New Delhi, India (BBN)-Intelligence agencies are analysing a video in which al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has announced the formation of an Indian branch of his terror group.
A preliminary assessment says it is a move to broadbase the al Qaeda’s recruitment, reports NDTV.
HERE’S YOUR 10-POINT CHEAT-SHEET TO THIS STORY:
1. Intelligence sources said the move was not unexpected, with the al Qaeda losing ground to the Islamic State or ISIS which is now challenging it for leadership of transnational Islamist militancy.
2. In the 55-minute video, Zawahiri described the formation of the “al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent” as glad tidings for Muslims “in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir” and said the new wing would “rescue Muslims there from injustice and oppression.”
3. Intelligence sources say the mention of places like Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad and Burma – which are communally sensitive – is designed to attract radicalised youth, who are now being drawn to the ISIS.
4. The ISIS, a breakaway faction of the al Qaeda, has galvanised young followers around the world by carving out tracts of territory across the Iraq-Syria border. al Qaeda affiliates are in direct military confrontation with the ISIS in Syria.
5. Islamic State leader Abu Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi calls himself a “caliph” or head of state and has demanded the loyalty of all Muslims. The group fell out with Zawahri in 2013 over its expansion into Syria, where Baghdadi’s followers have carried out beheadings, crucifixions, and mass executions.
6. Zawahiri says in his message that the new unit in the Indian sub-continent will spread Islamic rule and “raise the flag of jihad” to “crush the artificial borders” dividing Muslim populations in the region.
7. He has called for unity among militants and criticised “discord” – echoing a common al Qaeda complaint against Islamic State’s record of clashing with rival Islamist groups in Syria.
8. While the al Qaeda is very much at home in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area, due to influential contacts and a long presence there, it is a minnow compared to local militant groups in terms of manpower and regional knowledge.
9. Zawahiri’s statement has warned al Qaeda’s new wing against oppressing local populations – a complaint leveled against the Islamic State by critics in Iraq and Syria. “If you said that you are doing jihad to defend the sanctities of the Muslims, then you must not transgress against them or their money or honour, and not even transgress your mujahideen brothers by word and action,” Al Zawahiri said.
10. Al Zawahiri took over as al Qaeda’s head after founder Osama Bin Laden was killed in May 2011 in Pakistan in a US operation.
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