April 22, 2021
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Setting a base
Al Qaeda to spread influence from Syria to Thailand

The Al Qaeda threat to India and attempt to unite Muslims in the subcontinent could be part of a grand design to revive Afghan theatre as the hub of terrorist activities to cater to the region in a two flank corridor.

The Al Qaeda is facing the heat from ISIS in Iraq and perhaps losing its relevance to a new leadership which is much more robust and well trained to carry out terrorist activities not just in few pockets but ready to strike a global jihad concept.

The Al Qaeda funding in recent years has decreased and ISIS and its affiliated outfits are now getting free flow of funds from West Asia and Europe.

This is eating out their base and financial crunch in recent years has forced Al Qaeda to suspend many sleeper cells and fund collection offices in more than 22 countries.

According to Western intelligence agencies, the new threat issued by Al Qaeda is utter desperation and they may not target India as such but could be looking for potential recruits to spread their influence into new region.

To enter into Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar or Bangladesh, indeed, India can be a staging ground which has land borders with them and can offer easy access to sneak into those countries.

Since NATO and US troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, Pakistan is becoming ambitious and could take advantage of the situation that might occur due to the capacity gap foreign troops will leave behind.

The Pakistan Army and ISI are facing uphill task domestically and they want to control the events in Pakistan and in the neighborhood by launching such outfits to take on the enemies, rather than doing it directly.

This combination of threats and convergence of interests may be behind the sudden revival plans of Al Qaeda and its associates who are losing their resources to remain relevant.

The tape issued by Al Qaeda leader has also described about his support to Taliban and accepting Mullah Mohammad Omar as his leader. This shows there is a reorganization effort to recast the equations afresh in the light of ISIS rise.            

Although ISIS has substantial Sunni Arab monarchy support base, the Al Qaeda does not have the same resources to sustain its operations.

Thus, Al Qaeda is perhaps looking for using India as a transit hub for its operations in future and they may not get enough support to carry out their activities if they hit targets in India.

They know India has a sizable Muslim population and some of them have worked for them in the past when they were recruited from Gulf region.

Almost two million Indians enter into Gulf states every year in search of work and sometimes illegally stay without a proper working permit to seek employment.

The Al Qaeda may use these elements to smuggle them out and in to the Gulf states if they work for them in some capacity.

Besides, the political situation in Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh appears to be conducive for the Al Qaeda to grow in terms of recruits and funding.

The border region of this part of the world is historically porous and large scale smuggling activities take place as there is poor law enforcement.

All that is giving a sense to Al Qaeda that a new religious movement can be created to serve its purpose as it is getting poor response in West Asian region due to rise of ISIS.