Srinagar, July 27: Al Qaida seems to have got a toehold in Kashmir with its propaganda media network announcing the formation of a new group headed by expelled Hizb commander Zakir Musa for the "jihad in Kashmir".
The announcement has created a stir among militant groups in India that accused security agencies of forming a front to counter the " azadi movement".
The Global Islamic Media Front, an al Qaida-affiliated information network, has announced the formation of the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, being viewed as the Kashmir chapter of al Qaida.
Al Qaida has called the group a "new movement for jihad in Kashmir".
Although the stated aim of the group is the "liberation" of Kashmir, the term ghazwat-ul-Hind means "war against India". Sources said the name suggested that the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind could be eyeing a pan-India movement. Ansar means helpers.
This is the first time in the three-decade-long militancy in Kashmir that a global terror outfit with a pan-Islamist agenda like al Qaida has joined the movement and appointed a Kashmiri to head it.
A statement issued on Twitter by the Global Islamic Media Front said the new movement had been launched by the "companions of martyr Burhan Wani under the leadership of Mujahid Zakir Musa".
"After the martyrdom of heroic Mujahid Burhan Wani, the jihad in Kashmir has entered a stage of awakening.... We will liberate our homeland Kashmir," the statement says.
The official media network of the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind has been named al Hurr, which will carry out the public relations exercises of the group.
"An important and detailed statement about Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind will be released by this media...," the statement added.
Police sources said intelligence inputs had indicated that Musa could join a global terror outfit.
"He has only a handful of militants on his side. Whether he will succeed in wielding influence remains to be seen," a source said.
The deputy inspector-general of police, north Kashmir range, Nitish Kumar, tweeted: "New franchises, newer multinational brands... same creaking market of Kashmir."
Musa, 23, is an engineering dropout who replaced Wani after the Hizb commander was gunned down in July last year. But Musa soon espoused a pan-Islamist agenda when he asked Kashmiris not to fight for Kashmiri nationalism but for the supremacy of Islam. He even threatened to slit the throats of top separatist leaders who "dared" to say Kashmir was a political, and not an Islamic, issue.
Musa was expelled by the Hizb in May this year. The Hizb distanced itself from his remarks.
The United Jihad Council, an umbrella group of over a dozen Kashmiri militant outfits based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, denounced the formation of the new outfit and said there was no role of any global militant organisation in the state.
Syed Salahuddin, the chief of the council as well as the Hizb, said in a video: "There is neither any place for nor any requirement of any global militant outfit, be it the Islamic State or al Qaida or any other organisation. We have reports that outfits like the Islamic State are being introduced by India to counter the militants and cause bloodbath in Kashmir."
Al Qaida had earlier supported the movement in Kashmir and promised to send "a caravan of mujahideen to liberate Kashmir". However, before today's announcement, it had failed to recruit any Kashmiri to its ranks in the Valley.