Al Qaeda still maintains a presence in South Asia: UN report.
United Nations: Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), set up by Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in 2014 to expand the terror group’s influence in the region, is “ideologically inclined” to carry out attacks inside India but its capability is believed to be low and is relatively isolated owing to increased security measures, according to a UN report.
The AQIS, the Al Qaeda’s regional affiliate, is led by Asim Umar — an Indian and former member of Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami.
The 22nd report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, submitted to the UN Security Council Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee, said that AQIS is “relatively isolated owing to increased security measures within the wider region, but the group continues to seek security gaps for opportunistic attacks.”
The group is “ideologically inclined to carry out attacks inside India but its capability is believed to be low,” it said, adding that according to Member States, the strength of AQIS in Afghanistan is estimated at several hundred people, located in Laghman, Paktika, Kandahar, Ghazni and Zabul provinces.
In September 2014, Zawahiri had announced the creation of Al Qaeda’s regional affiliate AQIS, taking advantage of sanctuaries in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“A new branch of Al Qaeda was established — Qaeda al-Jihad in the Indian subcontinent, seeking to raise the flag of jihad,...And return the Islamic rule across the Indian subcontinent,” Zawahiri had said at the time.
An earlier report had said that fighters of AQIS operate as advisers and trainers of the Taliban. They recruit personnel from remote areas of India and Bangladesh.
Noting that Al Qaeda still maintains a presence in South Asia, the latest report said the group adapts to the local environment, trying to embed itself into local struggles and communities and is closely allied with the Taliban.
According to one Member State, although the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS, poses an immediate threat, Al-Qaeda is the “intellectually stronger group””and remains a longer-term threat.