Al-Qaeda warns India against any attack on Pakistan

Arab World Materials 10 February 2009 12:21 (UTC +04:00)

A top al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan warned India in a videotape broadcast Tuesday of "Mumbai-style strikes" if it tries to attack Pakistan, dpa reported.

Mustafa Abu al-Yazid said in the video shown on Indian news channels that Indians suffered "humiliation" in the November assault and more was in store if India decided to retaliate against Pakistan.

"India should know that it will have to pay a heavy price if it attacks Pakistan," al-Yazid said in the 20-minute video in Arabic that was received by the BBC in Islamabad. "The mujahedin will sunder your armies into the ground like they did to the Russians in Afghanistan."

"We will bring mujahedin and suicide attackers from all over the Muslim world to confront you," he said. "We will target your economic centres and raze them to the ground."

Al-Yazid had been reported killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan last year. He is in charge of al-Qaeda's operations in Afghanistan and is ranked behind number 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and top leader Osama bin Laden.

Al-Yazid has been linked to a number of terrorist attacks, including last year's Danish embassy bombings in Pakistan, and had claimed responsibility for assassinating former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated after the Mumbai strikes, which New Delhi said were carried out by the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba.

At least 173 people, including 26 foreign nationals, were killed in the three-day gun-and-bomb attacks, which began November 26.

Indian leaders have blamed the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's spy agency, of involvement in the attacks, and Indian army chief Deepak Kapoor recently said attacks against terrorist camps in Pakistan were "very much feasible."

In the video, al-Yazid also denounced the ban on militant groups in Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks and asked the people of Pakistan to rise up and overthrow the government of President Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's widower.

CNN-IBN quoted al-Qaeda expert Rohan Gunaratna as saying the video was "authentic" and credible. Although he doubted al-Qaeda's capability to carry out attacks in India, Gunaratna said it could inspire or instigate other terrorist groups to mount attacks.

The time the video has surfaced is significant given that US President Barack Obama's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, is in Islamabad and Washington has made it clear that it wants to root out terrorist safe havens in Pakistan.