AQIS: Eying Small-Scale, Local Attacks

Leadership losses and a failed plot against a US Navy tanker in Pakistan since last year have forced al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) to shift its attack strategy from large-scale to small-scale operations, such as assassinations. In October 2014, shortly after the group was formed, AQIS’s English language magazine Resurgence encouraged attacks on US oil companies, terminals, and pipelines, as well as on US Navy bases protecting Western oil interests.

  • In an audio message in April, AQIS’s spokesman announced that two of the group’s top leaders were killed in separate US airstrikes in Pakistan in January, including its deputy commander and its chief of suicide operations, both of which were focused on US and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
     
  • According to Western media, in September 2014, AQIS released a nine-page “press release” through Twitter advising Muslims “to make jihad on the seas one of their priorities.” Immediately prior to the release, AQIS attempted to hijack a Pakistani frigate and destroy a US Navy tanker during a refueling operation; the attempt was a failure despite assistance from former Pakistani naval officers.
     
  • Since February, AQIS operatives have used meat cleavers and a machete to kill three secularist bloggers in Bangladesh—a country the group claims as 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.

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