New Delhi/London : Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has announced the creation of a South Asian branch of his group to “raise the flag of jihad” in the Indian sub-continent, causing concerns here.
In a 55-minute video posted online, Zawahari — who succeeded Osama bin Laden after he was killed in Pakistan — also pledged renewed loyalty to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, BBC reported.
Announcing the formation of “Al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent”, Zawahiri – speaking in both Arabic and Urdu – said this “would be good news for Muslims in Burma, Bangladesh and in the Indian states of Assam, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir where they would be rescued from injustice and oppression”.
Official sources said in New Delhi that the Intelligence Bureau had been asked to authenticate the Al Qaeda video.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh also met with the heads of the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Thursday, the sources told . National Security Advisor Ajit Doval attended the meeting.
The Al Qaeda announcement comes at a time when the group faces challenges from the increasingly aggressive Islamic State that has taken control of a large swathe of territory in Iraq and in Syria too.
BBC quoted counter-terrorism experts as saying that Al Qaeda was vying with Islamic State to recruit followers worldwide.
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi describes himself as a “caliph” – or head of state – and has called for support of Muslims around the world.
BBC also said that Pakistani militants linked to Islamic State have distributed pamphlets in city of Peshawar asking people to support their idea of creating an Islamic caliphate.