Al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri calls for jihad in Kashmir to be scaled up

Updated on Jul 10, 2019 11:57 PM IST

In a video message focused on Kashmir, Ayman al Zawahiri, the Al Qaeda chief, called on terror group to inflict “unrelenting blows” on the Indian Army and the government.

Al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri(REUTERS FILE PHOTO)
Al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri(REUTERS FILE PHOTO)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri called on terror groups to inflict “unrelenting blows” on the Indian Army and the government, releasing what appeared to be his first video message focusing on Kashmir.

The message, first reported by the Long War Journal run by United States-based think-tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Tuesday, was posted by al Qaeda’s media wing As Sahab. It was not clear when the video was made public.

“I am of the view that the Mujahideen (armed terrorists) in Kashmir — at this stage at least — should focus with single mind on inflicting unrelenting blows on the Indian Army and government so as to bleed the Indian economy and make India suffer sustained losses in manpower and equipment,” he said, according to an English transcript of the speech provided by As Sahab.

According to security officials, the video is genuine. “Over 125 terrorists have been eliminated in the first six months of this year. Terror groups are in complete disarray. They are leaderless. Pakistan stands isolated and under pressure to increase its level of deniability. We cannot rule out Pakistan’s hand behind this message and we are actively following that line of probe,” said a senior official in the security establishment, asking not to be named.

India’s security forces have come down hard on militancy in Kashmir, with approximately 90 senior operatives being killed since the beginning of the year. The Indian crackdown was intensified following the Pulwama bombing, in which 40 Indian paramilitary personnel were killed.

Those killed by security forces included al Qaeda’s erstwhile local commander Zakir Musa, who broke away from the Pakistan-backed Hizbul Mujahideen to set up the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind wing in the Valley.

A major part of Zawahiri’s message focused on criticising Pakistan and its “disgraceful” army for its “double game”. “All the Pakistani Army and government are interested in is exploiting the mujahideen for specific political objectives, only to dump or persecute them later,” he said, warning jihadists to not fall into trap.

Zawahiri also said the “fight in Kashmir” is not a separate conflict but part of the worldwide Muslim community’s “jihad against a vast array of forces”. He called on “unnamed” scholars to propagate this point. He warned that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, which he termed as America’s primary tool in Pakistan, will try to prevent the Mujahideen from doing so.

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