Zawahiri wants Muslims to emulate Islamic jihadists as role models

Published on Jun 15, 2022 10:15 AM IST

The video comes days after the al Qaeda chief called for jihad against India and Bangladesh for blasphemy against the Holy Prophet and threaten to launch suicide attacks in key Indian cities.

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri.(AFP Photo / File.)
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri.(AFP Photo / File.)

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in a video released through its media wing “As Sahab” has asked the global Muslim community or Ummah to adopt prominent jihadist leaders as role models. The video statement is episode five of the series titled “Deal of the Century or Crusades Spanning Centuries.”

The video calling for the veneration of past and present Sunni jihadists is not only going to spark off Islamic radicalization but has also raised terror threat levels in the world. Zawahiri’s earlier videos in the series had focused on criticizing Arab leaders and “educating” Muslims with the Al Qaeda ideology.

This month Zawahiri also called for jihad against India and Bangladesh for blasphemy against the Holy Prophet and threaten to launch suicide attacks in key Indian cities. Intelligence inputs indicate that Zawahiri is currently based in Afghanistan near the Durand Line border though the Taliban regime denies it and says that the terror kingpin is in Iran. As a terror organization with hardcore Salafist roots, Al Qaeda has no space for either Shia or Sufi branches of Islam.

With the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda’s core leadership has strengthened with the terror group armed with the latest weapons, explosives and night vision devices left by the US-led coalition forces on August 15, 2021. The terrorist group, which evidently has its media wing based in Pakistan, has started attracting militant cadres for global operations and is receiving funding from Middle East countries including Qatar and Turkey.

Rising simultaneously with Al Qaeda is the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) in Afghanistan, which has grown in cadre strength after its key leaders were released from prisons with the advent of the Taliban and the hasty exit of US forces. Armed with state-of-the-art rifles and rocket launchers, the ISKP, which has links with the Pakistani deep state, has targeted the Taliban in the Islamic Emirate.

With Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood being active in the Indian sub-continent through proxies, Islamic radicalization is expected to increase dramatically as the Taliban is the new model for jihadists. That the Taliban was able to throw US forces out of Afghanistan is an example enough for undercover jihadists to rise in the sub-continent and cause havoc. The Al Qaeda threat of bomb attacks in India is not being taken lightly by counter-terror agencies as the whole purpose of a possible strike would be to force a retaliation and increase polarization in Indian society.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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