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With Zawahiri's death, ISIS plots to spread, hog Al-Qaeda's terror space

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The Islamic State has already set in motion a plan to take over the space that the Al-Qaeda had managed. The propaganda machinery is already in overdrive mode especially in India to raise local issues and create communal discord.

New Delhi, Aug 17: Earlier this month, the United States of America announced that it had carried out a precision strike in Afghanistan that killed the chief of the Al-Qaeda Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

The death of Zawahiri is no doubt a big blow for the Al-Qaeda which had been gaining traction of late after lying low for long following the death of Osama Bin Laden, its founder and supreme leader.

Ayman Al-Zawahiri

Several officials OneIndia spoke with say that while the death of the leader is a big blow to the outfit, it could also mean that the Islamic State will try and occupy that space which the Al-Qaeda has in India.

The Al-Qaeda had and continues to get backing by the Taliban. This recent development is going to break the morale of the cadre and this in turn would impact the terror group's position in the sub-continent where it has been trying to spread its wings.

Zawahiri dead, but terror looms large as Taliban links with Al-Qaeda intactZawahiri dead, but terror looms large as Taliban links with Al-Qaeda intact

Officials say that the Islamic State has already set in motion a plan to take over the space that the Al-Qaeda had managed. The propaganda machinery is already in overdrive mode especially in India to raise local issues and create communal discord.

Another senior officer said that the Al-Qaeda will find it harder to function when compared to the Islamic State. The positioning of the Islamic State is such that it can continue to function without a leader. While the death of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi dealt a major blow to the outfit in Syria and Iraq, the propaganda remained intact.

One must recall the call Baghdadi had made a few months before his death. He had told his fighters in Iraq and Syria that it was now time to return to the main land, focus on propaganda, radicalisation of the Muslims and lone wolf attacks.

However, this is different in the case of the Al-Qaeda. Its cadres always looked up to a leader to guide them and hence in the death of Zawahiri, the outfit may dwindle to a large extent and may find it hard to bounce back immediately.

From hijab to Kashmir, Zawahiri was Al-Qaeda's voice for everything anti-IndiaFrom hijab to Kashmir, Zawahiri was Al-Qaeda's voice for everything anti-India

This is also a worrying sign for the Indian agencies who are already battling a relentless radicalisation campaign in the country. Most of the literature out there is from the Islamic State and the weakening of the Al-Qaeda may give the Islamic State more space to operate in.

On the brighter side, the Al-Qaeda weakening means that its propaganda wing in India would go slow. Zawahiri who was presumed dead a few years back had made a return with scores of videos which were about the issues in India. He drew a parallel between Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir. He had also commented on the hijab row and even dedicated a poem to the girl who had made it an issue in Karnataka.

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