Killing innocent women and children in bombings and suicide attacks is against the essence of jihad and the tenets of Islam, says al Qaeda’s Indian-subcontinent chief.
However, the chief, Asim Umar praised the 9/11 attacks on America that left some 3,000 persons, including hundreds of women and eight kids, killed in one of the worst terror strikes in history.
According to Indian intelligence agencies, Umar, who gave his “message to mujahideen in India and Pakistan” in Urdu, is originally from Uttar Pradesh but is now based in Pakistan.
“Prophet Mohammed has clearly and strongly forbidden the killings of non-combatant women and children,” Umar said in the message posted online and authenticated by jihadology.net.
The website is a jihadi material clearing house of a Richard Borow fellow, Aaron Y. Zelin, associated with the Washington Institute, who researches on jihadist groups and Salafi politics.
Al Qaeda is in a struggle with Islamic State (IS) to wrest back its leadership role among jihadis. IS has shown no qualms in killing women and children, often publicly. The message may also have been directed at Al Qaeda allies, the Taliban, which has often attacked women and children in Pakistan.
The Al Qaeda leader said a “superficial jihadi, who doesn’t know much about human psychology, thinks that killing innocent women and children may weaken” the enemy.
“Such acts also create hatred and increases the number of our enemies,” said Umar, a graduate from the famed Deoband Islamic seminary in India who changed his name from Sanaullah Haq. He hails from the Sambhal district of Uttar Pradesh.
Umar is said to have joined Islamist extremist outfits after he disappeared from the state in 1995. He has also attended Islamic studies in the Jamia Uloom, Karachi -- the jihadi alma mater of Masood Azhar and other jihadi leaders in Pakistan -- and has always been a fundamentalist in his outlook.
“Let’s not blemish the jihad with the blood of innocents...with the bloodshed in markets, schools, universities and public places. You won’t succeed by that. This is what your enemy wants you to do to defeat you,” he said.
Umar may have been referring to attacks in Pakistan by the Taliban. A gun and bombing attack by the Afghanitan-based Taliban at Peshawar Army Public School left 152 school children dead on December 16, 2014.
Some 30 students were also killed in a similar attack this year on the Bacha Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The militant leader also advised his fighters to “make certain that they use their resources judiciously to cause maximum damage to the enemy”.
But contradicting his own advice on women and children, Umar cited the September 9, 2001, attack on America masterminded by then Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden as the best example of a guerrilla strike on the American landmarks.