Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has asked “Mujahideen in Kashmir” to inflict “unrelenting blows” on the Indian Army and government in Jammu and Kashmir in a message released by the terror group’s media wing.
In the 14-minute speech, Al-Zawahiri also brought to light Pakistan’s involvement in fuelling cross-border terrorism in Kashmir in a message titled “Don’t Forget Kashmir”.
The Foundation for Defence of Democracies (FDD) Long War Journal in an article said Al-Qaeda had been grooming an upstart group to wage jihad against the Indian forces in Kashmir.
“(I am) of the view that the Mujahideen in Kashmir — at this stage at least — should single-mindedly focus on inflicting unrelenting blows on the Indian Army and government, so as to bleed the Indian economy and make India suffer sustained losses in manpower and equipment,” Zawahiri said.
Calling both the Pakistani Army and the government “toadies of America”, Zawahiri compared the policy of Pakistan on Kashmir to that of the Taliban and migrant terrorists.
While Zawahiri does not mention Zakir Musa, the terrorist killed in May by security forces in Kashmir, his photo flashes on the screen as the chief speaks on Kashmir. Zakir Musa was the founder of the Indian cell of the Al Qaeda, titled “Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind”.
Pakistan’s “conflict with India is essentially a secular rivalry over borders managed by the American intelligence,” said the Qaeda chief.
Zawahiri also claimed that the “fight in Kashmir” is not a separate conflict but instead is part of the worldwide Muslim community’s “jihad against a vast array of forces”. He called on “unnamed” scholars to spread this point.
“You (the scholars) must clearly state that supporting the jihad in Kashmir, the Philippines, Chechnya, Central Asia, Iraq, Syria, the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, the Islamic Maghreb, and Turkistan is an individual obligation on all Muslims, until sufficient strength is achieved to expel the disbelieving occupier from Muslim lands,” he said.
He claimed that Pakistan prevented the “Arab Mujahideen” from “head[ing] to Kashmir after expelling the Russians from Afghanistan,” — which was countered by the author of Long War Journal by quoting the 9/11 Commission.
Joscelyn stated that the United States had learned of the presence of Pakistan’s military intelligence service at one of al Qaeda’s camps in Afghanistan, which was struck in retaliation for the August 1998 US Embassy bombings. The Pakistanis were training Kashmiri jihadists at the camp, according to the author.
The writer also highlighted the “double-game” played by Pakistan after the gruesome 9/11 terror attacks in the US. While Pakistan did conduct counter-terrorism operations against Al Qaeda following the 2001 attacks, it also harboured the Taliban’s senior leadership, including members of the al Qaeda-allied Haqqani Network.
“All the Pakistani Army and government are interested in is exploiting the mujahideen for specific political objectives, only to dump or persecute them later,” Zawahiri claimed, highlighting Pakistan’s role while casting them in a negative light.
Zawahiri also told terrorists not to target “mosques, markets, and gathering places of Muslims” in Kashmir.
The video comes amid the government’s recent claims of reduction in infiltration in the state. The Ministry of Home Affairs has told Parliament that compared to infiltration in 2018, the number this year has come down by 43%, recruitment of local Kashmiris by terror groups is down by 40% and there is a hike in the number of terrorists killed by 22%.