More than two decades after the 9/11 terror attacks, one of its masterminds and al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been brought to justice. His death in his hideout in Kabul in a high-precision drone strike by the United States forces has dealt the biggest blow to the terror group since its founder Osama bin Laden […]
More than two decades after the 9/11 terror attacks, one of its masterminds and al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been brought to justice. His death in his hideout in Kabul in a high-precision drone strike by the United States forces has dealt the biggest blow to the terror group since its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011 near Islamabad. The operation to locate and kill him was the result of a careful and persistent work by the counter-terrorism and intelligence community and comes as a big boost for the global war on terror. The fact that both the top leaders of al-Qaeda found safe havens in the national capitals of Pakistan and Afghanistan proves they had patronage from the ruling elite of the two countries. The development also has a bearing on India as the intelligence agencies were concerned over the recent resurfacing of a video in which Zawahiri spoke on the hijab controversy and had asked Indian Muslims to fight what he called the ‘assault on Islam’ using the ‘media intellectually and with weapons on the battlefield’. Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul shows that the terror infrastructure is still active in Afghanistan, and the Taliban are providing a safe haven. This is a worrying factor for India which is looking to establish normal ties with the Taliban regime through cautious outreach. While India may continue to help Afghanistan through humanitarian assistance, it has to keep its eyes open for terrorist activities aimed at India from Afghan soil.
After the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last year, there were justified concerns in India that the strength of Al-Qaeda would increase and trained fighters could be sent to India since the main fighting arm of the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, was behind several attacks on Indian interests. The extremely close ties between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are evident from the fact that al-Zawahiri was stationed in a posh Kabul neighbourhood. This close tie-up is totally against India’s interests, especially against the backdrop of Al-Qaeda’s intentions to target the country. An Egyptian-born physician who took up Islamist violence as a teenager, Zawahiri succeeded bin Laden as Al-Qaeda’s leader in 2011 after the latter’s death in Pakistan at the hands of US Navy seals. With al-Qaeda greatly weakened around the world over the last few years and its regional franchises unable to carry out frequent terrorist acts, Zawahiri sought to establish his relevance by releasing fiery videos and issuing rallying calls to Muslims to participate in jihad. More recently, the rise of the Islamic State has eclipsed Al-Qaeda in the Middle East, and even in Afghanistan. The United States’ drone campaign that targeted Al-Qaeda between 2008 and 2013 devastated the core organisation, which was based in Pakistan and Afghanistan.