Focus on next Al Qaeda chief as Indian agencies stay alert | Latest News India

Within hours of US President Joe Biden announcing the death of Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in a precision drone strike, speculation circled a possible successor, with another Egyptian Al Qaeda figure, Mohammed Salahaldin Zidan, the false name Saif bears al-Adel, a likely candidate, according to security officials monitoring the region. (Read also | What the murder of al-Zawahiri reveals?)

There is no clarity on the current whereabouts of Adel, who has long been said to be in Iran.

The above people also said al-Zawahiri’s death will affect the morale of the group’s supporters and cadres in India, but there is also concern from disenchanted fighters who may shift their allegiances to Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP). ).

An official involved in the detection of global terrorism and the activities of international terror groups, on condition of anonymity, said: “Given ISKP’s operational capabilities to carry out spectacular attacks, any possible tilt of Al Qaeda ranks towards Islamic Stands serious attention.”

The Indian intelligence community is closely monitoring Al Qaeda’s activities as Adel, a veteran field expert and former lieutenant colonel in Egypt’s special forces, has spearheaded brutal attacks, such as the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. in 1998. Adel also fought against Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s and reportedly trained some hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks, despite initially resisting the operation.

There was no official report of Zawahari’s death by the Indian government, which recently re-established a diplomatic presence in Kabul.

Nevertheless, Zawahiri’s death is likely to be a barrier to al-Qaeda’s regional affiliates, such as Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and Ansar al-Islam (AAI), the official added.

The latest report from the UN sanctions monitoring team in July this year concluded that AQIS reportedly has 180-400 fighters, mostly from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Pakistan.

AQIS fighters are also represented among Taliban combat units. The branch is headed by Osama Mehmood and his deputy Atif Yahya Ghouri, and is present in several Afghan provinces.

Intelligence agencies have recently received reports that Al Qaeda cadres in India were behind propaganda campaigns and attempts to rebuild the organization, especially after the controversy over remarks against the Prophet Mohammed by two former BJP spokesmen.

AQIS had threatened attacks in several places, including Delhi, Mumbai, UP and Gujarat in June, in response to statements by former BJP spokesman Nupur Sharma.

One of al-Zawahiri’s last messages was a video released in April this year in which he spoke about the hijab controversy in Karnataka and asked Muslims in the subcontinent to attack Islam “intellectually, using the media and with weapons on the battlefield.” He also spoke a few times about Kashmir, including in July 2019, when he asked “mujahideen in Kashmir” to inflict relentless blows on the Indian military and government in Jammu and kashmir.

After the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last year, there were concerns in India that al-Qaeda’s strength would increase and trained fighters could be sent to India as the Taliban’s main fighting arm, the Haqqani network, has been behind several attacks on Indian interests. . Another official said: “The extremely close ties between the Taliban and Al Qaeda are evidenced by the fact that al-Zawahiri was stationed in an upscale neighborhood in Kabul. This close relationship between Al Qaeda and the Taliban is completely against Indian interests, especially against the background of Al Qaeda’s intentions to target India.”

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