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MANY have criticized the US government for clandestinely supporting IS (Daesh). It is ‘running with the hare and hunting with the hound’, as it is on one hand supporting Iraq government against IS, and on the other supporting Daesh in Afghanistan. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has already exposed the nexus between US and IS, claiming that United States (US) has links with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS). Karzai further stated that US Army helicopters are used to supply weapons and provide assistance to IS terrorists. Earlier, on April 20 during an interview, Karzai claimed that IS was a “tool” of the United States and that he does not differentiate between IS and US. Apparently, IS does not have any chain of command in the region, but a few dissidents of Afghan Taliban and splinter groups from banned TPP and Jamiatul Ahrar have affiliation with IS who operate from Afghanistan.
There is no official confirmation of the presence of ISIS in Pakistan; however the top world intelligence agencies like RAW, CIA and MI6 are supporting ISIS in Afghanistan, which has adverse impact on Pakistan too. There is a strong perception that India and US are endeavouring to sabotage CPEC, for which they need IS ingress into Pakistan. The trend of IS targeting young people is a global phenomenon, which is likely to persist, thanks to the western world. According to a report, about 5000 westerners had travelled to Iraq and Syria (many via Turkey) to join IS. Of these, more than 500 came from the US, at least 1000 from UK and more than 3500 from France and rest of Europe. What has ISIS actually done on ground? It has destroyed Iraq, Libya and Syria, and is cause of disunity of Islamic World. Has ISIS ever launched an attack against Israel?
Pakistan has successfully flushed out the terrorism from its soil, and there is no footprint of IS, as the organization has dug itself in Afghanistan’s Northern Region, bordering with Pakistan. Of course, Pakistan has taken measures to strengthen the security and management of the Pak-Afghan border to take terrorists head on. However, IS is using a different strategy i.e. targeting the educated youth of Pakistan through internet. IS in Afghanistan does not appear to have direct link with its leadership in Iraq and Syria. But this is not to say that IS doesn’t pose a threat. Early on, a few Afghan Taliban commanders and fighters disillusioned with their own leadership defected to IS, which also teamed up with TTP elements as well as militants from Chechnya and Uzbekistan. In October 2016, the ISIS franchise had reportedly cooperated with a band radical organization called Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in an assault on a police academy in the Pakistani city of Quetta.
A few months ago, the Press Trust India (PTI) reported that Tech savvy al-Hindi, ISIS chief recruiter in India, has been operating on Facebook and other personal messenger services to contact, brainwash and recruit young men from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The Islamic State had claimed that an Indian suicide bomber killed a number of people in an attack in Raqqa, Syria, the de-facto capital of the terror group. In a statement in Arabic via its Amaq propaganda agency, the IS identified the Indian bomber as Abu Yusuf al- Hindi, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based monitoring firm. The terror group claimed killing and wounding a number of, what it described, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) apostates in the suicide attack involving the Indian bomber. International media hardly highlights terror acts by Hindu extremists or the ISIS activities in India.
According to Indian MAG magazine report, Al-Hindi, the fugitive chief recruiter for the IS in the Indian subcontinent, known as Mohammed Shafi Armar, was named as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” by the US in June 2017, becoming the first Indian leader of the outfit against whom America imposed sanctions. An Interpol Red Corner notice was also pending against the bomber. While announcing sanctions, it had said that he cultivated a group of IS sympathisers who were involved in terrorist activities across India, such as plotting attacks, procuring weapons and identifying locations for terrorist training camps. There are many extremist Hindu organizations and separatist movements in India that resort to terror acts. However, for every terror act in India, fingers of accusation are pointed towards Pakistan, and as a result of the propaganda blitz by India the world starts believing it.
Since August 2014, western media has been mentioning that the Islamic State has recruiters all over the Western world seeking out new members though social media or known jihadi supporters in Canada, Britain, the US and other largely non-Muslim nations. The US State Department had said it knew of dozens of US citizens fighting with the Islamic State; the Canadian government had then claimed that there were at least 130 and the British government’s headcount was 500. The question is what westerners have done on their part to stop that recruitment network? Their oblivion or lack of action to stop the recruiting from Europe was reflective of their duplicity and hypocrisy. In Pakistan, once IS pamphlets were distributed, but it was a handful of dissidents of the Taliban who out of frustration tried to showcase their strength using the IS name through wall-chalking and once hoisting a flag in Islamabad.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.
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