The Indian government is warning Israeli tourists to be on alert should they visit the country during the Jewish High Holidays following Al Qaeda’s recent alleged inroads into the subcontinent. But for now Israel’s Counterterrorism Bureau told Israel’s Channel 2 Monday there are no specific threats to Israelis traveling to India.
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said last week his terrorist organization would “wage jihad” in South Asia, prompting Indian security forces increase vigilance in several states where attacks would be likely. India’s Ministry of Home Affairs, in charge of national security, also said it would increase security for Israelis traveling to India.
Last month, the Chabad Lubavitch movement, an orthodox Jewish organization that performs outreach to unaffiliated Jews worldwide through its network of community centers, inaugurated its rebuilt Mumbai center six years after a Pakistani terrorist group killed 166 people in India’s commercial capital, including six at the Jewish center.
The Times of Israel reported Monday members of the local Chabad affiliate had been moving between temporary homes as the center was rebuilt. The Jewish High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, take place Sept. 24-26 and Oct. 3-4, respectively, this year.
Security around Jewish and Israeli sites in India has been heightened since the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. But in 2012, a bomb attack that nearly killed the wife of an Israeli military attaché raised concerns terrorists were intensifying their attacks in India. Israel blamed Iran for the attack.
India’s Jewish population is small, an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 people, mostly in Mumbai, down from about 30,000 in 1948 when Israel was founded and many Jews emigrated. India is also a popular destination for young Israelis seeking rest and relaxation after completing their compulsory military service.
“The shekel goes a long way, the locals are friendly, drinks cheap and hashish and ecstasy circulated freely,” the British current affairs magazine The New Statesman reported last year about young Israelis vacationing in India. “While interactions between the Indians and Israelis are largely genial, there is a growing concern among certain rabbis that many are straying from the righteous path.”