As US Strike Kills Zawahiri, A Look at Al-Qaeda Chief’s Threats to India

As the sun rose in Kabul on Sunday, two Hellfire missiles fired by a US drone ended Ayman al-Zawahiri’s decade-long reign as al-Qaeda leader who helped Osama bin Laden plan the attacks. from 9/11. Bin Laden’s death came face to face with a US strike team led by Navy SEALs in Pakistan in May 2011. Zawahri’s death came from afar, at 6:18 am in Kabul.

Zawahiri’s videos since 2001 make reference to India, but it is after the terrorist group’s takeover after bin Laden’s death in a US raid in 2011 that he stepped up threats against India.

‘Caravan of Jihad

In September 2014, Ayman al-Zawahiri had announced the creation of an Al-Qaida regional affiliate in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), using shrines in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“A new branch of al-Qaeda was established – Qaeda al-Jihad in the Indian subcontinent, with the aim of raising the flag of jihad, … and returning Islamic rule over the Indian subcontinent,” the leader of Al Qaeda said.

In a video, the terrorist leader called on Muslims in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to join the ‘jihad caravan’. According to a report in the guardZawahiri said the new “Al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent” would be “the standard-bearer” of Osama bin Laden’s “global message, which aimed to unite the (Muslims of the world) in the jihad against (the) enemy, liberate occupied territories and establish the Caliphate”.

Prophet Notes

In June this year, the Zawahiri-led terrorist group released a statement threatening suicide attacks against India in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai and New Delhi over BJP spokesman Nupur Sharma’s controversial comments about the prophet Mohammed.

“We will kill those who insult our Prophet and we will tie explosives with our bodies and the bodies of our children to blast away the ranks of those who dare to dishonor our Prophet… [They] will find no amnesty or leniency, no peace and security will save them and this case will not be closed with words of condemnation or sorrow,” the statement threatened.

Hijab row

In April 2022, Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri used the Hijab controversy in Karnataka to attack democracy in India. In a nearly 9-minute video clip released online by the terror group and verified by the US SITE Intelligence Group, Zawahiri praised a Karnataka student who confronted a group of students who opposed hijab at her school in early February.

“May Allah reward her for exposing the reality of Hindu India and the deceit of its pagan democracy,” the al-Qaeda chief said in the Arab video clip. He addressed Muslims in the Indian subcontinent and said they should realize that in the real world “human rights or respect for the constitution or the law do not exist”.


In a video released in July 2019, the al-Qaeda chief calls for “Mujahideen in Kashmir” to inflict “merciless blows” on the Indian military and government in Jammu and Kashmir.

“I believe that the Mujahideen (armed terrorists) in Kashmir – at this stage at least – should focus with unanimity on inflicting relentless blows on the Indian military and the Indian government to make the Indian economy bleed and India sustained losses in manpower and equipment.”

Zawahiri also said the “battle in Kashmir” is not a separate conflict but is part of the “jihad of the global Muslim community against a myriad of forces”. He called on “unnamed” scholars to propagate this point.

Officials at the time had said the video was an attempt to unite the disgruntled terrorist ranks in the Valley.

In another video message in May this year, Zawahiri called the dilution of Article 370, which gave Jammu and Kashmir special status, “a slap in the face to Muslims”. The terrorist leader draws parallels between Kashmir and Palestine and criticizes Arab countries for supporting India in the J&K issue.

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