Al Qaeda launches India branch, India on alert

zawahriIndia’s Home Ministry has issued an all-India alert after Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri announced the formation of an Indian branch of his militant group in a new tape released on September 4.

In his first videotape in over a year, al Zawahiri says Al Qaeda has not forgotten injustices and oppressions suffered by Muslims “in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir”.

Calling the formation of the “Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent” a glad tiding for Muslims in the region, Zawahiri added that the group will aim to “break all borders created by Britain in India” and “raise the flag of jihad” across the subcontinent.

In view of serious security implications of the new move by al-Qaeda, widely believed to be the perpetrator of 9/11 terror attacks, Home Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with key intelligence agencies over the issue. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is also understood to be present at the meeting. The Prime Minister’s Office has been briefed on the development, said Singh after the meeting.

Earlier in June, 2014, As Sahab, al Qaeda’s official media outlet, had released a video titled: ‘Why is there no storm in your ocean?’ calling on the youth from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and South India to join the global jihad.

“You who have ruled India for eight hundred years, you who lit the flame of the one true God in the darkness of polytheism: how can you remain in your slumber when the Muslims of the world are awakening?” asked Al-Qaeda ideologue Asim Umar.

“If the youth of the Muslim world have joined the battlefields with the slogan ‘Shari’a or Martyrdom,’ and put their lives at stake to establish the Caliphate, how can you lag behind them? Why is there no storm in your ocean?”

Reports by the intelligence agencies suggest that the ideological goal of the group is to wage and win the Ghazwa-e-Hind, or the final battle in India. Intelligence agencies have also expressed their concerns about the growing linkages between home-grown terror organisations like the Indian Mujahideen and the Al-Qaeda.

Some experts have suggested that this speech is meant as much for an audience within jihadi circles as outside.

With the Islamic State, and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the limelight, both in terms of media coverage and its ability to recruit more people, the speech is seen as a desperate bid to proclaim Al-Qaeda’s relevance.

In his speech Zawahri also renewed his support and loyalty to another radical cleric hell-bent on being declared ‘caliph’, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

“This entity was not established today, but it is the fruit of a blessed effort for more than two years to gather the mujahideen in the Indian subcontinent into a single entity to be with the main group, Qaedat al-Jihad, from the soldiers of the Islamic Emirate and its triumphant emir, Allah permitting, Emir of the Believers Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid,” said Zawahri.

Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent is the latest branch of this jihadist group. Earlier, assorted  groups like the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia and East Africa, merged with the group in 2013.

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