ISKP in Afghanistan for Terrorism in Pakistan

The arrest of Sanaul Islam, in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, identified as a member of the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), highlights a concerning trend of Indian citizens’ involvement in terrorism, particularly in Afghanistan. This incident raises significant questions about the presence of Indian nationals in Afghanistan and their links with terrorist organizations like ISKP. The apprehension of Sanaul Islam adds to a growing body of incidents that suggest a pattern of Indian involvement in regional terrorism, which is a matter of serious concern for neighboring countries, especially Pakistan.

The presence of Indian citizens in the ranks of terrorist organizations in Afghanistan is not an isolated phenomenon. In October 2023, two Indian citizens were arrested in Karnataka for their links with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), another terrorist outfit. These incidents are indicative of a broader trend where India is emerging as a breeding ground for terrorism, with nationals being exported to partake in terrorist activities in regional countries. This development is alarming and warrants a thorough examination of the factors contributing to this trend.

The involvement of Indian citizens in terrorism and their nexus with international terrorist organizations (ITOs) has been substantiated by various media reports. Allegations have surfaced suggesting that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s external intelligence agency, has been actively recruiting Indian citizens, particularly from vulnerable sections of the Muslim community. These individuals are reportedly sent to Afghanistan to join terrorist organizations like ISKP, TTP, and Al-Qaeda (AQ) with the aim of planning and sponsoring terrorist activities in Pakistan. This represents a significant shift in the pattern of regional terrorism and implicates the Indian state in the support and propagation of terrorist activities against its neighbors.

The case of Mohammad Zoheb Khan, a key member of ISKP in India, further illustrates the depth of the issue. Khan identified his handler as Abu Ahmad, based in Afghanistan, and was involved in maintaining contact with sleeper cells and recruiting for ISIS in India. Moreover, the killing of Abu Usman Al-Kashmiri, an Indian citizen and the first Ameer of ISKP, in Afghanistan in January 2023, underscores the direct involvement of Indian nationals in the leadership ranks of terrorist organizations. These incidents point to a structured network of terrorism recruitment and operation that spans across borders, involving Indian citizens and implicating the Indian state in these activities.

India’s role in nurturing terrorism under state patronage and its weaponization of terrorism, leveraging its newfound global relevance, presents a significant challenge to regional security. The utilization of Tajikistan’s territory as a transit route for terrorists entering Afghanistan not only endangers Tajikistan’s sovereignty but also poses a broader regional security threat. This strategy of exploiting neighboring countries’ territories for terrorism purposes reflects a deliberate policy to destabilize the region and project power through non-state actors.

The implications of Indian citizens’ involvement in terrorism in Afghanistan and their connections with terrorist groups are far-reaching. It not only complicates the security landscape of South Asia but also raises questions about the international community’s role in addressing state-sponsored terrorism. The pattern of Indian nationals being linked to terrorist activities and organizations in the region suggests a systematic approach to using terrorism as a tool of foreign policy, which has grave implications for regional peace and stability.

The international community, particularly countries in South Asia, must take cognizance of these developments and work collaboratively to address the root causes of terrorism. This includes not only countering violent extremism and disrupting terrorist networks but also addressing the political and economic grievances that often fuel terrorism. Moreover, there must be a concerted effort to hold states accountable for their role in supporting and fostering terrorism as a means of achieving geopolitical objectives.

Lastly, the arrest of Sanaul Islam and other Indian nationals for their involvement in terrorism in Afghanistan highlights a troubling trend that has significant implications for regional security. The evidence of Indian citizens participating in terrorist activities and the alleged support of the Indian state for such groups suggest a deliberate strategy to destabilize the region. This situation calls for a comprehensive response from the international community, aimed at addressing the underlying causes of terrorism and holding accountable those states that support and propagate terrorist activities. The challenge of terrorism in South Asia is a complex and multifaceted issue that requires a unified and determined effort to overcome.

Sahibzada Usman
Sahibzada Usman

The writer holds a PhD in geopolitics and is the author of ‘Different Approaches on Central Asia: Economic, Security, and Energy’ with Lexington, USA.

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