India on Thursday brushed aside Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri’s call to terror groups to inflict “unrelenting blows” on the army, underscoring that the terrorist group banned by the United Nations had been issuing such threats now and then.
The foreign ministry’s response comes days after al Zawahiri’s video message focusing on Kashmir emerged. The video was posted by al Qaeda’s media wing As Sahab. It isn’t clear when it was made public; it was reported by the Long War Journal run by United States-based think-tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Tuesday,
“I am of the view that the Mujahideen (armed terrorists) in Kashmir — at this stage at least — should focus with single mind 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,” he said, according to an English transcript of the speech provided by As Sahab.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said he did “not want to dignify” what the Al Qaeda terrorist had said.
“Such threats we keep listening to, and have been issued time and again. I don’t think we should take it seriously. The Al Qaeda is a UN proscribed organisation, its leader is a UN designated terrorist and we all know that our Indian security forces have the capability and are equipped to tackle such threats and will not be cowed down,” Kumar said at the weekly media briefing, according to news agency PTI.
In the 14-minute video, Zawahiri stressed that the jihad in Kashmir should aim to establish sharia or Islamic law. He also said that the mujahideen must “liberate the Kashmiri jihad from the clutches of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies” so that the jihad was “for the sake of Allah” as opposed to a struggle “for the sake of international criminals”.
A major part of Zawahiri’s 14-minute message also focused on criticising Pakistan and its “disgraceful” army for its “double game”.
“All the Pakistani Army and government are interested in is exploiting the mujahideen for specific political objectives, only to dump or persecute them later,” he said, warning jihadists to not fall into trap.
The Al Qaeda video comes at a time security forces have come down hard on militancy in Kashmir, with approximately 90 senior operatives being killed since the beginning of the year. The Indian crackdown was intensified following the Pulwama bombing, in which 40 Indian paramilitary personnel were killed.