).

Just what do these letters say about the terrorists, their inspirations and motivations? Do the letters differ or is the second a corollary to the first? Can we, on the basis of these letters, detect a strategy to the politics of Indian Mujahideen -- or is there a numbing and mindless randomness to its bombings?

To be fair, nobody knows the precise answers. What is clear is that Indian Mujahideen seeks to locate its actions within the pan-Islamic jihad but is equally careful to contextualise its terrorism within contemporary Indian politics. If those aims seem sometimes contradictory -- and give the impression that India's best-known terrorist group is riding two boats at the same time -- consider the evidence from the e-mails.

The Ahmedabad e-mail begins with a long theological preamble. It targets "kaafirs" and "disbelievers", and announces: "We are back -- the Mujahideen of India -- the terrorists on the disbelievers -- the radicals of Islam -- after our triumphant and successful assault at Jaipur, once again calling you all, who disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger Muhammad ... Accept Islam and save yourselves."

It reserves filth and abuse for those of another faith: "O Hindus! O disbelieving faithless Indians! Haven't you still realised that the falsehood of your 33 crore dirty mud idols and the blasphemy of your deaf, dumb, mute and naked idols of Ram, Krishna and Hanuman are not at all going to save your necks, Insha-Allah, from being slaughtered by our hands?"

It promises to renew the jihad of Muhammad bin Qasim, the first Muslim general to attack India, in AD 712, and of the medieval invaders, Mahmud of Ghazni and Muhammad Ghori. Finally, the preamble urges the "Muslims of Gujarat" to "show these weak-willed Hindu cowards the onslaught of Khalid bin Waleed, the determination of Ali bin Abi Talib, the bravery of Saad bin Abi Waqqas, the heroism of Abu Bakr and Umar, the guts of Talhah and Zubair. Let these spineless Hindus know that you inherit fearless courage of Salahuddin Ayyubi, Tariq bin Ziyad and Muhammad bin Qasim."

That is an interesting list of warriors from early Islam. Khalid was a general of the Prophet's army who annexed Byzantine and Persian territories. Ali was the son-in-law of the Prophet and the father of the Shia faith. Most of the others were Arab companions of Muhammad. Tariq bin Ziyad was a conqueror of Spain and the man who gave his name to Gibraltar (Jabal-ar-Tariq or Mountain of Tariq). Salahuddin was a Kurd from Tikrit (Iraq) who fought the Third Crusade and whom western historians remember as Saladin.

It is fairly apparent that this invocation of Middle Eastern Islamic heroes is a cut-and-paste job. It probably borrows from a similar pamphlet meant for circulation in, say, Iraq, and asking the faithful (Shia and Sunni, Arab and Kurd) to unite against the infidels. It has little resonance among Indian Muslims, who have a very different history and, even if radicalised, a very different set of prejudices.

The e-mail sent on September 13 seems to recognise this failing. It is a less theological, less Middle Eastern Islamist document, and is more secular -- as in non-religious -- in its arguments and postulates. This would also indicate that somewhere between July 26 and September 13, the theologian in the upper echelons of Indian Mujahideen became unavailable. The arrest of Mufti Abu Bashir by the Gujarat police could explain this.

The police action after the Ahmedabad blasts must have hurt Indian Mujahideen. After all, the Delhi e-mail goes out of its way to insist all is well: "By this attack we intend to prove to you the ability and potential of Indian Mujahideen to assault any city of India at any time ... This attack has now confirmed that all your attempts to stop our advance have failed and ... false claims made about the crackdown of the terror modules ... shows how shameless the Gujarat police and Gujarat ATS have become."

The mail targets specific officers of the Gujarat and Rajasthan police forces, aiming to shake the confidence of those individuals who are at the forefront of the battle against Indian Mujahideen.

It indicts BJP and Congress State Governments in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, as well as the BSP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, for "post-July 26 harassments imposed by your ATS and police on the innocent Muslims with complete, but hidden, backing of Central Congress Government". It specifically warns that the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra "are already on our hit-list".

However, something like six pages of 13 make threatening references to Sangh Parivar organisations and leaders. It is noticeable that the Sangh Parivar, the RSS, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and the AVBP find specific and repeated mention, but not the BJP, which is named only once. Obviously, a full-fledged assault on the BJP will be the subject of a future letter.

The Delhi e-mail makes just one clearly identifiable political demand: "Vacate the land of Babri as soon as you can". It pays "tribute to all our brethren martyrs in Kashmir" and warns from "now on ... the Muslims won't cry alone, our women won't be widowed alone, our children won't be orphaned alone and scores will be settled evenly".

Making a departure -- or, more correctly, an evolution -- from the Ahmedabad e-mail, the Delhi message seeks to present the Indian Mujahideen cause not as Islamist terrorism but as a legitimate protest movement against oppression by the Indian mainstream. It reaches out to other groups: "We ask you as to why the 'Sangh terror' on all the minorities, including the Muslims, Dalits and Christians, is a rarely noticed idea?"

The Delhi letter is a mix of styles. The beginning and the conclusion are crude, cutting and pugnacious. In the middle, there is a whole analysis of the media, particularly of leading English-language newspapers and of which ones are allegedly even-handed in reporting Hindu violence and Islamic terrorism and which ones are not. This is written in a more reasoned manner, almost like an editorial article.

As it happens, this media analysis is not original. It is another cut-and-paste job, simply reproducing an article titled "Bombs defused in newsrooms" published on a popular media website on September 5. The author of that piece, a leftwing critic, accuses the media of using "different scales to measure terrorism".

(Note: Article "Bombs defused in newsrooms", is at the following URL:§ionId=19&valid=true )

Somewhere between the Ahmedabad and Delhi e-mails, Indian Mujahideen decided on a tactical shift -- not taking on all of India but courting allies within the intelligentsia and the polity.

The Ahmedabad e-mail had a broad sweep, questioning Indian/ Gujarati Muslims: "I ask you, who has healed your wounds so far? Congress, or BJP? Do you still want the media and agencies like Tehelka to expose your torture and make money in return of your burnt dead bodies and present all this in front of the judiciary so that they can watch this 'drama' of your killing and laugh at you, seeing you cry and beg for justice?"

The Delhi e-mail is comparatively narrow-focused. It identifies friends and foes in the media and in Indian society. It hints at an alliance with left-liberal factions. Again, this has a precedent. The New Left-Islamist alliance is a reality in, for instance, Britain and has sought to underplay the existence of homegrown jihad among migrant communities there.

It is not as if the apparent dilution of the Islamic content of the second letter completely removes Indian Mujahideen's appeal to religion. While the Middle Eastern warriors and marauders from a millennium ago don't find mention, more recent jihadis do.

"We carried out this attack in the memory of two most eminent Mujahids of India: Sayyed Ahmed Shaheed and Shah Ismail Shaheed ... who had raised the glorious banner of jihad against the disbelievers in this very city of Delhi." Sayyed Ahmed and Shah Ismail were from today's Uttar Pradesh but believed that "pure" Islam existed among the Pashtun tribals of what is now Afghanistan and the North West Frontier Province.

The two comrades mobilised troops for a jihad against the Sikh Empire and the "liberation" of Peshawar and neighbouring regions into a dream Islamic emirate. In 1831 this jihad was defeated by the army of Ranjit Singh and the two extremist leaders killed in Balakot, now in Pakistan and close to the Karakoram Highway.

Shah Ismail was, as it happened, the grandson of Shah Walliulah. In the late 1750s, Walliulah had urged Ahmed Shah Abdali to invade India and wage a jihad against the emerging Maratha Empire. This led, eventually, to the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761.

Walliulah was a contemporary of Abdul Wahhab (after whom Wahabbism is named). Both men were born in 1703, and are believed to have shared two theological teachers in Mecca and Medina. There is apocryphal evidence that they met in their youth.

Walliulah was distraught at the "deviations" and "distortions" that came into the Indian practice of Islam after Aurangzeb and at the rising power of the Marathas and the Jats. His grandson felt similarly about the Sikhs. Indian Mujahideen, their ideological descendant, perceives itself as fighting a jihad against a "Hindu empire" in modern India.

Whatever its tactical semantics and immediate signals to short-term political allies, that larger, terrifying and messianic vision of Indian Mujahideen should not be forgotten.

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