Al-Qaeda in the subcontinent was announced with much fanfare back in 2014. It never got the traction it had hoped for and till date the problem for the terrorist outfit is the same.
Of late, al-Qaeda through its social media wing has been circulating videos calling for attacks on the mainland in a bid to "liberate" Kashmir. "You strike Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and automatically Kashmir will be liberated from India," the person in one such video is seen saying.
The video makes it clear that there is a desperate bid being made by the outfit to rope in locals. The message from al-Qaeda is clear: It wants to scout for locals or the remains of the Indian Mujahideen to gain some traction in India.
In fact, the message that the outfit had put out was very similar to the one that by the Indian Mujahideen several years ago. Mansoor Peerbhoy of the IM had started this trend of issuing such calls through letters and emails. This trend caught on and the IM had become a force to deal with.
The other attempt that al-Qaeda is trying to make is to instigate some youths to stage lone-wolf attacks. It is a desperate attempt to provoke and stay in contention, an Intelligence Bureau official noted.
The big question is, will this work for al-Qaeda? Since the announcement it made in 2014, it has not managed to set up a module anywhere in India. It lost heavily to the ideology of ISIS. Whatever little traction it had managed to garner in Bangladesh it lost out, again, to ISIS.
A year ago, al-Qaeda made an attempt to set up shop in Kashmir. However it did not get the backing of Pakistan spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which is fixated on groups such as the Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. The Kashmir turf is the exclusive domain of these three terror groups, and the ISI would not let anyone else operate.
Al-Qaeda saw a ray of hope when Zakir Musa of the Hizbul Mujahideen broke away from the outfit and decided to carry out operations on his own. Al-Qaeda was quick to call him their boy and the outfit even went a step ahead to announce its arrival in the Valley.
However, Musa himself has not managed to catch the imagination of the youths like his former friend Burhan Wani had done. With Musa himself struggling to get off the mark, al-Qaeda lost another chance in the Valley.
So what is the overall threat perception posed by al-Qaeda? The agencies tracking the group say it has failed in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and they see know reason why it would gain any traction in India.
However, one aspect that even the agencies are not ignoring is the ideology of the outfit. Both the Students Islamic Movement of India and Indian Mujahideen subscribe to the al-Qaeda ideology. While both these groups are bust as of now, the agencies feel a spillover from these groups could carry out lone-wolf strikes in a bid to kick-start a trend.
The worry where this aspect is concerned is restricted to the states of Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, the agencies say.