Fact Check: Was Slain Al-Qaeda Terrorist Asim Umar Really An Indian?

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 10 October 2019, 05:34 PM
Asim Umar, the chief of the Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).
Asim Umar, the chief of the Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). (Photo Credit : File )

Asim Umar, the chief of the Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), was killed during a joint US-Afghan raid on a Taliban hideout in Afghanistan's Helmand province. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had announced the formation of the AQIS to take the fight to India, Myanmar and Bangladesh in a video message in September 2014.

Soon after his death, reports suggested that Umar was an Indian who was born in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal.

The FACT

  • News Nation has searched for his details on Google and found Umar was indeed an Indian.  The Indian Express claimed that it had met Umar’s parents -- Irfan was 80, and Ruqaiya 72 -- in their small, single storey home in the village back in 2015. They had not seen their son for over 20 years then, and did not even know whether he was dead or alive.
  • When later some officials showed up at their home, Irfan and Ruqaiya had learnt that their young son, who had run away from home some time in the early 1990s, was now the leader of the South Asian arm of one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups.

Who was Asim Umar?

  • Umar was born as Sana-Ul Haq in Sambhal in Uttar Pradesh and reportedly graduated from Darul Uloom seminary in Deoband in 1991.
  • He later travelled to Pakistan where he studied at the Darul Uloom Haqqania Nowshera, the seminary which is dubbed as the 'University of Jihad'.
  • The Indian Express reported that he became involved in jihadist activities following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992. It was in 1995 that he disappeared from Sambhal after a quarrel with his parents.
  • Umar, later that year, reached Pakistan and joined the Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia-a Karachi seminary, a well-known jihad factory that has produced several jihadist leaders, including Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of the Jaish-e-Muhammad; Qari Saifullah Akhtar, who headed the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, and Fazl-ur-Rehman Khalil, the leader of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.
  • Soon afterward, Umar joined the HuM, which turned its energies to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • From the late 1990s until 2004, Umar taught jihadists at Batrasi, Karachi, and Peshawar, and also served in the HuM’s training camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, The Indian Express reported.
  • Umar, who was in early 40s, was designated as a "global terrorist" by the US which placed the AQIS on the list of "foreign terrorist organisation" in 2016.
  • He was former member of US designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation Harakat ul-Mujahidin - a Pakistan-based terrorist group with branches across the Indian subcontinent.
  • The AQIS claimed responsibility for the September 6, 2014 attack on a naval dockyard in Karachi, in which militants attempted to hijack a Pakistani Navy frigate.
  • It has also claimed responsibility for the murders of activists and writers in Bangladesh, including that of US citizen Avijit Roy, US Embassy local employee Xulhaz Mannan, and of Bangladeshi nationals Oyasiqur Rahman Babu, Ahmed Rajib Haideer and AKM Shafiul Islam.
  • By 2017, AQIS boasted several hundred members and had cells in Afghanistan's Helmand, Kandahar, Zabul, Paktika, Ghazni, and Nuristan Provinces, Seth G Jones, a strategic expert, had said during a Congressional testimony before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.
  • In October 2015, US and Afghan forces targeted a large training camp in Kandahar Province, killing over one hundred operatives linked to AQIS al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent.
First Published: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 10:02 PM
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