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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Thursday, August 02, 2007

India and the Jihadist Pit


By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

"The arrest of three foreign Muslim doctors in connection with the failed June 29-30 bombings in London and Glasgow, Scotland, has caused the British government to initiate a review of the process by which the National Health Service recruits doctors from abroad. This case, however, raises concerns far beyond the British Isles. Of the five main suspects in the case, three were born and raised in India -- in the high-tech hub of Bangalore, no less -- a fact that might suggest India is breeding transnational jihadists. Moreover, this Bangalore connection has raised fears among the city's foreign-owned technology companies.

India has had problems with Islamist militant groups since its independence. For most of this time, the militants -- whose goals are largely separatist/nationalist in nature -- have focused on India itself. Over the past few years, though, India's radical Islamist groups have begun to flirt with the concept of transnational jihadism as embraced by al Qaeda. However, while three of the suspects in the United Kingdom plot are Indian and do appear to have been motivated by jihadist ideology, this case does not signify that India has fallen into the jihadist pit -- at least not yet.

In fact, India's Muslim community has not provided a strong radical current for jihadists to exploit. It is important to note that the Ahmed brothers were not radicalized in India (or even in Saudi Arabia, where they lived for a time). Rather, they were radicalized while living in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Londonistan has a history of doing that to impressionable Muslim lads. For instance, it is telling that Kafeel allegedly conducted his operation with his friends in the United Kingdom and not his friends in Bangalore.

According to our information, al Qaeda is not focusing on India, largely because it believes there is no real hope of stirring up a jihadist uprising there. Indeed, Indian Muslims are far more integrated in India than they are in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Additionally, Indian Muslims are much more moderate and tend to practice the Sufi form of Islam. Al Qaeda also is concerned about being betrayed by Pakistani assets in India.

This source information has been supported by events on the ground. In spite of the attempts to provoke communal violence inside India by attacking both Hindu and Muslim religious sites, the majority of Indian Muslims have not taken the bait -- much to the dismay of these militant groups.

Therefore, the largest jihadist threat to targets in India right now appears to be Indian Muslims who are radicalized outside India. The large number of Indian Muslims studying abroad could include some who will return home as jihadists and infiltrate Western high-tech companies operating in India"


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