Islamabad: An Al Qaeda commander has warned India of more attacks such as the recent assault on Mumbai if it retaliates against Pakistan, BBC reported.
Relations between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have been severely strained since militants killed at least 183 people in the November attacks in Mumbai, India’s financial capital.
India blamed the banned Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group for the attacks and said the perpetrators were “clients and creations” of the Pakistani military’s spy agency.
Threat perception: Senior Al Qaeda leader Mustafa Abu al-Yazid. AFP / IntelCenter
Pakistan has denied any involvement by state agencies and has been investigating a dossier of information about the attacks that India handed over last month.
India has repeatedly said it is keeping all options open despite Pakistan’s denials, raising the possibility of Indian attacks on what it sees as militant targets in Pakistan.
In a video received by BBC, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, commander of Al Qaeda operations in Afghanistan, referred to India’s “humiliation” over Mumbai and warned of more attacks.
“India should know that it will have to pay a heavy price if it attacks Pakistan,” the bespectacled al-Yazid said, according to BBC.
“The mujahideen will sunder your armies into the ground, like they did to the Russians in Afghanistan,” he said, referring to Muslim holy warriors.
In August, Pakistani television channels reported that al-Yazid had been killed in fighting with Pakistani forces in the Bajaur tribal region.
According to the BBC report, al-Yazid made no claim of responsibility for the Mumbai attacks, nor did he make any reference to the perpetrators.
But he called on Pakistanis to rise up and overthrow their government led by President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Pakistan has arrested hundreds of Al Qaeda leaders and supporters since the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US and handed many of them over to US authorities.
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding in ethnic Pashtun tribal areas on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where his followers and their Taliban allies have strongholds.
US President Barack Obama said on Monday there was no doubt terrorists were operating from Pakistan’s tribal regions and the US wanted to make sure Islamabad was a strong ally in fighting that threat.
In the days after the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan detained LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and scores of his followers and sealed offices of an Islamist charity he headed that a United Nations committee said was an LeT front.
Al Qaeda has links with some Pakistan-based militant groups but the extent of its contacts with LeT, set up to battle Indian forces in the Kashmir region, are not clear.
In a video marking the anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks, al-Yazid called on Pakistani militants to step up attacks on Western interests. The video was released a day before a suicide bomber killed 55 people in an attack on an Islamabad hotel.
Al-Yazid has been referred to as Al Qaeda’s third most senior figure, after the elimination or capture of five earlier occupants of the No. 3 spot since 2001. The 11 September Commission described al-Yazid as the network’s “chief financial manager”.
He is an Egyptian and served time in jail with Al Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri after the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981.