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India capable of facing any security threat: Antony

Defence Minister AK Antony asserted India was ready to face any threat after a senior Al-Qaeda leader, who the Pakistani military said had died last year, threatened it with Mumbai-style strikes if it tried to attack Pakistan.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2009 23:01 IST

India on Tuesday asserted it was ready to face any threat after a senior Al-Qaeda leader, who the Pakistani military said had died last year, threatened it with Mumbai-style strikes if it tried to attack Pakistan.

"One thing I can tell you. Whatever threat coming from any quarter, our armed forces are always ready to face them," Defence Minister AK Antony said, reacting to a 20-minute video in Arabic by the terror group sent to the BBC office in Islamabad.

The video released by Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, said to be the Al- Qaeda's military commander in Afghanistan, warns India that it would have to 'pay a heavy price' if it tried to attack Pakistan.

He referred to Mumbai 'humiliation' in the video and said it will face more Mumbai-style attacks, BBC News reported.

Yazid, who the Pakistani military said was killed in a US drone strike in Bajaur tribal region in August last year, further said: "The Mujahideen will sunder your armies into the ground, like they did to the Russians in Afghanistan."

Yazid, described by the 9/11 Commission set up by the US to look into the attack as the network's 'chief financial manager', also called on the people of Pakistan to rise up and overthrow the government and President Asif Ali Zardari.

Yazid, ranked behind Al- Qaeda's No 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri, is also suspected to have been involved in a number of terror attacks in Pakistan that included last year's Danish embassy bombings in Islamabad and the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.

The reappearance of the Al -Qaeda commander with a message targeting India is seen in New Delhi as yet another piece of evidence that exposes Pakistan's duplicity in the fight against terror.

"It raises fresh questions on Pakistan's credibility as an ally in the war against terror. It means they have been lying about Al- Qaeda to the US," a highly-placed source said in New Delhi.

As they began examining the video, Indian intelligence officials also pointed out that warnings by the Al -Qaeda were not new.

"We will examine the video closely as it is in Arabic. But such threats are not new. There have been earlier threats as well but the security regimen which is in place now shows that our forces are on high alert," said an intelligence official who cannot be identified because of service protocol.

"The timing of the video is interesting because it comes when US President (Barack) Obama has said that Pakistan has to ensure that it does not become a safe haven for terrorists," said another intelligence official.

Officials said that "standard operating procedures were put in place" following an Al -Qaeda threat some years ago.

He was alluding to the terror outfit's threat in August 2007 where a video compiled by its production arm As-Sahab proclaimed that the targeting of Tel Aviv, Moscow and New Delhi was its legitimate right.

The video had Adam Gaddahn, an American who had risen in the Al -Qaeda ranks to become a spokesperson, accused India of killing more than 100,000 Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir with US blessings.

Gaddahn also lashed out at the US-led "crusade" against Muslims and alleged that diplomatic missions were the bases for anti-Muslim actions.

Earlier, in November 2006, airports across India were put on high alert following purported threats from the Al Qaeda that it would blow up airports in Chennai, Kochi, Trichy, Thiruvananthapuram and Coimbatore.

First Published: Feb 10, 2009 22:01 IST