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 that aims to fight the governments of Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka to establish an Islamic State. The group has stated its intent to attack US targets in the Indian subcontinent.
  • Since February 2015, AQIS operatives have used meat cleavers and a machete to kill secularist bloggers in Bangladesh. 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 continues to focus on carrying out small-scale attacks in Bangladesh due to limited external operations capabilities. Although AQIS-directed operations in New Jersey are unlikely, the group has threatened New Jersey-based facilities and persons online. 

  • In 2016, AQIS encouraged sympathizers in India to conduct attacks against police and government officials using recent attacks in Europe as examples to emulate.
     
  • 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.
     
  • In April 2016, a group claiming affiliation with AQIS threatened a New Jersey public official on Facebook after a State agency provided information publicly about the group.

UNITED STATES NEXUS

  • In April 2016, AQIS members killed two LGBT activists in Bangladesh’s capital. One of the victims previously worked at the US Embassy and the US Agency for International Development.
  • 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.
  • In October 2014, shortly after formation, 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, a lack of consistent leadership and spectacular attacks has prevented the group from becoming a major regional or international threat.

Additional Resources

AQIS: Eying Small-Scale, Local Attacks

AQIS and ISIS: Expanding in Bangladesh

Podcast Episode 10: Battle of the Brands—ISIS vs al-Qa’ida



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