Watch: Al-Qaeda Chief Zawahri Launches Indian Wing To Rescue ‘˜Muslims’

He says al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, or AQIS, ‘œbreak all borders created by Britain in India’, and called on all Muslims in the region to ‘œunite under the credo of the one god’.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has announced the creation of an Indian branch of his militant group to “raise the flag of jihad” across the Indian Subcontinent. The militant group released a 55-minute video online early on Thursday morning showing al-Zawahiri pledging allegiance to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

He says al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, or AQIS, “break all borders created by Britain in India”, and called on all Muslims in the region to “unite under the credo of the one god”.

The new branch, he says is in particular “a message that we did not forget you, our Muslim brothers in India”. He called it a glad tiding for Muslims “in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir” and said the new wing would rescue Muslims there from injustice and oppression.

The new organisation, named the Jamaat Qaidat al-jihad fi’shibhi al-qarrat al-Hindiya, or Organisation of The Base of Jihad in the Indian Sub-Continent, also released online manifestos written by al-Zawahiri, spokesperson Usama Mahmoud, and organisational chief Asim Umar.

“[Al-Qaeda] is an entity that was formed to promulgate the call of the reviving imam, Sheikh Osama Bin Laden. May Allah have mercy upon him,” Zawahiri said.

He urged the “umma”, or Muslim nation, to” wage jihad against its enemies, to liberate its land, to restore its sovereignty and to revive its caliphate”.

Counter-terrorism experts say al-Qaeda’s ageing leadership is vying with IS to recruit followers after the success of militants in the Middle East in attracting young followers worldwide by conquering large amounts of territory across Iraq and Syria.

IS leader Abu Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi describes himself as a “caliph” – or head of state – and has called for the support of all Muslims around the world.

The two groups fell out in 2013 over the IS expansion into Syria, where Baghdadi’s followers have carried out decapitations, crucifixions, and other forms of capital punishment.

It should be noted that al Qaeda’s central command had released a video, explicitly meant for Kashmiri Muslims, calling them to follow the path of those fighting in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and join the global movement for Jihad.

The video – War Should Continue, Message to Muslims of Kashmir – produced by As-Sahab, al Qaeda’s in-house media production unit, was uploaded on Shamikh a top-tier al Qaeda web forum, which in the past has also released statements of Osama bin Laden, Ayman-al-Zawahiri, and the top leadership of the group’s other affiliates.

Last year, al-Qaeda ideologue Asim Umar had asked India’s Muslims: “You who have ruled India for eight hundred years, you who lit the flame of the one true God in the darkness of polytheism: how can you remain in your slumber when the Muslims of the world are awakening?”

“If the youth of the Muslim world have joined the battlefields with the slogan ‘Shari’a or Martyrdom,’ and put their lives at stake to establish the Caliphate, how can you lag behind them? Why is there no storm in your ocean,” Umar had demanded to know.

Although Muslims account for 15 percent of Indian population, they are third-largest Muslim population in the world. The violent India-Pakistan partition of 1947 where thousands were killed have given deep cuts to the religious diversity in the country. In the era of global war against terrorism, some Indian Muslims have begun to sympathise more with hardline pan-Islamic groups and causes.

Recently, more than 20 Indians were reported to have joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. One of the joinees, a young Muslim boy from Mumbai, recently died and was branded as ‘Shaheed’ by the IS in a video posted online.

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