U.S. Embassy in New Delhi Warns of Possible Islamic State Attacks in India

The U.S. embassy in New Delhi has warned American citizens of possible Islamic State related terrorist attacks in India.

“Recent Indian media reports indicate ISIL’s desire to attack targets in India,” said the embassy in a travel advisory posted on its website Tuesday. It said there was an increased threat in places such as religious sites, markets and festival venues that are frequented by Westerners in India.

In a video posted online in May, Islamic State fighters said they were preparing to avenge what they called atrocities against Muslims in India, citing religious riots in the state of Gujarat in 2002, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in charge of the state government, as well as a long-simmering conflict over the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir.

In the 22-minute video, men holding guns urged Indians to join Islamic State and mocked those who live alongside Hindus. Hindus make up around 80% of India’s population, while Muslims, who number 170 million, account for roughly 14%.

“India continues to experience terrorist and insurgent activities which may affect U.S. citizens directly or indirectly,” the U.S. State Department had said in September in its world-wide caution about “anti-western terrorist groups” operating in India.

In September 2014, Mr. Modi called on countries around the world to unite and defeat Islamic State. But he didn’t announce any direct Indian participation in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

More than 1,000 Indian Muslim scholars and religious leaders last year jointly condemned Islamic State in an effort to counter the militant group’s drive to recruit young men and women.

Dr. Ajai Sahni, executive director of the Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management said that embassy’s direction to issue the warning was “poorly informed.”

“There is no concrete evidence of augmentation of Islamic State’s capacities and capabilities in India,” he said.

A spokesman for the embassy declined to comment on the travel advisory but said that it had issued such warnings in the past for American tourists about safety of women and pollution, among other things. (WSJ)

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