An al-Qaeda faction in the disputed Kashmir region has reportedly urged Indian Muslims to engage in jihad against “Hindu extremists” and establish sharia law in the Himalayan area.
Although Pakistan, its ally China, and their rival India all have competing claims to Muslim-majority Kashmir, Beijing has mostly stayed in the shadows of the dispute, backing Islamabad when necessary.
In an audio clip released this week, Sultan Zabul Al-Hindi, the leader of an alleged al-Qaeda faction in Kashmir known as Ansar Ghazwatul Hind, reportedly indicated, “Jihad will protect the community’s identity and character … it is important for us to unite. Jihad is life,” reports News18.
Al-Qaeda and its rival the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) have been expanding their presence in Kashmir in recent months.
The recent call to jihad in the region comes soon after the al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) branch ordered its India-based supporters to target Hindus and their religious places.
Primarily based in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, AQIS also operates in Bangladesh, India, and other neighboring countries.
Sultan, believed to be from Afghanistan, rebuked the Babri Masjid demolition, referring to the destruction of a 16th-century mosque in India by hundreds of Hindus.
Describing it as an “unforgettable crime of Hindu extremists,” Sultan condemned the demolition on Wednesday, the 25th anniversary of the incident.
In the audio clip, Sultan talks about the mujahideen being the prime purpose of life, and that every Indian Muslim must leave his house for jihad because “the enemy is preparing for war”. “Mujahideen is aware of all attacks on Muslims in India, and we think of ways to protect them from it,” Sultan is heard saying.
He cements the argument by saying that the “only solution is the rule of [sharia], which is what Allah wants.”
The al-Qaeda chief claimed that Hindus in India would try to destroy other Muslim worshipping centers, saying the “enemy is not going to just stop at Babri but that its eyes are set on other mosques as well.”
AQIS wants to establish an Islamic emirate in the Asian region that includes Kashmir.