Militancy sees sharp drift towards Islamism

SRINAGAR: The three militants who were eliminated in Anantnag on Monday drew inspiration from the global Islamist movement, revealing the growing influence of radical Islamism in the region.

Militancy sees sharp drift towards Islamism

Masked youth hold ISIS and Pakistani flags during a protest in Srinagar. Tribune Photo: Amin War

editorial@tribune.com

Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, March 13

The three militants who were eliminated in Anantnag on Monday drew inspiration from the global Islamist movement, revealing the growing influence of radical Islamism in the region.

Eisa Fazili, a young engineering student who joined militancy, first appeared in a video in September last year in which he quoted Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Anwar al-Awlaki, two prominent ideologues of the global jihadist movements.

In the months since then, the police kept chasing him as he escaped the dragnets. Fazili joined militant ranks in August last year and soon emerged as the face of a nascent and fledgling unit of the Islamic State, a militant organisation born out of the Al-Qaida in Iraq. Amaq, the media agency of the Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the attacks in which the police found the involvement of Fazili.

Last month, the police identified him as one of the assailants in the attack on a policeman guarding separatist leader Fazal Haq Qureshi. The policeman was killed, his rifle snatched and the attack claimed by Amaq.

Even as authorities remained tight-lipped about the presence of Islamic State militants in the region, police officials investigating the cases began joining the dots.

The emerging links, more evident on social media sites where militants frequently share their pictures and statements, are opening a new form of insurgency that is rapidly evolving and drawing its inspiration from global jihadist movements.

Fazili was killed in a pre-dawn counter-insurgency operation in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Monday along with two other militants. The police identified the second militant as Syed Owais and details shared on social media provided his other name as Abu Bara al-Kashmiri, hinting to a possibility that he was the militant who had recently appeared in a video where he announced the formation of the local unit of the Islamic State.

The third militant killed in the operation has not been officially identified even as unverified claims on social media identified him as a resident of Hyderabad.

A senior police official said the police were verifying these claims. “They were initially with the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen but later claims were made by the Islamic State which are a point of investigation,” the official said.

The official said the three militants were killed in a “swift operation”. Even as the police remain tight-lipped about the presence of the Islamic State-inspired militants in the region, the signs of their emergence are too obvious.

The drift in the region’s insurgency towards global Islamism has also pitched it against the quarters harbouring pro-Pakistan agenda. Insurgency is undergoing a drastic evolution as the global jihadist narrative, promoted by the Al-Qaida-linked Zakir Musa and by militants like Fazili, is finding supporters across the region as evidenced by the changing slogans at funerals.

At Fazili’s funeral on the city outskirts in Soura, the pro-Pakistan activists insisting on waving green flags clashed with the Islamists who were waving black flags – a reflection of the deepening fissures and ideological faultlines in the separatist camp.

Jihadist narrative

The drift in the region’s insurgency towards global Islamism has also pitched it against the quarters harbouring pro-Pakistan agenda. Insurgency is undergoing a drastic evolution as the global jihadist narrative, promoted by the Al-Qaida-linked Zakir Musa and by militants like Fazili, is finding supporters across the region as evidenced by the changing slogans at funerals.

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