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Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent: An Appraisal of the Threat in the Wake of the Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan

Even now, almost eight years after its creation, AQIS does not stand out for its operational activities.

Although it was founded almost eight years ago, al-Qa`ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) remains the newest formal affiliate of the global al-Qa`ida network. It is also the least understood of al-Qa`ida’s affiliates in terms of its structure and geographical scope, its overlap with al-Qa`ida Central, and its local embeddedness.

In the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the renewed motivation their victory has offered to jihadis worldwide, it is particularly relevant to take a closer look at the status of al-Qa`ida in South Asia and how the situation in Afghanistan may affect AQIS activities throughout the region. Although it is still too early to tell, it is most likely that al-Qa`ida, and particularly AQIS, is going to benefit from the Taliban takeover, both in Afghanistan and the region as a whole.

In October 2019, the new AQIS emir, Usama Mahmoud, said that “the success of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and the defeat of all the Tawaghit [tyrants] against them foretells the future of this jihadi movement which is moving forth in the subcontinent.” Yet, even now, almost eight years after its creation, AQIS does not stand out for its operational activities. The affiliate has only claimed a relatively small number of attacks throughout the region. Instead, its focus has been on uniting disparate militant groups in a cohesive structure, establishing an effective media apparatus, and diffusing targeted ideological messages to recruit and mobilize sympathizers.

Read more at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point

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