Skip to main content

Al Qaeda says it's opening new branch in India

By Madison Park, CNN
updated 2:33 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Al Qaeda issues lengthy video on its mission in Indian subcontinent
  • Leader of al Qaeda says he seeks to "wage jihad"
  • Analysts say al Qaeda is struggling for followers as ISIS gains support

(CNN) -- In a 55-minute long video, al Qaeda announced it will launch a new branch in the Indian subcontinent.

Speaking in the video, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said the purpose is to "wage jihad against its enemies, to liberate its land, to restore its sovereignty, and to revive its Caliphate."

ISIS 'more deadly' than al Qaeda on 9/11
Al Qaeda working on 'undetectable bombs'
Will ISIS and al-Qaeda join forces?
How did ISIS rise to power?

Al-Zawahiri also said he seeks to gain support "for the vulnerable" in Myanmar and Bangladesh; in the Indian states of Assam and Gujarat; and in Kashmir, the disputed region between India and Pakistan. He called for "rescue" from "injustice, oppression, persecution, and suffering" in these areas.

Some analysts view al Qaeda's announcement as an indication they're struggling for followers as ISIS gains support in the global Islamist movement.

Peter Bergen, CNN's national security analyst called the video "hyperventilation and posturing."

"It's al-Zawahiri's obvious way of getting some of the limelight back," he said as ISIS has moved front and center.

The Indian government is trying to confirm the video's authenticity, said Amarendra Tiwari, an official with India's Ministry of Home Affairs. The security alert has been issued in parts of India, although details were not given.

The al Qaeda video is unlikely to win over constituents, said Bernard Haykel, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, about the India announcement.

"They are losing a lot of constituents to the Islamic State," he said. "They're trying to show their global reach as an organization, but I'm not sure of exactly what sign they are trying to send."

If ISIS undermines al Qaeda, "it's going to affect funding," said Ajit Singh, senior fellow at South Asia Terrorism Portal in New Delhi. The radicalized Muslims are more likely to fund ISIS.

"That's why al Qaeda is trying to increase its influence," he said. Singh says it's not al Qaeda's first time trying to gain a foothold in India.

India, a predominantly Hindu nation, has a 13% Muslim population, according to the country's census. Inter-religious relations have become tense before. In 2002, Gujarat was wracked with anti-Muslim violence, in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.

Most of the world's Muslims live in Asia, with about 1 billion in Asia-Pacific and about 322 million in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the Pew Research Center.

The style of al Qaeda's latest video also highlights a stylistic difference with ISIS, which are often shot in the light during daytime, noted Peter Bergen, CNN's national security analyst.

"Al-Zawahiri's video is boring, talking into the camera," he said. "ISIS videos are well-edited and dynamic."

ISIS vs. al Qaeda: How they're different

CNN's Ravi Agrawal, Chieu Luu and Sugam Pokharel contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 8:26 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 7:40 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT