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As Al-Qaeda scouts for new chief, Indian agencies worry about an Islamic State spillover

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The coming days would be crucial because the Al-Qaeda would not want to break the momentum it has generated when it comes to spreading its ideology in India

New Delhi, Aug 03: Mohammed Salahldin Zidan who is of Egyptian origin is likely to be the next chief of the Al-Qaeda. The terror group began the hunt for a new chief after US President Joe Biden announced that Al-Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri had been killed in a drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday.

As Al-Qaeda scouts for new chief, Indian agencies worry about an Islamic State spillover

Zidan who also goes by the alias Saif-al-Adel is tipped to be the next chief of the terror group that carried out the 9/11 attacks. His whereabouts are however unknown currently.

While the death of Zawahiri is welcome news for India, the agencies are also worried about the possible spillover of Al-Qaeda cadres into the Islamic State whose ideology has caught traction against many radical Indian Muslims. The Islamic State has demonstrated how deeply it is able to penetrate in India especially in the southern states.

An official tells OneIndia that the death of Zawahiri will break the morale of the Al-Qaeda cadres and a lesser known Zidan may not be able to hold them back. The resultant of this could be a spillover into the Islamic State and that it could be very bad news for India.

The Islamic State currently is the strongest in Afghanistan and it has demonstrated in recent times its ability to mount spectacular attacks. It has primarily focused on launching attacks against the minority community in Afghanistan and with the backing of the ISI, it will continue to target the minorities in Afghanistan, the official cited above says.

Zidan on the other hand is stronger in terms of operational capabilities rather than have an ideological hold. He was a former lieutenant colonel in the Egyptian special forces and has been instrumental in the bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. He also fought against the Russian forces in Afghanistan and had played a key role in training the hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks.

As Al-Qaeda scouts for new chief, Indian agencies worry about an Islamic State spillover

An Intelligence Bureau official says that the coming days would be crucial because the Al-Qaeda would not want to break the momentum it has generated when it comes to spreading its ideology in India. The outfit has been instrumental in setting a narrative when it came to the hijab issue which broke out in Karnataka. It has made comments on the Indian Army and also provoked people during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests.

Ayman al-Zawahiri from surgeon to key plotter of 9/11 attacksAyman al-Zawahiri from surgeon to key plotter of 9/11 attacks

The focus of the Al-Qaeda in the past couple of years has been around the sub-continent. It had even appointed Asim Umar who is from Uttar Pradesh as the chief of the Al-Qaeda in the Sub-Continent. Officials say that if the Al-Qaeda is unable to hold on its cadre there is a good chance that they may move towards the Islamic State. While the Islamic State has demonstrated that it can spread its ideology in India, it has also shown that it is capable of launching spectacular attacks including the ones involving lone wolves and this is a major cause of concern for the Indian Intelligence agencies.

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