68-year old Al-Qaeda Chief Ayman al-Zawahiri recently issued a video message telling terrorists that the mujahideen in Kashmir should single-mindedly focus 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.
What suddenly provoked the old man to issue such as a nasty statement against India? It is suspected he is a hidden guest of the ISI somewhere in Pakistan. In this message, two points are worth noting: firstly, the show of crackdown under international pressure on Pakistani Kashmir specific terrorist organizations like the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and its front body Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) of Hafiz Saeed, and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) of Masud Azhar, may be hampering ISIS Kashmir terror campaign. But the ISI has plan B to continue terror in Kashmir with the help of its hidden guest Al Zawahiri. Zawahiri’s sudden decision to fuel unrest in Kashmir shows he is willing to deputise for Pakistan’s Kashmir-specific terrorists as long as this country is under international pressure in respect of its terrorists. Pakistan is in the watch list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It may be black-listed if by October it fails to control terror funding and its terrorists.
The second point to be noted is the text of Al-Zawahiri’s message. It reflects the wish-list of the Pakistani Army/ISI when he says “…..bleed the Indian economy and make India suffer sustained losses in manpower and equipment.”
The last part of this message makes it very clear that Al-Zawahiri’s target is not only Kashmir but the whole of India – its economy, its development, manpower, its assets and its Army. The venom in this message makes one doubt if Egyptian Al Zawahiri is the real author of this message or his host. Newspapers reports said that in the video he seemed to be reading a script in Arabic (English translation was running at the bottom) from a tele-prompter. As if to deny ISI’s involvement in the drafting of this script, Al Zawahiri reprimands the ISI for failing to snatch Kashmir from India.
Osama’s successor al-Zawahiri advocates the establishment of an Islamic State in the Arab world by force. He writes in his book “Knights under the Banner of the Prophet” that the establishment of a base in the heart of the Islamic world was a must for the victory against the global infidel alliance. Infidels, according to him, are non-Muslims and the Muslims who serve them or work along with them. Thus, it is near impossible to separate Muslims in Pakistan who are not directly or indirectly dependent on trade with the US and Western countries. Thus, according to Zawahari, half the Pakistani population deserves death for the glory of Islam. (Pakistan is mentioned here because since 9/11 the Al-Qaeda has been using this country as its main operating base – as the nerve centre of its global network. It gets a at-home feeling in Pakistan where the Army and a large number of terrorist organizations are either its affiliates or supporters.
A few years ago a journalist, who reported for foreign news agencies, was tortured to death and thrown into a river because he refused to divulge sources of his investigation that Al-Qaeda had penetrated Pakistan’s Armed Forces. It was generally believed ISI men were the killers, but a judicial commission appointed by the Supreme Court, fought shy of naming the culprits in its washed out report. That showed the judiciary did not want to rub Al-Qaeda on the wrong side.
When the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) rose like a threatening storm in Iraq in 2014, concerns were expressed about its effects on Pakistan which hosted terrorists from abroad. But the Army and the civilian government kept assuring the people that there was no trace of the ISIS (or Daesh) in Pakistan. However, the Lal Masjid in Islamabad and students of its madrasas declared their acceptance of ISIS appointed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the Caliph of Muslims. The Masjid has great influence on the people of FATA (now merged in Khyber Pakhtunkha) which means the ISIS” Caliphate was acceptable in FATA to some extent and this means the ISIS has pockets of influence in Pakistan.
The ISIS presence in Pakistan does not necessarily mean its terrorists from Syria are operating in this country. It means local people, inspired by the ISIS ideology and stories of its terrorism may stage acts of terrorism in the name of the ISIS just as it happened on an Easter Sunday in April in Sri Lanka this year. The National Tawheed Jamaat, an affiliate of the ISIS, committed the Easter carnage and the ISIS accepted responsibility for that. In Pakistan, some cases of terrorism have been blamed on the ISIS.
Prime Minister Imran Khan admitted before a think tank in Washington on July 23 that in his country 30,000 to 40,000 terrorists operate through 40 terror organizations. One can imagine how easy it is for a terrorist of any ideology to function in such a friendly scenario. Imran Kahn admitted that some of these terrorist got themselves trained in Kashmir. He didn’t name them, but surely they included Al-Qaeda and the ISIS.
Al-Zawahiri has given notice of Al-Qaeda’s intention to take over the terror scene in Kashmir in an attempt to create a base in this State. If Al-Qaeda seriously tries to pursue this goal, the ISIS, which has been driven out from Iraq and Syria and whom the Taliban wouldn’t allow to work in Afghanistan, may also try to get into Kashmir with its own terror experience and ideology.