SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Al-Qaeda has announced the formation of an Indian branch promising to “raise the flag of jihad” across the subcontinent, Ayman al-Zawahiri said it would be good news for Muslims “in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir”.
Egyptian born Zawahiri, who was Osama bin Laden’s long-serving deputy, made his comments in a 55-minute video posted online. He renewed a long standing vow of loyalty to the Afghan Taliban leader Molla Omar, in an apparent snub to Islamic State (IS). Announcing the formation of “al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent” using a mixture of his native Arabic and Urdu widely spoken in Pakistan, Zawahiri appeared eager to regain some of the limelight, correspondents say.
“[Al-Qaeda] is an entity that was formed to promulgate the call of the reviving imam, Sheikh Osama Bin Laden. May Allah have mercy upon him,” Zawahiri said. He urged the “umma”, or Muslim nation, to “wage jihad against its enemies, to liberate its land, to restore its sovereignty and to revive its caliphate”.
Zawahiri said “al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent” would be good news for Muslims in Burma, Bangladesh and in the Indian states of Assam, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir, where they would be rescued from injustice and oppression. India’s intelligence and security services are studying the announcement by al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri very closely and have also asked their state units to remain vigilant on any possible threat.
A spokesperson for India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) told the Associated Press news agency that the statement was “a matter of serious concern”. Counter-terrorism experts say al-Qaeda’s ageing leadership is vying with IS to recruit followers after the success of militants in the Middle East in attracting young followers worldwide by conquering large amounts of territory across Iraq and Syria.
The two groups fell out in 2013 over the IS expansion into Syria, where Baghdadi’s followers have carried out decapitations, crucifixions and other forms of capital punishment. On Wednesday it emerged that Pakistani militants linked to IS have been distributing pamphlets in the north-western city of Peshawar calling on people to support their idea of creating an Islamic caliphate. The material, published in the Pashto and Dari languages, urges people to support IS in its fight for a grand Islamic rule.