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The threat from al Qaeda persists | HT Editorial – editorials

The reported killing of the al Qaeda number two serves as a reminder that the group that made jihad a household word is still alive. The terror group remains headquartered in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, which explains why it was Afghan forces that found and killed Abu Muhsin Al-Masri. Since last year, al Qaeda’s leadership, including its chief Ayman al Zawahiri, has repeatedly called for a renewed jihad in Kashmir against India. Indian law and order agencies continue to apprehend a steady stream of al Qaeda suspects.

More telling is that almost all of these al Qaeda recruits captured in India have been found to have come through Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) training camps. While Pakistan’s military insists it has no relationship with al Qaeda, the Lashkar link and the manner in which al Qaeda conveniently aligns itself with Islamabad’s interests seems more than just a coincidence. Kashmir rose to the top of al Qaeda’s agenda as New Delhi moved to marginalise Islamabad’s role in the future of the region. This March, al Qaeda publication, Nawai Afghan Jihad, declared its support for United States (US)-Taliban talks, echoing Pakistan’s position.

Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, LeT and other such groups are different brands which draw from a common pool of terrorism. Al Qaeda keeps a low profile even as it spreads once again in Africa, Yemen, Syria and South Asia. One result of this deliberate strategy is that the US now downplays the group as a threat. But India cannot afford this luxury as long as al Qaeda remains domiciled in the subcontinent, covertly aligns itself with Pakistan and prepares for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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