Assam on ‘Red Alert’ as Al-Qaeda Threatens to Sabotage Durga Puja Festival

Assam was put on high alert status after intelligence reports said there was a possibility of major strikes by Al-Qaeda and other Islamic fundamentalist groups during the Durga Puja festival.

In Australia, the threat level was raised and the next day, police raided a number of homes and arrested several extremists with connections to ISIS. Police heard “chatter” about undertaking terrorist actions, including random beheadings in the streets.

On Saturday, Assam’s Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi, said security forces received intelligence that major strikes by Al-Qaeda may be in the planning stage, to be undertaken during the forthcoming Durga Puja festival.

At a press conference in Guwahati, the Assam Chief Minister said “The terrorist group has planned to strike in the state during the Durga Puja and we had already taken all preventive measures across the state.”

The Chief Minister also indicated that intelligence pointed to Al-Qaeda setting up bases in the state, with “tacit understanding” with the Independent United Liberation Front of Asom.

“We have got some information [that] Al-Qaeda is trying to set up base in the state,” Gogoi said.

Gogoi indicated that the intelligence community were aware that al Qaeda had previously tried to connect with the North East region rebel groups, including in Assam, but they had failed to do so”

Referring back to ULFA, Mr Gogoi said, “I think Al-Qaeda has already linked with ULFA(I). Even if there is no direct link as of now, they have in tacit understanding.”

Hemanta Kumar Nath is a correspondent in Assam, India, who reports on local news in Assam, the north east Indian state.