News / Asia

    India on Alert After Al-Qaida Announces Local Branch

    In this image taken from video, Ayman al-Zawahri, head of al-Qaida, delivers a statement in a video which was seen online by the SITE monitoring group, released Sept. 4, 2014.
    In this image taken from video, Ayman al-Zawahri, head of al-Qaida, delivers a statement in a video which was seen online by the SITE monitoring group, released Sept. 4, 2014.
    Anjana Pasricha

    Al-Qaida has launched a group in the Indian subcontinent, targeting India, Myanmar and Bangladesh. But security analysts see India as the main target.

    Indian intelligence agencies issued alerts across the country hours after al-Qaida leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, threatened to raise the flag of “jihad” and spread Islamic rule on the Indian subcontinent.

    In a 55-minute video posted online, Zawahiri said al-Qaida’s new unit in the subcontinent would rescue Muslims from injustice and oppression in the Indian states of Gujarat, Assam and Kashmir, and in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

    Sambit Patra, a leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, called al-Qaida’s plans to push its terror outfit in the subcontinent a serious concern.

    Patra says India has a very strong government, and it will take strict action on the issue.

    India’s Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, met with top security officials to discuss the threat.

    Security analysts see al-Qaida's apparent new push as an effort to enhance its diminishing clout, as it loses ground to jihadist group Islamic State, which has gained influence in Syria and Iraq.

    The announcement could pose a challenge to India's new prime minister, Narendra Modi, who has already faced criticism for remaining silent about several incidents deemed anti-Muslim while he was chief minister of Gujarat state.

    Meanwhile, security and police officials have been told to be vigilant about any efforts at large-scale recruitment of young Muslims by the terror group.

    Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
    x
    Click to enlarge
    Click to enlarge

    All three Indian states mentioned in the video have sizeable Muslim populations. Kashmir is India’s only Muslim majority state and has witnessed a violent separatist insurgency. In Assam, bordering Bangladesh, Muslims have been the victims of violence by tribal communities in recent years. Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is believed to have been on the radar of Islamist militant groups since 2002 when it was wracked with religious riots.  

    In Myanmar, also known as Burma, a senior official from the president’s office warned that terrorists might try to instigate a recurrence of religious violence in the country. He told VOA that the government is committed to cooperating with the international community on fighting global terrorism, and has been on alert and taken security measures.

    But security experts say that more than Myanmar and Bangladesh, al-Qaida’s call for “jihad” is directed at India - a Hindu majority nation which is home to about 175 million Muslims - the world’s third largest Muslim population.

    India has long coped with sectarian tensions and numerous attacks by Islamist militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba.

    However Ajai Sahni, at the Institute of Conflict Studies in New Delhi, says he does not regard al-Qaida's plans to establish a unit in South Asia as an extraordinary threat. He points out that Islamist militants have been active in India for years.

    “Any realignments of the forces can create potential difficulties. But these shifts are only marginal. We have been fighting these same people for decades now. So I don’t see this as something that is transformatory," Sahni said.

    Security analysts see al-Qaida’s plans to push into South Asia as an effort to enhance its diminishing clout as it loses ground to another jihadist group, Islamic State, which has gained influence in Syria and Iraq.    

    VOA Burmese Service correspondent Khin Soe Win contributed to this report from Yangon.

    *In an earlier version of this story we incorrectly reported that PM Narendra Modi was the governor of Gujarat state.

     

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, USA
    September 04, 2014 11:35 AM

    Ayman al-Zawahiri's call for an Al Qaeda chapter in India is the last gasp of a dying beast. H e was outclassed by the ISIS in Middle East, and endorsed the Al Nusra Front in Syria, but Al Nusra rejected his endorsement and it is holding 41 U.N. peacekeepers in South Syria demanding that it is taken off the list of "Al Qaeda associated terrorist groups list" to release them. The Syrian Islamic Front also wants nothing to do with him either!

    Al- Zawahiri is, therefore, trying to resuscitate an Al Qaeda on its death-bed by exploiting some inter-rivalries between Indian Muslims and Hindus. But those rivalries are more cultural and cast related than they are religious, with religion taking the blame for. Sorry, Ayman, but you are at a dead-end in India!
    Nikos Retsos, retired professor

    by: meanbill from: USA
    September 04, 2014 11:04 AM
    US President Obama and US vice-President Biden both "quote" repeatedly said;.. "Bin Laden is dead, and the world is a safer place"... and "quote" assured Americans, "Al-Qaeda is on the run, and their leadership has been decimated."... (and the WISE MAN said it), I do believe Al-Qaeda and affiliates are running through Asia, Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, and heading for Europe and then the Americas?.... Al-Qaeda and affiliates are running towards, and not from, their enemies?

    The whole Islamic world has erupted in chaos, violence, destruction and wars that never seem to end, (started mostly by US and NATO interference), and they haven't a clue on what they caused, and therefore can't have, or find, a solution in solving the problem, can they?..... really?

    by: vis8 from: New Jersey
    September 04, 2014 10:41 AM
    Obama, Cameron and India should learn from Sri Lanka, how to handle terrorism and defeat it. Instead, they have sided with the refugee diaspora and refuse to accept Sri Lanka's victory: they have only 'discrimination' and 'rights violations'.... to talk about.

    Get the terrorists before they can start in India. Soon there will be cries of 'rights violations' etc...., but India has never seen terror like Sri Lanka has.

    by: Mehtasaab from: Washington, DC
    September 04, 2014 10:24 AM
    Only one way we can get rid of them is to unite together against them. All western world, Israel and India can clean them up.

    They are the enemies of "Peace and Love". They don't want to live peacefully. If NATO and Pentagon will not make decision regarding the inclusion of Israel and India against this fight, they will expand very fast.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora