The head of al-Qaida says the group has expanded into the Indian subcontinent.

Ayman al-Zawahiri says in a video message that al-Qaida has been preparing for years to set up in India.

The new group "is the fruit of a blessed effort of more than two years to gather the mujahedeen in the Indian subcontinent into a single entity," he said in a video seen online by the SITE monitoring group.

While the statement referred to the "Indian subcontinent," al-Qaida has long been active in Pakistan, and al-Zawahiri's comments were widely seen as directed at India, a largely Hindu nation with a large Muslim minority.