Indian Muslims & Al-Qaeda’s Non-existent “Indian Wing!”

Would it be fair to accord some credibility and legitimacy to the recent announcement made by a non-Indian “militant” leader about opening a branch of his militant group in India? The hype raised over his announcement in media as well as certain political and diplomatic circles certainly gives the impression that India needs to be alert over this militant leader’s intentions. This is equivalent to assuming that India has not been on alert over prospects of various terrorist groups’ entry into this country. In fact, had India not been continuously on the alert, the country may not have been as safe and peaceful as it is at present.

True, on and off, domestic skirmishes, at times of communal nature, still keep occurring in this country. But these are linked with internal, socio-political issues of the country. Internal problems, including communal clashes, cannot be linked with foreign militant groups’ agenda, whether it is labelled as “jihadi” or “hindutvadi”.

Interestingly, the militant leader’s announcement has failed to stir Indian Muslims even marginally or nominally.

Majority of Indian Muslims are not even aware of such militant leaders and their groups’ existence in other countries. A large percentage of Indian Muslims who are conscious of their presence are least interested in being associated with them.

Without doubt, the militant leader’s decision to open a wing of his group in India has earned him plenty of publicity across the world. Indirectly, this also proves this militant leader’s concern about his group lacking supporters in India. If the group really had active members in India, he would probably have refrained from issuing such an announcement. He would have probably preferred carrying on his task quietly. Giving it publicity is equivalent to setting Indian defence and security forces on alert against the activities of this and similar militant groups. A militant leader seriously concerned about attracting Indian Muslims to his group is not expected to lay a trap for his own agents being caught in their attempt to open a wing in India. After all, what else does the telecast of his video indicate? As headlines read, India is on alert.

The militant leader is probably least concerned about his video having put India on alert. If he were, there would not have been any video of his so-called aim to open a branch of his militant group in a strong and alert country. Without such a daring video the militant leader would not have earned so much publicity across the world. This probably was his key mission -- earn publicity, receive media coverage, political as well as diplomatic attention and remain in the limelight for some time. Had the video focussed on opening more branches of his militant group in Afghanistan or Pakistan, it probably would not have received any attention.

Chances of any international militant group, with or without a religious label, succeeding in India are extremely limited. Geographically, area-wise, India is the seventh largest country in the world and second most populated. Socially, India is home to major religions of the world. It has the second largest population of Muslims in the world, who form about 15 per cent of India’s population. Indian Muslims represent 24 percent of the global population of Muslims. The population of Indian Muslims is too large, diverse and widespread in the country to be easily influenced by a terrorist or extremist external group.  

If Indian Muslims were geographically concentrated in a few pockets and if their community could be labelled as united, without any major differences, the situation may have been different. Differences and certain divisions within Indian Muslims are to a degree also responsible for their being devoid of any common political party and of any person or group regarded as representative of the entire Indian Muslim community. Cultural differences, including commonly spoken languages, dress as well as political leanings among Indian Muslims vary remarkably from region to region. In addition, differences within Indian Muslims of groups, caste and class cannot also be overlooked. These include their being viewed as Sunni or Shia, as well as groups such as Syed, Sheikh, Pathan and also their professional and economic status. The importance of these differences is marked by their being given great importance to this day by Indian Muslim families while deliberating on matrimonial relations.  

Besides, religious freedom allowed in India as a part of its secular system together with its democratic, constitutional, cultural and historical roots leaves little scope for terrorism with religious labels to progress here. In India’s capital city, within a range of few kilometres, it is not surprising to come across several places of worship representing different communities, including Muslims, Christians and Hindus.

There is nothing surprising about Indian Muslims having unintentionally or deliberately ignored the militant leader’s call for their support. Their approach has probably compelled international experts and critics on counter-terrorism to regard his idea of opening a branch in India as “crazy” — a clear failure indeed!    

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 September 2014 on page no. 11

We hope you liked this report/article. The Milli Gazette is a free and independent readers-supported media organisation. To support it, please contribute generously. Click here or email us at

blog comments powered by Disqus