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Why Al Qaeda threatened India

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Last updated on: February 10, 2009 16:43 IST
The latest Al Qaeda video, threatening to carry out more 26/11 type attacks in India, is adding to the concerns of the security forces, who already have their hands full dealing with the likes of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and home-grown jihadi outfits.

Intelligence Bureau agents say India has never been on Al Qaeda's direct radar though the latter has backed outfits like the Lashkar and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami to operate in India.

According to the IB sources, the reason for Al Qaeda's sudden, aggressive stand is because of India's growing proximity to the US. Al Qaeda's position is clear: 'Whoever is a friend of America is an enemy.'

The IB sources say Al Qaeda suspects the India-US relationship will prove fatal for its operations in Afghanistan. It hopes its threat will act as a cautionary note for India's security and strategic planners and slow down Indian designs of helping the US in Afghanistan.

Although Al Qaeda has not directly interfered in India, its influence in several attacks is clear. The Mumbai terror strikes were inspired by earlier Al Qaeda attacks, the IB sources add. Moreover, the training modules and motivational speeches used to prepare for the 26/11 attacks were lifted directly from Al Qaeda manuals.

Even the attacks in Bangalore and Surat had Al Qaeda thumbprints, investigating agencies say. Investigating agencies say an integrated chip was used in these two blasts, and this technology is lifted from Al Qaeda manuals. An integrated chip was first used in Indonesia by the Jemaah Islamiyah, a wing of Al Qaeda.

Another interesting theory for Al Qaeda's sudden interest in India is because of the split in the Lashkar and HuJI over Pakistan's policy towards the US. IB sources told that several Lashkar and HuJI leaders are adamant that not an inch of ground should be conceded to the US for its war in Afghanistan.

However, Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence directorate directed the Lashkar to go soft on this issue. This led to a split in the Lashkar with several of its terrorists shifting base to Afghanistan and aligning with Al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda is now under pressure from its new Lashkar recruits to do more than the Lashkar in the 'war' against India, especially in Kashmir.

Vicky Nanjappa