INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR—PAPER NO.494
The authenticity of the message purporting to be from Mustafa Abu-al Yazid, who has been projected since 2007 as in charge of Al Qaeda operations in Afghanistan in liaison with the Neo Taliban of Mulla Mohammad Omar, is yet to be proved.
2. His warnings of more Mumbai-style talks should be factored into our security arrangements and that means, strengthening physical security not only for possible Indian targets, but also for possible foreign targets such as those of Israel and the US. A rule of prudence is don’t ignore a threat unless and until it is proved to be false.
3. The message needs careful analysis in co-operation with Al Qaeda experts in the US. The message suspiciously serves the Pakistani agenda of projecting the 26/11 terrorist strike in Mumbai as excuted by an international jihadi group based in Europe and inspired by Al Qaeda.
4. There are suspicious elements in the message. Why was it disseminated through the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and not initially through Al Jazeera? Why has it not yet appeared in the web sites associated with Al Qaeda? Why there was no reference to the Mumbai attack in the one message of Osama bin Laden and two of his No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri disseminated by Al Qaeda since the beginning of this year? Why the message has not been disseminated through As Sahab, the official propaganda organ of Al Qaeda?
5. In August last year, the Pakistan Army claimed to have killed him in an encounter in the Bajaur Agency. It was not confirmed. Al Qaeda, which generally admits the death of its senior operatives in action, has not admitted his death. Western experts have not accepted the Pakistani claim.
6. A message attributed to him will strengthen suspicion that Pakistan is in the habit of making false claims of killing Al Qaeda operatives in order to show that it is sincere in co-operating with the US against Al Qaeda. Why should it strengthen the suspicion by having this message disseminated unless it had compelling reasons to do so?
7. These questions will need careful examination before one can come to a definitive conclusion on the implications of this message. But so many unanswered questions should not make us under-estimate the importance of strengthened security in response to it.(11-2-09)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )