Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) chief Maulana Asim Umar’s statement urging Indian Muslims to target senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) officers might be an effort to drum up propaganda but it should be taken with all seriousness, security officials and analysts warned.
In his statement, Umar said the state and its departments were equally responsible for the incidents against Muslims in India.
“Start Jehad with the strength that Allah has already granted you. Kill senior officers of institutions and administrative departments that get (people to) start these riots. Target IPS and IAS officers. Cause them financial losses,” Umar said in a statement put out by SITE, a non-governmental counter-terror group that researches and analyses terror threats.
Umar, whose original name is Sanaul Haq, was declared the chief of AQIS by the group’s head Ayman al-Zawahiri in September 2014. Counterterror officials say Umar was a native of Sambhal in Uttar Pradesh before leaving India for Pakistan in 1999.
“The possibility of attacks - carried out by lone wolfs who are basically self-radicalised Jehadi without any linkages with groups like al Qaeda or Islamic State or even by a group of jihadis on directions of their handlers sitting outside the country - on senior bureaucrats cannot be ruled out. Maoists have targeted many IPS officers in the past,” NR Wasan, who retired as chief of bureau of Police Research and Development, said.
Officials say India has never seen a lone wolf attack and all terror attacks have been carried out by well-coordinated groups with support from their handlers sitting outside the country.
“But there might be many closet radicals who might get influenced by what happened in Colorado in the US. At any given time 100 to 150 boys remain under watch for their online activities by the security agencies to discount any possibility in this regard. Online propaganda put out by Asim Umar or the IS is mainly directed at these people only,” a counterterror official said.
He spoke on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The United States has put AQIS in its ‘foreign terrorist organization’ list and named Umar as a ‘global terrorist’ after it claimed responsibilities for killing Bangladeshi bloggers, gay rights activists and US nationals.