The news of Osama Bin Laden’s death has subsumed the World over the past one week. What has possibly escaped notice is the singular failure of Osama and his deadly terrorist network Al Qaeda in spreading their influence or carrying out a major terrorist attack in India. India should have been an ideal target for the Al Qaeda. India’s large Muslim population and matrix of Deobandi and Salafi strains may be ideal grounds for spread of Osama’s warped religious extremist ideology; however Indian Muslim’s total rejection of Al Qaeda’s ideology was a major failure for Bin Laden.
|The failure of the Al Qaeda in the Valley should be attributed to the people of Kashmir who have constantly rejected extremist ideology. Thus the indigenous Kashmiri group, the Hizbul Mujahideen did not support the Al Qaeda which proved to be the ultimate undoing of Osama Bin Laden’s dubious designs in India.
But this is not for want of trying; Al Qaeda has been attempting to establish a base in India and particularly in Jammu and Kashmir over the years. Reports trickle in at regular intervals of Al Qaeda’s plots to penetrate the country, more over Osama personally attempted to link India with other traditional target states as United States and Israel. Yet he failed to make much inroads and India successfully proved that Al Qaeda designs can be defeated without having a strong security and intelligence umbrella as the US or Israel by employing positive facets of Islam and benign nature and temperament of overwhelming majority of its followers. The secular pluralist ethos which is a part of the Indian civilization also defeated the extremist global terrorist’s narrow agenda which received much, “oxygen of publicity,” using modern tools of internet, CDs, dish antennas and television networks.
Osama surely tried his best to target India. He attempted to build ideological linkages, support networks, provided training to fighters and continued to provide finance if some reports are to be believed. Wikileaks has now revealed that al-Qaeda planned to bomb an Indian airliner and more importantly also use India as a base for training operatives, thereby perhaps breaking the umbilical linkages that terrorists always seemed to denote with Pakistan. In another Wikileaks revelation the Peruvian Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) reported that Al Qaeda was channeling money for terrorist funding in India through Europe. "The FIU also reports tracking cases similar to that of an OFAC-designated (US Office of Foreign Assets Control) of al-Qaeda element moving money from Europe through Lima and on to India," the Wikileaks reports indicated based on what FIU boss Enrique Saldivar had said.
Al Qaeda leaders in fact threatened India with dire consequences in February 2009 if it launches an offensive on Pakistan immediately the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. "India should know that it will have to pay a heavy price if it attacks Pakistan," Mustafa Abu Yazid the Al Qaeda head for Afghanistan said in a videotape. "The Mujahideen will sunder your armies into the ground, like they did to the Russians in Afghanistan."
One of al Qaeda’s commanders, Ilyas Kashmiri claiming to lead the so called 313 Brigade, warned immediately after February 2010 bomb attack in Pune that there would be many more to come. He specifically threatened to target important sports events such as the Hockey World Cup and Commonwealth Games. Kashmiri was quoted by the media thus, “We warn the international community not to send their people to the 2010 Hockey World Cup, the Indian Premier League and Commonwealth Games – to be held in New Delhi later this year. Nor should their people visit India – if they do, they will be responsible for the consequences.” The threat was no doubt taken seriously and the Indian Premier League was held in South Africa instead of India but otherwise adverse manifestations were avoided.
There have been reports in the past of organizations making statements with names linked to the global terrorist organization such as “Al-Qaeda Fil Hind” or al-Qaida in India but these have neither had the impact nor have proved to be credible. The group has also used some persons of Indian origin as Dhiren Barot but it appears that these were largely lone rangers who could be operating on their own without necessarily having any major base either within the organization or the nether world of terrorism at large.
The Al Qaeda did provide extensive support to diverse groups in Jammu and Kashmir such as the Harkat ul Mujahidin (HUM), Harkat ul Jehadi Islam (HUJI), Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and its political arm Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The HUM, HUJI, LET and JEM were members of the International Islamic Front (IIF) established by Osama Bin Laden in the 1990’s. Al Qaeda’s efforts particularly to increase the tempo of violence whenever Kashmir seemed to be returning to normalcy were also successful. This was marginal influence that was exercised directly in the Valley.
The failure of the Al Qaeda in the Valley should be attributed to the people of Kashmir who have constantly rejected extremist ideology. Thus the indigenous Kashmiri group, the Hizbul Mujahideen did not support the Al Qaeda which proved to be the ultimate undoing of Osama Bin Laden’s dubious designs in India.
Thus despite all the brouhaha, the Al Qaeda has not been successful in targeting India both ideologically as well as physically. There are important lessons here for the global community at large and particularly so the Islamic World that Indian brothers of their faith provide in rejecting extremism in all forms, the death of Osama should take this agenda forward.