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Friday, June 8, 2007
Al Qaeda Declares Jihad On IndiaIt's not exactly a surprise that al Qaeda would want to declare jihad against India -- assuming the video announcement today checks out as authentic, and it very well may not. But even a forgery is doubtless a harbinger of things to come.
Al Qaeda and its allies have been fighting a guerilla war in Kashmir, along the India-Pakistan border, for nearly two decades off and on.
What's surprising is that al Qaeda took this long to make a bold, visible move. Al Qaeda has everything to gain by inciting India, because India (with some justification) sees al Qaeda as a Pakistani problem. Last year's Mumbai bombing was carried out by LeT, one of al Qaeda's fairly close affiliates in Pakistan.
If al Qaeda stages and claims spectacular attacks in India, India may consider an attack on Pakistan -- al Qaeda's home base -- as retaliation and preemption (under the Bush doctrine). Since both Pakistan and India are nuclear powers, that creates a real risk of unthinkable carnage.
Furthermore, any sort of shooting war between Pakistan and India would almost certainly destabilize the Musharraf regime, giving that nation's powerful Islamist factions an opportunity to seize control of the country and its nuclear arsenal.
Pakistan is already one of the countries most at risk in the current political environment -- a coup or civil war could easily end with al Qaeda and Taliban sympathizers in charge. And any sort of substantial chaos in Pakistan exponentially increases the odds al Qaeda can contrive access to nuclear materials.
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