Al Qaeda enters Kashmir conflict

An anonymous caller to a news agency in the Indian province of Kashmir has claimed that Al-Qaeda has set up a branch in the Indian province of Kashmir.

    The body an Indian tourist killed in Kashmir in Srinagar, 11 July

    The leader of the new group 'Al Qaeda Jammu and Kashmir' said that Muslims should carry out jihad against India's Hindu leaders, according to Thursday's telephone call.

    The statement cannot be verified, but it comes amid a new wave of violence by Islamic militants who want Muslim-majority Kashmir to become independent of India.

    "If the new outfit is linked to Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda, it is a serious development," said a senior Indian intelligence official.

    Al-Qaeda has already established local ‘franchises’ in Iraq, the Middle East and Europe.

    Anonymous call

    The formation of the new group was announced through a telephone call made to Current News Service (CNS), a Srinagar-based news agency, on Thursday.
    The caller spoke to Abd al-Rashid Rahi, the editor of the CNS, and identified himself as Abu al-Hadid, the spokesman of the new group and said he would read out a statement from the movement’s leader, one Abu Abd al-Rehman al-Ansari.

    "The caller speaking in chaste Urdu said that he had received a statement written in Arabic and that he was reading its Urdu translation out to me," Rahi said.

    Abu al-Hadid said that Al-Ansari would soon reveal the objectives and political philosophy of ‘Al-Qaeda Jammu and Kashmir’.
    The telephone call was received at 15 PM Indian Standard Time.

    The caller did not say if the new group has any connection with Osama bin-Laden's Al-Qaeda.

    "He did not say that nor did I ask him," Rahi told
    Important questions
    An Indian official speaking on condition of anonymity said that the announcement could be a hoax.
    "We've to see whether this is a hoax or really the new outfit has been launched and, more importantly, whether it has anything to do with the actual Al-Qaeda," he said.

    However the timing of the announcement may be significant.

    July 13 is observed as "Martyrs' Day' across Kashmir and by Kashmiris around the world to commemorate the killing of 23 Muslims by Kashmir’s Hindu Maharaja in 1931.

    Their deaths outside the Srinagar Central Jail are seen as marking the beginning of the struggle by the Muslims against the Hindu rulers of Jammu and Kashmir.
    Mumbai blasts
    The public launch of the new group also comes only two days after bomb attacks by unknown Muslim militants killed at least 190 people in the Indian city of Mumbai.

    Kashmir map with srinagar city

    The bombing were preceded by a series of grenade explosions in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir. These left a further nine Indian tourists dead and more than forty wounded, including some Kashmiris.

    Indian officials have already blamed the Mumbai blasts on pan-Islamist Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Islamic Students Movement of India (SIMI) groups. They say that the Lashkar is responsible for attacks in Kashmir.
    Lashkar is among over a dozen fighting groups that have been active in Jammu and Kashmir and Indian officials hold it responsible for many of the most violent acts.
    Al-Qaeda link

    The self-proclaimed spokesman for Al-Qaeda in Jammu and Kashmir said that its leader Al-Ansari was pleased by Wednesday Mumbai bombings.

    Al-Ansari, according to Al-Hadid, thought the attacks were "in reaction to the repression and other excesses being perpetuated on the Indian minorities particularly Muslims."

    Al-Ansari called on Indian Muslims to carry out jihad for the sake of Islam and to gain religious salvation.
    Latest attacks
    On Thursday morning Muslim militants killed four more Hindus, including two girls in the village of Magnar in the frontier district of Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir.

    The Islamic gunmen forcibly entered two houses around 1:00 am (IST) and opened fire, according to local officials.

    Later, they also knocked at the doors of other houses but nobody opened.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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