Al-Qaeda announces formation of new branch in India

Ayman al-ZawahiriBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
Authorities in India have issued a security alert following an official announcement by al-Qaeda that it had formed a new branch in India. The militant organization made its announcement in a video message by its current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Zawahiri, 63, is an Egyptian former eye surgeon who succeeded Osama bin Laden in the leadership of al-Qaeda in May of 2011, after the Saudi militant was killed by American forces in Pakistan. He is said to be hiding in the mountainous borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the hour-long video, al-Zawahiri says the new branch of the militant organization is named “Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent” and will be led by a local operational commander who goes by the pseudonym “Asim Umar”, but he does not provide his real name. The formation of the group signals the sixth regional branch of al-Qaeda; the group already maintains close operational links with Al-Shabaab in East Africa, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Peninsula, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the Caucasus Emirate in Central Asia. Al-Zawahiri said in his video message that Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent would “raise the flag of holy war” across the entirety of South Asia, including western India, Bangladesh, as well as Myanmar, also known as Burma. He added that al-Qaeda’s goal would be to Islamize a region that was once “part of the land of the Muslims, until the infidel adversary colonized it and fragmented it and split it” in more recent times. There are no known links between al-Qaeda and Muslim militant groups operating in India, in states such as Assam, Gujarat, or Jammu and Kashmir. Such groups are primarily connected to separatist organizations funded and controlled by the government of Pakistan. In addition to announcing the formation of al-Qaeda’s Indian branch, al-Zawahiri used his message to express his support for Mullah Omar, the mysterious leader of the Afghan Taliban, who sheltered Osama bin Laden for several years in the 1990s and 2000s. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #579 (CIA edition)

Robert Grenier

Robert Grenier

►►Interview with ex-CIA Islamabad station chief. Robert Grenier, who was the CIA’s Islamabad station chief from 1999 to 2001, tells Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper that the US unmanned drone program, which began as “a very surgically employed tool against international terrorists”, has now “become much more of a conventional weapon against militants”. He also rejects allegations that Pakistani government officials were aware of osama bin Laden’s whereabouts, saying that “no one has apparently found any compelling evidence”.
►►Who will guide Petraeus in his new CIA job? Siobhan Gorman, of The Wall Street Journal, opines that, when US General David Petraeus takes the helm at the Central Intelligence Agency next month, it will fall to the Agency’s deputy director Michael J. Morell, a little-known 31-year CIA veteran, to guide the new director.
►►CIA drone kills al-Qaeda deputy. An anonymous US official has told The New York Times that a CIA drone killed al-Qaeda’s second-ranking operative in Pakistan’s northwest province of Waziristan. Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the past year had taken over as al-Qaeda’s top operational planner, was killed on August 22, according to the official. Al-Qaeda is still officially led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is also believed to be in Pakistan.