ISIS execution of Western Journalists and the Aafia Siddiqui Deobandi connection to Pakistan

Afia-FooleyIn the days following the brutal and tragic execution of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, it has become clear that genocidal terrorist organizations like ISIS view Aafia Siddiqui as an icon of their cause. What has also become clear is that ISIS depends upon Deobandi mercenaries as part of its core group.  Robert Fisk, in analyzing the identity of James Foley’s killer,  writes about this connection in his recent article in The Independent  (Sunday, August 24 2014)

“But the political origin of Indian Muslims – and here I’ll use the frontiers of the old British India – surely provide a clue to the origins of the “Islamic State” which our modern-day Mahdi, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has created. I suspect these roots lie in the Deobandis….”

The awareness of the link between the puritanical, anti-Sunni Sufi, anti-Shia Deobandism and the radicalization in Fisk’s home country, the UK has been growing as well:

“For anti-radical Muslims, the most important issue in countering the mega-mosque is its patronage by Tablighi Jamaat – as shown by the attempt to name the complex the “Masjid-i-Ilyas” or “Ilyas Mosque” after Muhammad Ilyas Kandhlavi (1885-1944), who was born in Uttar Pradesh, north India. TJ was created as a preaching movement based on the radical doctrines of the Deobandi sect, in which Kandhlavi studied. Deobandism is known mainly as the Islamic interpretation that inspires the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as terrorist groups attacking spiritual Sufis, Shia Muslims, and others whom the Deobandis have declared to be apostates.”

UK: How We Want to Stop Radical Islam,

The links between ISIS and Deobandism have already been witnessed in Kashmir where IS flags have been seen at Deobandi rallies

“”We are unable to control the youth who are drifting towards the Deobandi school of thought, which is more or less aligned to Wahabi sect,” said one leader. “This is a disturbing trend in the Kashmir Valley, which is predominately of Barelvi thought. The trend in the coming future may disturb the social fabric and trigger sectarian clashes.”

In Pakistan, the links between the Deobandi terrorist groups like ASWJ (also known as Sipah e Sahaba and LeJ), TTP, Jundullah are there.  These groups are all related to the same source

“The Afghan Taliban, the TTP, and most other Pakistani jihadist groups are fruit from the same tree. They belong to the Deobandi subsect of Sunni Islam, which means they often attend the same seminaries and, in Pakistan, can hop from one Deobandi group to another. And the tendency within both pro-state and anti-state Deobandi jihadists is to hold Mullah Omar’s tenure in Afghanistan as an ideal.”

ASWJ terrorists have already declared their affiliation with ISIS

“In recent years, anti-Shia militants have already done this in Quetta and Karachi, with bomb attacks on Shia residential communities. Already, social media accounts associated with the anti-Shia Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (now known as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat Pakistan) avidly promote the Islamic State’s activities inside Iraq and Syria. And small groups of Pakistani jihadists have posted videos of themselves swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi”

It is the James Foley execution and the demand by his ISIS killers to release Aafia Siddiqui that confirms the links between Pakistan’s Deobandi terrorists groups – Taliban, JeM, ASWJ/LeJ – and ISIS

“A call for her release would indicate Isil has a contingent of Taliban veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, a leading terrorism expert told the Telegraph on Thursday.”

“ISIS is holding citizens of Britain, which like the United States has declined to pay ransoms, former hostages confirmed. The terror group has sent a laundry list of demands for the release of the foreigners, starting with money but also prisoner swaps, including the liberation of Aafia Siddiqui, an M.I.T.-trained Pakistani neuroscientist with ties to Al Qaeda currently incarcerated in Texas.”

“Before ISIS militants executed journalist James Foley in a grisly video posted online this week, they made several demands of the United States in exchange for his freedom. One was the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist who is currently in prison in Texas for 86 years.”

The terrorist group has also called upon the United States to release a suspected al Qaeda member, Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year prison sentence in Texas for the attempted murder of U.S. officials in Afghanistan. But for the United States to do so would contradict long-standing and well-known U.S. policy against offering concessions to terrorist groups, and there was virtually no chance the administration would consider swapping an American-educated militant — Siddiqui studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received a doctorate from Brandeis University — who was arrested with documents describing how to make chemical weapons and dirty bombs and how to weaponize Ebola


To tell Siddiqui’s story, Scroggins begins in 19th-century India. She explains how Deobandism, an Islamic anticolonial movement that started about two centuries ago, has had a profound (and underinvestigated) impact on the politics of contemporary Pakistan.

.In this 2010 clip, Masood Azhar, head of the Deobandi militant group, Jaish e Mohammad is passionately advocating for Aafia Siddiqui.

With ISIS terrorists advocating for the same cause célèbre, Aafia Siddiqui as Deobandi terrorist groups, the links between them are confirmed.  To tackle ISIS, the global community has to confront the source of extremism which are Saudi-Qatari funded Deobandi & Salafi mosques.


GlobalSo called progressives and liberals within the muslim world have obfuscated the specific Deobandi and Salafi faith identity of terrorist groups like ISIS which is a major impediment in confronting this menace on an intellectual plane.  These compromised scholars, either due to a thinly disguised sectarian prejudice or Saudi influence, use vague terms like “Islamists” to describe Deobandi and Salafi terrorists groups.  Such tactics are meant to deliberately obscure the specific ideology that promotes terrorism thereby taking everyone further away from the solution. 

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