On April 22, Islamic Sate Wilayāh Hind (India Province) released third edition of its monthly magazine Sawt al-Hind (Voice of Hind). Islamic State launched the first edition of Sawt al-Hind in February, 2020 marking the shift in its focus in the region, from Kashmir to India. This is the first magazine launched by Islamic State linked media, dedicated to India/ Indian subcontinent. Islamic State previously had a dedicated monthly magazine for Kashmir, called Al-Risalah (The Message). The magazine was launched under Islamic State Khurasān Province (ISKP) before being discontinued in mid 2019.
In the third edition of Sawt al-Hind, the first editorial “Call Towards Tawheed and Jihad” begins with inviting Indian Muslims to Tawheed (oneness of Allah) and Jihad (holy war). The editorial like its previous two editions talks about the recent changes in Indian constitution, the introduction of new citizenship law, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register for Citizens (NRC). The editorial says that “Government of India wants to make India ‘Hindustan’ in literal sense, the land of Hindus, where there is no place for any other religion (Muslims)”. The editorial refers to Indian Muslims, tells them their protests won’t bear any results, the institutions in India like judiciary and police side with government, not with people/ Muslims, and Muslims will only face humiliation at their hands. The editorial then gives detailed references from Quran and Hadith, inviting Muslims to jihad.
In the second editorial, “Preparation of Ghazwa-e-Hind” (Preparation for the battle of India), the magazine for the first time expands its reach to all regions in South Asia (Afghanistan, Kashmir, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives). The editorial criticises Taliban, calls them apostates and calls their jihad a ‘nationalist movement’, says “Islamic State, in Afghanistan is fighting a war with crusaders (referring to U.S. and NATO) and their apostate allies (referring to Taliban and Afghan forces). The editorial goes on to say that U.S. and Taliban want to remove Islamic State from Khurasan (Afghanistan), only to fail. The editorial says, the “mujahideen of Islamic State rose against enemies of Allah in India/Kashmir, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri-Lanka and Maldives”. The editorial recycles the al-Naba editorial on recent Kabul Gurduwara massacre, says it was carried out to “avenge Kashmir”, and adds that it was a message for Indian Muslims who have been “living a humiliated life in India” and “are being lynched” and “new laws are imposed on them to evict them from India”. The editorial also recycles propaganda on its attacks carried out in Bangladesh and Sri-Lanka, and mentions the recent arson attack on around half a dozen police boats in Maldives, Islamic State’s first ever attack in the tiny island nation. The editorial then invites all existing jihadist groups active in Pakistan, Kashmir, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri-Lanka and India, asks them to give allegiance to Islamic State, promises them “glad tidings of Ghazwa-e-Hind”, says jihad should be fought for Sharia under Islamic methods.
The third editorial “We are Victorious by Allah’s permission” again attacks Taliban at length, says they joined hands with crusaders, apostates against the mujahideen and forced Islamic State jihadists to “go for a tactical retreat”, adds “victory or loss in jihad is not defined by gaining or losing a pocket of land but by remaining steadfast upon Deen and by not compromising on foundations of religion (referring to Taliban)”. The editorial further adds that “Taliban keep boasting about driving out Islamic State from Kunar and Kand provinces” but “they don’t know it was test on mujahideen (Islamic State)”. The editorial talks about the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, says the Sri Lankan bombings were carried out as a revenge for that. The editorial then praises “brothers from Bangladesh”, says they were the first in the region to give allegiance to Islamic State. The editorial prays tributes to the “migrants from India” who left India to join Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, mentions the first Indian jihadist who carried a suicide attack for Islamic Sate in Iraq, Abu Usman al-Hindi, the man from Mumbai who had joined Islamic State in 2014. The editorial again talks about the recent attack on police boats in Maldives, says Islamic Sate soldiers are ready to fight in different parts of the world.
The last editorial “The Muslims should observe the Ramadan and celebrate the Eid with the Caliphate!” talks about the logic, Islamic ruling on sighting of moon and beginning and end of fasting (Ramadan) and celebrating Eid. The editorial says “observing moon regarding Ramadan and other Islamic rituals is not as complicated as it has become these days; but since the caliphate became silent, the issue has been so confused that everyone is hesitant in this matter and has been trying to justify his position by sticking to arguments, but still the problem has not been resolved.” The editorial says the boundaries of Islamic countries have been set by Infidels to establish nationalist governments, rejects moon observing method of all countries, “Islamic State, which is also the Islamic caliphate is the only state who has established the Islamic system of governance in its full spirit”, says whoever has faith would keep fast when the caliphate will declare the sighting of moon from the witnesses collected by its committees.
The interesting part of the third issue is the South Asia map showing all regions surrounding India. While the main focus remains on India, all six regions have got a mention for attacks carried out in past, and the one recent attack in Maldives. For India, the focus remains on new citizenship law, protests and violence that followed. Islamic State has been trying to exploit the opportunity created by post CAA chaos/ violence since the launch of Sawt al-Hind in February. I expect the rhetoric to continue in the next editions too.