A little-known Islamist militant group with ties to al-Qaeda has issued a warning to India, just days after Narendra Modi, whom some see as anti-Muslim, won a landslide election. Many people label Modi a Hindu nationalist and accuse him of doing little to stop (and possibly even encouraging) the 2002 riots in Gujarat, in which hundreds of Muslim civilians were killed. In its video, the group, called Ansar-ut-Tawheed fi Bilaad Hind (Brotherhood for Monotheism in the land of Hind), repeatedly mentions the Gujarat massacre and warns Indians to expect new attacks in retaliation.The Guardian reports:
The group is thought by officials to be based in the restive semi-autonomous border zone of western Pakistan and possibly to have connections to al-Qaida’s senior leadership and local Pakistani militants.“In 2002, Muslims were massacred under a planned conspiracy in Gujarat,” the video says, before describing alleged atrocities and accusing the Indian state of persecuting Muslims.“O lions of faith, target the oppressive and infidel Indian government’s financial centres and economic interests within India and those located around the world, until Indian government reaches the brink of destruction,” says the speaker, who calls himself Abdur Rehman al Hindi (the Indian).
Militant Islamists have carried out violent attacks in India before. In 2001, militants targeted the Indian parliament, killing several people and precipitating a tense standoff between the two nuclear-armed countries, during which troops massed menacingly along their border. In 2008, militants from the same organizations attacked Mumbai, killing dozens of people and bringing the city to a complete standstill for days. Indians’ fear of militant Islam also played a role in the riots and massacres that swept Assam in 2012 and the ensuing flight of tens of thousands of people from their homes. Some Indian politicians and groups play up that fear for their own ends by suggesting that India faces a homegrown Islamic militancy movement. And in Kashmir, long an object of desire for Islamic militants like Ayman al-Zawahiri, separatists have waged a struggle for independence, sometimes backed by fighters from Pakistan. Their efforts have lead to thousands of deaths and an enduring climate of anxiety.There’s no clear indication that the group that released the video is planning an attack on India, but the country’s struggle against militant Islam could grow worse over the next few years. With the U.S. drawing down in Afghanistan, India is reinforcing its ties to Kabul, to Pakistan’s displeasure. Some Pakistani leaders may not look kindly on a friendly relationship between Afghanistan and India, and may try to undermine it. Pakistan could remind both countries of its power to shake things up by supporting militant groups active within their borders.And as we already know, Modi is not the type of leader to back down or turn the other cheek when he feels threatened.