September 10, 2014

Indians among most likely in the world to see extremist groups as ‘major threat’

Islamic Extremists As Threat to CountryAlthough India is home to the world’s second-largest Muslim population, al-Qaeda has so far had only a limited presence in the country. But last week, India’s intelligence agencies reportedly were put on high alert after the terrorist group’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a video announcing the establishment of a new al-Qaeda branch on the Indian subcontinent and warning of additional jihadist activity in the region.

Al-Zawahiri also warned that al-Qaeda will be ramping up its efforts to recruit and train Indian Muslims to fight for the group. Al-Qaeda may hope to exploit the sometimes tense relationship between India’s Hindu majority and Muslim minority, which makes up 14% of the country’s population of 1.2 billion, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center estimate. In his video, al-Zawahiri specifically addresses Muslims residing in the Indian state of Gujarat, which in 2002 was the site of the worst religious riots since the partition of the subcontinent.

In 2008, shooting attacks in Mumbai killed 166 people and wounded 300 others over the course of four days. The attacks were carried out by the members of the Islamic extremist Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group mostly operating in the Indian subcontinent with main goal of liberating Kashmir, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan, from Indian control. Lashkar-e-Taiba is also held responsible for the 200o attack on the Red Fort, a historical landmark in New Delhi.

A 2013 poll we conducted of 40 countries showed that, globally, Indians are among the most likely to say that Islamic extremist groups pose a major threat to their country. Two-in-three Indians said that Islamic extremist groups are a major security concern. Worries about Islamic extremist groups were about the same in Senegal, where 67% said Islamic extremist groups are a major threat. Only in Italy (74%), France (71%) and Lebanon (70%) did a slightly higher proportion of adults share the view that Islamic extremist groups are a serious national threat.

Topics: Terrorism, Religious Extremism, Muslims and Islam, Hindus and Hinduism

  1. Photo of Neha Sahgal

    is associate director of religion research at Pew Research Center.


  1. Muthyavan.3 years ago

    It is the Indians or Chinese, who make up of nearly forty percent of the world population today consider the Islamic Extemist is a threat to modern civilization. The birth of this modern day extremism is born by the tragical division of Indian subcontinent in 1946 by the then British rulers. Latter it was aided and Supported by USA and The Red China to become an atomic power.

    1. Reason3 years ago

      That may have been one compounding variable, but the reality of the source of modern Islamic extremism is FAR more complex.

  2. Tim3 years ago

    From a non religious view of the world.
    I can not see any way to overcome the threat of fanatics who see any action to promote their insane religious view; that all those who do not adhere to their particular madness is a legitimate target for death. Should they themselves pay the ultimate price, they have been led to believe, their path leads directly to paradise.

  3. Arun Singh3 years ago

    The worst religious riots after independence in 1947 took place in 1984 when thousands of Sikhs were massacred following the shooting of Ms. Indira Gandhi. It was sponsored by the then ruling party- Congress. As regards the Islamic threat, every country is facing it- be it Hindu, Christian, Buddhist or even- hold your breath- Muslim. Look at Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and countless others over some perceived persecution.

  4. Dr. Asad U Khan3 years ago

    Muslims living in Canada and USA have nothing to gain from the religious violence in their homeland. There had been several occasions when Muslim community members have reported suspicious activities to the law enforcement authorities. In Canada the Islamic Supreme Council. Of Calgary is in the forefront to fight the radicalisms in Muslim communities.

  5. Packard Day3 years ago

    “Indians among most likely in the world to see extremist groups as a major threat?”….
    Other than sharing its western border with a nuclear armed Pakistan that is filled with millions of radical Muslims who are all really quite as mad as March hares, I cannot imagine a single reason why India might be worried about “extremist groups.” I just can’t.

    1. khattak3 years ago

      it is not rocket science to understand why indians are paranoids….just see the reaction to zawahiri’s video; entire country is on toes…..imagine what will happen when the group joins hands with naxalites….havoc…..