Intelligence officials in West Bengal have found a purported al Qaeda pamphlet, which talks about establishing an ISIS-style Islamic caliphate in Bangladesh – one that eventually includes several eastern and northeastern Indian states.
The pamphlet, written in Bangla and being secretly distributed in West Bengal and Assam, says establishing a caliphate in Bangladesh is crucial for intensifying jihad in Indian states on the eastern border. The text, credited to al-Qaeda’s media wing, specifically mentions West Bengal and Assam, though intelligence officials suspect Bihar and Jharkhand also feature in the terror group’s plans.
“If we manage to establish a Syria-like reign here (in Bangladesh) then Muslims from Assam, Arakan (former name of Burma’s Rakhine State) and West Bengal too would be able to come here for hijrat (migration with religious agenda). Simultaneously, anti-India revolts would intensify in seven eastern Indian states,” says the pamphlet. “This would be a huge blow for India, one of the key non-Muslim states in the changed situation of the world.”
The discovery of the jihadi literature comes after al Qaeda announced its plans in September to open a branch in the Indian subcontinent. The pamphlet, urging people to restore the Islamic rule of pre-colonial India, may raise new security challenges amid growing communal polarisation in West Bengal, analysts said.
“We have got a copy of the leaflet. We will soon send it to New Delhi. This issue has to be discussed at the top level,” a senior officer working with a central intelligence agency told HT on Wednesday.
The pamphlet, suspected to have been smuggled into the state through Bangladesh, was discovered a few days before the October 2 Burdwan blast in which two operatives of the militant outfit, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), were killed while making bombs in a house.
HT has a copy of the seven-page pamphlet but could not verify if it is an al Qaeda document.
“They have active modules in Jharkhand and Bihar. We have specific inputs that many of those operating in West Bengal had also visited Jharkhand,” an intelligence officer told HT.
Analysts say al Qaeda’s efforts are the latest signs of the organisation striving to stay relevant in the face of growing support for ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
West Bengal home secretary Basudeb Banerjee refused to speak to HT, while additional director general of law and order Shibaji Ghosh and additional director general of intelligence Banibrata Basu did not respond to text messages.
The pamphlet comes close on the heels of the launch of al Qaeda’s English mouthpiece, Resurgence, which deals with its plans for India and Bangladesh. While an article on India urged Muslims here to “regain lost glory of ruling India”, another on Bangladesh stressed that the country was becoming an outpost of India “politically, economically and culturally”.