The latest video is a marked improvement from its earlier productions. It even has clear English subtitles to translate and describe what the chief Ayman al Zawahiri is talking about.
After 18 years of being relentlessly hunted, the pressure of the 'War against Terror' on the al-Qaida fugitives must be telling. What else would explain the production lag behind the video titled 'And They Shall Continue to Fight You' to mark the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The 33-minute-long video, released on September 11, is produced by al-Qaida's propaganda team as-Sahab. The latest video is a marked improvement from its earlier productions. It even has clear English subtitles to translate and describe what the chief Ayman al Zawahiri is talking about.
But make no mistake, the centrality of South Asia and Kashmir theme in the al Qaida scheme of things is obvious. Take the case of the logo. A collage of logos of all the branches is shown but the al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) logo is prominently placed in the centre.
Stating that the situation in Kashmir is grim, a healthy-looking Zawahiri says the Muslims in Kashmir are trapped between the “Hindu occupiers” and the Pakistani intelligence services. He termed Pakistani intelligence agency (ISI) as double-faced and treacherous. This is not the first time he has castigated ISI who are believed to have kept Zawahiri’s wife in their custody.
There is no mention of the August 5 development whereby New Delhi abrogated Kashmir's special and protected status. Such a development which has affected the Muslim world in a greater or lesser degree is just too big not to find mention in Zawahiri’s speech. The contention therefore is that the speech was recorded much earlier but later than March 25, 2019 because March 25 is the day the US accorded Golan Heights as part of Israel.
Zawahiri said in the video that with their recognition of the Golan heights as part of Israel, US revealed America’s 'true face' and its 'deep hostility' to Muslims.
Underlining the 'no local, but global' approach to its operations and network, the video has shots and footages of several al-Qaida chiefs of its branches across the globe.
Various reports indicate Zawahiri and the al-Qaida leadership to be hiding in the rugged mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, in all probability in deep caves that would shield him from the prying eyes of US drones.
In Afghanistan, al-Qaida has very close relations with the Taliban, which controls about 13 percent of the total 407 districts in the country. The Afghan government controls about 35 percent of the districts. More than 50 per cent of the districts are zones of fierce contests primarily between the two forces.
The US has been negotiating with the Taliban for quite a few months although very recently President Donald Trump broke off negotiations and also cancelled a scheduled secret meeting with the Taliban leadership at Fort David in the US. But with the sudden resignation of very hawkish US secretary of state John Bolton, there is a possibility of Trump trying to reach out to Taliban again.
Primarily looking for an honourable exit of the major chunk of its troops from Afghanistan, a withdrawal would almost certainly catapault the Taliban back to the power-saddle in Kabul.A resurrected Taliban is a revived al Qaida. With a foothold in Kashmir already in the form of its affiliate Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGH), al- Qaida’s revival portends ominous danger in the Valley.The Great Diwali Discount!
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