Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the formation of a new chapter — the Al-Qaeda Jihad Organization in South Asia — intended to “raise the flag of jihad” in India and beyond.
“This step is an effort for the ascendancy of Islam, re-establishment of Islamic government, and rule of Islamic sharia in the land of South Asia, which was once part of the world of Islam but infidels captured it and divided it into small pieces,” Zawahiri said, according to a MEMRI translation.
The terror leader said the formation of the new wing has been underway for “nearly two years” now. The expansion plans were being fomented at the same time as Zawahiri initiated another key cog in al-Qaeda expansion and rebranding — appointing young and ruthless al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi as the organization’s general manager.
Zawahiri says that existing jihadi leaders in South Asia were brought into the al-Qaeda fold to form the new branch.
Taliban leader Mullah Omar will oversee the new unit. “In the entire word at this time, the message of jihad under the flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has been spreading and expanding continuously,” Zawahiri said.
He said his confidence on Mullah Omar rests in part on the fact that U.S. troops are soon leaving Afghanistan, making the Taliban leader’s 2001 prediction of eventual victory correct.
“Therefore, O mujahid brothers, progress towards unity and fraternity! Hold tight Allah’s rope by leaving behind internal differences and discord, and stay away from groupism! This organization has been established so that, by uniting with our Muslim brothers in the entire world, to erase the borders which were drawn by the Britishers to divide the Muslims of South Asia,” he continued. “Therefore, the fundamental message of this organization for the inhabitants of South Asia is that they unite based on the Islamic monotheism and perform the duty of aiding Islam by walking on the path of dawah [invitation to Islam] and jihad adopted by prophets and pious persons of Allah.”
Zawahiri specifically noted Burma, Bangladesh, and India’s regions of Assam, Gujarat and Kashmir as regions where al-Qaeda cares and will offer “a cool breeze for the hapless and weak people.”
“Today, the core of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on a path to defeat. Their remaining operatives spend more time thinking about their own safety than plotting against us. They did not direct the attacks in Benghazi or Boston. They have not carried out a successful attack on our homeland since 9/11,” President Obama declared in May 2013 at the National Defense University.
Last August, Obama told Marines at Camp Pendleton that “al-Qaeda’s top ranks have been hammered.”
“The core of al-Qaeda, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is on the way to defeat,” he added.
Two days later, when questioned about this in a press conference at the White House, the president reiterated that “core al-Qaeda is on its heels, has been decimated.”
“So it’s entirely consistent to say that this tightly organized and relatively centralized al-Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11 has been broken apart and is very weak and does not have a lot of operational capacity, and to say we still have these regional organizations like AQAP that can pose a threat, that can drive potentially a truck bomb into an embassy wall and can kill some people,” he maintained.
And while Obama admitted in his State of the Union address that the “threat has evolved” with the growth of affiliates, he maintained “we have put al-Qaeda’s core leadership on a path to defeat.”