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    South Asia
     Feb 13, 2010
Al-Qaeda chief delivers a warning
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD - Asia Times Online has received a message from top guerrilla commander Ilyas Kashmiri, whose 313 Brigade is an operational arm of al-Qaeda. The message arrived on Monday morning, shortly after the deadly weekend bombing of the German Bakery in the western Indian city of Pune. The message does not specifically claim responsibility for the bombing, but implies the Brigade's involvement.

The text of the emailed message reads, in rough translation:

“We warned the international community to play their role in getting the Kashmiris their right of self-determination and preventing India from committing brutalities in Kashmir, especially in Badipuar, raping the women and behaving inhumanly with Muslim prisoners.

“We warn the international community not to send their people to the 2010 Hockey World Cup, IPL [Indian Premier League - a cricket competition involving international players] and Commonwealth Games [to be held in Delhi later this year]. Nor should their people visit India - if they do, they will be responsible for the consequences.

"We, the mujahideen of 313 Brigade, vow to continue attacks all across India until the Indian Army leaves Kashmir and gives the Kashmiris their right of self-determination. We assure the Muslims of the subcontinent that we will never forget the massacre of the Muslims in Gujarat and the demolition of Babri Masjid [a Muslim mosque destroyed by Hindu militants in 1992]. The entire Muslim community is one body and we will take revenge for all injustices and tyranny. We again warn the Indian government to compensate for all its injustices, otherwise they will see our next action.

"From 313 Brigade"

The bombing and Kashmiri's warning come as Washington tries to bring India and Pakistan together to work as allies in fighting the "war on terror". The intention seems to be to reignite conflict between the two countries, diverting Pakistan’s attention from Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas and preventing India playing a strategic role.

The Pune bombing killed nine people, including two foreigners, and injured 57. It came a day after India and Pakistan agreed to foreign-secretary-level talks in New Delhi on February 25.

Typically, 313 Brigade does not claim responsibilty for its actions, which are said to include attacks on foreigners in India and Afghanistan and the Mumbai carnage of last November. The Brigade has also been linked to the so-called "Chicago Conspiracy" to massacre Indian military officers, attack the Indian nuclear arsenal, and attack the cartoonists whose anti-Muslim illustrations were published by a Danish newspaper.

It is unprecedented that 313 Brigade should send a message to a news outlet. However, Asia Times Online has previously been in contact with Kashmiri, and interviewed him last October. The interview, conducted in the Pakistani tribal agency of South Waziristan, was arranged by Kashmiri, primarily to discount rumors that he had been killed in a US drone attack. (See Al-Qaeda's guerrilla chief lays out strategy.)

The Indian government said on Monday that there would be no knee-jerk reaction to the Pune bombing and that the talks with Pakistan would go ahead. If more attacks are carried out in India, however, the tension between the countries would soar, and the US-led "war on terror" would be an early casualty.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief.

(Copyright 2009 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

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