Monday, April 28, 2008




President John F.Kennedy of the US was assassinated on November 22,1963, at Dallas, Texas, as he was being taken in a tightly-protectedmotorcade. In view of the strict access control, which might not have allowed access to his car, Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin, took upposition in an unoccupied room on the sixth floor of the Texas Book Repository and fired at Kennedy. The incident highlighted the need forperimeter security, meaning the physical security of buildings in the vicinity of a VIP motorcade or a place of meeting of the VIP to preventanyone taking shelter in a building and opening fire.

2.On October 6, 1981, the then President Anwar Sadat of Egypt was assassinated during the annual 6th October parade in Cairo markingthe eightth anniversary of what the Egyptians view as their victory over Israel in the Yom Kippur war of 1973. As Sadat and his security staffwere engrossed watching a spectacular fly-past in the sky,Khalid Islambouli of the Islamic Jihad, who was a member of the militaryformations participating in the parade, ran towards Sadat and shot him dead. Eleven others were also killed by other terriorists, whoindiscriminately opened fire

3.The subsequent investigation brought out that a fatwa ordering the assassination had been issued by Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind clericwho is presently in jail in the US after having been convicted for his role in the New York World Centre explosion of Februatry 1993. Over300 members of the Islamic jihad were arrested and prosecuted by the Egyptian authorities. Prominent among them were Dy.Aymanal-Zawahiri, the present No.2 of Al Qaeda, who now operates from the tribal areas of Pakistan, Omar Abdel Rahman and Abd al-Hamid Kishk.Zawahiri and Omar were released by the Egyptian authorities in 1984. Both of them travelled, along with a brother of Islambouli, to Pakistanand offered their services to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the jihad against the Soviet troops. The ISI recruited them andsent them to Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden joined them subsequently. They were later to constitute the initial hard core of Al Qaeda.

4.Some of the perpetrators of the attack, which killed Sadat, were allegedly members of the Egyptian Army. The investigation brought outthat they participated in the parade carrying weapons loaded with live ammunition. The security precaution of a pre-parade inspection ofall weapons carried by those participating in a parade to ensure that no weapon was loaded with ammunition was introduced by securityagencies of the world thereafter.

5. The modus operandi (MO) used in the attempt to kill President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan during a national day parade at Kabul on April27,2008,partly resembles the MO used by Oswald for killing Kennedy and partly the MO used by the Islamic Jihad of Egypt for killing Sadat.The perpetrators decided to strike during the parade held to mark the 16th anniversary of the collapse of the Government of then PresidentNajibullah, which led to the occupation of Kabul by the Mujahideen. During such spectacular parades, the attention of the security stafftends to get diverted by the spectacle, thereby providing the would-be assassin with an opportunity to strike. However, since the accesscontrol in the parade ground was apparently tight, the perpetrators took up position in a room of a low-class hotel normally used by migrantlabour, which was located about 500 metres from the saluting base, and opened fire with machine guns and grenade launchers.

6. They opened fire at the moment when Mr.Karzai had returned to the base after inspecting the formations, which were to participate in theparade.His personal security guards managed to have him removed safely out of the parade ground without his being hurt. There was anexchange of fire between other security personnel posted in the parade ground and the perpetrators. The security personnel ultimatelymanaged to stop the firing from the building, raid it and make a number of arrests.

7.A self-styled spokesman of the Neo Taliban has claimed responsibility for the terrorist strike and said that a team of six personsparticipated in the operation of whom three died and the other three managed to escape. A tribal elder on the stage was directly hit andkilled by the terrorist fire. A member of parliament, who was injured, succumbed to his injuries later. A 10-year-old child, which wasreportedly hit by a bullet fired by the security personnel, also died.

8. While Afghan security sources have projected the incident as an attempt to kill Mr.Karzai, the Neo Taliban has projected it as anoperation to demonstrate its capability even in Kabul, despite all the security precautions taken by the Government. The incident hasrevealed serious deficiencies in route security and perimeter security. The deficiencies in route security enabled six terrorists heavilyarmed enter the city and reach the hotel without being detected and intercepted anywhere. The deficiencies in perimeter security enabledthe perpetrators to take up position in a room of the hotel without being detected and fire from there.

9. Apart from these physical security deficiencies, was there also a complicity by any members of the security forces? That is a question,which should be worrying the Afghan authorities. In Iraq, many successful terrorist strikes have been made possible by internalcomplicity.In Afghanistan, till now, there have been few instances of such complicity.

10. It has to be stressed that while the Neo Taliban's capability to carry out terrorist strikes in different parts of the country, including Kabul,has remained unimpaired, its capability for large-scale conventional actions involving stand-and-fight battles with large numbers of its mendeployed has not been much in evidence this year as compared to 2006-07. The death of Mulla Dadullah, a very competent conventionalcommander, in a clash in May,2007, seems to have impaired the NeoTaliban's capability for conventional fighting. It has not yet been able toproduce a commander with a similar capability. (29-4-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: )

Saturday, April 26, 2008




One police officer and three civilians were killed and 30 injured in a car bomb explosion between a police station and a hotel in Mardan inthe North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan on April 25,2008. The police station building collapsed due to the impact of theexplosion.

2.Mardan is the home town of the new NWFP Chief Minister, Mr.Amir Haider Hoti, who belongs to the secular (friendly to India) AwamiNational Party (ANP). The ANP, which is a regional Pashtun party, emerged as the largest single party in the elections to the provincialAssembly held on February 18,2008, and also did well in the elections to the National Assembly in Islamabad. It is a member of the rulingcoalition headed by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), which assumed office in Islamabad a monthago. Mr.Hoti is the nephew of Mr.Afsandyar Wali Khan, the President of the ANP. His selection by the party leadership for the post of ChiefMinister was criticised by some party circles, who viewed it as family favouritism, but this has not created any enemity to him.

3. The responsibility for the explosion is reported to have been claimed by a spokesman (Maulvi Umar) of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan(TTP). He projected it as in reprisal for the death of a commander of the Tehrik at the hands of the local police. The explosion came twodays after Baitullah Mehsud, the South Waziristan based Amir of the TTP, had circulated leaflets in the Mehsud area asking his followers tostrictly observe a ceasefire in view of the talks going on with some emissaries of the Government on a possible peace agreement.

4.The explosion also came some days after the NWFP Government, as a gesture to the TTP, had released Maulana Sufi Mohammad, thefounder-Amir of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) of the Malakand Division, who had been detained in 2002 when he and hisfollowers returned from Afghanistan after having sustained heavy casualties in an American air strike. They had rushed into Afghanistan tohelp the Taliban and Al Qaeda after the US had launched its Operation Enduring Freedom on October 7,2001. The TNSM was subsequentlybanned by President Pervez Musharraf.

5.During his detention since then, his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, also known as Maulana FM Radio because of his use of an FM radiostation for mobilising his followers, assumed control of the TNSM. Under his leadership, the TNSM joined the TTP and contributed volunteersfor the wave of suicide strikes in tribal and non-tribal areas after the commando action ordered by Musharraf from July 10 to 13,2007, tofree the Lal Masjid in Islamabad from the control of jihadi elements close to the Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Evenbefore the elections of February 18,2008, the previous Government had Sufi Mohammad transferred to a hospital from the Peshawar jailafter the TNSM followers of Fazlullah rose in revolt in the Swat Valley and took to arms against the Army in retaliation for the Lal Masjidcommando raid. The Army's efforts to use him to restore peace in the Valley failed. While the Army was able to free those areas of the SwatValley, which had come under the de facto control of Fazlullah and his followers, it was not able to neutralise him and his followers, whomanaged to escape into the mountains and have been operating from there. After his release by the new Government, Sufi Mohammad hascalled for an end to the attacks on the security forces. It remains to be seen what following he still commands from his former followers andto what extent his son-in-law is amenable to his influence. Moreover, Sufi Mohammad has been having many health problems. It is,therefore, doubtful whether his release would have any significant impact on the ground situation

6.The Mardan explosion also came after a month of lull in terrorist strikes in areas outside the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).The lull had given cause for hope that the wave of Pashtun anger in the tribal areas triggered off by the commando action of the SpecialServices Group (SSG) in the Lal Masjid might be showing signs of subsiding. The commando action allegedly resulted in the death of 200tribal students studying in the madrasas attached to the masjid. This anger set off a wave of Pashtun suicide terrorism not only in FATA andin the Swat Valley, but also in the non-tribal areas, including in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Lahore, Tarbella, Sargodha etc. Mrs.Benazir Bhuttopaid with her life at Rawalpindi on December 27,2007, because of Pashtun anger against her due to her support for the commando action.

7. During the last one month, there were no acts of suicide terrorism anywhere in Pakistani territory, but there were sporadic acts ofnon-suicide terrorism in the FATA. The indications of the dilution of the anger were attributed to the overtures made by the ruling coalitionin Islamabad to the tribal elders constituting the TTP, through the Pashtun constituents of the coalition such as the ANP and theJamiat-ul-Ulema Islam (JUI) Pakistan headed by Maulana Fazlur Rahman.

8. These overtures have been accompanied by hints that the new Government intends reviewing the counter-terrorism policies followed bythe Army under President Pervez Musharraf, when he was also holding charge as the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS). These policies, whichblindly aped the American model of over-militarisation of counter-terrorism, were viewed and continue to be viewed by many as having led toan Americanisation of Pakistan's counter-terrorism policies to serve the US objective of preventing another 9/11 in the US homelandmounted from the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, without regard to the impact on the internal security and stability of Pakistan.

9. While the coalition Government has welcomed the US offer of assistance for the economic development of the FATA, it has not reactedpositively to US suggestions that in addition to the economic development, a programme should be undertaken for special training to thePakistan Army and para-military forces such as the Frontier Corps in counter-terrorism in order to re-orient them to their counter-terrorismrole, which till now has received low priority in preference to their conventional role against India. While reacting positively to all proposalsfor upgrading the counter-terrorism equipment now available with the Pakistani security forces and intelligence agencies, the coalition isaverse to any major US role in training the Pakistani forces for operations against the jihadi terrorists.

10. The TTP is not a homogenous group. It consists of leaders of different tribes in the FATA and in the adjoining districts of the NWFP, eachhaving his own inflated ego and his own agenda. The common bonds uniting them are their pro-Taliban and pro-Al Qaeda feelings and theiranti-US and anti-Musharraf anger. The desire to avenge the Lal Masjid raid by the Army is no longer as strong a motivating factor as it wasbefore the elections, but the desire to help the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan, headed by its Amir Mullah Mohammad Omar, and Al Qaeda intheir jihad against the NATO forces in Afghanistan is still a strong motivating factor. While they rallied behind the leadership of Baitullah,who is a strong supporter of Serajuddin Haqqani of the Neo Taliban, in the wake of the Lal Masjid raid and contributed volunteers for suicidemissions, the ability of Baitullah to make all of them implement the terms of any peace agreement eventually signed by him with theGovernment is doubtful. The Mardan explosion is as much a message to the Government as it is to Baitullah not to take for granted theirsupport to any peace agreement between the Govt. and Baitullah.

11. While all the tribal elders are strong supporters of the Neo Taliban, their support for Al Qaeda varies. The tribal elders of NorthWaziristan, where the training infrastructure of Al Qaeda, the IMU and the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG) is reportedly located, and the BajaurAgency strongly support these organisations. The Mehud followers of Baitullah in South Waziristan strongly support the Neo Taliban, buttheir support for the Arabs in Al Qaeda is not that strong.

12. The various tribal elders, who identify themselves with the TTP and accept at least nominally the leadership of Baitullah, have their owndefinition of who are foreigners.None of them treats the Pashtuns of Afghanistan in the Neo Taliban as foreigners. For them, allPashtuns---irrespective of whether from Pakistan or Afghanistan--constitute one community and to talk of locals and foreigners in theircommunity is absurd. Even amongst the non-Pashtuns----mainly the Arabs, the Uzbeks, the Tajiks, the Uighurs and the Chechens--- they treatthose who came into the area in the 1980s to participate in the jihad against the Soviet troops as no longer foreigners. Many ofthem---particularly Uzbeks--- have married Pashtun women and are accepted as members of the Pashtun community.

13. For them, a foreigner is an Arab, or an Uzbek or an Uighur or a Chechen or a Tajik, who had not participated in the jihad against theSoviet troops and who came into the area after the start of Op Enduring Freedom to fight against the Americans. Their number is very small.The anti-US jihad in Afghanistan has not attracted a large number of foreigners as the jihad in Iraq has. Most of those fighting against theUS-led coalition forces in Afghanistan are Pashtuns from both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and the Arab and other foreignsurvivors of the pre-9/11 vintage. If they are all to be treated as de facto locals,any agreement between the Government and the TTP, whichsays the latter would not help foreigners and give shelter to them in their territory would be meaningless.

14. The ruling coalition in Islamabad is not a homogenous group either. It is a hotch-potch of political opportunists, each biding his time andwatching over his shoulders till they are able to assert their primacy. The PPP led by Mr.Asif Ali Zardari is amenable to accepting US ideasand suggestions regarding the fight against terrorism without outwardly seeming to be doing so. They are prepared not to rock the boat forMusharraf if the US prefers his continuance as the President. Mr.Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (known as PML-N),strongly distrusts the US because of its support to Musharraf and for him teaching a lesson to Musharraf, who had him overthrown, is moreimportant than teaching a lesson to Osama bin Laden, Mulla Omar and Baitullah. The ANP is truly secular and leftist-oriented, but tooidealistic to be able to make an enduring impact on the ground situation in the Pashtun belt at a time when large sections of the belt havebeen Talibanised. Maulana Fazlur Rahman is the father of all opportunists. Nobody can say with certainty on whose side he will betomorrow.

15. It is not surprising that a coalition of this nature has not yet been able to come out with a coherent strategy to deal with jihadi terrorism.For all of them, an immediate objective is to make the current lull in suicide terrorism in Pakistani territory endure by reaching an agreementwith Baitullah, hoping that he would be able to persuade other tribal leaders to fall in line and accept his agreement with the Government.Among the conditions reportedly being imposed by him are:
Release of all those arrested during the commando action in the Lal Masjid and the withdrawal of the cases registered against them under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Withdrawal of the Army to the barracks in the tribal areas, with the responsibility for internal security re-entrusted to the Police and the Frontier Corps.

Non-use of the Air Force and heavy artillery in the counter-terrorism operations.

A reversal of Musharraf's policy of handing over to the US without following the due process of law anybody characterised by the US as an Al Qaeda suspect. Publication of a complete list of those so handed over by Musharraf and their present whereabouts and legal status.

Review of all arrests made by the Police after 9/11 under the Anti-Terrorism Act in order to identify and release innocent persons.

A re-investigation of the Benazir Bhutto assassination case. Baitullah reportedly alleges that the Army had cooked up the investigation in order to have him implicated as the mastermind.

16. While his other demands may be acceptable to the ruling coalition as a whole, his demand relating to the Benazir case is tricky---- sinceboth the Pakistan Army and the US intelligence agencies seem to be in agreement that he played a leading role in her assassination. Toaccept his condition to re-investigate the Benazir case could invite criticism that for Mr.Zardari saving his own life and ensuring his rise topower are more important than bringing to justice those who had his wife killed. Already critics of Mr.Zardari in the PPP and the followers ofthe late Murtaza Ali Bhutto, the brother of Benazir, who was killed during a mysterious police firing in Karachi in September 1996, when shewas the Prime Minister and Mr.Zardari was literally running the police department and the Government as a whole, have been drawingattention to the significant fact that Mr.Zardari is no longer as vociferous as he was before the elections in demanding an UN-sponsoredinternational investigation into the assassination of his wife. He no longer talks of the need for a thorough investigatin into theassassination.

17. Any agreement reached by the ruling coalition with the Pakistani Taliban could prove to be as short-lived as the agreements reached byMusharraf with the very same elements in 2005 in South Waziristan and in 2006 in North Waziristan. While thus focussing on reaching apeace agreement at least with Baituulah and his followers in South Waziristan and with Fazlullah and his followers in the Swat Valley, thecoalition has been silent on its attitude towards the terrorist infrastructure of Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and pro-Al Qaeda organisations inthe Pakistani territory. It has been equally silent on the demands being voiced in jihadi circles for lifting the ban on anti-India jihadiorganisations and anti-Shia organisations imposed by Musharraf in January 2002 under US pressure and for unfreezing the bank accountsof identified financiers of Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban such as Al Rashid Trust.

18. Both India and the US have reasons to be equally concerned over the demands being made in Pakistan to reduce the pressure on theterrorist organisations and ultimately restore the status quo ante as it was before OP Enduring Freedom started. If the jihadis have theirway, India would be the first to feel the impact and the US thereafter. The developing situation requires close monitoring. (26-4-2008)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently Director, Institute for Topical Studies,Chennai. E-mail: )

Friday, April 25, 2008




For the second time in less than two years, an over-confident Sri Lankan Army (SLA) has walked into a deadly trap laid by the LiberationTigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Muhamalai area near Jaffna in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka on April 23 ,2008, and faced a rout. Itnot only lost over 150 soldiers, who were killed by the LTTE, but also enabled the LTTE to seize a large quantity of arms and ammunitionfrom the battle scene. The LTTE has not had such a bonanza of recovered arms and ammunition since the earlier SLA rout in the same areaon October 11,2006. My assessment of the earlier rout may be seen in my article titled "SRI LANKA: A HEAVY PRICE FOR OVER-CONFIDENCE"available at

2. After the rout of October 11,2006, the SLA, as is its wont, had played down the fatalities suffered by it and played up the fatalities which itclaimed to have inflicted on the LTTE. Only after the LTTE disseminated details of the fatalities inflicted by it on the SLA, did the latteradmit that 139 soldiers were killed by the LTTE. A few weeks later, Lt.Gen.Sarath Fonseka, the chief of the SLA, had gone to the US, interalia, for a medical check-up in connection with the injuries suffered by him in an unsuccessful attempt by the LTTE to kill him through awoman suicide bomber. Reliable sources reported at that time that during his interactions with American military officers in Washington DChe admitted that the SLA had suffered nearly 400 fatalities on October 11,2006. He allegedly blamed Mr. Gothbaya Rajapaksa, the brother ofPresident Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is the Defence Secretary, for hastily pushing the Army into a battle when it was not yet ready----that tooin a terrain which the LTTE knew better than the SLA.

3.After the battle of April 23,2008,the SLA claimed that it suffered 43 fatalities with 33 more soldiers missing in action, but thecorrespondent of the CNN TV channel and the Agence France Press (AFP) have reported that the fatalities suffered by the SLA were morethan 100. Reliable Sri Lankan Police sources estimate the SLA fatalities at about 150. The SLA has claimed to have killed over 100 LTTEsoldiers, but the LTTE has admitted only 16 fatalities. In an analysis of the casualty figures, the AFP has pointed out that in the beginning ofthis year, the SLA had given the total strength of the LTTE as about 3000, but the total number of fatalities which the SLA has claimed tohave inflicted on the LTTE since January 1,2008, is 3105, when one adds up all the figures given in the SLA's statements.

4. Since the beginning of this year, the SLA and the Defence Ministry have embarked on a campaign of disinformation regarding the groundsituation in the Northern Province. As part of this disinformation campaign, not a day has passed without their reporting some operation orthe other resulting in large fatalities inflicted on the LTTE. The purpose of this campaign was to buttress the morale of the soldiers of theSLA and the Sinhalese people, to give themselves in public perception an aura of legendary military prowess and weaken the morale of theLTTE and its Sri Lankan Tamil supporters. According to some critics of the Government, many of the so-called battles reported as part ofthis disinformation campaign allegedly existed only in the figment of the SLA's imagination.

5. Many tall claims were made as part of this disinformation campaign such as:pin-point intelligence has started flowing from humansources in the Northern Province; many precision air strikes had been made on the LTTE's political and operational nerve-centres with thehelp of such pin-point information; the LTTE's Navy had been practically wiped out; the LTTE's hold in the North was weakening and the SLAwould be able to rout it and re-establish its control over the North before the end of this year.

6. One of the basic principles of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism is that you don't indulge in disinformation in your own territoryand directed at your own people. It could prove counter-productive and dangerous by creating a sense of over-confidence in your owntroops and people. When the troops realise that they had been sent into battles on the basis of false information and assessments, thecredibility of the political and military leadership in the eyes of the people and the soldiers would suffer. The LTTE and its Sri Lankan Tamilsupporters know well the ground situation in their territory. They will not be deceived by such a disinformation campaign. It is the Sinhalesepublic and the soldiers, who will be deceived by it.

7.This is what happened in October,2006, and this is what has happened now. The LTTE did on April 23 ,2008, exactly what it did on October11,2006. After fighting for some time in the face of an SLA offensive, it pretended to withdraw and vacate a small part of the territory underits control. Thinking in their euphoria that they have defeated the LTTE and forced its retreat, the SLA soldiers rushed into the area vacatedby the LTTE and found themselves surrounded by it on all sides. It mowed down the soldiers before they could recover from their surprise.

8. The rout inflicted by the LTTE on the SLA would serve as a morale-booster for its leaders and cadres. It shows that its capability forconventional-style battles is intact and strong in the Northern Province, where the leadership remains united. It had weakened in theEastern Province following the desertion in March,2004, of Karuna, a capable officer of the LTTE, who looked after its conventional styleoperations. It was this weakening, which had enabled the SLA to wrest control of the Eastern Province with the help of the Eastern Tamildeserters from the LTTE's army.

9.Over-all, despite the success on April 23,2008, the LTTE's position is still weak for want of an air cover and due to depletion in its arms andammunition holdings. The battle of April 23 has replenished its holdings to some extent, but not adequately enough. The dilution of thesupport and sympathy of the international community has been another handicap. However, the motivation and the determination of itscadres are still strong. Any expectations of an easy walk-over in the North nursed by the SLA are likely to be belied unless its air strikessucceed in eliminating Prabakaran, the leader of the LTTE.

10. While continuing with their confrontations on the ground, the Sri Lankan Air Force is trying frantically to eliminate Prabakran through anair strike and the LTTE is trying frantically to destroy the SLAF aircraft on the ground. Neither has succeeded so far. Whoever succeedsfirst is likely to turn the tide of the war in his favour.(25-4-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: )

Wednesday, April 9, 2008



What one is seeing across the world since the outbreak of the disturbances in Lhasa on March,10,2008, is a no-holds-barred confrontation between a small group of Neo Red Guards (as yet unidentifiable) in China, who are increasingly dominating policy-making on Tibet, and a very active group of Tibetan youth---many of them citizens or residents of Western countries--- who are decreasingly amenable to the advice and guidance of the Dalai Lama.

2. The hold of the Neo Red Guards on policy-making on Tibet can be seen from the kind of absusive references to His Holiness reminiscent of the kind of language used by the Red Guards at the height of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the disproportionate reactions of the State in Lhasa and Beijing to the indigenous Tibetan protests in Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai as well as to the dogged demonstrations by Tibetan youth in London, Paris and San Francisco on the route of the Olympic Torch, the reversion back by the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing and its offices in Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas to Stalinist and Mao Zedong era practices of brainwashing in the name of "patriotic re-education" of Tibetan monks and youth in one more attempt to eradicate the influence of His Holiness on their mind----despite the miserable failure of the paast attempts to do so.

3. The increasing disregard of the Dalai Lama and his advice by some sections of Western-resident Tibetan youth is evident from their going ahead with their attempts to disrupt the movement of the Olympic Torch and to sabotage the forthcoming Beijing Olympics despite the repeated statements of His Holiness against any act of disruption. For many months, His Holiness has made it clear that he was not opposed to the holding of the Olympics in Beijing. At the same time, he welcomed the opportunity provided by the Olympics to remind the international community of the continuing violation of the human rights of the Tibetans by the Chinese authorities. What he was having in mind was a non-violent movement similar to the movement launched by a group of activists headed by Mia Farrow against the Chinese assistance to the Government of the Sudan and by a group of Myanmar activists against the Chinese assistance to Myanmar's military junta. They have been following a policy of non-confrontational agitation in the form of protests in the media, peaceful demonstrations and processions, moral pressure on the Western corporate houses co-sponsoring the Olympics to withdraw their co-sponsorship if the Chinese do not change their policies and political pressure on their Governments either to boycott the Olympics or to downgrade its imporrtance by not participating in the opening ceremony. At the same time, they have not indulged in any acts of disruption similar to those indulged in by some Tibetan activists and their Western supporters.

4.The Neo Red Guards do not seem to realise that their shockingly abusive rhetoric and actions have only created greater sympathy for the Tibetan cause all over the world, with calls from many leaders for the resumption of the dialogue between His Holiness and the Chinese leadership. Even Mr.Kevin Rudd, the new Australian Prime Minister, who is not a compulsive critic of China, has openly expressed his disquiet over the Chinese policies during a visit to China and called upon Beijing to resume the dialogue.

5. The Chinese leadership has to realise that after what has been happening since March 10,2008, it can no longer push the Tibetan issue under the carpet.It has to come to terms with the ground reality that it has not been able to win the confidence of the Tibetan people despite the undoubted economic miracle in Tibet and that it can never hope to regain the confidence of the Tibetan people unless its policies are in tune with the wishes and aspirations of His Holiness and the Tibetan people.

6. It would be unrealistic to expect the Chinese leadership to agree to a resumption of the dialogue before trhe Olympics are over. They would see it as a loss of face for them and as likely to increase further agitations by the radicalised sections the Tibetan youth.But if the leadership in Beinjing is wise, it would realise quickly the harm that is being done to China's image by the rhetoric and actions of the Neo Red Guards and de-escalate the situation by reversing the present abusive campaign against His Holiness and by stopping the "patriotic re-education" classes.

7. Fortunately, President Hu Jintao has till now maintained a total silence on Tibet, thereby evidently keeping his options open. Despite his past controversial record in Tibet where he was posted for some years, he has a reputation that unlike his predecessor Mr.Jiang Zemin, he shuns unnecessary confrontations and has an open mind on important policy issues. It is said that he genuinely wants the distrust of China in some international circles to be diluted. Knowlegeable Chinese experts, who hold this view, cite as an example how he has de-escalated the Jiang era tensions over Taiwan with the US. It is time for him to assert himself and start a de-escalation process over Tibet too.

8.Since 2003, there have been indications that a group of foreign citizens ---mainly from the West---- of Tibetan origin have been radicalising the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) and egging it on to disregard the advice of His Holiness in favour of non-violence and moderation and to adopt an increasingly confrontational line. In September last year, this group assumed a dominating influence in the TYC and has been behind the confrontation witnessed recently in Tibet, London, Paris and San Francisco.

9. The disruptive activities of this group are already showing signs of creating a backlash among other groups agitating over issues such as the Chinese policies on the Sudan and Myanmar. The backlash is partly due to jealousy over the greater public attention to the Tibetan activists and partly due to exasperation over the agitational style of the radical sections of the Tibetan youth.

10. One has to pay a tribute to the TYC for the determined manner in which it has succeeded in rousing the conscience of the international community on Tibet. At the same time, one has to caution it that some of its methods as seen in London, Paris and San Francisco could prove counter-productive.

11. It is doubtful whether the international community would have come out as vocally as it has on the Tibet issue but for the respect and attention commanded by the Dalai Lama. He is the best asset that the Tibetan cause has today. That asset should not be weakened by the Tibetan youth by disregarding his words of caution and going on a path of their own.

12. It is important to keep up the momentum of the Tibet movement alive. At the same time, it is equally important to discard methods which could damage the movement. (10-4-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Dedicated to all victims of terrorism--- whether civilians or members of the security forces and agencies, whether Indians or foreigners.


Terrorism is a continuously evolving threat. From a uni-dimensional threat involving attacks with hand-held weapons, it has evolved into a multi-dimensional threat involving the use of hand-held weapons, improvised explosive devices, suicide bombers, landmines, mobile phones as triggers, aircraft hijackings, cyber attacks through the Internet etc. Terrorism of today is different from terrorism of yesterday. Terrorism of tomorrow is likely to be different from terrorism of today.

Terrorists no longer come from under-privileged and economically and socially handicapped families. Many of them have come from affluent and socially well-placed families. They are no longer ill-educated who are manipulated by their leaders. Many of them are highly-educated----doctors, engineers, IT experts etc. They are irrational in their objective of mass casualty attacks, but very precise in planning and executing those attacks. They are technology savvy, but not technology slavish. Their modus operandi keeps changing.

One of the important lessons of 9/11 was the need to anticipate and prepare oneself to prevent other similar unconventional scenarios of a catastrophic potential and, if prevention fails, to have in place a capability for coping with the resulting situation. Amongst such likely scenarios of catastrophic potential increasingly receiving attention since 9/11 are those relating to maritime terrorism, terrorist threats to energy security, terrorism involving the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) material and terrorist threats to critical information infrastructure.

Since the attempt to blow up the New York World Trade Centre in February,1993, one has been talking of old and new terrorism. The old terrorists----who had taken to terrorism for ethnic or ideological reasons or even on religious grounds--- had a Laxman Rekha, a dividing line, which they tried not to cross. They were concerned over the impact of their actions on public opinion.

Since 1993, the world is confronted with a new brand of terrorists----also called the jihadi terrorists--- for whom there is no Laxman Rekha. They believe in mass casualty or catastrophic terrorism. They want not only to kill human beings, but also destroy economic, technological and other capabilities. They talk of their religious right and obligation to acquire weapons of mass destruction and use them, if necessary, to protect their religion and safeguard its interests.

It is important to be aware of their mind-set, thinking, planning and capabilities to have their plans executed. To be aware is to be prepared. How to create an awareness of them and drive home to the people and the policy-makers the importance of dealing with them in an effective manner, without unwittingly contributing to a demonisation of the community from which they have arisen? That is the question facing all of us today.

The purpose of this book is to create such an awareness by focusing on some of the important dimensions of the evolving threat. For this exercise, I have drawn upon some of my past writings on the subject and presentations made before international conferences and appropriately edited and updated them. Some new material has also been included.

I have tried to make each Chapter self-contained so that the readers do not have to keep moving backward and forward in order to refresh their memories. For this purpose, the repetition of some of the points in different Chapters has become necessary.

I am grateful to Capt.Bharat Verma of the Lancer Publishers for coming forward to publish this book too. This is my fourth book being published by them---- the earlier three being “Intelligence---Past,Present & Future”, “A Terrorist State As A Frontline Ally” and “The Kaoboys of R&AW--- Down Memory Lane”. The first two were published in 2001 and the third in 2007. I always feel happy to have my books published by them because of their thorough professionalism, seriousness of purpose and their abiding interest in matters concerning national security. For them, publishing is not just a profession. It is a duty to the nation and its people.

I also think of Shakti Bhatt, a budding publisher, who died after a brief illness on April 1,2007, at the age of 26. She was the daughter of Sheela Bhatt, the Executive Editor of, New Delhi, and Kanti Bhatt, the Gujarati writer. She was the wife of Jeet Thayil, the poet. It was Shakti, a fascinating girl full of ideas, who persuaded me to revive my interest in writing books on national security matters, instead of keeping my writing confined to periodic articles.


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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Talk at ICT,Herzeliya, Israel, in September,2005

May like to see

for my address to the international terrorism conference at the International Institute For Counter-Terrorism at Herzeliya, Israel, in September,2005. B.Raman