Monday, December 09, 2019
Jammu Kashmir

Posted at: Jul 12, 2019, 6:52 AM; last updated: Jul 12, 2019, 6:52 AM (IST)

Al-Qaeda seeks to fill vacuum in militant leadership

Arun Joshi

The release of the first-ever video on Kashmir by the global terror network Al-Qaeda on Thursday has had muted response in the Valley, but its timing suggests that it is making a determined effort to fill the gap in the situation arising out of the killing of the top leadership of the main armed groups in recent months, particularly post-February 14 terror attack in Pulwama that had left 40 CRPF men dead.

With the elimination of the militant leadership in a never-before manner in the counter-insurgency operations that gained an added momentum after the February 14 attack, the crisis has deepened with no militant group making even a statement about its presence. This is a big shift in the methodology of the groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammad that had claimed the responsibility for the Pulwama attack, Lashkar-e-Toiba responsible for introducing the fidayeen cult in Kashmir and Hizb, the home-grown group. All of them are silent after they lost their leaders.

Acting Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has broken that silence, and it is easily attributable to its attempts to fill the gap and provide a platform to local ultras whose recruitment to militancy is now a silent affair — these silent group of youths fall in two categories — one who have committed themselves to suicide bombings through the self-indoctrination or radicalisation on social media, or the youth who have opted for militancy having little or no training at all and are in search of weapons. Both these groups are facing a dilemma as they have no militant group to own them.

That is why Zawahiri has made a choice of the words to show what his group expected of the militants. He said “the mujahdeen must liberate Kashmiri jihad from the clutches of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies”, and explains that this type of jihad is “for the sake of Allah” (meaning for the purpose of implementing sharia) as opposed to a struggle “for the sake of international criminals”.

Then he reveals his devilish plans and asks the “Mujahedeen in Kashmir should single-mindedly focus on inflicting unrelenting blows on the Army and government”.

This is a dangerous narrative and the Al-Qaeda seeks an opportunity to become a rallying point for the militants who want to die for a cause.

Zakir Musa, chief of the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, was a face of the Al-Qaeda ideology, and with his death in an encounter in May, the group has become defunct. This video is to show that the group is around and it can fill the vacuum that exists in the militant leadership in Kashmir at the moment. Sources who have analysed the video confirmed that this could be the line of thinking of the Al-Qaeda.


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