New Delhi: The terrorist group that carried out Sunday’s murderous suicide bombing at Wagah has followed it up with a threat to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“You are the killer of hundreds of Muslims,” Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat Ahrar (TTP-JA) spokesperson ‘Ehsanullah Ehsan’ said in a message released on his Twitter feed on Monday, hours after claiming responsibility for the Wagah strike, “We w(il)l take the revenge of innocent people of Kashmir and Gujarat” (sic).
Modi has been briefed at least twice in the last fortnight on the growing threat from complex webs of transnational jihadist groups operating from Pakistan’s war-torn north-west and their new Indian affiliates, who give them the assets needed to execute their threats.
One arm of the Indian Mujahideen, led by Karachi-based Riyaz Shahbandri and his lieutenant Muhammad Ahmad Zarar Siddibapa, has merged into al-Qaeda, intelligence officials say. The rival Indian Mujahideen group, known as the Ansar-ul-Tauheed, is training at camps run by the TTP-JA.
Each of the groups who have acquired Indian partners have rejected talks with the Pakistani government, instead committing to the destruction of the Pakistani state.
Led by Maulana Qasim, the TTP-JA was founded in September by commanders who rejected the Tehreek-e-Taliban’s decision to talk to the Pakistani government. Inspired by the Islamic State, its leadership also has close personal ties with al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri. Its key commander, journalist-turned-jihadist Omar Khalid Khorasani, seeks to overthrow the Pakistani government, impose shari’a, seize the country’s nuclear weapons, and wage jihad until “the Caliphate is established across the world”. In February, Omar Khalid executed 23 Pakistani soldiers by beheading, a message both to pro-dialogue commanders and the army.
Al-Zawahiri, in turn, has created a new subcontinental wing of al-Qaeda, that has threatened strikes against India. Indian Mujahideen cadre have been training with the new Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) for over a year, and Indian intelligence services have told the Prime Minister attempted strikes could be just months, or even weeks, away.
Leaders of the Indian Mujahideen and the central leadership of al-Qaeda, communications decrypted by the National Investigation Agency suggest, began negotiations on a merger in mid-2013. The effort was led by Karachi-based Riyaz Shahbandri, who wanted a new patron to break free of restraints placed on the group’s operations by his erstwhile mentor, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.