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17 Nov 2017

Report: Al-Qaeda propaganda in Tamil, Hindi, Bengali emerges

In a first, the Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) has started distributing its propaganda material online in Tamil, Bengali, and Hindi.

The material is in the form of translations of AQIS magazines, al-Risalah and Inspire, and speeches by its leadership, according to the Indian Express (IE).

The AQIS' push towards vernacular Indian languages are aimed at gathering new recruits and expanding its presence.

In context

Al-Qaeda's propaganda in vernacular languages targets new recruits
Most propaganda material targets doctors and engineers


Most propaganda material targets doctors and engineers

The Tamil translations from issue 3 of al-Risalah magazine target doctors and engineers, according to IE.

"I ask you, Doctor: are your services not better spent in patching the leg of that child who lost his limb in a barrel bomb in Aleppo [in Syria] rather than prescribing medication for an Islamophobe with you in your country," an article asks.


AQIS chief calls for targeting of IAS and IPS officers

Speeches and messages of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri have also been translated.

IE has also accessed Bengali-language material by Zawahiri's deputy in the Indian subcontinent, Sami-ul-Haq, who was born in UP but trained in Karachi.

His speeches have been translated into Hindi. This includes his calls for the targeting of IAS and IPS officers.

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AQIS previously circulated material in Urdu but has changed tactics

"This is an organization which is aware that many young Muslims cannot read Urdu," a police officer told IE. "In earlier decades, material like this circulated clandestinely, through pamphlets and so on, but almost always in Urdu."

New strategy

Expanded propaganda in tune with 2016 Al-Qaeda strategy

In 2016, a statement was issued by the Global Islamic Media Front, al-Qaeda's publicity division, in encrypted chatrooms.

The statement said it would "publish and translate media releases… from other jihadi groups, and scholars, in addition to original media productions in Arabic, Bengali, English, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, and more."

It said the call for jihad in the Indian Subcontinent is getting more important.


More ISIS operatives arrested than AQIS

The IE investigation notes that 55 out of 82 ISIS members being prosecuted in India have targeted recruits from largely the same group educated middle and lower-middle class men as the AQIS.

Maharashtra, UP, and Telangana have witnessed the highest ISIS-related cases, according to National Investigation Agency data.

Compared to ISIS, not many AQIS operatives have been arrested in India.

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