Coming to avenge Babri, Kashmir, Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar: ISIS video
The Islamic State has released a new 22-minute
Arabic-language documentary on purported Indian jihadists in its ranks,
providing the first interviews with five fugitive jihadists known to have
joined the ranks of fighters in Iraq and Syria since 2014.
The video, released online early on Friday, is the
first propaganda the Islamic State has produced with content focused on India
and South Asia.
Thane engineering student Fahad Tanvir Sheikh who
travelled to Syria in 2014 along with three other men from the city is the only
individual conclusively identified in the video, in which he uses the pseudonym
Abu Amr’ al-Hindi.
“We will return,” Sheikh vows, “but with a sword in
hand, to avenge the Babri Masjid, and the killings of Muslims in Kashmir, in
Gujarat, and in Muzaffarnagar.”
Sheikh also pays homage to his friend from Thane,
Shahim Tanki, who is said to have been killed in a bomb attack in Raqqa last
The third member of the group, Areeb Majid, is now
being prosecuted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The video also features several still-to-be-identified
members, suspected to be once of the Indian Mujahideen, whose members are known
to have been serving with Islamic State forces after breaking with their
“To those in the Indian state who wish to understand
our actions,” says an unidentified jihadist, “I say you have only three
options: to accept Islam, to pay jizya, or to prepare to be slaughtered.”
Families of the surviving Thane men, as well as
members of the Indian Mujahideen known to have left Pakistan for Syria, are
being contacted to identify the individuals featured in the video, a government
“The last photographs we have of many of these people
we have are from before 2008, when many of them were just adolescents”, the
source said. “It’s hard to be certain just who is who in the video, though it
is possible to make informed guesses”.
Large parts of the video, narrated in Arabic, seek to
provide context to the presence of Indian jihadists in the Islamic State – men
it describes as jihadists from “Hind wal’Sindh”, a usage for India and
Pakistan. The video begins with medieval warlord Muhammad Bin Qasim’s conquest
of the region, saying it laid the foundations for Islamic rule.
The British, the narrator states, then handed over
control of India to Hindus – people it describes as “cow-worshippers” who have
been responsible for violence against Muslims in many places, including Mumbai,
Gujarat, Assam and Moradabad.
“Hindus are striving to convert you Muslims to their
faith, O’ sons of Bin Qasim”, one recruit says, recounting a string of communal
riots. “Is there any other humiliation that you still need to suffer before you
will give up chanting that Islam is a religion of peace, and learn from the
Prophet, who fought with the sword?”
For the most part, the video consists of interviews,
mainly conducted at an unidentified coastal location. There is no combat
footage of Indians, bar one sequence involving several men in two boats, first
released by the Islamic State’s Indian affiliate, Junood Khilafat-al-Hind, last
The video does, however, include one sequence where
six men sit together, singing a jihadist anthem, promising that a new dawn lies
Explaining his personal journey, one jihadist says he
was forced to leave Mumbai for the Khorasan region, or the Afghanistan-Pakistan
borderlands, after the 2008 shootout at Batla House in which Indian Mujahideen
commander Atif Amin was killed.
This first hijrat, or religious migration, was
followed by a second one to Syria, the man recounts.
“In India,” the man who fled Mumbai says,”we see that
it is that it is the cow, the trees, the sun, the moon…that is worshipped.
Instead of fighting these things, the Muslims of India trade and maintain
social relations with these infidels.”
He vows, though, to return to avenge atrocities
against Muslims in India. “Have you forgotten the train bombings in Mumbai, or
the bombings in Ahmedabad, and Surat, and Jaipur and Delhi,” he asks.
The video assails mainstream Muslim politicians and
clerics for compromising with what the narrator describes as a tyrannical
system responsible for massacring Muslims. Images of the Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen
leader Assaduddin Owaisi and All India United Democratic Front politician
Badruddin Ajmal are juxtaposed with dead bodies of victims of communal riots.
Indian Muslim politicians are attacked for associating with non-Muslim leaders:
one image shows the Congress’s Mani Shankar Aiyer embracing a Hindu priest and
The most acid invective, though, is reserved for
Indian clerics who, the video says, are supporting the forces of kufr against
the mujahideen of the Islamic State.
Insisting that armed jihad “in the way of Allah” is an
individual religious obligation incumbent on every individual Muslim, the video
warns clerics that they will soon meet their reckoning.
“Do not listen to those who tell you that Islam is a
religion of peace,” one jihadist says, his face digitally masked over. “Islam
was never a religion of peace for even one day. Islam is a religion of war. The
Prophet commanded us to remain at war until the day the rule of Allah is
established.” The video mocks Muslims protesting against the Islamic State.
The jihadists interviewed also praised the quality of
life in the Islamic State. “Here there is shari’a,” one says. “Here the hands
of thieves are cut off. Here, our religion is safe.”
Indian Mujahideen cadre are known to have travelled to
Islamic State-held territory from 2014, after rejecting the leadership of their
Karnataka-born chief Riyaz Ahmad Shahbandri, also known as Riyaz Bhatkal.
The men include one-time Mumbai hospital employee Abu
Rashid; Shahnawaz Ahmad, a Unani doctor and the son of a local Samajwadi Party
politician in Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh; and students Mohammad ‘Bada’ Sajid,
Mirza Shadab Beig. Karnataka Muhammad Shafi Armar, one of the Indian Mujahideen
fugitives, has been named by the NIA as a key suspect in several recent arrests
related to Islamic State. (Courtesy: The Indian Express)