“From its base in Pakistan and with its close links to Lashkar-e-Taiba, al-Qaida is a dangerous menace to India,” Riedel said when asked about the latest video of Zawahiri announcing al-Qaida’s creation of a new branch for the Indian subcontinent to wage jihad in India, including in Kashmir, Gujarat and Assam with the goal of establishing a caliphate and impose sharia ranging from Afghanistan to Myanmar.
Zawahiri had announced new branch of al-Qaida called “Qaidat al-Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent”, “seeking to raise the flag of jihad, return Islamic rule, and imposing Sharia across the Indian subcontinent,” in the video which was posted on various social media websites including YouTube.
Reiterating that the new Indian government should take the threat very seriously, Riedel said that New Delhi should increase its counter-terrorism co-operation with the US and Afghanistan.
After the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, counter-terrorism cooperation between India and the US has increased significantly.
The US, however, is yet verify the authenticity of the video or the creation of a new wing of al-Qaeda.
“We haven’t been able to verify that yet. Obviously, we’re looking to see if there’s more information we can get about this here,” US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at her daily news conference.
“We also don’t regard this announcement as an indication of any new capabilities by al-Qaida,” she said.
At the same time, she reiterated that the US remains committed to dismantling al-Qaida anywhere that it poses a threat to the US and make sure that it doesn’t renew its threat to America.
Not a threat: US
The announcement by al-Qaida that it has formed a branch for operating in India is not an indication of the terrorist outfit gaining new capabilities, the US today said, asserting that it is committed to dismantling the group.
“We do not regard the announcement as an indication of new capabilities by al-Qaida, which has long been active throughout the region,” Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson of the National Security Council at the White House, said.
“We have seen the reports of al-Qaeda’s new branch on the Indian subcontinent. The US remains committed to dismantling al-Qaeda and ensuring that it never again poses a threat to the American people,” she said in response to a question.
The US, she said, has robust counter-terrorism partnerships in the region to combat al-Qaida’s destabilising influence, to deny it safe haven, to counter violent extremism, and to build resilience against terrorist groups.
After the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, co-operation between the US and India on counter-terrorism issues has increased significantly.
This is expected to be one of the key topics of discussion between the two countries when Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to Washington later this month to meet US President Barack Obama.
“We have seriously degraded al-Qaeda in the region, and will continue our efforts against the group and affiliates that pose a threat to the American people,” Hayden said.