On July 28, USA Todayrevealed the end-of-days as according to the Islamic State (ISIS). The newspaper sourced a 32-page doomsday document to some "Pakistani citizen with connections inside the Pakistani Taliban."
In short, ISIS wants to raise an army of Afghan and Pakistani Taliban to invade India. By doing so, it expects America to jump into the fight and cue the apocalypse. The Urdu-language document claims: "Even if the US tries to attack with all its allies, which undoubtedly it will, the ummah will be united, resulting in the final battle."
American spooks are taking this very seriously of course. In between solemn nods, they speak of unique markings and language that prove the document is legit. Former CIA agent Bruce Riedel says, "Attacking India is the Holy Grail of South Asian jihadists."
The Indian government, too, has this uneasy feeling of terror creeping into the country. A few weeks ago, India's Home Ministry announced it was working on a national anti-ISIS strategy. Reportedly, the appeal of Islamic radicalism had ramped up in ten Indian states.
That said, here are four reasons why this document makes no sense:
1. Urdu? Really?
So, ISIS decided that the best way to sell a new war to the Pashto-speaking Taliban was to market it in a language they don't understand? Sure, some Taliban leaders probably speak Urdu, but they don't use it in everyday conversation with the rank-and-file. In reality, it is hard to imagine that even a tenth of the Taliban speak or read the language. What is the point of propaganda material if it needs a full-time interpreter?
Two years ago, you could have argued that this plan involved the Punjabi Taliban, who understood Urdu, but that faction disbanded in September last year. It is also possible that a Pashto version of this document exists, but that would mean, more worryingly, that ISIS is trying to recruit outside of the usual suspects.
2. A dimwitted battle plan
My understanding is the invasion will involve tens of thousands of Taliban rampaging across Pakistan towards India, grabbing the "Islamic Bomb" on the way, and shooting its nuclear payload across the Wagah border using perhaps a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher. That would be quite the feat.
Also, the plan assumes this righteous army, numbering maybe 50,000 men tops, will hold out against the Indian military until evil Uncle Sam arrives with his hellish minions. ISIS is certain that the "united ummah" forces will also appear, thus kicking off the final battle. The more likely scenario, of course, is that the ummah will side with America - being longtime allies and whatnot- and massacre these poor saps.
3. Syria or India? - Make up your mind
For some reason, the end-of-days tourney has changed venues. From the get-go, ISIS insisted that the final battle between Muslims and infidels would take place in the small Syrian town of Dabiq. The group's propaganda magazine bears the town's name, and its recruiters have spun tales of glory around Dabiq to lure fighters. Does ISIS now believe that the final battle requires a bigger stage, hence India?
Then it gets more confusing. The document goes off on a tangent contradicting its India-centric doomsday. A diktat reads: "Instead of wasting energy in a direct confrontation with the U.S., we should focus on an armed uprising in the Arab world for the establishment of the caliphate." Now I am lost. Isn't the India invasion meant to create a direct confrontation with the U.S?
The more details come out, the more this compilation reads like the handiwork of a Taliban Tom Clancy, with some of Al-Baghdadi's original edicts thrown in to make it look legit.
4. India is not Israel
The ISIS invasion plan also assumes that America will quickly mobilize troops in case India is attacked by a pan-Taliban army. That is sheer naiveté. Only Israel can pretend to have such sway with Washington, and that too thanks to the powerful "Israel Lobby" on Capitol Hill.
Narendra Modi and Barack Obama may share a "bromance" right now, but US-India ties during the Cold War were mostly testy and mistrustful. There is a bilateral defense pact in place today, but expecting American troops to defend India is a real stretch. Similarly, it would be stupid for Pakistan to hope that the Chinese Army intervenes in an Indo-Pak war.
Real target: the next Saad Aziz
This document feels like a red herring. A manifesto moored to wishful thinking has no truck with ISIS. The group has thrived to date by being ruthless and calculated, not by cooking up harebrained schemes of the apocalypse. The India invasion plan also cannot appeal to Taliban veterans that understand the complexities of war. It does, however, provide a romantic version of jihad tailored to the Muslim malcontents of Pakistan and India. The ISIS plan, then, is not a secret army. It is a silent crusade.