Issued by Zakir Rashid Bhat, a breakaway Hizbul-Mujahideen jihadist who set up a fledgling al-Qaeda unit in Kashmir, last year, the statement justifies attacking corporate entities because they are part of “those supporters and personnel who run the tyrannical and infidel system of India, protect it and give it advantage”.
First Formal Declaration of Economic Warfare
Though Indian corporate entities have been attacked by jihadists in the past – notably on 26/11 and earlier in the Mumbai serial bombings of 1993 – Monday’s al-Qaeda manifesto is the first formal declaration of economic warfare against India by a jihadist group.
“Few corporate facilities in India have even basic security systems in place to guard against attack”, noted a senior police officer in Mumbai, adding:
Al-Qaeda in Kashmir has only a few operatives on hand, but even one or two men with assault weapons can inflict enormous harm.
“Police, intelligence services and corporate security heads should take this threat seriously”, the officer said.
In 2010, the National Investigation Agency held Hyderabad resident Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq for planning a strike on multinational Deloitte’s offices in Hi-Tech City, using grenades supplied by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, police sources said.
There have also been alleged terrorist plots targeted at strategic targets, like the Reliance oil refinery in Jamnagar, Larsen & Toubro’s shipyard in Tamil Nadu, and the international airport in Mumbai.
Barring the kidnapping and killing of five tourists from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Norway in 1995, carried out by the Harkat-ul-Ansar, jihadists in Kashmir have rarely threatened foreigners, believing it would undermine the international legitimacy of their cause.
However, new entrants on the Kashmir jihadi landscape, like the al-Qaeda, have a long record of targeting Western nationals and interests.