Alert in Valley over ISIS claim

| | New Delhi/ Srinagar
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Alert in Valley over ISIS claim

Monday, 13 May 2019 | PNS | New Delhi/ Srinagar

Intelligence agencies have been put on high alert after the Islamic State terror group has claimed through social media that they have established a new "province" in India. The declaration was made by ISIS through its news agency Amaq News Agency, which is itself blacklisted by the US for terror related money laundering along with Al-Hayat Media Centre. 

The Arabic name of the new branch is "Wilayah of Hind" (India Province), the dreaded terror outfit, (also known as ISIS and ISIL), said through its Amaq News Agency. Though Intelligence agencies reject this development as just a claim, they exercise caution regarding its possible supporters in Kashmir and other sensitive regions. Many senior Jammu & Kashmir police officers have also rejected the claim.

The ISIS' news agency, Amaq, did not elaborate on the branch's geographical remit as it mentioned the name of its new branch in a low-key announcement. The ISIS operates two news agencies known as Amaq and Al-Hayat Media Centre. Both were blacklisted by the US for terror related money laundering in March 2019.

Many Intelligence officers feel the announcement of the new branch is a part of ISIS' strategy to give the impression of strengthening its global affiliations following the territorial losses in the Middle East. Such strategies of fake announcements were highlighted by ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the past. "But this shows that they have some sleeper cells in certain regions physically and in the online world," said a senior IB officer.

The brief ISIS statement of May 10 via the messaging app Telegram said that the Islamic State terrorists using machine guns had clashed with the Indian security forces in the village of Amshipora in Kashmir's Shopian district, killing or injuring a number of them. The statement, however, did not mention when the alleged clashes occurred.

Media reports on May 10 said that one militant was killed in clashes with security forces in Kashmir's Shopian district. ISIS began claiming attacks against Indian security forces in Kashmir since November 2017 without any branch affiliation. Prevously, ISIS attacks in Kashmir were linked to its so-called Khorasan Province branch, which was set up in 2015 to cover "Afghanistan, Pakistan and nearby lands".

Though agencies feel these fake announcements are part of rumour mongering and miischives in the social media, they say caution must be exercised on these elements.

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