Al-Qa’ida announces Indian wing amid rising extremism across the globe

Ayman al Zawahri, who became leader of al-Qa'ida after Osama Bin Laden was killed by the US, urged Muslims in south Asia to 'raise the flag of jihad'

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The Independent Online

The leader of al-Qa’ida has announced a plan to form a branch of the militant network in the Indian sub-continent and sought to reach out to Muslims from Burma to Kashmir.

In a 55-minute video, Ayman al Zawahiri, who became the leader of al-Qa’ida after the United States killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, said he wanted to “raise the flag of jihad” across South Asia.

“Al-Qa’ida is an entity that was formed to promulgate the call of the reviving imam, Sheikh Osama Bin Laden. May Allah have mercy upon him,” said the 63-year-old Mr Zawahiri.

He urged the Muslim world, or umma, to “wage jihad against its enemies, to liberate its land, to restore its sovereignty and to revive its caliphate”.

The Egyptian-born doctor, on whose head there is $25m reward, offered his greetings to Muslims in “Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir” and said the new wing of his network would rescue Muslims there from injustice and oppression, according to Reuters.

Analysts believe the appearance of the video message from Mr Zawahri, believed to be hiding in either Pakistan or Afghanistan, may have been a response to the flurry of global attention recently devoted to the Islamic State (IS).

The Islamic State, which has galvanised young followers around the world by carving out tracts of territory across the Iraq-Syria border, fell out with Mr Zawahri in 2013 over its expansion into Syria.