Asim Umar

Asim Umar
BornBetween 1974 and 1976[1]
Sambhal, Uttar Pradesh, India[1][2]
Died23 September 2019
Musa Qala District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan
Service/branchal-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent
RankEmir of AQIS

Sana-ul-Haq (1974/1976 – 23 September 2019), better known as Asim Umar, was an Indian militant[1][3][4][5] and the leader of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the creation of AQIS and introduced Asim Umar as its leader in a video posted online in September 2014.[6]

Outside his militant activities he was also an author of what Praveen Swami calls "several best-selling dystopic jihadist fantasies that give fascinating glimpses into the inner world of Islamists", centered around a global conspiracy involving the Dajjal and Jews as well Islamic eschatology.[7]


He was born Sana-ul-Haq into an influential peasant family (his grandfather was a village pradhan, his grand uncle a freedom fighter and great-grandfather a district magistrate under the British rule),[8] between 1974-76 in Sambhal, Uttar Pradesh, India.[1] He attended the Darul Uloom Deoband seminary in Uttar Pradesh, India and graduated from there in 1991. In the late 1990s, he visited Pakistan.[2]

Umar studied at Jamia Uloom-ul-Islamia in Karachi and the Darul Uloom Haqqania in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. His friend in Jamia Uloom-ul-Islamia, Moazzam, said of him that at that time "he was known for his very strong views against democracy and in favor of jihad. He could be described as a version of Anwar Awlaki, who was good in indoctrination too."[9] Before joining militancy, he was himself a teacher in a madrassa in Karachi and used to translate jihadist literature from Pashto to Urdu.[10]

Umar is said to have traveled to Afghanistan where he met Osama bin Laden, and later joined Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HUJI), a Jihadist group with branches across the Indian Subcontinent.[6] Umar's affiliation with Al-Qaeda was reportedly solidified after the Pakistani government's 2007 storming of the radical Lal Masjid seminary, resulting in the deaths of many militants. He is said to have made contact with Ilyas Kashmiri, a top jihadist with close links to al-Qaeda.[2]

In 2009, Indian intelligence officials visited Asim Umar's house in Deepa Sarai, Uttar Pradesh. Umar was missing for 14 years at that time and was presumed dead. Indian officials informed Umar's family that their son was alive and working for a terrorist organisation.[2] After hearing the news, Umar's father promptly inserted advertisements in newspapers where he disowned his son.[2]

Umar quickly began playing a prominent role as a propagandist in video releases from al-Qaeda and authored at least four books promoting jihad.[6][11] By April 2014, several months before being named leader of AQIS, Al Qaeda was identifying Umar as the head of its sharia committee in Pakistan.[12]

In September 2014, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the creation of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and introduced Asim Umar as its leader in a video posted online.[6]

In 2016 and 2018, the United States had designated Asim Umar a global terrorist.[5][2]

On 23 September 2019, Afghan officials announced that Asim Umar was killed in a joint US-Afghan military raid in the Afghan Province of Helmand. 40 Afghan civilians and six other al-Qaeda militants were also killed in the raid.[13][14]


He wrote "a number of conspiracy theory books", centered around Islamic eschatology and the Dajjal, that he himself translated from Urdu into Arabic, Pashto and Uzbek languages, including:[15]

  • Teesri Jang-e-Azeem Aur Dajjal (transl. World War III and Dajjal)
  • Dajjal Ka Lashkar: Black Water (transl. Army of Anti-Christ: the Black Water)
  • Imam Mehdi ke Doost aur Dushman (transl. Friends and Foes of the Mahdi [Messiah])
  • Bermuda Tikon aur Dajjal (transl.Bermuda Triangle and Dajjal)


  1. ^ a b c d "Counter Terrorism Designations and Removals". United States Department of the Treasury. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "US air strikes kill UP terrorist heading al-Qaida in Indian subcontinent". Times of India. 9 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent releases audio speech warning fighters against harming innocent Muslims". Economic Times. 13 July 2018.
  4. ^ "US air strikes kill UP terrorist heading al-Qaida in Indian Subcontinent". Times of India. 9 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Al-Qaeda-Taliban links exposed". Deccan Herald. 12 October 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d "Al Qaeda's shadowy new 'emir' in South Asia handed tough job". Reuters. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  7. ^ Praveen Swami (10 October 2019), "Slain Al-Qaeda chief Asim Umar was Uttar Pradesh village boy who became best-selling jihadist pulp-fiction writer", Firstpost. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  8. ^ IANS (10 October 2019), "How Sambhals Shanno became Al-Qaedas Maulana Asim Umar", Outlook India. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  9. ^ Ali K Chishti (26 September 2014), "Target: Karachi", The Friday Times. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  10. ^ Basit, Abdul. “Asim Umar - ‘New Kid on the Block’?” Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, vol. 6, no. 10, 2014, p. 9.
  11. ^ "Pakistani Taliban leader discusses 'global jihad,' Syria in al Qaeda video". Long War Journal. 24 July 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  12. ^ "Social Media Jihad: Open interview with al Qaeda's sharia official in Pakistan". Long War Journal. 9 April 2014. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  13. ^ "South Asia region Al Qaeda chief killed in Afghanistan: officials". Dawn News. 8 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Asim Umar: Al-Qaeda's South Asia chief 'killed in Afghanistan'". BBC News. 8 October 2019. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  15. ^ Dr. Farhan Zahid, "A Profile of Asim Umar: Amir of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinet"

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