Burhan’s successor spells out ideological shift in militancy

SRINAGAR: A young militant commander based in south Kashmir in his latest video statement has distanced the region’s militant movement from the “war of nationalism”, saying that the fight was for “supremacy of Islam”.

editorial@tribune.com

Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, March 15

A young militant commander based in south Kashmir in his latest video statement has distanced the region’s militant movement from the “war of nationalism”, saying that the fight was for “supremacy of Islam”.

The video statement released by Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Rashid Bhat, alias Musa, is the newest indication of a serious ideological shift in the region’s militancy. The video was shared on social media sites and fits into the ideological debate that separated state-sponsored militant groups from the non-state global Islamist groups.

In the 11-minute video, the bearded militant spoke softly as he advised stone-throwing protesters, threatened police and their informers, and redefined the ideological contours of the region’s militant movement. He also described the militants as “soldiers of Allah”.

“I tell my stone-thrower brothers not to fall for war of nationalism. I see that many people in Kashmir are engaged in a war of nationalism, which is forbidden in Islam,” he said as he praised protesters who attempted to defend besieged militants in recent months.

Zakir described nationalism and democracy as “forbidden in Islam”, echoing the ideology of global militant movements and differing from the traditional line of the region’s political separatists. He said the intent behind throwing stones and picking up arms should only be “to establish Allah’s rule and supremacy of Islam”.

A former engineering student who joined militancy in August 2013, Zakir said the fight should be “exclusively for Islam, so that Shariyat is established here”.

It is the most pronounced statement of intent by a militant in the region and is distinct from the separatists’ political rhetoric which describes Kashmir as a “political issue”.

Earlier, Zakir’s predecessor Burhan Wani — who was the face of a new generation of militants in the region and was killed in July last year — in his first video statement in August 2015 had vowed to fight for establishing a caliphate.

Zakir also mocked the United Nations, whose 1948 resolutions are holy-grail for the separatists, and urged people to “tightly hold to the rope of Allah”. “Instead we have pinned hopes on UN, US and infidels. We should pin hope on Allah only,” he said.

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