Al Qaeda Just Formed A New Wing In A Country Of Over One Billion People

September 04, 2014: If this is some ploy to get shift the world’s focus from the Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Iraq then it is working. Unfortunately, it looks as though it’s true.

Al Qaeda’s Indian Franchise

Over the past few months, the world had its attention fixed on terrorism perpetrated either by Israel in the Gaza Strip or by the Islamic State insurgency in Iraq and Syria.  

In fact, ISIS expanded to such a level that it was declared as “the greatest threat to the national security of the United States” since the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001.

Perhaps all of this undue attention given to the relatively new militant group didn’t sit well with one relatively older terrorist organization- Al Qaeda – which is why they decided to make one of the most damning announcements in a while.

In what is being seen as Al Qaeda’s attempt to get a foothold in the sub-continent, its leader Ayman al Zawahri declared the formation of an Indian branch, saying he would spread Islamic rule and "raise the flag of jihad" across South Asia.

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The 55-minute video featuring Zawahri also included a snub to the ISIS group – which is an off-shoot of Al Qaeda. However, after an eight-month power struggle, Al-Qaeda cut all ties with ISIS in February 2014.

Despite the creation of the so-called caliphate by ISIS in June, the Al Qaeda chief pledged allegiance to Mullah Omar of Afghan Taliban instead.

Zawahri described the formation of "Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent" as a glad tiding for Muslims "in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir" and said the new wing would rescue Muslims there from injustice and oppression.

The disturbing development has prompted renewed national security concerns in India.

While Muslims are a minority there, constituting around 13.4 percent of India’s roughly 1.2 billion people, Islam is the second most dominant religion in the country.

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Here’s how some Indians reacted on Twitter to the news:

The announcement poses a serious challenge to the Indian government, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who completed his first 100 days in office on September 3.

India's domestic security agency issued a security alert to several states soon after the video featuring Zawahri emerged.