Now that Afghanistan has been “liberated” from American occupation by the Taliban al-Qaidah as called upon the global Muslim community to “free” other Muslim land, putting Kashmir on the list of next targets of global jihad, but leaving out Xinjiang in China and Chechnya in Russia.
Exulting over the “victory” of the Taliban over America, the global terror group called for launching the next stage of the “struggle, the way for which has been paved by the victory of the defiant Afghan nation”.
Besides Kashmir, it shortlisted the Levant, or the Mediterranean swath comprising Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon; Islamic Maghreb, or the region in northwest Africa consisting of Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia and Somalia; and Yemen as its priorities.
“With the help of Allah, this historic victory will open the way for the Muslim masses to achieve liberation from the despotic rule of tyrants who have been imposed by the West on the Islamic world,” said As-Sahab, the official media outlet of the core al-Qaida leadership in Pakistan.
Kashmir figures prominently in the list of targets. The last time Kashmir was mentioned by al-Qaida was during the launch of its J&K outlet, Ansar Ghazwatul Hind with the avowed objective of re-conquering India for Islam.
The omission of Xinjiang and Chechnya, both sites of alleged atrocities on Muslims, is believed to be more political in nature. China and Russia have come out in recent months to support the Taliban.
The al-Qaida core leadership remains in Pakistan with Ayman al-Zawahiri as its head, and, as the statement makes it clear, remains sensitive to the political imperatives of their hosts— the Pakistani government.
The fact that al-Qaida has refrained from mentioning two regions where Muslims are reportedly being targeted is interesting. Chechens, at the receiving end of Russia’s tough rule, formed the large number of IS fighters in Iraq and Syria while Muslims in Xinjiang remain an oppressed lot as per numerous reports.
As the US vacated its presence in Afghanistan in the most messy way imaginable, China and Russia have banded together to not only criticise the withdrawal but also support the Taliban. That has extended to Pakistan as well, which is now in an informal grouping with China, Russia and even Turkey, as the Taliban’s benefactors.
China and Russia worked together in the UNSC on Tuesday as they jointly abstained on Resolution 2593. Both countries objected to the non-inclusion of IS and ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement) of the Uighurs in the resolution. Russia objected to the evacuation of Afghans, calling it “brain drain”, while China wanted the US to continue to stay on in Afghanistan to complete its mission. Both countries called for the unfreezing of the Taliban’s assets by the US and multilateral financial institutions.
Russia, certainly, is keen to posit the Taliban as the “enemy” of the Islamic State-Khorasan, hoping the new regime in Kabul will help deal with the latter.