In the first direct message to India by the al-Qaeda,Mustafa Abu al-Yazid,commander of its operations in Afghanistan and ranked behind No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri,has warned of more attacks like the one on Mumbai,and said its economic interests would be targeted if it retaliates against Pakistan.
Al-Yazid denounced the ban on militant groups in Pakistan following the Mumbai attacks and asked the people of Pakistan to overthrow the government of President Asif Ali Zardari.
In a video seen by Reuters on Tuesday,al-Yazid said: I want to convey a brief message to the government of India that mujahideen will not let you attack Muslims in Pakistan.
If you make that mistake then you should know,with the command of Allah,you will have to pay a heavy price and ultimately you will be destined to humiliation. The Mujahideen will sunder your armies into the ground,like they did to the Russians in Afghanistan. They will target your economic centres and raze them to the ground.
The tape was released by al-Qaedas As-Sahab media wing.
Al-Yazid made no claim of responsibility for the Mumbai attack but praised terrorists as martyrs. We will bring mujahideen and fidayeen from the whole Islamic world to confront you and target your economic interests everywhere until your entire system collapses, he said.
The al-Qaeda threat to India came a day after Pakistan,dragging its feet on a response to the Mumbai attack dossier,said it was ready to register a case but would need more proof to proceed. In New Delhi,official sources said the threat of more Mumbai-like attacks just goes to show the complicity of a section of the Pakistani establishment with terror groups.
In Thiruvananthapuram,Defence Minister A K Antony said India was capable of facing any threat to its security. Whatever threat comes,our armed forces are always ready to face them, he said.
Al-Yazid is someone Pakistan has been claiming is already dead. In August 2008,Pakistani channels reported he had been killed in fighting with government forces in Bajaur on the Afghan border. A report published in The Long War Journal in October last year listed how Pakistani reports of six out of nine deaths of top Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders since January 2008 had turned out to be false.
(Reuters and ENS,New Delhi)