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For the last more than 2 decades, Ayman al-Zawahiri has released videos and statements focused on Islam’s war against the West including India.

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Ayman al-Zawahiri has published films and speeches focusing on Islam’s struggle against the West for more than two decades. Two of these movies were solely focused on India: declaring the creation of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and commenting on the Karnataka hijab controversy. Ayman al-Zawahiri made repeated references to India beginning in 2001, the year of the September 11 attacks on the United States. He saw jihad in the subcontinent as a means of expanding the Afghan emirate, and wrote of the “religious duty” of “the [Muslim] nation [to] fight in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Chechnya”.

This was consistent with what Osama bin Laden declared in 1996, when he condemned “massacres in Tajikistan, Burma, Kashmir, Assam, the Philippines, Pattani, Ogaden, Somalia, Eritrea, Chechnya, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Following that, in films produced on a regular basis, al-Zawahiri mostly concentrated on Islam’s struggle against Western forces. India was only mentioned in passing, and he spoke briefly about Kashmir.

He made large videos solely focused on India on two occasions, in 2014 and 2022. These Indian-centric movies made crucial announcements about al-vision Zawahiri’s for jihad on the subcontinent and were among al-most Zawahiri’s important messages to his supporters.

2022: On the Karnataka hijab controversy

Al-Zawahiri issued a video in April this year in which he discussed the hijab debate in India and urged Muslims in the subcontinent to combat the claimed assault on Islam “intellectually, through the media, and with weapons on the battlefield.”

Zawahiri’s allusion to a current situation revealed that he was still alive, contrary to reports that he died of natural causes in 2020.

Zawahiri praised Muskan Khan, the Karnataka student who raised Allah-hu-Akbar shouts after being heckled by a right-wing Hindu crowd yelling “Jai Shri Ram” in February 2022, in an approximately nine-minute video broadcast in April by al-Qaeda outlet as-Sahab media. The video began with a scene of Khan confronting the mob, followed by al-speech. Zawahiri’s. 

“She has unveiled the reality and unmasked the nature of the conflict between the chaste and pure Muslim Ummah and the degenerate and depraved polytheist and atheist enemies it confronts… May Allah reward her greatly for imparting a practical lesson to Muslim sisters plagued by an inferiority complex vis a vis the decadent Western World. May Allah rewards her for exposing the reality of Hindu India and the deception of its pagan democracy,” Zawahiri said.

2014: ‘Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent

In a 2014 video, he declared the foundation of “Jamaat Qaidat al-jihad fi’shibhi al-qarrat al-Hindiya,” or “Organisation of The Jihad Base in the Indian Subcontinent,” and stated that it was a message from al-Qaeda to its Muslim brothers in India. He warned that terrorists will breach British India’s boundaries and urged Muslims throughout the subcontinent to band together.

9/11: Al-Zawahiri’s greatest moment

As a youngster, al-Zawahiri was influenced by radical Islamist philosopher Syed Qutb and joined the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of 14. Qutb was killed in 1966, and his publications ‘Milestones’ and ‘In the Shade of the Quran’ are key texts for the global Islamist movement.

He got in touch with Osama bin Laden. In 1985, he flew to Pakistan to inspect bin Laden-funded jihad camps, beginning a connection that would gradually grow until 2001, when the Egyptian Islamic Jihad formally united with al-Qaeda.

The two guys grew intertwined, creating the ideal foil for Laden. Both individuals were involved in the planning of 9/11, which was to be al-crowning Qaeda’s achievement: a dramatic gesture that would provoke a civilizational catastrophe between Islam and the West, signaling that the might of the West had been surpassed.

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