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South Asia Security Monitor - No. 356

Edited by Jeff M. Smith
January 30, 2015


ISIS EXPANDS IN SOUTH ASIA
The Islamic State (ISIS) anointed former Pakistani Taliban warlord Hafiz Saeed Khan, also known as Mulla Saeed Orakzai, as its leader in South Asia. Saeed will head IS Khorasan, which covers Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Bangladesh. He is known for his brutality and for his disenchantment with the Taliban at being overlooked for its top leadership slot. Saeed’s appointment coincides with the start of a recruiting drive in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Using propaganda and recruiters on the ground, ISIS hopes to expand its Khorasan branch. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, believes that IS Khorasan may struggle to sell its message, as “the Taliban have their allegiance to Mullah Omar and a different philosophy and ideology than ISIS.” However, its message may find traction among those extremists who are disillusioned with the Taliban after years of division. (
International Business TimesJanuary 19, 2015; Army Times January 15, 2015)

NEW AFGHAN CABINET IN JEOPARDY
Ghulam Jilani Popal, nominated to the Afghan cabinet by President Ashraf Ghani, has withdrawn from consideration for finance minister. An anonymous government official stated that Popal withdrew because of disagreements with the president. Ghani is expected to nominate current ambassador to the United States Eklil Ahmad Hakimi for the position. Additionally, the nomination process has been plagued by another controversy regarding dual citizenship. Afghan law stipulates that dual citizens cannot hold cabinet positions. The issue threatens 11 of Ghani’s 25 nominees. (
BBC January 18, 2015)

CLASHES IN NEPAL OVER NEW CONSTITUTION
Nepal’s Maoist-led opposition became violent in parliament over a perceived lack of inclusion in Nepal’s effort to craft a constitution. Parliament members threw objects and attacked the Speaker during clashes. Nepal has been attempting to draft a new constitution since it elected its first Constituent Assembly in 2008. With the support of two-thirds of the assembly already, the ruling coalition could draft a constitution without the support of the opposition. However, the opposition insists on continuing talks until a consensus is formed, even if another deadline is missed. The unrest spread outside of parliament as the opposition called for nationwide protests and strikes. The strikes shut down factories, stores, schools, and transportation. (
BBC January 20, 2015)

UNREST, EXTREMISM IN BANGLADESH
Violence in Bangladesh has left 27 people dead after opposition leader Khaleda Zia was confined to house arrest to prevent her from leading protests against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Zia organized a nationwide transportation blockade aimed at pressuring the government to initiate new polls after a contentious election last year. Protesters firebombed buses, cars, and trucks, destroying 238 vehicles and costing transportation operators $26 million a day. The BNP, the political opposition party, estimates that police have arrested at least 2,000 protestors.

Elsewhere, police in Bangladesh arrested four suspected members of the Islamic State (ISIS). The ISIS members, who were allegedly trained in Pakistan, include a regional coordinator. Police found them with “leaflets related to militancy for training, a laptop, and other materials.” The regional coordinator, Mohammad Sakhwatul Kabir, stated that his Dhaka cell intended to gather weapons and money for attacks on the Bangladeshi government, with the goal of establishing a caliphate. The arrests come as ISIS steps up recruiting in South Asia with its new branch, IS Khorasan. (
Al JazeeraJanuary 19, 2015; Reuters January 19, 2015)


Related Categories: Terrorism; Radical Islam; Southeast Asia; South Asia; South Asia Program

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