In a video released by Al Qaeda, Zawahiri has made two references to the western state of Gujarat, the home state of India's Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is widely believed to be at least partly responsible for the 2002 riots in which thousands of Muslims were massacred in Gujarat.
Can Al Qaeda Succeed in India?
Can Al Qaeda succeed in "raising the flag of jihad" in India? Are the conditions in India conducive for Al Qaeda to take root? These are the important questions being raised among south Asia watchers and analysts. In my view the answer to these questions would depend mainly on how the Modi government reacts to this threat.
What is the State of Muslims in India?
It is not a secret that there is widespread discrimination against Indian Muslims in education, employment and housing.
India's criminal justice system is clearly stacked against Muslims and other minorities. Muslims make up 13% of India's population but 28% of Indian prisoners. Similarly, Christians make up 2.8% of India's population but 6% of India's prison population. Meanwhile, the newly elected parliament has just 4% Muslim representation.
There is ongoing ghettoization of Muslims in Indian cities. Muslims are routinely and systematically excluded from living in nice urban neighborhoods.
Indian Muslims are now worse off than the lowest-caste Hindus, or Dalits, in terms of education and employment. The 2013 update of the Sachar Commission report shows there has been little improvement for Muslims since the original report published 2006.
Will Hindu Nationalists Frame More Muslims on Terror Charges?
Hindu Nationalists and their allies in the Indian government machinery have used the US global war on terror as a convenient cover to launch a concerted campaign of terror against Indian Muslims. Large numbers of Muslims in various parts of India continue to languish in jails on trumped-up terror charges, suffering brutal torture as well as routine insults to their religion by police officials, according to Indian journalist Yoginder Sikand.
In addition, several Hindutva terror groups, and their affiliates, have carried out a number of bomb blasts across India in the last few years, and tried to pin the blame on Indian Muslims or the Pakistan's intelligence service ISI. A retired high-ranking Indian police official S.M. Mushrif has described nearly a dozen blasts conducted by Hindutva terror groups of different stripes. He argues that a section of India’s intelligence services, a small group in the armed forces and parts of different state police forces have been compromised and infiltrated by these elements, a development that bodes ill for the future of the country, and the region.
Conditions already exist today, especially after the recent success of the Sangh Parivar in India, for Al Qaeda to succeed in persuading many resentful Indian Muslims to join its "jihad" in South Asia. If the latest video threat from Al Qaeda chief intensifies framing of innocent Muslims on terror charges by the new Hindu Nationalist government led by Narendra Modi, then the chances of Al Qaeda's success would dramatically increase in India.
Here's a video of just one of many innocent Indian Muslims framed on terror charges in India:
Can Hindutva Terrorists Spark India-Pakistan War?
Modi's Pakistan Policy
Indian Muslims Worse Off Than Dalits
Gujarat Muslims Ignored By Indian Politcians
Are Muslims Better Off in Jinnah's Pakistan?
India's Guantanamos and Abu Ghraibs