Al Qaeda threatens India as BJP government struggles to contain Prophet controversy

Terrorists linked to Al Qaeda killed about 170 people in Mumbai in 2008

Paramilitary soldiers near a police barricade on Rajpath, in New Delhi, India, in January, 2022. AP Photo
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Al Qaeda is threatening revenge bombings in India after insulting comments about the Prophet Mohammed by officials of the country’s ruling party.

Street violence gripped parts of India last week while New Delhi battled a diplomatic furore after the derogatory comments by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party spokeswoman Nupur Sharma and another official, Navin Kumar Jindal.

At least 16 Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey, lodged diplomatic protests with New Delhi and denounced the comments against Prophet Mohammed.

But on Tuesday, the global extremist group said that its members were ready to blow themselves up in Delhi, Mumbai, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. The threat from the group, which has been in long-term decline since the death of its founder Osama bin Laden, was reported by Site, the terrorism monitoring and analysis company.

There was no immediate comment by the government on the warning or its preparedness to tackle the threat. Al Qaeda-linked terrorists killed about 170 people in 2008 in Mumbai, one of India's worst terrorist attacks.

Today, the group has almost no presence in India but is blamed for a series of attacks in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The latest statement comes nearly two months after the group made a similar statement after the Karnataka government ban on Muslim students wearing hijabs.

Mr Modi’s government last week said that the views were of “fringe elements” and did not represent those of the Indian government as it faced a diplomatic backlash from Muslim nations.

Tempers are running high among India’s 200 million Muslim population, with many demanding the arrest of Ms Sharma and Mr Jindal.

Both of them have received additional armed security from the government after they claimed to have received death threats.

Last week Hindu and Muslim men clashed in northern Kanpur city after calls were made to protest against the derogatory remarks.

At least 50 people have been arrested, most of them Muslim.

A large protest is being called for June 10 in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh.

Updated: June 08, 2022, 11:07 AM