Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri has called for “liberating the jihad in Kashmir from the clutches of Pakistani agencies’’ and asked militants in Kashmir to focus on “unrelenting blows” on the Indian Army.
In a video, ‘Don’t forget Kashmir’, posted on ‘As-Sahab’ channel, an in-house production of al Qaeda, Zawahiri has also called for greater coordination between militant groups in Kashmir and global terror outfits.
“I would like to discuss with you today a tragedy that has continued unabated for over 70 years: the plight of the Muslims of Kashmir,” he says in the video. “Given the endless suffering that they have endured, we must strongly empathise with their cause, express our sympathy for them, and extend all possible support to them, for their pain is our pain, their wounds are our wounds, aggression against them is aggression against us, and violation of their sanctities is violation of our sanctities. Kashmir is a bleeding wound in our hearts, hearts that grieve with the pain of many such bleeding wounds,” he says.
Targeting Pakistan, he says: “Of course, Pakistan’s intelligence agencies — America’s primary tool in Pakistan — will try to prevent the mujahideen from doing so, so that they remain under their control forever as a political bargaining chip… The policy of the Pakistani government and its disgraceful Army regarding the Kashmiri mujahideen is no different from its earlier policy regarding the Arab mujahideen after the Russian withdrawal — and later vis-à-vis the Islamic Emirate and its mujahideen and emigrants. All that the Pakistan Army and government are interested in is exploiting the mujahideen for specific political objectives, only to dump or persecute them later; the beneficiaries in the end being a bunch of traitors who fill their pockets with bribes and illegitimate wealth. Therefore, the first vital step to turn the jihad in Kashmir into a jihad for the sake of Allah — and not jihad for the sake of international criminals — is to liberate the Kashmiri jihad from the clutches of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies”.
“I am of the view that the mujahideen in Kashmir — at this stage at least — 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. In doing so, the mujahideen must persevere patiently,” he says.
“They also need to establish stronger channels of communication with their Muslim brethren all over the Muslim world. The mujahideen in Kashmir must benefit from the jihadi awakening in the different theatres of jihad. They must communicate with the mujahideen in different parts of the world, and ensure that their voice reaches them, so that the Kashmir issue is raised at the popular level within the Ummah and its latest developments are continuously brought to light,” he says.
Four days ago, a similar video statement was issued by Ansar Ghazwatul Hind (AGH), an al Qaeda affiliate in the Valley. Formed in 2018 by Zakir Musa after he parted ways with the Hizbul Mujahideen, the outfit’s highest cadre strength was 11 militants — most of whom have been killed. According to officials sources, the outfit currently has less than five militants.
In the video, Hameed Lelhari, who took over as AGH chief after Zakir Musa’s death, called for unity among the militant groups, setting-up of a new militant command council, and separating the militant movement from the goals of agencies — an apparent reference to Pakistan.
Apparently calling for defiance of the United Jihad Council, Lelhari said the militants would take all their military decisions on the ground in Kashmir, “based on the ground realities and strategic interests”. “Two representatives from each outfit would form a council and its military decisions would be binding on all outfits,” he said. “This practice would breathe new life into the Kashmir jihad’’.