Al-Qaeda Islamists have hacked a low-key Indian railways website replacing it with a page urging Muslims to wage jihad against opponents. The message exhorted Islamic followers in India, the country with the third-largest Muslim population, not to remain in "slumber".
An 11-page document, purportedly written by the organisation's chief for al-Qaeda in the Indian Sub-Continent (AQIS), was pinned in the hacked page of the website. The statement asked why India's 172-million-strong Muslims have not stepped up their participation in the ongoing global jihad against the US and its allies.
The message from Maulana Aasim Umar, an Indian recently put in charge of operations in the region, read: "Why is there no storm in your ocean? A message for Muslims of India from Maulana Aasim Umar (May Allah protect him)." The group penetrated a page of the personnel department of the Central Railways – a page usually used by employees for internal communication.
"Will the land of Delhi not give birth to a Shah Muhadith Delhvi who may once again teach the Muslims of India the forgotten lesson of Jihad and inspire them to take to the battlefields of Jihad? Is there no successor left of the group that drenched itself in blood at Balakot, who possesses the spirit of rising in rebellion against a system based on disbelief and offering one's life for Allah?"
The al-Qaeda has been attempting to get a foothold in the country for several years with little success. India remains relatively immune to Islamic radicalisation compared to other countries in the region, despite the existence of several other active terror groups. The Indian government has not yet responded to the latest hack.
"This is a plaintive, disappointed message that conveys how difficult AQIS has found India. It's been a theme in al-Qaeda messaging for a while, even by Osama bin Laden himself," Shashank Joshi, a researcher with the Royal United Services Institute, told the Telegraph.