Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri on Wednesday announced the creation of an Indian branch, boosting his group’s claims to be the world’s foremost jihadists.
In a 55-minute video posted online, al-Zawahiri urges Muslims to “wage jihad against its enemies, to liberate its land, to restore its sovereignty and to revive its caliphate,” reports the BBC.
Counterterrorism experts say al-Qaeda’s announcement is another effort to compete with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), which is successfully recruiting young followers from across the world to join its conflict in the Middle East.
The two groups were previously aligned but fell out over ISIS militants’ brutality and expansion into Syria last year.
Al-Zawahiri said al-Qaeda’s presence in the Indian subcontinent would free Muslims from oppression in Burma, Bangladesh and elsewhere across the region.