Faced with a new fundamentalist threat from the al-Queda terrorists, the Narendra Modi government today sounded a country-wide alert with the union home ministry directing all states and security agencies to take precautionary steps.
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahri on Wednesday announced the formation of ''Qaedat al-Jihad,'' an Indian outfit of his militant group, which would spread Islamic rule and "raise the flag of jihad" across the subcontinent.
In a 55-minute video posted online, Zawahri described the formation of "Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent" as glad tidings for Muslims "in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir" and said the new wing would rescue Muslims there from injustice and oppression.
In an apparent snub to the Islamic State armed group challenging al Qaeda for leadership of transnational Islamist militancy, Zawahri also renewed loyalty to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
Home minister Rajnath Singh today met top security officials after an al-Qaeda video appeared in which the terror outfit threatened to carry out campaign across India and some neighbouring states.
An initial assessment of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) found the video to be genuine, home ministry officials said.
Security agencies feel al-Qaeda could be looking for fresh recruitments in the sub-continent amidst diminishing influence in West and Central Asia with the rise of the ISIS.
Singh later told reporters that the prime minister's office has been informed about the video and that his ministry is assessing the possible presence of al-Qaeda in the country.
The IB is monitoring the activities of terror outfits operating in the country and its neighbourhood and is expected to send a report in this regard within a day or two, officials said.
Meanwhile, US intelligence agencies said the al-Qaeda has established a new branch to wage ''jihad'' on India, ''return the Islamic rule'' and impose ''sharia'' in the Indian sub-continent.
The creation of the group called ''Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent'' was announced by As Sahab, al-Qaeda's official media outlet, in a lengthy video posted on social media outlets including You Tube.
Muslims account for 15 per cent of India's population numbering an estimated 175 million - the third-largest Muslim population in the world.
Although they have by and large fully assimilated to the Indian state, centuries of rule by medieval Muslim invaders and the ongoing hostility with Muslim-majority Pakistan have driven a wedge between Hindus and Muslims. Al-Qaeda may be trying to widen the wedge in a bid to recruit new cadres.
Al-Qaeda is active in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the video showed the group's leader Ayman al Zawahiri saying ''Qaedat al-Jihad'' would take the fight to India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Some counter-terrorism experts see the al Qaeda video as a ploy by its ageing leaders who are struggling to compete for recruits with Islamic State and its leader Abu Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi calls himself a "caliph" or head of state and has demanded the loyalty of all Muslims.