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MANTRAYA DATABASE#01: 28 SEPTEMBER 2015

Timeline 2014: Islamic State and South Asia

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The timeline begins in May 2014, the month in which the first ever incident in South Asia relating to the Islamic State was reported.

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23 May– Four young men from Mumbai identified as Areeb Majid, Aman Tandel, Fahad Shaikh and Saleem Tanki join the Islamic State. They leave India along with a religious pilgrimage to Iraq and then break away from the group to travel to Mosul to join the terror group.

19 June –40 Indian nationals working as migrant labourers held captive by the Islamic State in Iraq.

19 June–First signs of the global ambitions of the Islamic State. A dominion map released by the Islamic State showed South Asia to be a part of what outfit calls the Islamic State of Khorasan. Returning Indian foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria would then lay the road to India becoming a part of the Islamic State.

20 June–In addition to working on rescuing the Punjab origin migrant workers from Mosul, of which one safely escaped to the city of Erbil, the Indian government involved in an effort to rescue 46 nurses from the city of Tikrit.

20 June–First signs of the foreign fighters coming from Bangladesh. A propaganda video titled “There is no life without Jihad” released by the IS Al Hayat media wing propagate the concept of soldiers without borders protecting the global Muslim community.

20 June–Bangladesh foreign workers working in Tikrit released by IS. Indians still held captive.

23 June–Abdul Raqib Amin, a British citizen of Bangladeshi origin identified as the third UK citizen to join the insurgent group in Iraq and Syria.

26 June– Reports of agitation among the Shiite Muslim population in India. Call given for 20,000 to 100,000 Shiite volunteers to go to the conflict zone to protect sacred Shia shrines and Shia Muslims from the IS.

27 June- First reported sighting of IS flags and banners in Kashmir.

29 June–Report of an Indian origin foreign fighter fighting alongside the IS emerges. The person is identified as 38 year old Haji Farkkurudin Usman Ali, a Tamil Nadu origin Singapore citizen.

2 July- The IS releases a video with self proclaimed Caliph vowing to avenge the ill-treatment of Muslims in countries around the world including India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

3 July–Amidst the ongoing civil war in the region, Kurdish leadership calls for better economic and political ties with India.

5 July–46 Indian nurses held captive under the IS return to India.

10 July– Pakistani based terror group Tehreek-e-Khilafat pledges allegiance to the Islamic State and Caliph Abu-Bakr-Al-Baghdadi. The group in the past has carried out attacks in parts of Karachi and is one of the militant groups under the Pakistani Taliban. This was the first time a group outside the Middle East pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

11 July- The Afghan Taliban rejects the Islamic State and its self proclaimed Caliphate. It urges its fighters and supports to not heed the call of Baghdadi.

12 July–With the growing fears of radicalisation of Indian youth, the Home Ministry proposes an anti-radicalisation committee to prevent Islamic radicalisation.

13 July–First reports of Indian citizens joining the insurgent group in Iraq. 18 Indians from part of Maharashtra, Tamilnadu and Karnataka reportedly have joined the group. 

16 July–Abdul Raqib Amin, UK citizen of Bangladesh origin dies fighting for the Islamic State in a gun battle near the city of Ramadi.

17 July–20 Maldivian nationals reportedly killed while fighting on behalf of the Islamic State.

17 July- 26 Muslim youth from Tamilnadu post pictures wearing t-shirts supporting the IS.

30 July- IS flags waved in Kashmir indicating some support for the group.

2 August- A group of five Bangladeshi men pledge allegiance to the Islamic State and Baghdadi.

6 August- Indian students studying in the West and Gulf States have been more susceptible to the ISIS’s extremism call. A Kerala youngster in Dubai, a Hyderabadi student from Texas and a Kashmiri boy studying in Australia have reportedly joined the group.

12 August- The Islamic State expresses interest in having imprisoned Pakistani scientist, Afia Siddiqi as its cadre.

13 August- Reports emerge of an IS propaganda video featuring a Canadian foreign fighter being tailored to South Asian languages. Videos re-uploaded with Hindi, Tamil and Urdu subtitles. First signs of the media wings of IS and affiliates specifically targeting Muslims in the South Asian region.

18 August- The Muslim council of Sri Lanka condemns the Islamic State and its actions against other religious minorities.

27 August- Dissatisfied faction of the Pakistani Taliban break away and form the Jamaat-e-Ahrar. Although the group led by Omar Khalid Khorasani is an admirer of the Islamic State it does not pledge alliance to it as it does not want to strain relationships with Al-Qaeda.

29 August- India warns the United States about Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror groups sending Jihadi recruits to join the IS.

3 September- Islamic State propaganda material found being distributed in parts of Pakistan especially near Peshawar and the Pak-Afghan border. A number of local groups including the Salafi Taliban operating in areas such as Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan pledge allegiance to the IS. Some other groups such as Ahrarul Islam recognize the need for a bigger Islamic state without borders in Asia but do not recognize Baghdadi as the Caliph.

5 September- Police foil plan of four youth from Hyderabad to join the IS ranks. They were tracked down to Kolkata where they were planning cross the border to Bangladesh and then to flee to Iraq.

6 September- Three of the four youths from Mumbai who joined the Islamic State express their desire to return to India.

6 September- 300 individuals in the pro-Islamist rally in Male protest against democracy and call for the Shariah.

8 September- Iran claims to have arrested Pakistani and Afghan volunteers to fight for the IS as they try to cross its border. The exact number of people arrested is unclear.

9 September- Lucknow based Shia-organization raises bounty of Rupees 1 crore for five heads of Islamist organizations including IS leader Baghdadi.

13 September- First reports of a young man from Chennai of becoming the first Indian suicide bomber in the conflict zone emerge. The youth had left for the conflict zone on 24 May.

19 September- Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he does not believe that Islamist groups will be able to recruit freely among Indian Muslims. He says he believes in the sensibilities in the Indian Muslim community and calls Islamist strategy to recruit Indian Muslims as “delusional”.

23 September-: The National Investigative Agency (NIA) and the Home Ministry deliberate plans to prosecute returning Jihadis under the Unlawful activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

25 September- NIA reveals that the Indian Mujahideen wanted to be the Islamic State in India, replicating the Iraq-Syria crisis in the Indian context. IM operatives also planned on getting direct training from the IS.

26 September- NIA reveals that Ansar-ul-Tawhid fi Bilad al Hind (AuT) an Afghan-Pakistan based terror group with Indian Jihadists has recently been associated with the IS, and has endorsed the group on social media. IM operatives such as Mohammad Shafi Armar and Abdul Kadir Sultan Armar associated with AuT expressed intent to travel to Syria and Iraq.

26 September- Islamic Organization of Great Afghanistan pledges allegiance to the Islamic State and its Caliph Baghdadi.

28 September- Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) director Syed Asif Ibrahim sent to Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Indian Government to help develop a strategy that would prevent the radicalisation of Muslim youth, especially in view of the threat posed by the Islamic State.

29 September- British citizen of Bangladeshi origin Saimun Rahman arrested in Dhaka for recruiting Bangladeshi nationals for the IS.

30 September- Vikram Doraisamy, Joint Secretary of India’s Ministry of External Affairs says that India would not be a part of any coalition against the IS but would take significant steps in tackling the issue of radicalisation.

4 October- Five Pakistan Taliban commanders pledge allegiance to the Islamic State.

8 October- Ansar al-Tawhid fi’Bilad al-Hind releases a video asking individuals to commit violent acts in India.

16 October- National Security Adviser Ajit Doval says that the IS is not a threat to India at the moment. The threat in India in the past has largely been limited to LeT, IM, SIMI and other home-grown domestic groups. The transnational threat doesn’t seem to affect India as it does in other parts of the world. He said the Indian security establishment would be wary of links between foreign and domestic terror groups.

18 October- Youth arrested in Mumbai for planning to attack the American School in Bandra-Kurla. 24 year old Anis Ansari was motivated by Baghdadi and IS message. He had used social networking sites to communicate to friends about his intentions.

31 October- The IS is said to have recruited 10000 to 12000 fighters from the Balochistan province.

1 November- Reports of five ISIS commanders entering Pakistan from Australia. The number of Pakistani IS fighters is estimated to be 370.

3 November- Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent spokesperson Usama Mahmood in a tweet calls for support for the IS and violent response to the American led coalition.

12 November – Indian origin UK jihadist, Siddhartha Dhar currently on trial in the UK flees to the conflict zone to fight with the IS. He was a key connection in many UK based terror plots.

15 November- IS commander, Abu Hudhaifah confirms the presence of a large number of Indian fighters in the conflict zone. He claims that the fighters are distributed over Iraq and Syria, they are mainly from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Gujarat includes some fighters who migrated with their families. He also reiterates the long term goal of waging Jihad in India and its neighbours Pakistan and Bangladesh.

17 November- Splinter group of the Pakistan Taliban, Jundullah pledges allegiance to the Islamic State and Baghdadi.

18 November- The Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) in a letter to the Union Home Ministry warns of the increasing radicalisation of Indian youth and the need to ban the Islamic State.

20 November- Maharashtra youth Areeb Majeed expresses his desire to return to India. His father approaches the NIA.

21 November – About 100 Maldivian nationals are said to be fighting alongside the IS. Five so far have been reported killed.

22 November – Indian based Shia group, Anjuman-e-Haideri releases a statement that a six member team will travel to Iraq as a first step toward sending Shia volunteers to protect Shiite shrines in the conflict region.

27 November – Pakistan’s former interior Minister, Rehman Malik claims that the IS has established direct contact with Taliban leaders and that it was like to announce a Pakistan region head soon.

28 November - Areeb Majeed flown from Istanbul to India by the NIA. Upon his arrival he was arrested and taken by NIA for interrogation. He claims that the IS has special plans for India and the threat is real.

30 November – Home Minister Rajnath Singh says the Islamic State and its terror designs and strategy are directly attempting to recruit Indian Muslims.

8 December - Reports of strong student support base for the IS in Afghanistan, especially in Kabul University where discussions on the merits of the IS take place, with many students vowing to fight in Syria and Iraq and eventually establish IS presence in Afghanistan. A dozen students are said to have formed an underground group in relation to this too.

13 December – Indian police arrest Mehdi Biswas, the handler of the most influential IS propagandist account ‘ShamiWitness’. An executive in a multinational company in Bangalore, he was a source of incitement and information for new recruits.

15 December- Home Minister Rajnath Singh discloses to Indian parliament that the IS has now been banned as a terror group. He maintains that the influence of ISIS as a terror group is very marginal among the Muslim youth.

16 December- Rajnath Singh makes a statement regarding the social media threat of IS. A Committee to review the areas of cyberspace monitoring is the process of being set up.

23 December- One of the Mumbai based youths who tried to flee the IS facility has reportedly been captured and held hostage by the terror group.

31 December- India bans 32 websites including popular websites such as Vimeo for their IS related anti-India content.

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(Compiled by Surya Valliappan Krishna. This timeline is a part of Mantraya.org’s “Islamic State in South Asia” project. Surya is a lead researcher with the project.)

For all publications relating to the “Islamic State in South Asia” project, click HERE.

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