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 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 8:27 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
updated 8:22 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
updated 5:34 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 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