Al-Qa'ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS)

  • In September 2014, al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the establishment of al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and introduced Asim Umar, a former Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander, as the group’s chief.
     
  • AQIS is an Islamist militant group which aims to fight the governments of Pakistan, India, Myanmar, and Bangladesh to establish an Islamic State. The group has stated its intent to attack US targets on the Indian subcontinent.
     
  • Since February 2015, AQIS operatives have used meat cleavers and machetes to kill secular activists, bloggers, and writers in Bangladesh—a country the group claims is part of its area of operations. The think tank Asia Pacific Foundation later noted these brutal attacks underscore AQIS’s adoption of “lone wolf” tactics.

THREAT TO NEW JERSEY: LOW

AQIS focuses on carrying out local small-scale attacks, but it has a limited operational capability and suffered key leadership losses.

  • According to Western media, in September 2014, AQIS issued a nine-page letter through Twitter advising Muslims “to make jihad on the seas one of their priorities.” Immediately before the release, AQIS attempted to hijack a Pakistani frigate and destroy a US Navy tanker during a refueling operation; the attempt failed despite assistance from former Pakistani naval officers.
     
  • In March 2016, a Bangladeshi pro-AQIS Facebook page urged militants residing in the US to attack US-based universities involved in designing drones. Princeton University in New Jersey was one of ten primary targets listed in the message.

UNITED STATES NEXUS

  • In October 2014, shortly after the group was formed, AQIS’s English magazine Resurgence encouraged attacks on US oil companies, terminals, and pipelines, as well as on US Navy bases protecting Western oil interests. However, the setbacks AQIS has faced since its public debut have prevented the group from becoming a major regional or international threat.
     
  • In September 2015, a hit list purporting to be from a group linked to AQIS was released online threatening to kill secular activists, bloggers, and writers in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Sweden, and the United States.

INTELLIGENCE GAPS

  • Is AQIS actively planning attacks on US interests?
     
  • What type of training is AQIS receiving from al-Qa’ida or other terrorist groups in the Indian subcontinent?

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at analysis@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.