The Islamic State announced through its Amaq News Agency on Friday (May 10) that it has established its first “province” in India, Reuters reports.
ISIS called the area, located within India’s northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, “Wilayah of Hind,” or Hind province. It also claimed to have inflicted casualties upon Indian forces in a recent clash in Amshipora, a town in that state. Local police said an ISIS-linked militant, Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi, was killed in an exchange yesterday.
Last month, ISIS released a video showing its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, claiming responsibility for the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka that killed over 250 people. The video “sought to emphasize the international nature of the struggle” following the group losing its self-styled “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, wrote Nicolas Hénin, a former ISIS hostage and author of Jihad Academy: The Rise of Islamic State, in the Guardian.
ISIS likely sees Jammu and Kashmir, with its long-simmering Muslim-Hindu tensions, as promising territory.
A spokesman for the South Kashmir police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group, weighed in on Twitter:
The establishment of a “province” in a region where it has nothing resembling actual governance is absurd, but it should not be written off…The world may roll its eyes at these developments (I sure have), but to jihadists in these vulnerable regions, [these] are significant gestures to help lay the groundwork in rebuilding the map of the ISIS’ “Caliphate.” Thus, these regions should be closely watched.