India On Alert After Al-Qaeda Video

Ayman al-ZawahiriIndia has issued a security alert  in several states after an announcement by al-Qaeda of the formation of an Indian branch of the group.

In a video message, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said “al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent” would “raise the flag of jihad” across South Asia.

In the 55-minute video posted online, Zawahiri pledged renewed loyalty to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Correspondents say this is an apparent snub to Islamic State (IS) militants.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh met senior intelligence officials to discuss new security measures and to brief the prime minister.

India’s intelligence and security services are studying the Zawahiri announcement video, which experts said appeared to be a reaction to IS’s growing dominance.

A BBC correspondent in Delhi says although al-Qaeda has no presence on the ground in India, there is concern that it is trying to reach out to disaffected Muslim youths, especially in Kashmir and Gujarat.

Islamic militant groups operating in India are mostly connected to Kashmiri separatists and have links, tenuous at best, to al-Qaeda via Pakistan-based groups.

It is not surprising that Zawahiri speaks of Kashmir, Gujarat and Assam — three states where Muslims have been the victims of either anti-insurgency operations or religious riots, our correspondent adds.

Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, has a long history of violence between separatists and security forces. — BBC

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