Days after al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri released a video calling for "unrelenting blows" on India, the central government today brushed it off as just another routine threat that needn't be taken seriously.
"We keep hearing threats like these, and I believe we shouldn't be taking it very seriously. Our security forces are well equipped and quite capable of safeguarding our sovereignty and territorial integrity," news agency ANI quoted External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar as saying at a press meet in New Delhi.
In the video message titled "Don't Forget Kashmir", the al Qaeda chief was seen exhorting terrorists in Kashmir to target central establishments as well as the Indian armed forces. "I am of the view that the Mujahideen in Kashmir -- at this stage at least -- should single-mindedly focus on inflicting unrelenting blows on the Indian Army and government, so as to bleed the Indian economy and make India suffer sustained losses in manpower and equipment," Ayman al-Zawahiri said, flanked by an assault rifle and the Quran.
He also termed the Pakistan government and its army as "toadies of America", and insisted that terrorists avoid falling into their trap. "The only thing the Pakistani army and government are interested in is exploiting the mujahideen for specific political objectives. They will only dump or persecute them later," the terrorist leader claimed, adding that the neighbouring country's conflict with India was more geographical than religious in nature.
Security forces had dealt a major blow to the banned outfit's India ambitions two months ago by killing Ansar Ghazwat-u-Hind founder Zakir Musa during a cordon-and-search operation in South Kashmir's Tral region. However, the very next day, the group named a new commander and deputy.
The Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, set up as the al Qaeda's Indian cell in 2017, regularly issues declarations of "liberating" Kashmir.
In the video message, Ayman al-Zawahiri claimed that the Kashmir conflict was not a standalone issue but part of the worldwide Muslim community's "jihad against a vast array of forces". "You (the scholars) must clearly state that supporting jihad in Kashmir, the Philippines, Chechnya, Central Asia, Iraq, Syria, the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, the Islamic Maghreb and Turkistan is an individual obligation on all Muslims, until sufficient strength is achieved to expel the disbelieving occupier from Muslim lands," he said, adding that terrorists must not target "mosques, markets and places where Muslims gather" in Kashmir.
A home ministry source attributed the al Qaeda video to the government's recent successes against terrorists in Kashmir. "There has been a fall in terror attacks and a rise in the killing of terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. The video is an attempt to motivate terror cadre," he said.
(With inputs from ANI)