'Decimated' Qaeda Tries Fresh Ground in India with New Face - The New Indian Express

'Decimated' Qaeda Tries Fresh Ground in India with New Face

Published: 05th September 2014 06:02 AM

Last Updated: 05th September 2014 06:02 AM

NEW DELHI: Suspected terror recruitment hot-spots across the country have been put under the watch of intelligence agencies after global terror outfit al Qaeda announced the launch of its terror wing ‘Qaedat al-Jihad’ in India.

Top officials said areas close to the Bangladesh-Myanmar border and certain districts in Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra have been put under intelligence surveillance to track suspicious activities. “It is a multi-agency preventive measure to neutralise threats, if any, from al Qaeda after authenticating the Ayman al-Zawahiri video. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval along with the chiefs of R&AW and IB held a high-level meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and subsequently briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” officials said.

A senior intelligence officer said the launch of a new offshoot is an attempt to re-position the terror outfit after it lost ground to Islamic State (IS) in West Asia and is now on the verge of becoming history in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also pointed out that the purported new video was recorded and transcribed in Urdu by the al Qaeda propaganda team to indoctrinate youth in the Indian subcontinent with the help of sympathisers in Pakistan.

“IS has captured the psychology of jihadi elements and the al Qaeda presence in Middle East (West Asia) has been reduced to a small gang with almost no funds and that is why Zawahiri and his associates are looking for new terror ground where they can penetrate and raise finances,” the intelligence officer said. 

In the new video, found online by the Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) monitoring group, Zawahiri said Qaedat al-Jihad seeks to raise the flag of jihad, return Islamic rule to the region and impose Sharia across the Indian subcontinent. It is dubbed in Urdu, perhaps to ensure mass reach in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. Zawahiri said a lot of effort was put to bring together various terror outfits from the Indian subcontinent under a single entity. He added that the new terror outfit would “defend the vulnerable in the Indian subcontinent — in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir”.

Zawahiri announced that Asim Umar, the chief of al Qaeda Sharia Committee for Pakistan, is the leader of the new terror outfit, and Ustadh Usama Mahmoud is its spokesman. Umar is known as Shaykh in al Qaeda and considered promoter of Islamic Sharia in the Indian subcontinent. According to counter-terror officials, Umar had in May 2014 launched Qaedat al-Jihad in Pakistan and issued several videos calling for jihad. Officials said the new video of Zawahiri could have been recorded much earlier and released now after IS virtually dismantled al Qaeda.

“Qaedat al-Jihad and Umar have been issuing propaganda videos since 2013, but for the first time, Zawahiri appeared in the video making an announcement. Qaedat al-Jihad and Umar earlier supported Pakistan Taliban and called for attacks on Indian-American assets,” counter-terror officials added. In the video, Qaedat al-Jihad spokesman Ustadh Usama Mahmoud said several terrorists, including Mustafa Abu Azid, Shaykh Atiyutullah, Shaykh Abu Yahya and Dr Arshad Waheed played a major role in bringing terror splinter groups together to form the new outfit. The core movement has been eclipsed by its own offshoots in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. 

Asim Umar Named Head of New wing

The newly-created branch of al Qaeda will be led by Asim Umar, a Pakistani ideologue who has produced a number of online calls to jihad but has a relatively low profile. Umar — an alias — has reportedly worked with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Punjab chapter for some years before linking up with al Qaeda.

Outfit previously backed taliban

Qaedat al-Jihad has been issuing propaganda videos since 2013, but for the first time, Zawahiri appeared in the video making an announcement about its launch in the subcontinent, officials said. The outfit had earlier backed the Pakistan Taliban and called for attacks on Indian-American assets.

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