Zakir Rashid Bhat, a breakaway Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander based in south Kashmir, has been appointed head of al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent’s new affiliate for the state, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, the terrorist group’s media wing announced on Thursday.

Musa is in his early twenties, and studied engineering at a college in Chandigarh before he took up arms against the Indian administration. He belongs to an educated family as his father is an engineer and brother an orthopaedic surgeon at a Srinagar hospital.

Zakir Rashid Bhat, a breakaway Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander based in south Kashmir, has been appointed head of al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent’s new affiliate for the state, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, the terrorist group’s media wing announced on Thursday.

The announcement marks the first time the group has created an affiliate for Kashmir but Indian police and intelligence officials said it would have little impact on ground.

“The jihad in Kashmir has reached a stage of awakening, as the Muslim nation of Kashmir has committed to carry the flag of jihad to repel the aggression of tyrant Indian invaders”, the statement by al-Qaeda’s Global Islamic Media Front read.

Bhat had appeared in a video in May under the al-Qaeda banner, accusing Indian Muslims of cowardice, and calling on them to engage in jihad against the government. Earlier this month, al-Qaeda’s Urdu-language magazine Nawa-i Afghan Jihad, had also carried an article referring to Musa’s group.

Ghazwa-e-Hind, from which the new organisation takes its name, is a prophecy attributed, in some Islamic traditions, to Prophet Muhammad, proclaiming that a victorious army rising from the West shall establish Islam in India before the day of judgment.

It is unclear if Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind will operate under the umbrella of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, led by Uttar Pradesh born Sana-ul-Haq, or report directly to the organisation’s chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Haq has long been a proponent of linking the jihad in Kashmir with the wider pan-India jihadist cause.

Few in India’s security establishment, though, saw significance in the news.

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