Al-Qaeda comes out of cold to call for jihad in India

Sep 05 2014, 10:03 IST
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SummaryAl-Zawahiri announces al-Qaeda in region to 'rescue' Muslims; alert across India.

Four weeks after a Hellfire missile fired from a drone blew apart his body on May 21, 2010, al-Qaeda third-in-command Said al-Masri’s digital ghost appeared online. “I bring you good tidings,” the dead commander said.

“Last February’s India operation was against a Jewish locale in the west of the Indian capital [sic., throughout], in the area of the German bakeries — a fact that the enemy tried to hide — and close to 20 Jews were killed.”

Four years on, fears that al-Masri’s post mortem speech might be more than idle words have been confirmed. Early on Thursday morning, India time, fugitive al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a video announcing the formation of a new wing of the terrorist group dedicated to waging jihad in the Indian subcontinent.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, sources told The Indian Express, was informed by the Intelligence Bureau at an emergency meeting on Thursday morning that the development would have direct consequences for India.

He was also told that persistent capacity deficits have made monitoring social-media based jihadi recruitment and propaganda operations difficult.

Through the day, Singh held two rounds of meetings with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Intelligence Bureau (IB) director Syed Asif Ibrahim, R&AW chief Alok Joshi and Special Secretary (Internal Security) Prakash Mishra to discuss the implications of the video. Singh briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi subsequently.

The Home Minister said the IB was working to verify the authenticity of the video, and would “handle the case”. A senior IB official said the video appeared to be genuine. The IB is expected to submit its report in a day or two.

The Home Ministry issued a nationwide alert, and advised state governments to especially watch “hot spots” that might be targeted by jihadis for fresh recruitments. “The concerned states have been alerted and they are keeping a vigil,” a senior Ministry official said.

PLAN FOR WAR

In the video, released on Twitter and jihadi websites, al-Zawahiri promises the expansion of al-Qaeda operations throughout the Indian subcontinent.

“A new branch of al-Qaeda was established and is Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian subcontinent, seeking to raise the flag of jihad, bring back Islamic rule, and empower the shari’a of Allah across the Indian subcontinent,” he says.

He adds that the group will defend the “vulnerable in the Indian subcontinent, in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir”, and tells Muslims in the region that “your brothers in Qaedat al-Jihad did not forget

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