The new al-Qaeda endeavor is aimed to “rescue Muslims from injustice and oppression” in the newly identified areas of South Asia – particularly India.
By Rakesh Raman
Ayman al-Zawahari – the chief of global terror group al-Qaeda – released a 55-minute video message Thursday announcing the formation of its new wing for Jihad in the Indian subcontinent.
Besides Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal, the terror outfit – according to Ayman al-Zawahari – will target India – beginning with the Indian states of Gujarat, Assam, and the disputed Kashmir region.
Although it’s being observed that the al-Qaeda move is to counter the growing influence of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – a breakaway group of al-Qaeda) in the Muslim territories, its damaging impact on India can’t be ruled out.
This new al-Qaeda endeavor is aimed to “rescue Muslims from injustice and oppression” in the newly identified areas of South Asia – particularly India.
Muslims in India
Currently, there are nearly 15% Muslims (about 190 million) in India’s population. Most of them are living in a state of uneasy calm after the BJP government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge in May this year. Through their repeated utterances, the leaders of BJP and its affiliate groups have made it clear that they want to make India a Hindu (or non-Muslim) nation.
Obviously, Muslims are worried. In the latest message Ayman al-Zawahari may have added more Indian states in his hit list, but in a similar message in June – immediately after BJP came to power – al-Qaeda had issued a similar statement asking Muslims in Kashmir to continue their war.
The message titled: “War Should Continue, Message to Muslims of Kashmir” prompted Muslims in Kashmir to join the global movement for Jihad.
The al-Qaeda call to Kashmir’s Muslims may not be a coincidence. Rather, it could be a result of the BJP government’s remarks on Article 370 that gives a special status to Jammu and Kashmir. This was an attempt by the BJP to achieve its larger objective of forming a Hindu nation by considering Muslims of Kashmir as Hindus, while Kashmir is a disputed territory between India and Pakistan.
Although according to BJP’s refined definition of Hindu, a person living in India and following Indian ideology is a Hindu, most believe that it’s not an Indian ideology; rather it’s BJP’s diktat.
[ Also Read: BJP to Muslims: When in India, Do as the Hindus Do ]
During the past over three months of its regime in India, BJP’s statements and actions would have annoyed a large section of Muslims.
Narendra Modi and Muslims
Moreover, the new Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also not quite popular among Muslims in India because of the 2002 Gujarat riots in which nearly 2,000 Muslims were murdered besides there were incidents of rape, robbery, and widespread destruction of property affecting Muslims.
At that time, Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. And many believe that it was a state-sponsored massacre of Muslims. As a result, the U.S. administration denied visa to Modi in view of the allegations of human rights violations against him in the 2002 incidents of riots and carnage. But now as he has become the Prime Minister of India, Modi is invited by Obama administration to visit USA.
Only God knows or President Barack Obama knows that how the U.S. administration has suddenly absolved Modi of all charges of human rights violations and allowed him to visit there. But this move will add fuel to the fire, as America is enemy No. 1 for al-Qaeda and India’s enhanced friendship with America through Modi’s visit will further encourage al-Qaeda to be more violent against India.
Terrorism in India
If al-Qaeda decides to strike against India, the Indian security forces are not quite capable to counter the attacks because Indian policemen are mostly unskilled and untrained. They can only handle armless local mobs that mostly protest against Indian politicians on streets.
As most Indian security personnel are not properly educated, they use archaic methods of dealing with crime. They are not quite equipped to tackle organized crime or terrorism which has increasingly become sophisticated.
Terrorists strike at will in India. The Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001, assassination of two Indian Prime Ministers, constant infiltration of militants from Pakistan into the Indian territory are some of the examples that manifest India’s lack of ability to deal with terrorism. It will be an uphill task for Indian security forces to combat al-Qaeda terrorism, which is known for its flawless sophistication.
While most Muslims in India must be feeling relieved with al-Qaeda’s entry into the country and its promise to “rescue Muslims from injustice and oppression,” the coming days are going to be extremely tense and challenging for the Indian government as well as ordinary citizens of India.
You also can read: More Articles by the RMN Editor, Rakesh Raman