At the beginning of January 2019, the Central Asian terrorist group Katibat Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ) has publicly renewed its bayat (oath of allegiance) to Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s global chief.Despite the fact that KTJ swore to al Qaeda in 2015, the group leader Abu Saloh’s (Sirojiddin Mukhtarov) oath was issued in the form of an audiotape that was first released via the venture’s Telegram channel. This indicates that the ties of Uzbek jihadists with al Qaeda remain strong and Ayman al Zawahiri through affiliated groups continues to influence the religious situation in Central Asia.
It should be noted that besides KTJ, also Katibat Imam al-Bukhari (KIB) and the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) from Central Asia swore allegiance to al Qaeda. All of them today are fighting against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province under the leadership of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a Sunni jihadistgroup.
While HTS, following a series of strategic rebranding efforts, proclaims that it is an independent entity not affiliated with al-Qaeda, his combat squad KTJ first published its bayat to Ayman al Zawahiri.Thus, the Central Asian groups in Syria became the link between al Qaeda and HTS after their formal detachment of ties, although many experts on Salafism, including myself, are suspicious of their severed relations.
To identify the aggressive ideology of al Qaeda and its thick shadow hanging over the Middle East and Central Asia, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of KTJ’s bayat.
How Uzbek jihadists swore allegiance to al Qaeda?
The Uzbek jihadists’ oath ceremony is fully audio-recorded and released on the Abu Saloh’s Telegram page under the heading “Bayat to al Qaeda”. From the sounds of prayer speech, it can be assumed that the Uzbek jihadists took the oath to al Qaeda during the Salat-al-Juma (Friday congregational prayer), which is considered an important day in Islam.
In the 14-minute Khutbah (preaching) Abu Saloh elaborated on the ideological and political prerequisites of why they should swear allegiance to al Qaeda. He began his speech that “Allah Almighty said that only constant and continuous Jihad protects Islam from internal and external enemies, for which Muslims must unite and fight against Mushrikeen (idolater) and Kafirs (unbelievers including Jews and Christians). The main kafirs are America and Russia, which conduct a hostile policy towards Muslims. Therefore, Mujahideen must fulfill the covenant of the Creator and lead the Jihad against the American and the Russian.”This position of the KTJ leader is fully consistent with the ideological doctrine of al Qaeda, which considers the US as the ‘first enemy’ of Muslims.
Further, Abu Saloh continued that “Muslims must overcome internal turmoil and unite into the Ummah. Unification of our forces will accelerate the approach of a Nasr” (in Uzbek there is no word ‘Nasr’, he talks about the Quran’s Surah an-Naṣr, which translates ‘victory’ or ‘Allah’s help’). He quotes this Surah in Arabic. According to Abu Saloh, “if the Mujahideen wholeheartedly devote to Allah, constantly repent before Him and hurry to become Shahids for His sake, He will surely give a Nasr.”
Then he emotionally says that “in order to speed up the arrival of an-Naṣr and declaring Jihad against Kafirs, our Jamaat takes the oath of allegiance to al Qaeda.”Someone from the crowd shouts, Takbeer.” After that, all Uzbek terrorists shout “Allahu Akbar”.
After taking the oath, Abu Saloh praises al Qaeda, “this group has successfully delivered a series of crushing blows to the enemies of Islam in their territory, which still causes a feeling of fear and nightmare to the Crusaders” (here he is referring to 9/11 terror attacks). The leader of the Uzbek jihadists once again emphasised the US “the main enemy of Islam and the great Sheitan (devil) who must be beheaded.”
Abu Qatada al-Falastini as a spiritual inspirer of the Central Asian Jihadists
The Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi groups joined al Qaeda in two waves. The first wave began in the late 90s of the last century in Afghanistan when Uyghur militants of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and Salafists of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan took the oath of allegiance to al Qaeda. The main role in the ideological conquest of al-Qaeda of post-Soviet Central Asia and Chinese Xinjiang was played by Osama bin Laden.TIP leader Abdul Haq was even appointed a member of al Qaeda’s elite Shura Council in 2005.
The second wave of the accession of Central Asian Salafi groups to al Qaeda occurred after the outbreak of the Syrian war. A vivid proof of this is the renewed oath of allegiance of KTJ to the al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri, which we are analyzing now.
A Salafi cleric Abu Qatada al-Filistini, who was described by JTF-GTMO threat assessment as a “prominent al Qaeda spiritual leader, recruiter, and financier”, played a significant role for Central Asian militants who became members of al Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra. Today, about two thousand Uyghur, Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Tajik Jihadists are members of al Qaeda. As the most influential ideologues of the global Salafi-Jihadi movement Abu Qatada issued fatwas justifying the killing of Muslims who converted from Islam, including their wives and children, and authorizing the killing of Jews and their children.
Abu Saloh confesses that he consulted with Abu Qatada and received his blessing for joining KTJ to al Qaeda.It was then Abu Qatada offered to give the name “Katibat Tawhid wal Jihad” to the Central Asian militant group, which was welcomed by Abu Saloh.The leader of the Uzbek militants calls Abu Qatada “Great Ulama (scholar interpreter of Islamic doctrine and law), which, like a ray of light, illuminates the path of Jihad.”
At the end of his speech, Abu Saloh informs his militants about his last meeting with the Jabhat al-Nusra leader Abu Muhammad al-Julani, and about a joint agreement to liberate Palestine after the conquest of Damascus.It should be noted that the liberation of Jerusalem from Israel is the program goal of Ayman al Zawahiri because Palestine remaining a cause to mobilize Sunni Salafi-Jihadi groups around al Qaeda.
Abu Saloh concludes his speech by congratulating his militants on joining al Qaeda. “Today, our Jamaat has become a member of the Great Umah, now we have embarked on the path of holy Jihad. Now we are responsible not only for our Jamat but also for Great Umah. May Allah bless our bayat.”Again “Takbeer” sounds from the crowd. In confirmation of the bayat, all shout “Allahu Akbar”.
As is known, the US State Department designated Central Asian jihadist groups Katibat Imam al Bukhari and Turkestan Islamic Party that joined al Qaeda as global terrorist organizations. But despite the fact that KTJ Jihadists have increased their stature among global terrorist groups over the past five years, and are receiving assistance from al Qaeda and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the US State Department has not yet included it in the list of global terrorist organizations.
An analysis of the activities of KTJ showed that it had turned into an aggressive agitator and successfully carried out the al Qaeda ideology’s propaganda. Central Asian countries and Russia have recognized KTJ as a terrorist organization.KTJ was accused by Russia’s Federal Security Service of the terror attack on St. Petersburg’s metro in April 2017. The Kyrgyz authorities blamed Abu Saloh for the attack on the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek on August 30, 2016. But this did not stop the terrorist activities of KTJ. Even al Qaeda-linked TIP and KTJ opened two madrasas in Syrian Idlib where Uyghur and Uzbek children study Salafism.
In this regard, it would be advisable for the US Government and the UN to take punitive measures against KTJ. Since, after the US government announced Katibat Imam al Bukhari as a global terrorist organization, its anti-American, Zionist rhetoric and propaganda of al Qaeda’s ideology markedly subsided.
Russia points to evidence exposing Kiev’s intentions to use biological weapons
Documents uncovered in the special military operation in Ukraine corroborate the evidence exposing the Kiev regime’s intentions to use biological weapons, Head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Research Center for Chemical and Biological Threats Dmitry Poklonsky said in the run-up to the Ninth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention. “In some cases, the study focused on infectious disease agents that had never been registered on Ukrainian soil,” he said – informs TASS.
“We have obtained reports of investigations into a collection of microorganisms that indicate the accumulation of pathogens in unsubstantiated amounts. There are documents confirming the intentions to acquire unmanned delivery vehicles that could be used for employing biological weapons. Considering the non-transparent nature of this work and the absence of any substantiated responses from the United States and Ukraine, we, of course, regard the documents obtained as proof that Article 1.4 of the Convention was violated,” the defense official said.
The documents obtained in the special military operation in Ukraine, including reports by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the US Department of Defense, corroborate that the nature of work carried out there frequently ran counter to pressing healthcare problems, he stressed.
“In some cases, the study focused on infectious disease agents that had never been registered on Ukrainian soil,” Poklonsky pointed out.
Neither Washington nor Kiev deny the fact of the existence of biological labs in Ukraine bankrolled by the Pentagon, he pointed out.
“It was confirmed by the 2005 agreement between the US Department of Defense and the Ukrainian Health Ministry. Far more questions arise from the nature of the studies being carried out in these biological laboratories and how this work complies with the Convention’s requirements,” the chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Chemical and Biological Threats said.
Psychological Warfare (PSYOPS)- The Pandora’s Box of Security Issues
The world, functioning in its numerous forms and dimensions, is primarily perceived and misperceived by individuals through the faculty of the human Mind. A factor that creates a significant difference vis-a-vis human beings and other species is the complex cognitive ability possessed by humans. The mind is fundamentally an expression of thoughts circulated and imbibed through various means of communication. Deconstructing it further, thoughts portray the information consumed by an individual. In other words, this complex combination of the human mind, thoughts, and information shapes and reshapes our psychology.
Psychological war, in this context, can be perceived as a strategically orchestrated arrangement of information derived from variables like history, polity, religion, culture, literature, and philosophy broadly to channel propaganda with the prime objective of influencing and manipulating the behavior of the enemy to further one own interest. The term Psychological war is believed to be coined by a British Historian and military analyst, J.F.C Fuller, in 1920. One can observe that psychological war as an instrument of strategic importance is not of recent origin. Instead, the evolution of this tactic can be traced long back in history since the emergence of the State. It is considered one of the fundamental tools of statecraft and quite often has been put into the application as an instrument of state policy. Drawing a logical parallel, it can be advocated that psychological war has a close resemblance with the ancient notion of the allegory of the cave when applied in the present context.
Relevance of Psychological War
Napoleon Bonaparte once said “There are two powers in the world, the sword and the mind. In the long run, the sword is always beaten by the mind.” With the gradual progress of human intelligentsia, the world is and will be shaped and reshaped through the use of technology. The hyperconnected nature of a modern globalized world broadly portrays the image of a collective human consciousness deeply engrossed in the overwhelming nature of technology that reverberates with every emerging aspect of human life. When viewed from the prism of the State as a governing body in the international forum, technology will be the emerging axis of geopolitics since no state and its citizen can exist in silos devoid of the influence of other states. This is primarily due to the free flow of data. In this context, due to the free flow of data, the power of propaganda as a significant dimension of psychological war would prove to be an effective instrument used by the State to further its national interest.
In this contextual framework, the role of conscious manufacturing of narratives under the larger ambit of the idea of psychological war must be given due consideration. In his famous book,The Ultimate Goal: A Former R&AW Chief Deconstructs How Nations and Intelligence Agency Construct Narratives, Vikram Sood unfolds the idea of how narratives are created, propagated, sustained, and refined in domestic countries and abroad to further the national interest. He emphasizes not only the power of information but also the power of disinformation to de-track and mislead the collective consciousness of the nation. Therefore, it is of critical significance for a nation to enhance its understanding of psychological war, considering it a major security issue.
The cost and the expense of war are also major concerns for the State. In this regard, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval establishes the viewpoint that wars are gradually becoming ineffective in achieving political and military objectives and that they are also highly expensive and are gradually becoming unaffordable. He further puts forward the idea of the 4th generation warfare where the operational target of the objective would be civil society. A fair understanding of the 4th generation warfare is of critical importance due to the fact that the modus operandi to target civil society would primarily be through the perpetual use of psychological war. The cost of psychological war, when compared with other forms of war, is abysmally low and also highly effective in manipulating the behaviour of the State. The cost-effectiveness helps it be more sustainable, which can be continued for an extended period of time.
Materialisation of Psychological War
Psychological war is applied by many States as an instrument of state policy. China, in this regard, can be considered a prominent player that has materialized this idea. In the strategic book on statecraft, The Art Of War, Sun Tzu states that “All warfare is based on deception.” China has consciously tried to bridge the gap between the theory and practice of psychological war. The Dhoklam issue in 2017 substantiates how the Chinese government used psychological war as an instrument of state policy to further its national interest.
The hostile approach of Pakistan towards India is not of recent origin. Instead, it is a phenomenon that can be traced back in history during the early germination of the idea of Pakistan when the Muslin League was formed in 1906. After the materialization of this idea by a painful partition of India in 1947, Kashmir became the bone of contention right after Pakistan’s inception as a nation-state. Pakistan, over the years, has become cognizant of the conventional asymmetry between the two nations. Therefore, it has operationalized the path of psychological war in the Kashmir region with a more pinpointed approach of using Twitter as an operational instrument to create misperceptions at a low cost to achieve its objectives.
Psychological War and the Indian Perspective
Taking a momentary glance at the historical evolution of India as a civilizational State, it can be rightly stated that understanding the nature of the mind has been a perpetual theme in the philosophical construct of India. The use of psychological war is not a new phenomenon. The references to it can be prominently found in Indian mythology. In this regard, the epic story of The Mahabharatha is a prominent example.
In one of the instances, Krishna applied this idea of psychological war by disclosing a fact to Karna, which hitherto was kept secret and hidden from him. Krishna, just before the war, unfolded the fact to Karna that he is the eldest son of Kunti, his father is the Sun God, and the Pandavas his brothers. This very fact and the timing of the disclosure of this fact put Karna in a deep psychological trauma that depletes his mental strength. It was at this moment that Krishna offered Karna to join the battle from the side of Pandavas. A similar instance of psychological war used by India was found during The Bangladesh liberation war.
In the context of psychological war, Arthashstra is also a relevant text. It mentions the art of Kutayuddha. In Sanskrit, the word Kuta implies the application of deception, the creation of misperception, and misleading the enemy state; Yudh means war. Kautilya is a staunch advocate of establishing a network of espionage to initiate intelligence and counterintelligence measures as a major security initiative for a state. Therefore, it can be rightly perceived that India has a history of psychological war, which it has implemented to maintain security and stability.
Taking an analogical perspective, if the mechanism of psychological war is like a gun, then information is the potential bullets that are fired from it to target the enemy. The flow of Information can be considered the most important factor that makes psychological war lethal, precise, and effective. Therefore, there exists an urgent need for the establishment of an ‘Information Operations Command’ to tackle the issue of psychological war that is rapidly maturing and enhancing in its nature and methodology, fusing with the 5th generation warfare.
Another area of critical importance in this regard is the pressing need for a ‘National Security Doctrine.’ A national security doctrine is primarily a broad vision of a nation in the domain of its security from an inclusive perspective. Strong inter-agency coordination and refined analysis of security issues are needed.
Psychological war, as a rapidly evolving tool of statecraft in the security domain, acts as a linchpin vis-a-vis the 4th and 5th generation warfare where civil society and citizens are targeted with a perfect blend of technology and information. This makes it a war that doesn’t have a start or an end date. It is fought every minute, and progress can be achieved, even though at a minuscule level, but on a daily basis. Therefore, India as a major player in international politics with two hostile neighbors on its eastern and western border, must hold into perspective the scope, significance, and emerging dynamics of psychological war to keep herself abreast with other states at the international level on the security front.
Growing India Israel Relations: A Threat to Sovereignty of Gulf States
India has developed remarkable ties with the Gulf nations, particularly the GCC, over the past few decades. The significant trade between GCC nations and India and Israel are the main cause. This gradualist approach and efforts on part of India is to include Israel in a broader Middle East policy. Under the Namenda Modi administration, since 2017 Israel is “special and normal” because India has avoided the negative repercussions and no longer have fears opened relations with the Jewish state.
However, the point of concern is that India and Israel’s growing ties must not result in a coalition against Muslims. Modi and Netanyahu have many good reasons to rejoice over their thawing ties. But the gulf countries must discredit them if they use that proximity to advance a common narrative of extreme nationalism, exclusion, and labeling Muslims as the enemy.
Since October 25th, 2022, news reports have been making the rounds in the media revealing India’s involvement in global terrorism. Eight former Indian Navy officers have recently been detained in Qatar on suspicion of espionage and terrorism supported by the Indian government. These spy-officers were arrested in August 2022 for their involvement in international terrorism, espionage, and spying while working in Qatar for a private company and providing training and other services to the Qatari Emiri Navy.
Purnendu Tiwari, a retired (Naval commander) who received the Pravasi Samman 2019 (Highest Indian Award Abroad), was the brains behind the transfer of data from a major Gulf Muslim nation to Israel and India. It has been reported in the media that these Indian officers had access to sensitive information while working with Qatar’s enemies and the Defense, Security, and other government agencies. This is not the first time; India has been involved in espionage operations that violate foreign governments’ sovereignty, though it continues to deny it. International terrorism perpetrated by India has also frequently targeted Pakistan in the past. One such instance is the Kalbushan Yadav case.
The relationship between India and Israel is frequently described as a result of a natural convergence of ideologies between their respective ruling BJP and Liked parties. The BJP’s Hindutva and right-wing Zionism are two ethno-nationalist political movements that naturally discriminate against other races and religions because they are based on the majority populations they serve. In comparison to earlier, more liberal iterations of Hindutva and Zionism, both parties have become more racist. Therefore, by all means, India’s continued close strategic, economic, and security ties with Israel are more ideological than pragmatic.
India should make an effort to protect itself ideologically from the threat of Hindutva becoming the state’s guiding principle and a vehicle for incitement both domestically and abroad. Its exclusivist and discriminatory belief that India is only the property of Hindus is dangerous, especially at a time when Muslim minorities are increasingly being lynched in the name of cow vigilantism.
Today, the Gulf is an integral part of India’s ‘extended neighborhood’, both by way of geographical proximity and as an area of expanded interests and growing Indian influence. However, as a result of escalating anti-Muslim sentiment and the Hindutva movement’s flawed ideology, the BJP, government is arguably facing its most difficult diplomatic challenge in its nine years in office. A few years ago in 2020, Muslim nations were outraged by Nupur Sharma’s (a BJP official) insulting comments made during a TV debate about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Islamic-majority nations voiced their opposition through tweets, official statements, and by summoning Indian diplomats. The BJP was compelled to take action against the party officials for posting a screenshot of offensive tweet.
Subsequently, Princess Hend al-Qassimi of the UAE then made a rare public statement in response to the rising Islamophobia among Indians, saying in a tweet, “I miss the peaceful India.” She did this after she specifically called out a tweet from an Indian resident of the UAE as being “openly racist and discriminatory,” reminding her followers that the penalty for hate speech could be a fine or even expulsion. These statements come after the Islamic world, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, urged India to act quickly to defend the rights of its Muslim minority and expressed concern about how the BJP treats Indian Muslims.
This suggests that the relationships New Delhi has worked so hard to build over the past few years drawing on the efforts of the previous administration is now seriously in jeopardy. India’s diplomatic achievement is starting to fall apart due to domestic developments that target its 200 million Muslims. The flagrant mistreatment of India’s Muslim communities now jeopardizes New Delhi’s carefully crafted Middle Eastern diplomacy, particularly with regard to the Gulf States.
Qatar punctures FIFA’s political fantasy
If the Qatar World Cup proved anything, it’s that sports and politics are inseparable Siamese twins joined at the hip....
Uzbekistan’s Artel joins UN’s ‘Orange The World’ campaign against gender-based violence
Artel Electronics LLC (Artel), Central Asia’s largest home appliance and electronics manufacturer, has teamed up with the UN Population Fund...
US Anti-Inflation Law threatens Europe
Europe and the US are heading towards a serious trade and economic conflict, writes “Berliner Morgenpost”. In the European Union...
OPEC+ agrees to stick to its existing policy of reducing oil production
Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ agreed in early October to reduce production by 2 million barrels per day...
U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: Matters Arising and Way Forward
On the eve of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit planned for December 13-15 in Washington, the Corporate Council in partnership with...
Weapons from Ukraine’s war now coming to Africa
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said that weapons from the raging war between Russia and Ukraine are now slipping into the...
Rethinking the Soviet Experience : Politics and History since 1917- Book Review
The book was written in 1984 and is a collection of essays on Soviet politics and Sovietology, from the time...
Eastern Europe4 days ago
Friends in misfortune. What will rapprochement with Armenia and Russia give Iran?
Eastern Europe3 days ago
What “Victory” and “Defeat” Would Mean in Ukraine’s War
Science & Technology4 days ago
Interesting archaeological discovery in Israel
Americas4 days ago
Joe Vogler and the Alaskan Independence Party: The Last Secession Attempt in the United States
Americas4 days ago
Canada’s Indo Pacific strategy
East Asia4 days ago
Russia-Ukraine Conflict and the Chinese Viewpoint
Defense3 days ago
Ukraine Crisis: International Security and Foreign Policy Option for Pakistan
Science & Technology4 days ago
Towards Efficient Matrix Multiplication