The Paradox of the New Jihadi

The local manifestation of a global pattern

It is hard to say, but it may well be that the Indian media prevented the Indian Mujahideen from setting off their tenth bomb. The earliest reports of the contents of their email made them appear merely dangerously confused. But as we learn more about what exactly they said in their email, it is clear that their message was not merely incendiary. It is, as Praveen Swami puts it, a manifesto for the “Indian Mujahideen’s Declaration of Open War Against India. Declaration of Open War Against India.” [via Sandeep]

Because that document has profound implications for India’s psychological preparation for the long war ahead, it is incumbent on the media and the government to make the entire document public.

Mr Swami’s article makes it abundantly clear that pattern of contemporary global ‘jihad’ has manifested itself in India. Now, terrorist attacks by Islamic groups are nothing new for India—but in the past these were linked to the secessionist movement and later, the proxy war in Jammu & Kashmir; or any number of Pakistan’s extended jihadi apparatus, including the Dawood Ibrahim’s organised crime network. The difference between those attacks and the more recent ones is that whereas the former involved either foreigners or “hardcore” locals, the latter involve individuals and cells from a broader section of the India’s Muslim population.

Paradoxically, while many of the New Jihadis are home-grown, the reason for their energetic mobilisation is global. As the Indian Mujahideen say in their email, they are motivated by the belief that “we Muslims are one across the globe.” India, therefore, in the minds of the New Jihadis is but one front, their front, in the global jihad. While they cite the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Godhra riots as the reasons for their attacks—which their apologists are quick to ingest—the fact that their violence is directed against the Indian people and the Indian state, including Muslims who disagree with their ideology, suggests that these grievances are either excuses or propaganda slogans for their primary agenda.

At this point, it is common for the Indian debate to be hung up on whether injustice leads to terrorism or the other way around, but because the New Jihadis see themselves as part of a global religious war, it is reasonable to conclude that no amount of ‘justice’—short of the impossible goal of reordering Indian society along their demands—will convince them to halt their struggle. Such implacability makes it extremely easy for foreign interests to use the New Jihadis to pursue their strategic objectives. The old jihadis, for instance, could be controlled strategically by squeezing Pakistan. This approach won’t work too well against the New Jihadis.

What this means is that the only course open to India is to fight the New Jihadis to the finish. They have already declared war on India. Now, it is not that the Indian government is not fighting—it is, and it has notched some notable gains against SIMI in recent years. But because the entire debate of counter-terrorism has been coloured in the tired old colours of “communalism”, “secularism” and “minorities”, the Indian government, and the political establishment, has failed to mobilise the nation for this war.

5 thoughts on “The Paradox of the New Jihadi”

  1. Both the old jihadi as well as the new jihadi are motivated by theologically inspired hatred of the unbeliever. There’s nothing new in that department at all. The underlying premise of “Kashmiri” secessionism is that Muslim-majority Kashmir valley should not be part of a kaffir-ruled union. “Kashmiri aspirations” etc is the glib talk of the usual suspects: leftwing extremists and crypto-Islamists. Non-muslims of Kashmir — indeed, even non-Sunni Muslims — never shared these “aspirations”.

    I agree though that the old jihadi was most often a Pakistan-trained operative whose objective was limited to breaking up India, while the new jihadi is a local who is part of the global network organized around the fantasy of a world-wide Islamic conquest.

  2. Well said, Oldtimer.

    The pattern of jihadis assembled by the global jihad is disturbing in the extreme. Take the thai jihad being waged in the Yala province bordering Malaysia. Once peaceful and progressive, its today rife with beheadings of buddhists, assasinations, ghettoisation and creeping sharia. One reason the popular PM Thaksin Shinwantara was removed in a palace coup was his unbending opposition to izlamization of the Thai south.

    Take also the pattern observed in formerly moderate (relatively speaking) states such as Indonesia (look at Aceh today to see where the whole of Java and Sumantra are going) and Malaysia.

    If the global jihad and its vehicles of indoctrination, recruitment, training, arms supply, planning and organization etc can be scaled down to a sufficiently local level, we have a nightmare on our hands in India. We’ve lietrally dozens of districts which have IM popn at >40% and hundreds with >15%. A look at particularly egregious troublespots (in communist controlled states) like Malappuram in Kerala and Malda in WB should set alarm bells ringing.

    Question is, where do we go from here? One obvious answer is to full STOP all foreign funds coming in for islamic purposes – chartitable or not. That’s easier said than done and raises the possibility of open rioting. At least a scrutinization program of phoren funds to start with. Updating madrassa curricula (that sets so many beards aflame with indignation the last time it was proposed) has become an impertive. But beyond that, there’s little really the state can do, IMHO, without impinging on the fundamental constitutional rights like free expression, free association and free worship.

    Things will get a lot worse before they get better. At some point, things will get so bad that the clamor for the sarkar to do something will get a response that is not in line with constitutional guarantees. What will we do then?

    JMTs, IMVHOs etc.
    /Have a nice day, all.

  3. wrt Oldtimer’s comment

    local who is part of the global network organized around the fantasy of a world-wide Islamic conquest.

    I was listening to some stand-up comedy while driving to office and the guy was asking the terrorists to lower their expectations when offering prayers 5 times a day. Instead of global dominance, ask for a sandwich or something. Or how about an mp3 player..

  4. ….but because the New Jihadis see themselves as part of a global religious war, it is reasonable to conclude that no amount of ‘justice’—short of the impossible goal of reordering Indian society along their demands—will convince them to halt their struggle.

    In my opinion, even the re-ordering of society would not convince them because there will always be need for perpetual jihad. The doctrines behind pan-islamism are such that, even in a pan-Islamist-lead state, it will be just impossible to prevent the next guy from claiming(..and fighting for the claim…) that he’s a better muslim than the ones already in power. Nothing but a recipe for continuous conflict.

    Such implacability makes it extremely easy for foreign interests to use the New Jihadis to pursue their strategic objectives.

    Not just foreign interests, our pseudo-secular politicians want to do the same for their own interests. Hasnt our PM “lost sleep” in the past?

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