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Four New Jihadist Groups Planning Islamic Caliphate – Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Southern Philippines

1

And the caliphate grows every day, but remember, Obama say, it has nothing to do with Islam.

*SMH* It is pure Islam. Authentic Islam.

indian muslims

Four New Jihadist Groups Planning Islamic Caliphate – Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Southern Philippines, MEMRI, September 10, 2014

Growing Support For The Islamic State (IS) From South Asia To The Far East; Four New Jihadist Groups Planning Islamic Caliphate Comprising Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, And Southern PhilippinesBy: Tufail Ahmad*

Indian Muslims sporting ISIS T-shirts at a mosque in Ramanathapuram district

Table of Contents

Introduction
Support From Pakistani Jihadists
a) Bai’yah From “Tahreek-e-Khilafat Wa Jihad”
b) Bai’yah From “Ansar Al-Dawla Al-Islamiyyah Fi Pakistan”
c) Radical Pakistani Cleric Abdul Aziz Endorses IS

III. Support From Afghanistan And Pakistan

IS’s Pashtu-Dari Magazine Distributed In Pakistani And Afghan Towns

  • Support From Kashmir And Other Parts Of India
  • a) Indian Cleric Salman Nadwi Greets Al-Baghdadi
  • b) Kashmiri Youth Wave ISIS Flags; Australia-Educated Kashmiri Moves To Syria
  • c) Tamil Nadu Muslim Youth Wear T-Shirts In Support Of ISIS
  • d) Four Youth Flew From Mumbai; 80 Indians Fighting In Iraq And Syria
  • Jihadists From The Maldives; 20 Maldivians Fighting In Syria
  • Jihadists From Singapore; Indians In Singapore Went To Syria

VII. From Indonesian Prisons, Jihadists Urge Bai’yah For Al-Baghdadi

VIII. The Philippines Bai’yah Offered By Jama’at Ansar Al-Khilafa

  • IS Bomber From Malaysia; Jihadists Plotted A Wave Of Bombings
  • New Jihadist Groups Floating Islamic Caliphate Across Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines

  • I) Introduction

On August 20, a media report surfaced that the Islamic State, which executed U.S. photojournalist James Foley, had “sent a laundry list of demands for the release of the foreigners [captured by the militants in Iraq], starting with money but also prisoner swaps, including the liberation of Aafia Siddiqui, an M.I.T.-trained Pakistani neuroscientist” who is imprisoned in the U.S. over ties to Al-Qaeda.[1] This paper examines the growing support across Asian countries, from Pakistan to Indonesia, for the Islamic State (IS) led by jihadist commander Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

In an audio statement released on June 29, the first day of the fasting month of Ramadan in the Middle East, Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani, the spokesman of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), announced that the group had established an “Islamic Caliphate” and its leader Al-Baghdadi was appointed as the Caliph of Islam.[2] Al-Adnani also announced that the name ISIS would no longer be used and only “the Islamic State,” representing the single Islamic caliphate, would be used.

The Islamic caliphate has religious resonance across the Muslim world. This will trace how the Islamic State is inspiring jihadists outside the Middle East, mainly from South Asia to the Far East. It should be noted that the June 29 statement declaring Al-Baghdadi as the Caliph of Islam, known also as Emir-ul-Momineen (Leader of the Faithful Muslims), came after several weeks of jihadist rampage in which ISIS fighters took control of several Iraqi cities, butchered hundreds of Iraqi government soldiers, killed Shia Muslims in Iraq, and demolished holy shrines across the country. The declaration that Al-Baghdadi is the new Caliph of Islam also denotes a division in the global jihadist movement. The title of Emir-ul-Momineen, or the caliph, had so far been held by Mullah Muhammad Omar, the leader of Afghan Taliban and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Al-Qaeda’s slain leader Osama bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda affiliates in several countries have offered their bai’yah (oath of fealty) to Mullah Omar.

Since the Al-Baghdadi-led ISIS had been expelled from Al-Qaeda, it was inevitable that it would declare a rival caliph. However, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban groups have refrained from commenting on the announcement of the caliphate by Al-Baghdadi, though their rank and file are enthused by ISIS’s spectacular achievements across Iraq and Syria. Therefore, statements of support for the IS and its leader Al-Baghdadi began coming from many parts of the world, including Asian countries such as Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Indonesia. However, it is relevant here to keep in mind that there is another category of jihadists in Pakistan who share the ideological objectives of Al-Qaeda and the IS, but haven’t publicly expressed support for Al-Baghdadi. This is mainly due to the fact that these groups, namely Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), were created by and work at the behest of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the branch of Pakistani military known for creating and nurturing jihadist organizations.

In view of the jihad by Al-Qaeda and its allied groups over the past decade and more, it is difficult for common Muslims to distinguish the Islamic State from Al-Qaeda. Therefore, a number of Muslim youth, motivated solely by jihad, joined either ISIS/IS or Jabhat Al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, over the past few years. These youth went from Afghanistan-Pakistan region as well as from the Maldives, Jammu & Kashmir state, and elsewhere in India, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia to fight in Iraq and Syria. In Bangladesh, on India’s eastern border, the government has bravely countered the jihadists over the past five years, yet in August, there was at least one video in which a group of Bangladeshis expressed bai’yah to Al-Baghdadi.[3] Based on media reports that emerged this year, this paper reviews these developments: expressions of support for Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, especially the formal offerings of bai’yah, and reports about Muslim youth moving to Iraq and Syria to join various jihadist organizations, as well as the strengthening of jihadist groups as a result of the inspiration from the ISIS/IS in the Far Eastern countries of Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and others.


Declaration of bai’yah by Pakistan-based Tahreek-e-Khilafat Wa Jihad

  1. II) Support From Pakistani Jihadists
  2. a) Bai’yah From “Tahreek-e-Khilafat Wa Jihad”

Outside the Middle East, the Pakistan-based Tahreek-e-Khilafat Wa Jihad (TKJ, or Movement for the Caliphate and Jihad) became the first terrorist group to formally offer bai’yah to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi after he declared himself as the Caliph of Islam. The KTJ has been active in Karachi and its surrounding towns over the past 3-4 years.  The jihadist group was previously seen in the company of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

In a statement in Urdu published on a Pakistani jihadi forum, the TKJ offered a formal bai’yah to Al-Baghdadi, adding: “From today [July 9], the caliph of Muslims, Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, may Allah protect him, [should] consider us in Pakistan as one of the arrows he has in his bow. We pray that he may [allow] us to see the day when the borders of the Islamic caliphate will expand to the Pakistan-India Subcontinent and Khorasan [Afghanistan-Pakistan region].”[4]

The statement also explained: “The establishment of the caliphate … is compulsory on all Muslims in the same way that prayer, fasting, and jihad are compulsory. One hundred years have passed since the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate, whereas the jurists [of the past] wouldn’t accept the absence of the caliph for more than three days…”[5] In an earlier statement dated February 27, 2014, the TKJ had outlined its objectives: to liberate Muslim lands from the infidels and demolish the oppressive system of government prevalent there and establish Islamic sharia rule there, explaining that the duty of jihad is compulsory on every Muslim.[6]
Pakistani youth express support for ISIS in June

  1. b) Bai’yah From “Ansar Al-Dawla Al-Islamiyyah Fi Pakistan”

Over past few years, a number of Pakistani jihadists were reported to have moved from Pakistan to Syria and Iraq to fight against the government forces; the movement of many such youth was also informally facilitated by Pakistan as part of its pro-Saudi policy on Syria. Therefore, it was not surprising that first videos of support for Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi came from Pakistani jihadists fighting in the Iraq-Syria region. Before the June 29 declaration of the caliphate by Al-Baghdadi, two videos were released by ISIS.[7]

In the first video, released on YouTube on June 19, several Pakistani youth, who were most likely based in the Iraq-Syria region, identified themselves as members of the Ansar Al-Dawla Al-Islamiyyah Fi Pakistan (The Supporters of the Islamic State in Pakistan). Their brief oath of fealty to Al-Baghdadi was delivered in Arabic and they held banners that indicated they were based at a militant training camp known as “Camp of Shaheed Shiraz Tariq Abu Musa Al-Pakistani,” named after a Pakistani militant who died in Syria in December 2013. This bai’yah was offered before Al-Baghdadi declared his caliphate on June 29.

In the second video, a masked man claimed to be a member of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or Movement of the Pakistani Taliban) and was described as “the mujahid brother Habibullah Habib.” Expressing support for Al-Baghdadi, Habib stated: “We in the Taliban movement [in Pakistan] declare our support for the oppressed [Islamic] State. And we declare that our lives and money – Allah willing – support the Islamic State. We inform Sheikh Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi – May Allah protect him – oh dignified sheikh, do not listen to the enemy’s words, continue [on your path] with Allah’s blessing, since you are on the right path. We are your soldiers in Pakistan. If you wish to direct a blow against anyone through us, then we are [ready] for it.”[8]

  1. c) Radical Pakistani Cleric Abdul Aziz Endorses IS

Maulana Abdul Aziz in a video dated July 28

In a video interview dated July 28, which emerged sometime in mid-August, radical Pakistani cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz expressed his support for the Islamic State under Al-Baghdadi. Abdul Aziz is the brother of Maulana Abdur Rasheed Ghazi, a radical cleric who was killed during the 2007 military operation in the Red Mosque of Islamabad. The two brothers controlled the Red Mosque and its adjacent madrassa for girls known as Jamia Hafsa. The military operation was ordered after the girls began enforcing Islamic Sharia code in Islamabad.

A terror training camp named after Abdur Rasheed Ghazi has been operational in Iraq-Syria region for a few years now. It is also the case that some members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a jihadist group that specializes in killing Shia Muslims in Pakistan, is reportedly part of the Abdur Rasheed Ghazi training camp. Importantly, Maulana Abdul Aziz is a towering leader among Pakistani jihadists of all factions in Pakistan. In his July 28 interview, Abdul Aziz was asked to comment on Al-Baghdadi’s declaration of the caliphate and he responded: “See, we ourselves want a caliphate and we want that the caliphate should be established in the entire world including Pakistan. And the caliphate is the solution to problems. So, if these Arab mujahideen have brought about the establishment of the caliphate, we view it as good omen for the Muslim Ummah. Allah willing, as their organization is, if it continues, we will see its springs across the world….”[9]

Maulana Aziz also spoke about the Israeli action in Gaza, urging the Palestinians to march on the path of jihad. He stated: “The only solution is jihad. And the Palestinians will continue to die like this unless they rise on [the path of] jihad. For the Palestinians, our lord Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, had given the path of jihad [which they should follow]. Israel will not bend like this unless it is diagnosed through jihad. If a big power like the Soviet Union can break up by being defeated in the field of jihad [in Afghanistan in the 1980s], Israel is a very small thing. Only that it should come to the mind of Palestinians, to adopt the path of jihad instead of dying like this, begin guerilla war; Allah willing, Israel doesn’t stand.”[10]

III) Support From Afghanistan And Pakistan


T
he cover page of the Islamic State’s Pashtu-Dari bilingual magazine

IS’s Pashtu-Dari Magazine Distributed In Pakistani And Afghan Towns

In August 2014, it emerged that a bilingual magazine in Pashtu and Dari languages was issued by the Islamic State and distributed to people in Peshawar and neighboring regions of Pakistan as well as in Kabul and other towns of Afghanistan, as confirmed by independent journalists who also spotted cars in Peshawar carrying slogans like: “Salute to ISIS.” The 12-page magazine was printed in black and white and on low-quality paper.

It carried an article titled “Message to the Muslims and Islamic Ummah,” which stated:  “All the Muslims and mujahideen should avoid all kind of illegal discrimination at jihadist fronts and maintain Islamic brotherhood and unity in their ranks in real meaning and continue boycott of all the enemies of Islam, the American taghoot [the one who rules by laws other than those of Allah], all the apostate governments and rulers.”[11] It noted: “As you see the Islamic Caliphate was announced and established in Syria and Iraq [by Al-Baghdadi on June 29] and journey towards the establishment of Islamic caliphate is continuing in Khorasan [Afghanistan-Pakistan region], it is a fact – soon to be proved – that the Islamic caliphate would soon be established in the world and implemented on the Earth as per orders and law of Allah.”[12]

Another article titled “Revival of the Islamic Caliphate” stated: “The hadiths and predictions of the Prophet of Allah [Muhammad] about the current situation and jihad in Khorasan and Syria prove that the ongoing holy jihad in Afghanistan, Khorasan, and Syria against the historic international Crusade war show that the arrival of Imam Mehdi is near. Similarly, it has been ascertained from the hadiths that an Islamic caliphate must be established before the arrival of the Imam Mehdi [the messiah who will be born] and will be imposed in practice. Praise be to Allah, the Islamic caliphate was established, revived and installed in Syria and Iraq in the month of Ramadan of the current year, and Allah again blessed the Muslims with Islamic caliphate after 90 years [since the fall of Ottoman Caliphate in 1924].”[13]

  1. IV) Support From Kashmir And Other Parts Of India
  2. a)  Indian Cleric Salman Nadwi Greets Al-Baghdadi

Soon after Al-Baghdadi’s declaration of an Islamic caliphate, leading Indian Islamic scholar Maulana Salman Al-Husaini Nadwi wrote an open letter, greeting him on becoming the Caliph of Muslims. Salman Nadwi is the great grandson of noted Islamic scholar Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi and teaches at the Nadwatul Ulama seminary based in the northern Indian city of Lucknow. He has been known for his advocacy of jihadist groups worldwide and heads an organization of Muslim youth. The letter issue was raised by a Lucknow-based Urdu daily Aag on July 13.[14]

In the letter, which was sent through social media messaging service WhatsApp, and subsequent statements in Hindi and Urdu, Nadwi referred to Al-Baghdadi as Emir-ul-Momineen (Leader of Faithful Muslims) and prayed — “May Allah protect you.” He urged Syria-based jihadist organizations to end their differences, spoke of “good news of victories” in Iraq by Al-Baghdadi’s fighters and advocated that Muslims “abide by” the Emir-ul-Momineen “if he follows Allah’s sharia.”[15] Nadwi also appreciated the “united struggle by Iraq’s different jihadist organizations in making the revolution successful” against Iraq’s then-elected leader Nouri Al-Maliki. He dubbed Al-Maliki “the world’s biggest terrorist” for causing Shia-Sunni differences but in the same breath praised Al-Baghdadi, whose forces are killing Shias, having declared them as infidels.[16]

Indian website NewageIslam.org noted that Maulana Salman Nadwi might have acted at the behest of the Saudi embassy in Delhi, noting: “It is doubtful that Maulana Salman Nadwi would go to these lengths without instigation from the Saudi Embassy in New Delhi.”[17] Later, it also emerged that sometime earlier, Salman Nadwi had written a letter to the Saudi government, asking it to train Indian Muslims to fight against Shia militias in Iraq. An Indian daily reported: “Sunni theologian Maulana Salman Al-Nadwi … has asked the Saudi government to prepare an army of five lakh [500,000] Indian Sunni Muslim youth to fight against the Shia militias in Iraq and elsewhere. The letter has generated strong reaction within the Muslim community.”[18]
Indian cleric Maulana Salman Nadwi wrote letter to Al-Baghdadi

  1. b) Kashmiri Youth Wave ISIS Flags; Australia-Educated Kashmiri Moves To Syria

On at least two occasions in July, masked Kashmiri youth were seen carrying ISIS flags at a mosque in Srinagar, the capital of India’s Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) state. A media report stated:

“The unexpected appearance of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, flags during recent anti-Israel protests in Srinagar has left government authorities, Sunni-Barelvi scholars and even Kashmiri separatists searching for answers. Masked Kashmiri youngsters were seen carrying ISIS flags on at least two occasions: first outside the Jamia Masjid on July 11 and then on July 29, the day of Eid. The J&K police have so far been unable to round up the masked men…”[19]

In August, it also emerged that a 26-year-old Kashmiri youth from Srinagar, Adil Fayaz, who had an MBA degree from Australia’s Queensland University, went to join the jihadists in Syria, perhaps directly from Australia. The family members thought he was “ostensibly working with an NGO in Turkey” but the Indian intelligence agencies said: “Adil was radicalized by Islamic fundamentalists in Australia. He then… left for Turkey and entered Syria via Jordan to join jihadists in the civil war in June 2013. Although his family claim Adil is working for an NGO in Turkey to help Syrian refugees, they don’t have the name of the NGO or its phone number. Their son talks to them on voice over internet protocol (VoIP).”[20]

  1. c) Tamil Nadu – Muslim Youth Wear T-Shirts In Support Of ISIS

In early August, it emerged that Muslim youth in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu wore ISIS T-shrits (see the topmost image) and posed for a group photograph at mosque in the state’s Ramananthapuram district. An Indian daily reported:

“A group photograph of two dozen Muslim youth, sporting black T-shirts with ‘ISIS’ emblazoned on it and posing in front of a mosque, has gone viral on social media, prompting the intelligence wing of the State police to step up surveillance in Ramanathapuram district, despite initial reports clearing the group of any suspicious behavior. Confirming that the picture was taken in front of the ‘Periya Pallivasal’ (Big Mosque) in Ramanathapuram district, a highly-placed police officer… [said] it was posted on Facebook from an overseas location.”[21]

  1. d) Four Youth Flew From Mumbai; 80 Indians Fighting In Iraq And Syria

In mid-July, Indian investigative journalist Praveen Swami reported that four Muslim youth flew from Mumbai on May 23 as part of a group of Shia pilgrims headed to Baghdad and broke away to join ISIS. The four youths, whose families live in Kalyan, a suburbs of Mumbai, were identified as: Arif Majeed, Fahad Sheikh, Shaheen Tanki and Aman Tandel.[22]

Swami noted: “Other pilgrims on the trip have told investigators, the four Kalyan men hired a taxi to Fallujah, a city west of Baghdad that has emerged as the epicenter of Iraq’s lethal insurgency. Then, the men went silent. Iraqi intelligence officials say Arif Majeed’s cellphone connected to a tower in the Mosul area — and went dead.”[23] It was also reported that four Indian Muslims based in the UAE joined ISIS, but a few of them returned to their homes later.[24] In July, an Indian media report, based on interviews with members of Indian intelligence services, estimated that up to 80 Muslim youth from India have joined the jihadists in Iraq and Syria.[25] Initial reports had put the figure at only eighteen.[26]

An Indian security official was quoted as saying: “Many of these men who joined the war through Singapore have been identified — two are from Thane [suburb of Mumbai], one from Bangalore and another from Chennai. There are others who come from interiors of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh [states of southern India]. Surprisingly, none of them is from north India even though a bunch of UP [Uttar Pradesh, a northern state] youths owing allegiance to [the militant group] Indian Mujahideen has been fighting in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.”[27] It should be noted that a group called Ansar ut-Tawheed Fi Bilad Al-Hind (Supporters of the Islamic Monotheism in India) emerged in Afghanistan in the summer of 2013. Its videos have shown nearly a dozen Muslim youth from India undergoing militant training. The group might be part of Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State.
Maldivian suicide bomber Abu Turab (second from left)

  1. V) Jihadists From The Maldives; 20 Maldivians Fighting In Syria

Early in 2009, it emerged that Maldivian nationals were arriving in Pakistan to join the global jihad. That year, according to a Maldivian news website, Ali Jaleel became the first Maldivian national to have carried out a suicide bombing. Jaleel took part in an attack on the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence headquarters in Lahore on May 27, 2009.[28] In January 2010, Indian intelligence agencies warned that Pakistan-based jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was using Maldivian nationals for attacks in India and Air India flights were indeed put on hijack alert.[29]

By 2014, the scenario has changed, as Maldivian nationals are moving to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside other jihadists. In May, it emerged that Maldivian national Abu Turab was among a group of suicide bombers who carried out an attack in Syria.[30] He was part of Jabhat Al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, not ISIS, which had previously been part of Al-Qaeda. In June, the jihadists in Syria paid tribute to Abu Turab, saying: “He was a loving husband, a father, and a grandfather”; “Yet he joined the caravan of jihad.”[31]

Importantly, Abu Turab was not an exception, as many youth have been reportedly attracted to the jihadists based in Syria. In October 2013, two Maldivian nationals, ages 25 and 35, were detained by the Maldivian authorities as they tried to board a plane at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport of Malé on way to join the jihadists in Syria.[32] As of July 2014, about twenty Maldivian jihadists are believed to be fighting alongside the Islamic State and Jabhat Al-Nusra in Iraq and Syria as per reports appearing in the Maldivian press.[33]

  1. VI) Jihadists From Singapore; Indians In Singapore Went To Syria

In June, Indian intelligence agencies issued a look-out alert for an Indian youth after Singaporean authorities conveyed that he had possibly joined the jihadists. Haji Fakkurudeen Ali, a resident of Singapore, was born in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where the two dozen Muslim youth posed for a group picture with ISIS T-shirts. As per media reports, Ali was radicalized by another Indian youth from Tamil Nadu, Gul Mohammad, who was deported by Singapore to India.

According to an Indian daily, “Gul Mohammad is believed to have revealed [during interrogation by Indian intelligence officials] that he had financed the trip to Syria of one of several radicalized youths from Tamil Nadu. His disclosures were crosschecked, and investigators discovered that Ali, who had been in touch with Gul Mohammad, had left for Syria in January via Turkey to participate in jihad.”[34]

A media report profiled Haji Fakkurudin Ali: “In March this year, Usman Ali of Paranagipettai near Cuddalore, a picturesque coastal village north of Tamil Nadu, was shaken out of his stupor. It was a call on his wife Rokhyaa’s mobile. Their son Haji Fakkurudeen Ali (37) had phoned to say he was well and his dream had come true. He was now living in Syria with wife Ayesha Siddika and their three children, and fighting alongside ISIS … militants against the Bashar Al-Assad regime. The voice crackled after a brief exchange of words and the connection snapped.”[35]

Singapore was one of the key centers of the Indonesian jihadist group Jema’ah Islamiyyah, whose leaders are now in jail for several terror attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings. It is feared that several Singaporeans, those who are not connected to India, are also part of the jihadist machine in Syria and Iraq. “[A] female Singaporean is believed to have gone to Syria with her foreign husband and two teenaged children. The whole family is taking part in the conflict in various ways, either joining the terrorist groups to fight, or providing aid and support to the fighters,” according to a Singaporean media report.[36] Several Singaporeans who attempted to join the ISIS and other jihadists in Syria were issued with restriction orders as per the Singaporean laws in December 2013. In July 2014, Singaporean Interior Minister Teo Chee Hean expressed concern that the returning jihadists could carry out terror attacks, stating: “This threat is magnified if these returnee fighters are Singaporeans.”[37]
Abu Bakar Ba’asyir (Source: The Jakarta Post)

VII) From Indonesian Prisons, Jihadists Urge Bai’yah For Al-Baghdadi

On July 22, the IS media company Al-Hayat released a video in which a group of eight jihadist fighters from Indonesia were shown to have arrived in Iraq and were part of the Islamic State. In the video, Abu Muhammad Al-Indonesi, one of the fighters, delivered a message urging Indonesians to join the Islamic State and swear fealty to Al-Baghdadi. The message stated: “We are your brothers from Indonesia who have come to the Islamic State”; “By Allah, we emigrated for the sake of hijra [emigration] and jihad in the path of Allah.”[38]

However, soon after Al-Baghdadi being declared the caliph, elder jihadist leader Abu Bakar Ba’asyir of the former militant group Jema’ah Al-Islamiyyah, which came to global prominence following the 2002 Bali bombings, urged his followers to support Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and swore fealty to the new caliph. While existing as an underground terror organization, Jema’ah Al-Islamiyyah has now also transformed into Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), and is allied to Jabhat Al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. According to JAT chairman Mochammad Achwan, Ba’asyir’s support for IS was “conveyed after he gathered high-ranking JAT leaders and his family members on Thursday [July 10] in the supposedly maximum-security Pasir Putih prison in Nusakambangan, an island near the coast of Cilacap, Central Java [province of Indonesia where he is serving a 15-year jail term].”[39]

Prominent jihadist clerics who expressed support for the IS at Ba’asyir’s decision included Halawi Makmun of Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI) and fugitive terrorist Santoso of Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT), but it was rejected by several JAT leaders, including his two sons. The sons, Abdul ‘Iim’ Rohim and Rosyid Ridho, and JAT chairman Mochammad Achwan split over the oath of fealty from the parental organization and established their own group known as Jamaah Ansharusy Syariah (JAS), which will continue supporting Jabhat Al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, while the JAT supports the Al-Baghdadi-led IS.

VIII) The Philippines – Fealty Offered By Jama’at Ansar Al-Khilafa

In May 2014, a group of jihadists from the Philippines declared support for the ISIS. In August, it released a video in which the jihadists, who belonged to Jama’at Ansar Al-Khilafa (JAK), formally swore fealty to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. The video, in which the faces of the jihadists were blurred, was produced by the jihadi media outlet Al-Battar.

In the video, the jihadists chanted the oath of fealty in unison and fired in the air. According to a review of the video, after firing in the air, one of the jihadists read out a more detailed oath, in which he welcomed the establishment of the Islamic State and the appointment of Abu Bakr as caliph, declaring their group JAK would wage jihad for the sake of Allah “until the sharia rules the world or we die for its sake.”[40]

In August, it emerged that scores of Filipino jihadists have joined the Islamic State in Iraq. Fidel Ramos, the former president of the Philippines, told a newspaper: “At least a hundred of our young Filipino-Muslims have infiltrated Iraq where they get training and they can launch jihad when they come back to the Philippines.”[41] Some of these jihadists are connected to the Jema’ah Islamiyyah of Indonesia which remains active across the Far Eastern countries.
Akel Zainal, former Malaysian rock band drummer from Team Ukays, now fights in Syria

  1. IX) Suicide Bomber From Malaysia; Jihadists Plotted A Wave Of Bombings

On May 26, Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki became the first Malaysian suicide bomber. As part of an ISIS martyrdom operation, the 26-year-old factory worker carried out an attack in Iraq’s Al-Anbar province, killing more than two dozen Iraqi soldiers.[42]

According to a Malaysian website, “Tarmimi’s family members said their last meeting was in March before he left for the Middle East to further his Islamic studies. He had been working in a factory in Selangor [state of Malaysia] since 2012. While he did not act strangely, Ahmad Tarmimi had become more pious and more secretive… From Facebook postings, it is learnt that Ahmad Tarmimi first went to Syria via Turkey before finally ending up in Iraq.”[43] It appears Ahmad Tarmimi is not alone, as Malaysian authorities have identified several youth attracted the jihadist message of the Islamic State.

In August, it emerged that this year Malaysian police foiled several terror plots by jihadists that could have led to a wave of bombings in the country. A media report quoted Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, a top Malaysian counter-terrorism official, as saying: “[At least] 19 suspected militants arrested from April-June were formulating plans to bomb pubs, discos and a Malaysian brewery of Danish beer producer Carlsberg…”[44] He also disclosed that an estimated 40 Malaysians have gone to Syria for fighting.[45] Among those who have joined the jihadists in Syria are Akel Zainal, former rock band drummer from the Team Ukays, while several jihadists in Malaysia are on the run, including a university lecturer, having fled to the Philippines.

  1. X) New Jihadist Groups Planning Islamic Caliphate Across Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines

Jihadists planning regional Islamic caliphate in the Far East

Around the time Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was announcing the establishment of his caliphate, a Singaporean newspaper reported on July 1: “Four new terrorist organizations aiming to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the [Far East] region – called Daulah Islamiah Nusantara and comprising Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, southern Thailand and southern Philippines — have emerged and are embarking on an aggressive recruitment drive.”[46] Also, in June, ISIS released a video which claimed that Muslims from Cambodia were among its ranks.[47] Myanmar and Thailand are also not insulated from global Jihadism.

The July 1 report was based on intelligence sources who examined the threat matrix originating from Jema’ah Islamiyyah of Indonesia and Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia. “They reject the democratic system adopted by nations in the region and are believed to be operating out of Malaysian states such as Perak and Selangor… The announcement [on the establishment of the regional caliphate] comes less than a decade after several regional terror groups with the same aim of establishing a Caliphate in the region were broken up and their leaders arrested [notably those of Jema’ah Islamiyyah in Indonesia in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings].”[48]

According to the report in The Straits Times of Singapore, “the four groups, although independent of each other, subscribe to the same Salafi Jihadi ideology, similar to that of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Leaders and senior members of the new groups had also established links with similar groups in the region, as well as with ISIS and the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf. Besides the four new groups, police are also monitoring a terror organization in Sabah [state of Malaysia] called Darul Islam Sabah.”[49]

The plan for a regional Islamic caliphate – Daulah Islamiah Nusantara – was also confirmed in August by Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, the Malaysian counter-terrorism official whose investigations led to the arrest of the 19 jihadists in Malaysia. Ayob Khan confirmed that the militants “had visions of establishing a hardline Southeast Asian caliphate spanning Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore, and planned to travel to Syria” to learn from the Islamic State.[50]

* Tufail Ahmad is Director of MEMRI’s South Asia Studies Project (www.memri.org/sasp)

Endnotes

[1] Nytimes.com (U.S.), August 20, 2014. The original English of all the quotes used in this dispatch has been mildly edited for clarity and standardization.

[2] http://www.memrijttm.org/isis-declares-establishment-of-islamic-caliphate-appoints-isis-leader-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-as-caliph-it-is-incumbent-upon-all-muslims-to-pledge-allegiance-to-the-caliph-and-support-him.html, June 29, 2014.

[3] Dhakatribune.com (Bangladesh), August 7, 2014.

[4] http://www.memrijttm.org/pakistani-jihadi-groups-swear-oath-of-fealty-to-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-the-rise-of-tahreek-e-khilafat-wa-jihad-tkj.html, July 11, 2014.

[5] http://www.memrijttm.org/pakistani-jihadi-groups-swear-oath-of-fealty-to-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-the-rise-of-tahreek-e-khilafat-wa-jihad-tkj.html, July 11, 2014.

[6] http://www.memrijttm.org/jttm-new-jihadi-organization-emerges-targeting-pakistani-security-forces-in-karachi-and-neighboring-towns.html, March 10, 2014.

[7] http://www.memrijttm.org/pakistani-men-express-support-for-isis-its-leader-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi.html, June 26, 2014.

[8] http://www.memrijttm.org/pakistani-men-express-support-for-isis-its-leader-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi.html, June 26, 2014.

[9] http://www.memrijttm.org/in-new-video-radical-pakistani-cleric-maulana-abdul-aziz-endorses-islamic-state-is-urges-palestinians-to-rise-for-jihad-israel-will-not-bend-like-this-unless-it-is-diagnosed-through-jihad.html, August 14, 2014.

[10] http://www.memrijttm.org/in-new-video-radical-pakistani-cleric-maulana-abdul-aziz-endorses-islamic-state-is-urges-palestinians-to-rise-for-jihad-israel-will-not-bend-like-this-unless-it-is-diagnosed-through-jihad.html, August 14, 2014.

[11] http://www.memrijttm.org/islamic-state-is-releases-bilingual-pashtu-dari-magazine-print-copies-distributed-in-towns-of-afghanistan-and-pakistan.html, August 19, 2014.

[12] http://www.memrijttm.org/islamic-state-is-releases-bilingual-pashtu-dari-magazine-print-copies-distributed-in-towns-of-afghanistan-and-pakistan.html, August 19, 2014.

[13] http://www.memrijttm.org/islamic-state-is-releases-bilingual-pashtu-dari-magazine-print-copies-distributed-in-towns-of-afghanistan-and-pakistan.html, August 19, 2014.

[14] http://www.memrijttm.org/in-letter-leading-indian-islamic-scholar-maulana-salman-al-nadwi-congratulates-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-on-assuming-role-of-caliph-you-are-bravely-standing-as-a-rock.html, July 21, 2014.

[15] The New Indian Express (India), July 30, 2014.

[16] The New Indian Express (India), July 30, 2014.

[17] http://www.memrijttm.org/in-letter-leading-indian-islamic-scholar-maulana-salman-al-nadwi-congratulates-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-on-assuming-role-of-caliph-you-are-bravely-standing-as-a-rock.html, July 21, 2014.

[18] http://www.memrijttm.org/indian-daily-leading-indian-cleric-salman-al-husaini-al-nadwi-asks-saudi-arabia-to-train-half-a-million-indian-sunni-muslims-to-fight-shia-militias-in-iraq.html, July 29, 2014.

[19] http://www.memrijttm.org/in-indias-tamil-nadu-and-jammu-and-kashmir-states-muslim-youth-express-public-support-for-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-led-jihadist-group-isis.html. August 4, 2014.

[20] http://www.memrijttm.org/indian-daily-kashmiri-youth-with-an-mba-from-australias-queensland-university-joins-isis-in-syria.html, August 6, 2014.

[21] http://www.memrijttm.org/in-indias-tamil-nadu-and-jammu-and-kashmir-states-muslim-youth-express-public-support-for-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-led-jihadist-group-isis.html, August 4, 2014.

[22] http://www.memrijttm.org/report-four-muslim-youth-from-mumbai-join-isis-jihadists-in-iraq-four-other-mumbai-men-living-in-uae-volunteered-to-fight-with-isis.html, July 14, 2014.

[23] http://www.memrijttm.org/report-four-muslim-youth-from-mumbai-join-isis-jihadists-in-iraq-four-other-mumbai-men-living-in-uae-volunteered-to-fight-with-isis.html, July 14, 2014.

[24] http://www.memrijttm.org/report-four-muslim-youth-from-mumbai-join-isis-jihadists-in-iraq-four-other-mumbai-men-living-in-uae-volunteered-to-fight-with-isis.html, July 14, 2014.

[25] http://www.memrijttm.org/indian-daily-80-indian-muslim-youths-have-joined-jihadists-in-iraq-and-syria-singapore-based-jihadist-from-tamil-nadu-state-moved-to-syria-with-wife-and-three-kids.html, July 31, 2014.

[26] http://www.memrijttm.org/indian-daily-18-indian-muslim-youth-among-jihadists-fighting-in-iraq-and-syria.html, July 11, 2014.

[27] http://www.memrijttm.org/report-profiles-18-indians-who-joined-isis-official-a-steady-stream-of-people-from-our-country-go-to-west-asia-as-laborers-sorting-out-those-who-have-gone-there-for-jihad-is-a-huge-task.html, July 15, 2014.

[28] http://www.memrijttm.org/first-ever-maldivian-suicide-bomber-identified.html, November 12, 2009.

[29] http://www.memrijttm.org/hijack-threat-air-india-planes-put-on-security-alert-across-south-asia.html, January 22, 2010.

[30] http://www.memrijttm.org/report-maldivian-jihadi-bomber-killed-in-suicide-bombing-in-syria-two-syria-bound-maldivians-were-arrested-in-october.html, May 27, 2014.

[31] http://www.memrijttm.org/tributes-paid-to-maldivian-suicide-bomber-killed-in-syria-he-was-a-loving-husband-a-father-and-a-grandfather-yet-he-joined-the-caravan-of-jihad.html, June 25, 2014.

[32] http://www.memrijttm.org/report-maldivian-jihadi-bomber-killed-in-suicide-bombing-in-syria-two-syria-bound-maldivians-were-arrested-in-october.html, May 27, 2014.

[33] http://www.memrijttm.org/column-by-memris-tufail-ahmad-examines-jihadism-in-the-maldives-under-saudi-pakistani-influence-maldivian-society-is-being-transformed-on-a-jihadist-path.html, July 17, 2014.

[34] The Indian Express (India), June 29, 2014.

[35] http://www.memrijttm.org/indian-daily-80-indian-muslim-youths-have-joined-jihadists-in-iraq-and-syria-singapore-based-jihadist-from-tamil-nadu-state-moved-to-syria-with-wife-and-three-kids.html, July 31, 2014.

[36] AsiaOne.com (Singapore), July 9, 2014.

[37] AsiaOne.com (Singapore), July 9, 2014.

[38] http://www.memrijttm.org/indonesian-islamic-state-is-fighters-call-on-indonesian-men-to-join-is-emigration-today-is-mandatory.html, July 23, 2014.

[39] http://www.memrijttm.org/from-indonesian-prisons-veteran-jihadist-leaders-urge-followers-to-support-islamic-state-is-indonesias-al-qaeda-affiliated-jihadist-group-splits-over-support-to-is.html, August 21, 2014.

[40] http://www.memrijttm.org/philippine-jihad-group-jamaat-ansar-al-khilafa-swears-fealty-to-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi.html, August 14, 2014.

[41] Gulfnews.com (UAE), August 20, 2014.

[42] Thestar.com.my (Malaysia), June 14, 2014.

[43] Thestar.com.my (Malaysia), June 14, 2014.

[44] Thestar.com.my (Malaysia), August 20, 2014.

[45] Thestar.com.my (Malaysia), August 20, 2014.

[46] Todayonline.com (Singapore), July 1, 2014.

[47] Phnompenhpost.com (Cambodia), June 23, 2014.

[48] Todayonline.com (Singapore), July 1, 2014.

[49] Todayonline.com (Singapore), July 1, 2014.

[50] Thestar.com.my (Malaysia), August 20, 2014.

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