Wednesday, August 27, 2008



1.I would not say that the IT industry is at a higher risk than a year ago. The risk is the same---general and not specific. The blasts in three towns of Uttar Pradesh on November 23,2007, were directed against the criminal justice system ---the police, the lawyers and the courts--- which was seen as unfair to the Muslims. The blasts of July 26 in Ahmedabad and the failed blasts in Surat the next day were in retaliation against the perceived failure of the police to protect the Muslims during the anti-Muslim riots of 2002 in Gujarat and against the arrests of some leaders of the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) at Indore in Madhya Pradesh in March last. The motive for the blasts in Jaipur on May 13,2008, and in Bangalore on July 25,2008, is not yet clear. The presumption is that the Jaipur blasts targeted its tourist economy, but they did not attack foreign tourists or spots frequented by foreign tourists as the Jemaah Islamiyah did in Bali in October 2002 and October 2005. The blasts in Bangalore seem to have been in retaliation against an incident in which some Hindu extremist elements allegedly threw the head of a killed pig outside a mosque. Many arrests have been made in connection with the blasts in Ahmedabad and Jaipur and the investigation is making headway. Whether those arrested constitute only the tip of the terrorist iceberg or they constitute the entire iceberg remains to be seen. If there are no more serial blasts for some time, that would mean the entire iceberg has been accounted for. On the contrary, if there are more blasts, that would be an indicator that those arrested constitute only the tip. My own assessment is that the terrorists would, if they want to damage the economy, create incidents in cities having a large investment flow in order to create nervousness in businessmen---Indian and foreign--- or attack businesses owned by Indians or the Government. A useful precaution in places like Bangalore, Madras etc would be to prepare a list of restaurants, shopping areas etc where it would be relatively safe for the staff of foreign companies to go.

2.I would not categorise from the point of view of cities where the IT industry would be at great risk. I would rather categorise on the basis of cities at risk if the terrorists take to economic terrorism. I would categorise Bangalore (large foreign investment flows), Hyderabad (large investment flows), Goa (large tourist---particularly Israeli--- flows ) , Jaipur (large tourist----Western-- flows) and Chennai ( large investment flows) in that order as high risk. I would categorise Mumbai (better policed) and Pune (Investment flows) as medium risk. The rest of the investment/tourist hubs would be low risks for the present.

3. I have not seen any specific evidence to show that they may target specific industries---IT or others. Their targets are cities having IT or tourist hubs. Their aim would be to create nervousness .

The police and the intelligence agencies are aware of the risks and possibilities and are taking the required precautions.

Monday, August 25, 2008




(To be read in continuation of my aricle of August 2,2008, titled DIFFICULT TO DECIPHER INDIAN MUJAHIDEEN'S MESSAGES at and article of August 21,2008, titled SIMI Copy-Cats Dhiren Barot & London Bombers? at )

One more E-mail message purporting to be from the so-called Indian Mujahideen (IM) was reported to have been received on the evening of August 23,2008, by a TV news channel. It is suspected to have been sent from a computer in Mumbai's Khalsa College. Police have initiated investigation to identify the originator. As in the case of the earlier message before the Ahmedabad blasts of July 26,2008, the suspicion in the present case too is focussed on one Abdul Subhan Quereshi, projected by police officers of Gujarat as an information-technology literate activist of the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), who operates from Mumbai. He has also been projected as an expert in the assembly of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). He is still absconding and has evaded capture by the police of either Gujarat or Mumbai.

2. To prove its authenticity, the message carries the photographs of some IEDs under the caption "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and of two cars which were used for the blasts in Ahmedabad. This modus operandi is similar to the use of a picture of bicycles with IEDs attached to them in the E-mail received by a news channel after the Jaipur blasts of May 13,2008.In the E-mails sent by the IM before the blasts in three cities of Uttar Pradesh on November 23,2007 , and before the Ahmedabad blasts, the IM apparently did not feel the need of authenticity proof since the blasts themselves, which occurred after the receipt of the E-Mails, served as proof of authenticity. In the E-mails sent after the Jaipur and Ahmedabad blasts, pictures were attached as proof of authenticity.

3. The messages sent before the UP blasts and after the Jaipur blast were purported to have been sent by by one Guru al-Hind, which was suspected to be a reference to Mohad Afsal Guru, who has been sentenced to death for his role in the terrorist strike against the Indian Parliament in December,2001. His mercy petition is still under examination by the Government of India.

4. The message sent before the Ahmedabad blasts was purported to have been sent by the same Guru-al-Hind. By the side of his signature at the bottom of the message, the word Al-Arbi was written in capital letters. Al-Arbi means "The Arab". It also stands for Wednesday. It was taken to mean that the message must have been signed by Guru al-Hind on the Wednesday preceding the blasts. In the latest message, the reference to Guru al-Hind is not there ----neither in the E-mail identity nor at the bottom of the message. Instead, the message is signed as Al-Arbi in capital letters. The e-mail identity of the originator has also been changed as al-arbi-al-Hind. In this context, al-Arbi could mean only "The Arab" and not Wednesday. Thus, the e-mail identity used means "The Arab of India" Why so since the IM claims to be an organisation totally of Indian Muslims with no external links? Why the originator projects himself as "The Arab"? Is it a reference to one of the two Indian Muslims operating from Saudi Arabia for many years? One of them referred to by Pakistani jihadis as Abu Abdel Aziz was linked to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LEt). He had played what the jihadis considered as a legendary role in organising jihad in Bosnia and was also closely involved in assisting the jihadis in J&K. There was no evidence in the past to believe that Abu Abdel Aziz was connected with the SIMI. The other Indian Muslim in Saudi Arabia is C.A.M.Basheer of Kerala, who was the President of the SIMI in the 1980s. He was co-ordinating the activities of the SIMI in India and the Gulf from Saudi Arabia.

5.The latest message, like the previous one, has many religious quotations and allusions. It is quite abusive. The language used is typical Indian English----not Pakistani or Arab. It uses abuses like "bastards" that one picks up more in a secular educational institution than in a madrasa. It shows a propensity for the use of the verb "await" as in previous messages. It tries refute the allegations of the Gujarat police that the SIMI activists arrested by them were the perpetrators of the Ahmedabad blasts. It denies that the SIMI has metamorphosed into the IM as alleged by the Gujarat Police.It seeks to convey the impression that the real perpetrators have not been captured. Interestingly, it also tries to implicate Ken Haywood, an American missionary worker who was working in Mumbai and whose computer was suspected by the Police to have been used by the Indian Mujahideen without his knowledge, as a conscious collaborator. It thanks him and an associate of his for their co-operation and guidance in making the attack in Ahmedabad a success. Haywood has since run away from India when police investigation against him was in progress. Did he allow the IM to use his computer without knowing their background as a terrorist organisation?

6. The message warns of fidayeen attacks in the future. Some senior SIMI leaders arrested by the Madhya Pradesh Police in Indore in March last were reported to have stated that they had experimented with peroxide-based liquid explosives during a training camp held in Kerala last year. Peroxide-based explosives are increasingly the favourite choice of pro-Al Qaeda jihadi organisations and elements abroad, including in Pakistan and Afghanistan. A peroxide-based explosive was used by the suicide bombers in their terrorist strikes in London in July,2005. Is the IM planning to use peroxide-based explosives for suicide attacks in future?

7. The SIMI leaders arrested by the MP Police had also reportedly claimed during their interrogation that they had considered the options of hijacking an aircraft or taking of hostages before deciding on serial blasts. The IM may still resort to this modus operandi to get those arrested by the Gujarat Police released.

8. The latest message, like the previous one, repeats the strong attack on the Times of India. The reasons for the IM's anger against the TOI are not clear. Could it be more personal than religious? Did any Muslim serving in the TOI in the past leave the service in bitterness--- particularly from its Ahmedabad office? Has it been less critical or more supportive of Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat? (25-8-08)

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

Friday, August 22, 2008




(To be read in continuation of my paper of 14-8-08 titled "Taliban Fights Fiercely to Protect Zawahiri", which is available at )
At least 64 persons, most of them civilian workers in a cluster of arms production factories located in the heavily-protected cantonment area of Wah, about 30 kms from Islamabad, were reported to have been killed on the afternoon of August 21,2008, when two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside different gates of the factories during shift change. The ease with which they penetrated into this high security area would indicate either that they had accomplices in the security staff or that they were workers of one of the factories, who had no difficulty in entering the complex. If suicide bombers could penetrate into such a high-security area with so much ease, it should be equally easy for other terrorists to penetrate one day into Pakistan's nuclear establishments. The expression high security has ceased to have any meaning in Pakistan's sensitive establishments because of the penetration by the jihadi elements.

2. This is the third suicide attack in the non-tribal areas since the elected coalition Government headed by Yousef Raza Gilani came to office on March 18,2008. The previous two targeted the Danish Embassy in Islamabad (June 2,2008) in protest against the publication by some Danish newspapers of caricatures of the Holy Prophet and policemen, who were returning to their police stations after performing duty at the Lal Masjid in which a meeting was held (July 6,2008) in memory of those killed during the Commando raid in July last year.

3. The blasts in Wah came in the wake of the threat issued by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to resume terrorist attacks in the non-tribal areas if the Government did not stop the on-going military operations in the Bajaur Agency, where many leaders and cadres of Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban have reportedly taken shelter.Since the threat was issued by the TTP, the Pakistan Army has not been much active on the ground in the Bajaur Agency either by itself or through the para-military Frontier Corps. However, helicopter gunships of the Army and the planes of the Air Force have stepped up their air strikes in response to the US pressure to neutralise the terrorist infrastructure in the area, which was making the NATO forces in Afghanistan bleed.

4.Making a statement in the NWFP provincial Assembly on August 21, Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti said that thousands of foreign militants were present in the Bajaur Agency and claimed that they would have captured the area if the military operation had been delayed for a couple of days.According to him, in the past, the two traditional pillars of power in the tribal belt were the political administration and the Malik (tribal chief) system. He said that a third pillar, inducted into the area during the 1980s, had emerged stronger than the traditional pillars. He added that some called this third pillar the Mujahideen, some others called it the Taliban and yet some others termed it Al Qaeda. It was this third pillar which was now dominating the tribal belt. According to him, there cannot be peace in the NWFP without peace in the FATA and there cannot be peace in the FATA without peace in Afghanistan. The ground situation in Afghanistan, the FATA and the NWFP was closely inter-connected. He said that before launching the military operation in the Bajaur Agency,the Government had sent a delegation for talks with the local tribals, but there were thousands of Arabs, Uzbeks and Chechens in the area, who are unaware of the Pashtun traditions and customs and came in the way of peace.

5. In retaliation for the air strikes, the TTP blew up an Air Force bus on the Kohat Road in the NWFP on August 12 killing 13 persons, including seven administrative personnel of the PAF, and followed this up on August 19 with an explosion outside the District headquarters hospital of Dera Ismail Kahan in the NWFP, in which 32 persons, many of them Shia outdoor patients, were killed. The TTP claimed responsibility for both these attacks and projected them as in retaliation for the continuing air strikes in the Bajaur Agency.

6. While the targeting of the PAF bus is explained by the anger of the TTP over the air strikes, its targeting of Shia outdoor patients is attributed by well-informed police sources to its strong suspicion that the Shias of the NWFP and the Kurram Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have been collaborating with the Pakistan Army in its operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Over 100 persons--- more Shias than Sunnis--- have been killed in continuing Shia-Sunni clashes in the Kurram Agency for the last 10 days.

7. While the attacks of August 12 and 19 were in the tribal areas, the attacks in Wah on August 21 were in a non-tribal area. The TTP has already admitted responsibility for the suicide attacks in Wah and warned of similar attacks on military installations in other cities, including Lahore, Karachi,Islamabad and Rawalpindi if the Government does not stop the air strikes in the Bajaur Agency and withdraw the Army from the Agency and the Swat Valley of the NWFP.The Government has to take these threats seriously in view of the repeatedly demonstrated capability of the TTP to strike at military targets in non-tribal areas since the commando action in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad from July 10 to 13,2007.

8. The anger of the TTP, the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda against the Pakistan Army has not subsided as a result of the resignation of Pervez Musharraf from the post of President on August 18,2008. They hold Musharraf as well as the Army responsible for the commando action in the Lal Masjid and for the military operations in the tribal belt, which they view as undertaken to protect Western lives and in support of the NATO operations in Afghanistan. They are demanding not only the stoppage of all air strikes in the tribal belt and the withdrawal of the Army from there, but also the stoppage of any co-operation with the US and other NATO forces against the Afghan Taliban. It is only a question of time before the anti-Musharraf and anti-Army anger for their co-operation with the US broadens to include anti-Asif Zardari anger for the continuing co-operation with the US. The terrorists view Zardari as no different from Musharraf and as much an apostate as Musharraf. They are convinced that the air strikes and ground operations in the Bajaur Agency have been agreed to by Zardari and Gilani as a quid pro quo for the role of the US and the UK in persuading Musharraf to quit as the President.

9. The FATA is emerging as Pakistan's Falluja. After the US occupatiion of Iraq, Falluja became the launching pad of terrorist strikes in the rest of Iraq---- whether by Al Qaeda or by ex-Baathist resistance fighters. Only after the US ruthlessly pacified Falluja and destroyed the terrorist launching pads there, did it start making progress in its counter-insurgency operations in the rest of the Sunni areas of Iraq. The NATO forces will continue to bleed in Afghanistan and the jihadi virus will continue to spread in Pakistan unless and until the FATA is similarly pacified through ruthless application of force. The Pakistan Army has not demonstrated either the will or the capability to do so.A more active role by the NATO forces under US leadership is necessary----either covertly or openly. A strategy for a Falluja-style pacification of the FATA is called for----with the co-operation of the Pakistan Army if possible and without it, if necessary.

10. The USSR was defeated by the Afghan Mujahideen in the 1980s because of the reluctance of the Soviet troops to attack their sanctuaries in the FATA and the NWFP. India has been unable to prevail over cross-border jihadi terrorism because of the reluctance of its leadership to attack their sanctuaries in Pakistani territory. The US is unlikely to prevail over the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan unless it is prepared to destroy their infrastructure in the FATA. Deniable Predator air strikes by the US intelligence agencies on suspected terrorist hide-outs in the FATA have been increasing and some of them have been effective in neutralising well-known Al Qaeda operatives. But air strikes alone will not be able to turn the tide against the jihadis. Effective hit and withdraw raids into the FATA in the form of hot pursuit should be the next step. The longer it is delayed the more will be the bleeding. (22-8-08)

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2008




Use what you can procure easily without attracting suspicion. Avoid fancy things that will attract attention to you.

2. That is the instruction imparted by Al Qaeda and other Pakistan-based terrorist organisations to their trainees. Even before Al Qaeda started imparting this instruction, Palestinian terrorists had been following this on their own.

3.Till the early 1980s, Palestinian and ideological terrorist groups had a fascination for sophisticated explosives such as the RDX and other military-grade explosives and SEMTEX, an explosive made by a factory in the then Communist Czechoslovakia, which had a very weak vapour density, thereby making it difficult for dogs to detect its presence.

4. The action taken by the security agencies of the world to make it difficult for the terrorists to get them made the terrorists turn to nitrogenous fertilisers, which were easy to procure without creating suspicion. The first major instance of the use of fertilisers was the unsuccessful attempt made by Ramzi Yousef of Pakistan and some of his associates to blow up the New York World Centre in February,1993.They drove into the garage of the Trade Centre a truck loaded with about 1,500 pounds of urea nitrate and hydrogen-gas cylinders and tried to cause an explosion. The explosion was not very successful. It killed six persons and caused some damage. The investigation revealed that Ramzi and his associates had learnt this modus operandi in Pakistan.

5. In 1994, an unidentified group of Palestinians had planned to blow up the Israeli diplomatic mission in Bangkok by using a truck filled with nitrogenous fertilisers. The truck broke down near a traffic signal. They abandoned it there and ran away.

6.In 1995, Timothy J. McVeigh, an American national not belonging to any terrorist organisation, blew up the Federal office building in Oklahoma City with a truck bomb carrying a mix of 5,000 pounds of fuel oil and fertilizer, killing 168 people.

7.Following this,the security agencies in many countries started closely monitoring the purchase of nitrogenous fertilisers in large quantities by persons who are not known to be farmers. Some countries also laid down that a permit issued by the police would be required for the purchase of large quantities of fertilisers. All sellers of fertilisers were advised to look out for suspicious transactions and immediately alert the police.

8.In 2003, a suspected sleeper cell of Al Qaeda in the UK reportedly purchased 1200 pounds of fertilisers from a shop. The seller did not alert the police. However, the owner of a warehouse where the cell had kept the fertiliser got suspicious and alerted the police, who arrested the members of the cell. Since then, fertiliser manufacturers in the Western countries have reduced the percentage of ammonium nitrate, which is used for bomb-making, in the fertilisers manufactured by them. In May,2006, the Canadian police arrested a group of Pakistanis and others, who were planning to cause an explosion by using nitrogenous fertilisers. (Please see )

9. Since then, instances of the use of nitrogenous fertilisers by terrorist groups have come down in the Western countries, but have increased in India. In many of the explosions caused by jihadi terrorists in different parts of India since 2004, the explosive material consisted of a mix of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. It was this mix, which was reportedly used in the explosions in the suburban trains in Mumbai in July,2006, and in the subsequent serial blasts in UP, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad.

10. After the police and security agencies in the West started monitoring the sale and purchase of nitrogenous fertilisers, Al Qaeda and other jihadi organisations in Pakistan started advising the trainees in their camps to use incendiary devices instead of explosive devices.These incendiary devices consisted of gas cylinders and other inflammable material such as gasoline. On August 3,2004, the British Police arrested Dhiren Barot also known as Bilal al-Hindi on a charge of helping Al Qaeda. He has since been convicted by a British court and jailed for 30 years.He is a Gujarati Hindu migrant from East Africa, who had embraced Islam.Lecture notes recovered from his possession reportedly said inter alia: " Make use of that which is available at your disposal and bend it to suit your needs" He claimed to have learnt this in a training camp in Pakistan. He advocated the use of incendiary devices, instead of explosive devices. Such incendiary devices were used in the terrorist attack on the Samjota Express near Delhi on February 18, 2007. A car with gas cylinders was also sought to be used by Kafeel Ahmed also known as Khalid Ahmed , an Indian Muslim from Karnataka, when he along with an Arab accomplice tried to blow up the Glasgow airport in the UK on June 30,2007. The attempt failed, but he died of burns.

11. For causing explosions, terrorists have now been increasingly using peroxide-based liquids which could be converted into an explosive material. Many articles of common use such as certain items of cosmetics and cleaning solutions have a peroxide component. It is easy to procure them in any super-market or drug store without causing suspicion. It is difficult to detect them. They could be easily carried into aircraft and other modes of transport. They are light and easy to carry on a person. They are cheap and affordable for terrorists who do not have much funds at their disposal. Whereas an ammonium nitrate-fuel oil IED may cost around US $ 60 or more, a peroxide-based one could cost around US $ 25 only or even less.

12. The peroxide-based improvised explosive devices (IED) used by the four suicide bombers ---three of them of Pakistani origin trained in a terrorist training camp in Pakistan's tribal belt--- for their attack on the London transportation system on July 7,2005, attracted much attention and comment, but that was not the first time it was used. Palestinian terrorists were the first to have used a peroxide-based IED in Israel in 1980. It was used for the first time outside Israel in London by Palestinian terrorists in 1994 in an attempted attack on the local Israeli Embassy. In 1995, Ramzi Yousef, then living secretly in Manila after his involvement in the explosion in the New York World Trade Centre in February ,1993, had planned to use it for blowing up a number of flights originating from South-East Asia. An accidental fire in his appartment, where he had kept some liquid, alerted the Manila Police, and he ran away to Pakistan, where he was subsequently arrested and handed over to the US. Peroxide-based explosives were reported to have been used by Al Qaeda in some of its post-9/11 terrorist strikes in Bali, Casablanca and Istanbul.

13. While the use of the peroxide-based IED by the suicide bombers on July 7,2005, was devastatingly successful, a similar use attempted by another group in London on July 21,2005, was not successful. The bombers of July 7,2005, had prepared the peroxide-based explosive in the bath-tub of a flat used by them. Some quantity had remained unused after the successful strikes of July 7. This quantity was sought to be used by the bombers of July 21, but the IEDs failed because the explosive material had disintegrated. The use of peroxide-based liquids for fabricating an explosive material has two draw-backs. First,they can accidentally cause an explosion or a fire while the explosive material is being prepared from the peroxide-based liquid, thereby killing the bomber or alerting the police. Second, they quickly disintegrate if not used immediately after fabrication. Whereas ammonium nitrate -based explosives can be kept stored for days and even months without any disintegration, one cannot similarly store peroxide-based explosive material.

14. In August 2006, the London Police discovered a plot by a group of terrorists, many of them Pakistanis, to blow up a number of US-bound planes by taking liquids capable of being converted into explosives into the aircraft and fabricating the explosive inside the aircraft. The Pakistani authorities arrested Rashid Rauf, a British resident of Pakistani (Mirpuri) origin, on suspicion and found in his possession some bottles of hydrogen peroxide liquid. He claimed that he had bought them in a drug store for use as an injury disinfectant. Investigation revealed that he was related by marriage to Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). His interrogation also allegedly gave the tip-off regarding the London plot. He managed to escape from custody while being tried before a Pakistani Anti-Terrorism court. He is absconding.

15. Peroxide-based liquid explosives lend themselves to easy use for acts of suicide terrorism. Peroxide-based explosives were reported to have been used in many of the suicide attacks in Pakistan last year after the commando action in the Lal Masjid.

16. In its issue of August 19,2008, Paul John of the "Times of India" based in Ahmedabad, has reported as follows: "The Students Islamic Movement of India has been experimenting with a new concotion using hydrogen peroxide to make liquid bombs. Prototypes of liquid bombs were first experimented in Vagamon hill resort in Kerala where a SIMI camp was held in December,2007, to impart terror training to its cadres. The camp was organised by Kerala SIMI Secretary P.A.Shivli. Experiments with hydrogen peroxide were revealed in the statement of SIMI General Secretary Safdar Nagori during interrogation after his arrest by the Indore Police on March 26 this year."

17. The SIMI terrorists arrested by the Gujarat Police had planted over 10 IEDs with ammonium nitrate and mechanical timers in Ahmedabad which exploded on July 26 causing death and destruction. They had also planted 25 IEDs with integrated circuits in Surat all of which failed to explode. A question was raised whether a 100 per cent failure of 25 IEDs was possible. The Gujarat Police have not given any reasons for this failure so far. While they have revealed that the Ahmedabad IEDs had ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, they have not said what was the explosive material in the Surat IEDs. If the terrorists had experimented with a peroxide-based explosive in Surat, a 100 per cent failure is possible due to the disintegration of the explosive material if it had been fabricated much in advance and kept in storage. That is what happened in London on July 21,2005. (21-8-08)

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


(An article written for the forthcoming issue of ‘India Abroad” of the US)


" O Allah, Pervez, his ministers, his 'Ulama and his soldiers have been hostile to your friends in Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially in Waziristan, Swat, Bajaur and Lal Masjid: O Allah, break their backs, split them up and destroy their unity; O Allah, afflict them with the loss of their dear ones as they have afflicted us with the loss of our dear ones; O Allah, we seek refuge in You from their evilness and we place You at their throats; O Allah, make their plotting their destruction; O Allah, suffice for us against them with whatever You wish; O Allah, destroy them, for they cannot escape You; O Allah, count them, kill them, and leave not even one of them."

Extract from Osama bin Laden’s fatwa of September 20,2007 against Musharraf & the Pakistani Army. My analysis of the fatwa is available at

Gen. (retd) Pervez Musharraf played a double-game in the war against terrorism. He pretended to condemn terrorism and religious extremism. In his televised address to his people on January 12,2002, he described terrorism as an absolute evil, whatever be the cause, but, in practice, he made a distinction between terrorism directed against India and Afghanistan and terrorism directed against the US.

2. He was more active against Al Qaeda, which threatened the US, than against the Pakistan-based terrorist organizations, which threatened India, and against the Taliban, which threatened Afghanistan. He helped the US through limited operations against Al Qaeda infrastructure in Pakistani territory, but refrained from even such limited operations against the jihadi infrastructure directed against India and Afghanistan.

3. He knew how to manipulate political opinion in the US in his favour. Periodic high-profile arrests of Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistani territory, whose presence was detected by the US intelligence, thereby leaving him with no choice but to act, was one of his ways of impressing US political opinion. Among such arrests were those of Abu Zubaidah in Faislabad in Punjab,Ramzi Binalshibh in Karachi, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in Rawalpindi and Abu Faraj al-Libi in Mardan in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

4. Another way was periodically sending the Army and the para-military forces into the tribal areas for operations against Al Qaeda and its allies such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) etc, but these operations were half-hearted and subject to periodic ceasefires whenever the security forces were unable to counter the terrorists effectively.

5. The third way was reiterating often to Western interlocutors his determination to reform the madrasas and free them from the control of the jihadis, but not acting on his promises. He managed to project himself to Western policy-makers as a courageous and determined fighter against jihadi terrorism, not through action on the ground, but through impressive words on the TV. It took the US some time to realise that he was “bravely” countering terrorism not on the ground, but on the TV screen through words and phrases which were not followed up by action.

6. He did little to help the US in its hunt for bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, his No.2. According to the US, they were operating from the Pakistani tribal belt, but he avoided acting against them due to fear of violent repercussions in Pakistani territory. Criticism of his double-talk and half-hearted action should not obscure the fact that he did try to help the US in its war against terrorism through a number of other ways such as the following:

Post-9/11, for some months, he placed two bases of the Pakistani Air Force in Balochistan at the disposal of the US for mounting search and rescue operations in Afghan territory.

He placed the Karachi port at the disposal of the US navy for bringing logistic supplies for the NATO forces deployed in Afghanistan and allowed their transportation by road to Afghanistan through Pakistani territory.

He allowed Pakistani naval ships to join the NATO’s naval task force patrolling the seas in the Gulf to prevent sea-borne operations of Al Qaeda.

He directed his intelligence agencies to pick up informally Pakistani nationals and Pakistani visitors from the US suspected by the US to be Al Qaeda sympathizers and secretly hand them over to the US agencies for interrogation at detention centres in places such as the Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Diego Garcia, Bagram in Afghanistan and Morocco. The due process of law was not followed in these cases such as informing their relatives, producing them before courts etc. According to allegations in Pakistan, about 200 such Pakistanis were rounded up and illegally handed over to the US. The whereabouts of many of them are not known till today. It was the action of dismissed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry in initiating enquiries into these cases which initially annoyed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Musharraf against him. It led to the conflict between Musharraf and Chaudhury.

He secretly allowed a large increase in the US intelligence personnel based in Pakistani territory. It was said that during Musharraf’s tenure more US intelligence operatives were operating from Pakistani territory than during the US-sponsored proxy war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He even allowed them to run secret operations for recruiting Pakistani and Afghan nationals as human sources.

He secretly released a number of notorious heroin smugglers, who were in jail in Pakistan, so that the US intelligence could use them in its hunt for bin Laden and Zawahiri.

While openly opposing trans-border operations by the Afghanistan-based US troops and unmanned US Predator aircraft in the Pakistani tribal belt, he closed his eyes to air strikes by the Predator aircraft on suspected hide-outs of Al Qaeda and its allies in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). While some of these air strikes killed genuine terrorists, some others killed innocent civilians, including young children studying in madrasas due to wrong information.

He informally detained Sultan Bashiruddin Mohammad Chaudhury and Abdul Majid, two retired nuclear scientists, whom the US suspected of having contacts with Al Qaeda and allowed the US intelligence to interrogate them in Pakistani territory.

He gave the US a role in monitoring the security of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal in order to prevent nuclear material from falling into the hands of Al Qaeda or other terrorists.

7. Since the US forces went into action against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghan territory on October 11,2001, there was considerable anger against Musharraf among the people----particularly the Pashtun tribals--- for co-operating with the US. This anger was aggravated by the deaths of a number of tribal children during the Predator air strikes in the tribal areas and by the commando raid ordered by him into the Lal Masjid in Islamabad from July 10 to 13,2007. A large number of Pashtun girls from the FATA studying in a madrasa attached to the Masjid were allegedly killed during the raid. Anti-US and anti-Musharraf anger reinforced each other leading to a wave of suicide terrorism, mainly by the tribals, since July last year in the tribal and non-tribal areas and the spread of the virus of Talibanisation across the tribal belt.

8. Of all the leaders of Pakistan, only Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto were articulate in expressing their concern over the threat posed to Pakistan by the increasing extremism and terrorism and in showing an inclination to co-operate with the US in some form or the other. When Musharraf ordered the commando action in the Lal Masjid, Benazir refrained from criticizing him. Before her assassination on December 27,2007, she had even stated that, if elected, she might permit the US troops to enter Pakistani territory to arrest or kill bin Laden if the US had precise information about his location. It is her statements, which were viewed by the jihadis as anti-Islam, which led to her assassination at Rawalpindi.

9. There is a serious threat to the life of Musharraf, which would continue despite his resignation as the President. When in office, he escaped three attempts by Al Qaeda to kill him---one in Karachi and two in Rawalpindi. It will make redoubled efforts now to eliminate him. If it succeeds, it could make other leaders of Pakistan even more reluctant to co-operate with the US.

10. There is not yet much convergence of views between Zardari and Nawaz over the co-operation with the US in the war against terrorism. Nawaz wants major modifications, if not a complete break, with the policies followed by Musharraf. He does not regard the Taliban as a terrorist organisation. He looks upon it as a national resistance movement like the Afghan Mujahideen of the 1980s. He is, therefore, against any association of Pakistan with the NATO operations in Afghanistan. He wants the use of the Karachi port and Pakistani territory by the NATO forces for the transport of logistic supplies to Afghanistan to be re-considered. He favours continued co-operation with the US against Al Qaeda in the form of intelligence sharing and Pakistani operations in the Pakistani territory on the basis of intelligence given by the US. He is against any joint operations with the US or any unilateral operations by the US in Pakistani territory. He wants a review of the reported presence of a large number of US intelligence personnel in Pakistani territory for collecting intelligence. He is of the view that intelligence collection in Pakistani territory should be done by the Pakistani intelligence agencies. As regards action against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and other Pakistani jihadi organisations in the tribal belt, he holds the view that the nature of these operations should be decided by Pakistan in accordance with its national interests and that there should be no dictation by the US on this issue. Like Musharraf, he does not accept US allegations that Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are based in Pakistani territory. He is totally against the practice of Pakistani agencies informally picking up suspects named by the US and handing them over to the US agencies without following the due process of law. Zardari favours the continuance of the mechanism for co-operation laid down by Musharraf. However, he agrees with Nawaz that the practice of informally picking up suspects named by the US and handing them over to the US should stop. Ultimately, the advice of Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the COAS, as to the co-operation mechanism with the US, which would suit Pakistan's national interests ,will have considerable impact on the changes, if any, to be introduced in the policies inherited from Musharraf.

11. The US and the international community will have more reasons to be concerned if Nawaz Sharif comes to office as the Prime Minister. His attitude to terrorism has always been ambivalent. During his first tenure as the Prime Minister (1990 to 93), he appointed Lt.Gen. (retd) Javed Nasir, a member of the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), as the Director-General of the ISI. He had to remove him under pressure from the Clinton Administration in 1993. During his second tenure (1996 to 99), he had Mohammad Rafique Tarar, another member of the TJ, elected as the President of Pakistan. Nawaz’s father was also closely associated with the TJ. The TJ of Pakistan has had a long history of association with the jihadi organizations, while projecting itself outwardly as a purely missionary organization to help Muslims become better Muslims. bin Laden shifted from Khartoum in the Sudan to Afghanistan during the last weeks of Benazir’s second tenure in 1996, but he flourished during Nawaz’s second tenure. Nawaz repeatedly evaded US pressure to allow its special forces to mount an operation from Pakistani territory into Kandahar to kill or capture bin Laden. If he had permitted the US and if the US had succeeded, there might have been no 9/11. His ambivalence has not changed.

12. The security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal would be of even greater concern now than it was under Musharraf. It is doubtful whether Nawaz would allow the US the kind of role in ensuring its security that Musharraf had allowed.

13. Apart from the war against Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, a matter of equal concern will be the capability of the post-Musharraf dispensation to prevail over the Pakistani Taliban known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The TTP headed by Baitullah Mehsud has strengthened its hold in the FATA and in the Swat Valley of the NWFP and has been spreading its activities to other parts of the NWFP. If it manages to acquire control of the NWFP, it is only a matter of time before it spreads its influence to the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, thereby aggravating India’s problems in Jammu & Kashmir.

14. The lack of a consistent policy towards the TTP displayed by the Pakistan People’s Party led Government since it came to office on March 18 last does not bode well for the future. While the post-Musharraf dispensation could be expected to extend at least some co-operation to the US---- though not on the same scale as under Musharraf--- it will follow Musharraf’s policy of not acting against the anti-India and anti-Afghanistan terrorist infrastructure. India cannot expect any relief from the problem of the ISI-sponsored cross-border terrorism.

15. It is important for India to revive its covert action capability against Pakistan-based terrorism, which was wound up in 1997 under the so-called Gujral Doctrine of unilateral gestures to our neighbours. Even if we do not use this capability now, it should be available for use, if the situation warrants it. Knowledge that India has such a capability at its disposal and may use it, if left with no other option, may itself act as a deterrent.

16. Pakistan is not yet another Afghanistan, but it could become one if the Government there and its security forces are unable to prevail over the jihadi hordes operating from the tribal belt. The medium and long-term implications of such a development for India need to be clearly analysed, anticipated and pre-empted. We continue to pay a price for our failure to do so in respect of the success of the Afghan Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the 1990s.

17. The new vintage of jihadi elements coming to the forefront across India such as the so-called Indian Mujahideen are already projecting their jihad as part of the global jihad being waged by the Muslims of the Ummah and not as a localized jihad for purely local reasons. If they join hands with Al Qaeda and other global jihadi terrorists, our internal security problems will be magnified. It is important to identify deficiencies in our preventive capabilities and remove them quickly.

18. If we continue to close our eyes to the developing situation in India and around us and remain in a denial mode, fondly hoping that this cannot happen to us, it is only a question of time before we find that India has become another web of jihadi terrorism. It can happen to us too as it happened in Afghanistan and has been happening in Pakistan. (20-8-08)

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

Sunday, August 17, 2008




The Gujarat Police announced on August 16,2008, the identification and arrests of 10 activists of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in connection with the serial blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26.2008. Nine of the arrests were made in Ahmedabad and Vadodara in Gujarat and the tenth arrest of their leader Mufti Abu Bashir was made with the co-operation of the Uttar Pradesh police in Azamgarh in UP. According to details given by a team of senior Gujarat police officers at a special press conference, the arrested persons formed the hard core of a larger group of SIMI activists, who had planned and carried out the blasts in Ahmedabad, under the name of Indian Mujahideen. They also said that while they have definitively established the involvement of these persons and their associates not yet arrested in the blasts in Gujarat, they have some indications that some of these persons might have also been involved in the serial blasts of May in Jaipur and in the blasts of November,2007, in UP. Further investigation is in progress. All the persons arrested so far and the suspects not yet arrested are Indian Muslims. All the arrested persons are in their 20s.A collation of available details is given below:

(a).Abdul Rashid also known as Mufti Abu Bashir Ilahi, aged 26. Believed by the Police to be the mastermind of the serial blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26, 2008, and the planned, but failed blasts in Surat the next day.Studied Arabic in the Deoband seminary in Uttar Pradesh. Comes from a lower middle class family of Azamgarh (village Beenapara) in Uttar Pradesh. Father, a paralytic, is unemployed. Mother a housewife. Family dependent on his earnings as a teacher of the Arabic language in a madrasa in Hyderabad called the Jamait Ul Sheikh Al Maududi located at Pahadisharif in Hyderabad. The madrasa had been started by another native of Azamgarh called Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi. Abu Bashir has four brothers and one sister. Two of his brothers are working in Delhi and Mumbai. The remaining two brothers and sister are studying in a madrasa in Azamgarh. Abu Bashir worked for two years in the Hyderabad madrasa till January 2007. According to the Hyderabad police, he left the madrasa for Azamgarh in January 2007. According to his father, he returned to his village only about a month ago saying the madrasa was closed for vacation. For nearly 18 months, he was neither in the madrasa nor in his village. Some of this period between March 2008 and July 2008, he had spent in Ahmedabad. According to the Gujarat Police, he was present in Ahmedabad on the day of the blasts.It is not yet known where he was from January, 2007, to March 2008, when he allegedly took over as the head of the SIMI network after the March 2008 arrest of Safdar Nagori, the General Secretary of the SIMI, and his brother Karimuddin by the Police of Indore in Madhya Pradesh.Bashir came into contact with the SIMI when he was teaching in the madrasa in Hyderabad and became its active member. Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi is an activist and known sympathiser of the SIMI. His son Mohtasin Billa was also in the SIMI.While examining the cell phone records of Ahmedabad city in the past few months before the blasts, the Crime Branch of the Gujarat Police identified five numbers which were receiving only incoming calls made from public call offices located mostly at a place called Juhapura in Ahmedabad.Investigation indicated that during his stay in Ahmedabad Abu Bashir had purchased five SIM cards in the names of local residents. Zahid Sheikh was making the calls to Abu Bashir at these numbers. These numbers went silent after the blasts. Abu Bashir and Abdul Subban Quereshi were staying in a rented house at a place called Vatva in Ahmedabad. This house had been hired with the assistance of Zahid Shaikh and Sajid Mansuri.

(b).Imran Ibrahim Sheikh, aged 23. Did a course in human rights and journalism in the MS University of Vadodara. Arrested in Vadodara. Attended training camps in Kerala and Pavagadh near Vadodara under an assumed name. The Police zeroed in on him after a scrutiny of his mobile phone records. During his interrogation, he denied any role in the blasts and mentioned the name of Zahid Sheikh. Imran Sheikh and Sajid Mansuri had visited Jaipur on May 13,2008, when the serial blasts there had taken place. The improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used in Ahmedabad and Surat were assembled at three different places---in the house at Vatva in Ahmedabad in which Abu Bashir was staying, in Imran Sheikh's house in Vadodara and in another house in Kalpur in Ahmedabad. It is not known who was staying in the Kalpur house.

(c).Zahid Sheikh, a resident of Juhapura in Ahmedabad.The interrogation of Imran Sheikh led to him.He allegedly confessed that he had planted bombs on cycles in Ahemdabad. He named at least three people who were involved in the purchase of the bicycles and delivery of the IEDs.Zahid Sheikh was under surveillance by the Ahmedabad police even before the blasts. He had also attended the training camps in Kerala and Gujarat under an assumed name. He had provided local logistics support for a team of nine -- five from Madhya Pradesh, two from Maharashtra and two from Karnataka -- which had come to Ahmedabad. The team held meetings in the Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad in April, another one in a different city in May and the final one on July 20 at Zahid's residence. Zahid's confession led to the arrest of Yunus Mansuri, Shanshuddin Sheikh, Arif Kadri, Gyasuddin from Ahmedabad and Imran, Usman Agarbattiwala, Iqbal Sheikh and Sajid Mansuri from Vadodara.

(d)Usman Agarbattiwala, aged 24. A B.Com graduate from MS University of Vadodara. Attended training camps in Kerala and Pavagadh near Vadodara under an assumed name. His laptop was allegedly used for programming the timer chips for the IEDs planted in Surat, which failed to explode.

(e).Sajid Mansuri, a former zonal secretary of the SIMI in Gujarat. Sajid Mansuri, who was absconding since 2001, was arrested from Bharuch after the blasts.

(f).Abdul Subban Qureshi. An explosive expert who holds a diploma in electronic engineering.He allegedly procured ammonium nitrate and timers for the Ahmedabad operation and had them stored in a safe house in Bharuch, He had attended the meetings of the SIMI to plan the serial blasts. The arrested suspects have claimed that it was Abdul Subban Qureshi who drafted the three e-mails claiming responsibility for the blasts of November,2007, in UP, May in Jaipur and July in Ahmedabad on behalf of “Indian Mujahideen”. He forwarded the drafts to Mufti Bashir. Qureshi is absconding.

(g).Adnan also known as Hafiz Mullah.A young computer engineer and a prominent SIMI organiser for South India. He was arrested along with some other SIMI leaders in Indore in March 2008. He had named Abu Bashir as responsible for SIMI activities in Gujarat.

(h).Kamaruddin Nagori, brother of Safdar Nagori, was in charge of organising training camps. He was assisted by Adnan, Shibly Peedical Abdul and his brother Shaduli.The first camp was in Karnataka between April and September, 2007, the second in Kerala in October-November,2007, the third in Madhya Pradesh in December, 2007, and the fourth in Gujarat in January 2008. The plans for the series of blasts in different cities were drawn up during the training camp in the jungles of Waghamon near Alua in Kerala where 40 recruits from different States were put through a commando course. This camp was addressed by both Safdar Nagori and his brother. This camp was followed by the blasts in three cities of UP in November,2007. The plan for the blasts in Gujarat was drawn up at the Gujarat training camp held in Pavagadh in the Vadodara area. Many of those arrested by the Gujarat Police after the blasts had attended this camp. After the arrest of the Nagori brothers and Adnan by the Indore Police, Abu Bashir, assisted by Abdul Subban Quereshi and one Kayamuddin of Vadodara, took over the responsibility for organising the reprisal attacks planned in Gujarat. Initially, they though of either a plane hijacking or a kidnapping to demand the release of those arrested in Indore. They gave up these ideas and decided on the blasts.

Others arrested by the Gujarat Police--- Yunus Mansuri, Shamsuddin Sheikh, Arif Kadri, Gyasuddin, and Iqbal Sheikh . Their particulars are not available. (17-8-08)

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

Friday, August 15, 2008




The phenomenon of Jundullahs (Soldiers of Allah), which refers to angry young Muslims not belonging to any organisation taking to acts of reprisal terrorism, has spread from Pakistan to the Muslim majority Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China. Jundullahs were believed responsible for most of the acts of suicide terrorism in Pakistan last year.

2.Unlike the Jundullahs of Pakistan, those of Xinjiang have not so far resorted to suicide terrorism.Their attacks have been against selected hard targets such as border police guards, offices of the Public Security Department and other government offices. They have carefully avoided causing fatalities among innocent civilians. Their targets have been mainly Han Chinese working for the Government in Xinjiang. They have avoided killing even Han civilians. Their modus operandi involved use of local materials of an unsophisticated nature such as tins filled with gasoline and home-made hand-grenades. They travelled to the scene of the attack in cars---- some of them stolen taxis driven by fellow-Jundullahs. When they did not have any explosive material or guns at their disposal, they have used knives to cause fatalities. In one incident, they used a heavy truck to run over 16 jogging police guards in Kashgar.

3. The Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan (IMET), a Pakistan (North Waziristan) based Uighur organisation, which the Chinese authorities used to blame in the past for such incidents, draws its volunteers mainly from the members of the Uighur diaspora in Pakistan, the Central Asian Republics (CARs) and Turkey. Subsequently, the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) or Group, also based in North Waziristan, was suspected by them. This was evident from a number of queries received by me from readers in China of the article about the IJU written by me on September 6,2007, titled "Global Jihad: Uzbeks To The Fore" (Annexed). This article has had a large number of readers in China.

4. After the latest three incidents---- one before the inauguration of the Beijing Olympics and two after---- the Chinese authorities seem to be confused. The perpetrators of these three incidents---- including four women, one of them a 15-year-old girl---- were local residents of the areas where their attacks took place. There is so far no evidence that they had ever travelled outside Xinjiang and underwent training in any camp of either the IMET or the IJU. The Chinese authorities are for the present not connecting these three incidents to either of these organisations.

5. From the evidence available so far, these three incidents seem to have been in reprisal for the public execution of two Uighurs in Kashgar on July 9 on a charge of participating in the activities of the IMET. These two executions and the subsequent forcible closure of about 40 allegedly illegal mosques have caused a wave of anger among the local residents, who have been taking to acts of reprisal. Some foreign-based Uighur organisations, with suspected links to the IMET, have claimed credit for these incidents in their web sites or statements, but their claims have not so far been corroborated.

6. The three recent incidents which have mystified the authorities are:

AUGUST 4,2008:Fourteen border police guards were killed on the spot and two others succumbed to injuries later when a 28-year-old taxi driver later identified by the name Kurbanjan Hemit, a resident of Kashgar, drove a stolen truck into a group of 70 police guards jogging on the road in the morning. Initially, the Chinese authorities had claimed that they were killed by home-made explosives and knives, but subsequent reports indicated that they were crushed to death under a truck. The driver had an accomplice, who was also a native of Kashgar. He was identified as Abdurrahman Azat, a 33-year-old vegetable vendor. He had placed himself with a mobile telephone outside the border police post. He reportedly informed the driver as soon as the police guards came out and started jogging on the road. As the truck ran over them, the vegetable vendor threw a home-made bomb at the police post and killed some of the injured with a knife used for cutting vegetables. Both the attackers were arrested and are under interrogation.

AUGUST 10: Between 3 and 4 AM, 15 Uighurs in different taxis drove round the town of Kuqa (pronounced Kucha), located midway on the railway line between Kashgar and Urumqi, the capital of the province, and threw home-made hand-grenades and tins filled with gasoline at the local office of the Public Security Department, other government offices, hotels and shops owned by Hans. Since there were not many people on the road at such an early hour in the morning, there were only two fatalities, a police officer and a civilian. The police, who were initially taken by surprise, subsequently managed to corner the attackers and shot dead eight of them. Two blew themselves up with hand-grenades in order to escape capture. Two, including a 15-year-old Uighur girl (Hailiqiemu Abulizi), who was badly injured by a hand-grenade, were captured. Three managed to escape.The Germany-based East Turkestan Information Center (ETIC) said that “East Turkestan freedom and independence fighters attacked a Party building … a people’s government building, a tax office, bazaar management, and brothel on Aug. 10.” It added that the attackers, seven men and four women, were “martyred.”

AUGUST 12:At the town of Yamanya, about 30 Kms from Kashgar, an unspecified number of persons jumped out of a vehicle at a road check-point and stabbed to death three security guards, who were stopping and checking vehicles. A fourth guard was badly injured. It is not known what happened to the attackers.

7. Since the August 4 incident, the local authorities have been raiding all mosques in Xinjiang and rounding up suspects. On August 5, they issued instructions banning the use of words like "jihad", "pan-Islamism", "pan-turkism" etc and any reference to Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and any pro-Al Qaeda organisation.They also drew the attention of the local Uighurs to the already-existing bans on unauthorised prayer congregations and ostentatious construction of mosques. They also reminded the clerics that all religious sermons should be based on the Communist Party's interpretation of the Holy Koran and warned Uighur Government servants that they would be held responsible if any act of violence took place in their areas or originated from mosques frequented by them. They are also making a background check of all Uighurs studying in driving schools. (15-8-08)

(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: )


Global Jihad: Uzbeks To The Fore - International Terrorism Monitor---Paper No. 273 ( 6-9-07)

By B. Raman

After the Arabs and the Pakistanis, the Uzbeks have come to the forefront of Al Qaeda-inspired global jihad.

2. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan ( IMU) led by Tahir Yuldeshev now co-ordinates the training of volunteers from different jihadi terrorist organisations of Pakistan as well as from other countries of the world. Till last year, its training infrastructure was located in South Waziristan, but after clashes with some sections of the local tribals, it has shifted its infrastructure to North Waziristan. It enjoys the support of the Mehsud sub-tribe of the Pashtuns led by Baitullah Mehsud and of the former students of the two madrasas run by the Lal Masjid of Islamabad. Reliable police and tribal sources in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan say that many, if not most, of the acts of suicide terrorism and attacks on the Pakistani Armed Forces since the Pakistan Army's commando action in the Lal Masjid between July 10 and 13, 2007, including the killing of three Chinese nationals in Peshawar, were carried out by angry tribals motivated and trained by the IMU. The IMU consists of Uzbeks recruited from Uzbekistan as well as Afghanistan and has a small number of Chechens, Uighurs and Tajiks in its ranks. Till now, the IMU's acts of terrorism have been confined to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. It has not come to notice for any jihadi activities in other countries.

3. A second Uzbek group operating from North Waziristan, which calls itself the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) or the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG), came into being in Pakistani territory post 9/11 as a result of a split in the IMU following the US military strikes in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It describes Osama bin Laden, Mulla Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Neo Taliban, and Maulana Samiul Haq, the Amir of a faction of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam Pakistan, as its mentors. It focusses on training volunteers from the Western countries as well as from Uzbekistan.

4. It came to notice for the first time in April 2004 when it claimed responsibility for a series of suicide bombings around Tashkent and Bukharo in Uzbekistan which killed 47 people. The attacks targeted local government offices, as well as a crowded market. On July 30, 2004, it carried out simultaneous bombing attacks on the US Embassy, the Israeli Embassy, and the office of the Uzbek Prosecutor General, killing at least two people and wounding many others.

5. A statement purported to have been disseminated by it said: “A group of young Muslims executed martyrdom operations that put fear in the apostate government and its infidel allies, the Americans and Jews. The mujahidin belonging to Islamic Jihad Group attacked both the American and Israeli embassies as well as the court building where the trials of a large number of the brothers from the Group had begun. These martyrdom operations that the group is executing will not stop, God willing. It is for the purpose of repelling the injustice of the apostate government and supporting the jihad of our Muslim brothers in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, the Hijaz, and in other Muslim countries ruled by infidels and apostates.”

6. On May 26, 2005, the US State Department issued the following statement: "The Department of State on May 25 announced the designation of the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. This designation blocks all property, and interests in property, of the organization that are in the United States, or come within the United States, or the control of U. S. persons. The Secretary of State took this action in consultation with the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Department of Homeland Security. The Islamic Jihad Group, active in Central Asia, broke away from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization that is listed by the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee. On July 30, 2004, the Islamic Jihad Group conducted coordinated bombing attacks in Tashkent against the U.S. and Israeli Embassies, and the office of the Uzbek Prosecutor General, killing at least two people and wounding nine. The Islamic Jihad Group claimed responsibility for these attacks and indicated that future attacks are planned. The Islamic Jihad Group continues to target Americans and U.S. facilities overseas and is a dangerous threat to U.S. interests. After an explosion at a safehouse in Bukharo, Uzbekistan, IJG suicide bombers attacked a popular bazaar and other locations in Tashkent in March and April 2004, resulting in the deaths of more than a dozen police officers and innocent bystanders and dozens of injuries. The attackers in the March and April 2004 attacks, some of whom were female suicide bombers, targeted the local government offices of the Uzbekistani and Bukharo police, killing approximately 47 people, including 33 terrorists. These attacks marked the first use of female suicide bombers in Central Asia. Those arrested in connection with the attacks in Bukharo have testified to the close ties between the IJG leaders and Usama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. Kazakhstani authorities have declared that IJG members were taught by al-Qaida instructors to handle explosives and to organize intelligence work and subversive activities. Kazakhstan has arrested several IJG members and put them on trial."

7. In October, 2005, the British Government declared it as a terrorist organisation despite strong opposition from human rights groups, which alleged that the Uzbek Government was projecting political dissidents opposed to it as pro-Al Qaeda terrorists.

8.The IJG, which was formed in 2002 to oppose the co-operation extended by the Government of Islam Karimov to the US in its operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, projects the US and Israel as the main enemies of Islam and all Muslim countries co-operating with the US as apostates, which need to be opposed. The stated political objective of the IMU is to rid the Central Asian Republics (CAR) and the Xinjiang region of China of the lingering influence of Communism and make them part of an Islamic Caliphate. The IJG, which also has the over-all objective of a global Islamic Caliphate, projects itself as a global jihadi organisation and not a basically Uzbek organisation. It says that since Islam does not recognise nationalities or ethnicities, any Muslim can become its member irrespective of where he or she lives. Since it describes the US and Israel as its principal enemies, it welcomes volunteers from countries where the US and Israel have a large presence.

9. In an interview on May 31, 2007, Ebu Yahya Muhammed Fatih, who describes himself as the Commander of the Islamic Jihad Union, stated as follows:
"After the fall of the Afganistan Islamic Administration,we who shared the same opinions came together and decided to organize groups which will conduct jihad operations against the infidel constitution of cruel Karimov in Uzbekistan. The sole aim of all the emigrant-mujahedeen brothers was to find war-like solutions against the infidel constitution of cruel Karimov. For this aim our Union was established in 2002.

"Our Union's aim is, under the flag of justice and Islam Dominancy, to save our Müslim brothers who have been suffering from the cruelty of pre-Soviet period and Uzbekistan, and to take them out of the swamp of cruelty an infidelity, as well as to help other Müslim brothers all around the world as per God and his Prophet's orders.

"Members of our Union are not members of a specific tribe or a nation. As there is no nationalism and tribalism in Islam, our Union is formed of the believers from all over the world and multi-national emigrants travelling to praise the religion.

"Today we proceed according to our targeted goals with all our means. Muslim youth in the republics of former Soviet Union who found the path of Allah and are ready to fight for their religion have been trained in various fields in the training facilities of the Union. One of the armed forces of the Union is active in Afghanistan. Besides, we have been in contact and also been working on our common targets together with Caucasian mujahedeens. We have also been working together on plans and aims against the infidel regime of Uzbekistan which is one of our major targets."

10. In April, 2007, the US Embassy in Berlin announced that it was strengthening security at US facilities in Germany in response to what it described as an increased threat of terrorism. Mr. August Hanning, a former head of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency known as the Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND), who is now Deputy Interior Minister, said in an interview that 14 German Islamists had gone to Pakistan for training. He also said that in recent months the Pakistani authorities had detained at least seven German Islamists “who could have been involved in planning attacks”.

11. On September 5, 2007, German Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms announced the arrest of three persons and the recovery from them of 700 kilos of chemicals capable of being converted into explosives. German media reports said that they were planning attacks against a US military base in Ramstein and the Frankfurt airport. Two of the arrested persons have been described as white converts to Islam, both German nationals, and the third as of Turkish origin. The Federal Prosecutor named the three persons aged 22,28 and 29 as belonging to the German cell of the Islamic Jihad Union. It has been reported that seven more members of the cell are still at large.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008




The current week-long fighting in the Bajaur Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, in which the Bajaur wing of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claims to have inflicted heavy fatalities on the personnel of the Frontier Corps (FC), a para-military unit, and repulsed its attempts to capture the Loyesam area of the Agency, which has been under the control of the TTP, was the outcome of a drive launched by the FC, reportedly under pressure from the US, to clear the area of Al Qaeda and Taliban elements, which had established sanctuaries there.

2. The US intelligence agencies had long suspected that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No. 2 of Al Qaeda, was living in this Agency under the protection of the local tribals led by Maulana Faqir Mohammad, who is no. 2 to Baitullah Mehsud, the Amir of the TTP. Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the Libyan, who was projected as the No.3 in Al Qaeda and who was arrested by the Pakistani authorities in the Mardan area of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) in May, 2005, and handed over to the US, was reported to have been given shelter before his arrest by the Mamond tribe in the Mamond sub-division of the Bajaur Agency .

3. Abu Faraj reportedly stated during his interrogation that Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri were taking shelter in the Bajaur agency. On the basis of his claim during the interrogation, the Pakistani Army, at the request of the US, had undertaken a cordon and search operation in the Mamond sub-division after Abu Faraj's arrest. It arrested one or two Uzbecks and some Afghans in the area, but it claimed that it did not find any Arabs belonging to Al Qaeda.

4. While Pakistani military and intelligence officers discounted Abu Faraj's statement that the members of the Mamond tribe had given shelter to bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, US intelligence and military officers, operating from the adjoining Kunar area of Afghanistan, took Abu Faraj seriously. It was largely on the basis of what he stated during his interrogation, corroborated by other reports from tribal sources, that senior US intelligence and military officers had been saying since July, 2005, that they knew where bin Laden and al-Zawahiri were, but were unable to smoke them out.

5. After the arrest of Abu Faraj, the hunt for the two Al Qaeda leaders was stepped up by the US forces in Afghanistan, narrowing their area of focus to the areas inhabited by the Mamond tribe. Apart from strengthening their electronic intelligence capability in the adjoining Afghan territory and seeking the assistance of heroin smugglers in the area, many of whom come from this tribe, they also mounted special operations inside Pakistan to find out how al-Zawahiri's audio and video messages were being recorded and transmitted to Al Jazeera and other TV channels. This task was facilitated by the increasing frequency with which al-Zawahiri was sending messages.

6. On the basis of information that al-Zawahiri and his body-guards were going to spend the night of January 12, 2006, in the Mamond village of Damadola in the house of a local smuggler of gems and precious stones, US aircraft, believed to be Predators of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), made two strikes with missiles at 3 AM and 3-30 AM on the morning of January 13, 2006, at a cluster of houses belonging to this smuggler in which his family members were staying.

7. Eighteen persons were killed, of whom 14 were identified as members of the smuggler's family. The smuggler himself was reportedly away in Saudi Arabia for Haj. The identities of the remaining four were not established. The local villagers insisted that they too were local residents and not foreigners, but were not able to give their identities.

8. In a video message disseminted on January 30,2006, al-Zawahiri informed his followers that the US air strikes of January 13, 2006, on some houses in Damadola , which were directed against him, could not get him. In a virulent personal attack on President Pervez Musharraf, al-Zawahiri said: "The American planes raided in compliance with Musharraf the traitor and his security apparatus, the slave of the Crusaders and the Jews. In seeking to kill my humble self and four of my brothers, the whole world has discovered the extent of America's lies and failures and the extent of its savagery in fighting Islam and Muslims." He warned Musharraf against cooperation with the Americans, threatening, "Your day of judgement is approaching".

9. In an earlier message disseminated on September 28, 2003, al-Zawahiri had said: : "It is Musharraf who enabled America to topple the (Taliban's) Islamic emirate in Afghanistan. Had it not been for his tremendous help, America would not have been able to do this, nor would it have been able to kill thousands of innocents in Afghanistan. It is Musharraf who is seeking to send Pakistani forces to Iraq so that they, rather than American soldiers, are killed and so that they kill Muslims in Iraq and enable America to control Muslim lands. Muslims in Pakistan must unite and co-operate to topple this traitor and install a sincere leadership that would defend Islam and Muslims. The President would hand you over to the Hindus and flee to enjoy his secret bank accounts if India attacked Pakistan." An earlier video-recorded message of Zawahiri telecast by Al Jazeera on September 10, 2003, had denounced Musharraf as a traitor.

10.There was an air strike on a madrasa at Chenagai in the Bajaur Agency on October 30, 2006, in which 80 students studying in the madrasa were killed. There was considerable controversy regarding the origin of the air strike and the background of the students killed. The local villagers claimed that the attack was made by an American Predator aircraft, which flew into the area from Afghanistan. A US TV channel quoted unidentified Pakistani intelligence officials as saying that the attack was carried out by an American Predator aircraft because the Americans had information that al-Zawahiri was in the madrasa at that time. However, the Pakistani authorities denied the presence of any high-level Al Qaeda personality in the madrasa when it was attacked. They claimed that it was they who carried out the attack because they had received reliable intelligence that the madrasa was training suicide bombers for operations in Afghanistan. The attack on the madrasa led to a wave of anger and demonstrations all over the FATA. Nearly 15,000 persons demonstrated repeatedly for a week in the Bajaur Agency.

11.Forty-five Pakistani army recruits undergoing training at a Punjab Regimental Centre training school at Dargai, 100 kms north of Peshawar in the NWFP, were killed and many others were injured early on the morning of November 8, 2006, when a suspected suicide bomber ran towards them and blew himself up. The investigation into the suicide attack could not make any progress. The presumption in official and non-governmental circles was that the suicide attack was, most probably, in reprisal for the Chenagai air strike.

12. Despite the failure of their past attempts to get at al-Zawahiri, the Americans seem convinced that the TTP elements in the Bajaur Agency are protecting him. Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani and Rehman Malik, his Internal Security Advisor, came under pressure from the US officials to take action to trace and kill or arrest al-Zawahiri. On their return from their recent visit to the US, an operation by the FC was mounted from August 6 to trace al-Zawahiri. The Air Force was asked to provide air cover to the operation. Helicopter gunships of the Army were pressed into action to support the FC's ground operation.

13. As part of this operation, the FC set up an advance post in the Loyesam area to collect intelligence and mount special strikes. The TTP, which has allegedly been protecting al-Zawahiri, fiercely reacted against the advance of the FC into this area. Armed Taliban militants, led by Maulana Faqir Mohammad, , ambushed an FC convoy on August 8 near Sadeeqabad village and inflicted heavy losses on the forces. The next day,they handed over to the local authorities the dead bodies of 22 FC personnel, including a Major. Following fierce fighting in this area, in which Mehsuds from South Waziristan and Uzbecks from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic jihad Union (IJU) joined the TTP in attacking the FC personnel, the FC decided to withdraw from this area to Khar, the headquarters of the Agency. The Army apprehended that the TTP, the IMU and the IJU might attack Khar also, but this has not happened so far.

14. While the ground fighting decreased after the withdrawal of the FC, the Pakistan Army kept up its air strikes and attacks by helicopter gunships in which it claimed to have inflicted heavy fatalities on the jihadis.There was even speculation that among those killed by the air strikes was the Egyptian-born Abu Saeed al-Masri alias Mustafa Mohammad Ahmad, a member of the Majlis-i-Shura of Al Qaeda and its financial chief, but this has not been confirmed. Another unconfirmed claim by Pakistani sources has stated that Mustafa abu al Yazid, an Egyptian who was in charge of Al Qaeda operations in Afghanistan, was killed in an air strike. Al Qaeda, which normally admits the deaths of its senior operatives, has not commented on these reports so far.

15. In retaliation for the widespread air strikes in the Bajaur Agency, the TTP blew up a bus of the Air Force on the Kohat Road in the NWFP on Auguast 12 in which 13 persons, including seven administrative personnel of the PAF, were reported to have been killed. The TTP has warned of more such attacks even in non-tribal areas, including Karachi, if the air strikes did not stop. Despite this, the Army has kept up with its air strikes. According to reliable police sources, Asif Ali Zardari has been keen to oblige the US by continuing with this operation. He is hoping that as a quid pro quo, the US could be persuaded not to come in the way of the proposed impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf. He seems to be convinced that if the US stops supporting Musharraf, the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence will take the hint and will not come in the way of his impeachment.

16.Coinciding with the fighting in the Bajaur Agency, a Pakistani TV channel claimed to have received an audio message from Zawahiri on August 10 in which he said:"Musharraf has insulted and compromised Pakistan's sovereignty by allowing the CIA and FBI to operate freely in Pakistan and arrest, interrogate, torture, deport and detain any person, whether Pakistani or not." Zawahiri appealed to Pakistani soldiers to rethink their role in the fighting that has often pitted them against their countrymen, especially in the tribal regions. He urged Pakistanis to rise up and fight the US and support the Taliban. He apologised for speaking in English, "the language of the Muslims' enemies". He explained this by saying that he does not speak Urdu and that most Pakistanis cannot understand Arabic. .(13-8-08)

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2008




The nation is still reeling under the impact of three rounds of serial blasts in quick succession in Jaipur on May 13, 2008, in Bengaluru onJuly 25 and in Ahmedabad on July 26. The police have been unable to make much headway in the investigations into the Mumbai suburbantrain blasts of July ,2006, in which about 190 innocent civilians were killed and other terrorist strikes, which have followed one after theother in different parts of the country. The Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled States of Rajasthan, Karnataka and Gujarat have been as cluelessin the face of this terrorism as the non-BJP ruled States.

2.There is a huge jihadi iceberg, which has been moving from State to State spreading death and destruction. We have not been able tolocate this iceberg, trace its movement and destroy it. We don't even know who are behind the so-called Indian Mujahideen, which hasclaimed responsibility for many of these terrorist strikes.They have had many failures in the form of unexploded improvised explosivedevices (IEDs) --- over 30 of them. The conventional wisdom in investigation is that every failure by the terrorists takes the police one stepcloser to a successful identification of the terrorists responsible. Over 30 failures --- over 20 of them in Surat in Gujarat-- and yet we are asclueless as ever.Were these failed IEDs examined by a single team? What were their conclusions? No answer.

3. The so-called Indian Mujahideen had sent three E-mail messages claiming responsibility--- two before the explosions took place and oneafter the explosion. It has been reported by "The Hindu" that one more message purporting to be from the Indian Mujahideen has beenreceived by a newspaper warning of terrorist strikes in Godhra in Gujarat where a group of Hindu pilgrims travelling in a railwaycompartment were burnt to death by a group of Muslim fanatics in February 2002, which provoked acts of retaliation by sections of theHindus all over the State. We take pride in the fact that we are a nation of high-class experts in information technology (IT). And yet, wehave not been able to make any break-through in our investigation through an examination of these messages.

4.It is ageed by all analysts that one of the objectives of the perpetrators of these blasts in different States of India outside Jammu &Kashmir was to create a divide between the Hindus and the Muslims. Fortunately--- thanks to the prompt action by the concerned Stateadministrations and to the good sense of the two communities--- the terrorists have not succeeded in this objective.

5.But what the terrorists have failed to achieve so far in other parts of India through their repeated acts of terrorism, the Government ofIndia and the BJP have achieved for them in Jammu & Kashmir---- the Government through its shockingly ham-handed handling of asensitive issue and the BJP by its cynical exploitation of the communal tensions arising from the Government's mishandling for partisan political purposes with an eye on Hindu votes in the next elections, which are expected before next May.

6. Ham-handed handling of vital national security issues has become the defininig characteristics of the Government of India. We have beenseeing it again and again since the Mumbai suburban train blasts of July 2006. Important decisions have been taken--- whether relating toPakistan or China or terrorism--- without examining their implications for national security. Many sensitive issues have been handled in ashockingly inept manner--- thereby giving the impression of its being a Government of novices with very little understanding of such issues.

7.Nothing illustrated its ineptitude more dramatically than the casual manner in which it watched without intervening when the decision totransfer a plot of land to the ownership of a board for the maintenance of a Hindu shrine (Amarnath) in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valleywas taken by the local administration headed by the Congress (I) without a proper examination of its likely impact on Muslim public opinionand its likely exploitation by the Muslim radicals and then when the leaders of the Muslim community protested against it,it was cancelledwithout examining its likely impact on Hindu public opinion in the Hindu majority Jammu Division of the State.

8. The agitation launched by the Hindus of the Jammu Division of the State against the cancellation could have been justified if they hadkept it confined to demonstrations and protests. Instead of doing so, they used the agitation for indulging in deplorable acts such as tryingto disrupt communications with the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley and allegedly preventing the Muslim farmers of the Valley from sendingtheir produce of fruits to the rest of India for sale.

9. This was a dangerous turn in the agitation and was interpreted by many as an economic blocade of the Muslims in order to force them to concede the demands of the Hindus in relation to the transfer of the land. A similar situation was sought to be created in 1990 by the jihadisin the valley by preventing the fruit farmers and artisans from sending their produce to the rest of India for sale. The Government ofV.P.Singh, the then Prime Minister, immediately intervened and had their fruits etc flown from Srinagar to the rest of India at Government'sexpense in special planes of the Indian Airlines. It also organised Kashmir Trade Fairs in Delhi and other parts of India and helped theKashmiri farmers and artisans to bring their produce out for sale.

10. One would have expected the Government of India to have promptly acted in a similar manner to break the alleged blocade by theHindus of Jammu. It did nothing of the sort. It kept fiddling as the situation went from bad to worse. Angered by the inaction of theGovernment, the fruit farmers, instigated by the Muslim radicals and jihadi terrorists, decided to take their produce to Pakistan-OccupiedKashmir for sale. No Government could have allowed this. The Government's efforts to stop this have led to instances of firing by thesecurity forces on unruly mobs resulting in over 15 deaths.

11. One would have expected the BJP, which aspires to come to power in New Delhi after the next elections, to exercise self-restraint andresist the urge to exploit the situation for partisan political purposes. The expectations have been belied. Its crude attempts to exploit thesituation with an eye on the next elections have added oil to fire and are threatening to take J&K back to 1989, when the insurgencystarted. All the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism gains of recent years in the State face the danger of being wiped out by theGovernment's inept handling and the BJP's cynical exploitation of it.

12. In the situation as it is developing in J&K, nobody seems to be interested in national interests and in protecting the lives, property andeconomic interests of its citizens--- whatever be their religion. Partisan political interests have taken precedence over national interests.

13. Public opinion should force the Government and the BJP to wake up and prevent a slide back to 1989. Otherwise, the IndianMujahideen, whoever is behind it, and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence will be having the last laugh. (12-8-08)

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

Thursday, August 7, 2008



August 07, 2008

On Monday, August 4, when 16 border police guards of China's ministry of public security were killed and many others injured when two unidentified terrorists attacked their barracks near Kashgar in the Xinjiang province of China, B Raman got a telephone call in Chennai from a Chinese think-tank advising China's Olympics [Images] committee. Raman, India's foremost expert on terrorism, visited Chengdu and Shanghai recently to advise the Chinese on the threat to the Olympics.

On the eve of the inauguration of the planet's biggest sporting spectacle, Raman discusses the prospects of the evil of terrorism in Beijing [Images] in an interview with Editor Sheela Bhatt.

Do you think there is a possibility of some kind of terrorism in China during the Olympics?

There is a medium to high probability of acts of violence, including terrorism, by Uighur elements not only in the Xinjiang province, but also against Chinese nationals and interests during the Olympics in the Central Asian Republics, Pakistan and Turkey. The Uighurs do not have a demonstrated capability for major acts of terrorism in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, where the main Olympic events will be held, but have a high capability in Xinjiang, the CARs and Pakistan. The main threat, if any, will be from the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan, which operates from North Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.On July 25, 2008, a private security consultancy agency of the US claimed to have intercepted a three-minute Olympics-specific video message by one Sayfallah, who claimed to belong to an organisation called the Turkistan Islamic Party in which he threatened acts of violence directed against the Olympics. He claimed that his organisation was responsible for the explosions in buses in Shanghai in May and in Kunming in Yunnan in July. He warned that his group is planning to attack Chinese cities 'using previously unused methods'.He also said: 'This is our last warning to China and the rest of the world. The viewers and athletes, especially those who are Muslim, who plan to go to the Olympics should change their plans and not go to China. The Turkistan Islamic Party plans military attacks on people, offices, arenas, and other activities that are connected to the Chinese Olympic Games.'This message, even if its purpose is assumed to be to create fear and nervousness, shows that sections of Uighurs in Xinjiang as well as in Pakistan, the CARs and Turkey have been thinking of some incidents before and during the Olympics to draw attention to their cause. Likely threats from them have already been taken seriously by the Chinese authorities and have been factored into in their security planning.Chinese concerns have been magnified by the attack on border police guards in Kashgar in Xinjiang province on August 4 in which 16 police guards were killed by two Uighurs of the area. Apart from diversionary attacks on Chinese nationals and interests, the other dangers are hijacking of Chinese planes and kidnapping of Chinese diplomats posted in neighbouring countries.

Is the Chinese government doing enough to understand the issue? Are Chinese leaders taking action?

Yes. The Chinese have done whatever they can to prevent acts of terrorism. They have taken into account various contingencies that could arise such as the hijacking of a plane and trying to crash it into the stadium, attacks on athletes and their places of stay, attacks on soft targets like the public transport system etc. They have thoroughly studied the various scenarios that could arise and the scenarios that actually arose in the past, such as the kidnapping and murder of some Israeli athletes by the Black September group during the Munich Olympics in 1972 and the explosion in Atlanta in the US in 1996 by an irrational individual during the Atlanta Olympics, and factored the lessons into their security planning.

Which are the groups who have a significant presence In China?

The Chinese apprehensions mainly focus on the IMET and other Uighur groups, the Falun Gong and the supporters of the Dalai Lama . In my view, the highest threat will be from the Uighurs and the pro-Uighur groups in Pakistan like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Union, which is another Uzbek group, Al Qaeda , the Taliban and Pakistani jihadi organisations.
While the anger of the Uighurs is against the Chinese because of their alleged suppression of Uighurs in Xinjiang, the others will be more interested in exploiting the gathering of thousands of athletes and hundreds of thousands of tourists in Beijing to watch the Olympics to attack teams from the US, Israel and Denmark. The anger against Denmark is particularly intense because of the publication of cartoons of the Holy Prophet by some Danish newspapers in 2005.

Are the athletes safe? Which countries have a higher risk?

The Chinese have assured all participating countries that their security will be very tight and that they will be protected. However, terrorism is a very unpredictable threat and hence one has to keep one's fingers crossed. While some nervousness is natural, one should not allow this to come in the way of one's participation. The international community should wish the Chinese well and help them in preventing any threat from materialising. A terrorism-free Beijing Olympics will be an important contribution to the global fight against terrorism.I am praying with all the intensity I can command that the Olympics should be totally successful and that the Chinese should succeed in preventing any violent incident. The highest risk will be to Denmark, the US and Israel in that order.

Do you think IMET or the Uighur movement is determined to spoil the Olympics?

The Olympics will provide a global audience. The Uighurs are determined not to miss this opportunity to publicise their anger against the Chinese. So too the Falung Gong. Some sections of Tibetan youth too wanted to exploit the occasion, but His Holiness the Dalai Lama has strongly advised them against doing anything which might embarrass or humiliate the Chinese. Unfortunately, neither the Uighurs nor the Falun Gong have a leader with the moral calibre of His Holiness. So, there is no one to advise them to exercise restraint. They can be irrational and unpredictable.

What kind of advice will you give the International Olympic Committee?

I was invited by the Chinese to make a presentation on likely threats to Olympics security at Chengdu in Sichuan in August last year and at Shanghai in May. We had very detailed discussions on various possible scenarios and they have been closely following my articles on the subject. My advice to them will be: Be well-informed, be alert, be prepared for any contingency and avoid adding to the anger of those against Beijing by using harsh words against them. Be also on the look out for threats from angry individual Muslims not belonging to any organisation, who might get into the teams from the Islamic world participating in the Olympics.

China is the third Asian country to host the Olympics after Japan (Tokyo) and South Korea (Seoul), but neither Tokyo nor Seoul had to hold the Olympics under such difficult circumstances as Beijing, when the world is facing such serious threats from terrorism. Greece faced similar difficulties and threats during the Athens Olympics of 2004, which were held three years after 9/11 and after the US-led military operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban had started in Afghanistan and one year after the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. All the NATO countries rallied to the assistance of the Greek authorities to ensure that there was no threat to the Athens Olympics.

The Beijing Olympics, which is the second after 9/11, faces the same level of threats as the one at Athens. The Chinese have received excellent international cooperation, but they do not have the same technological capability against terrorism as the NATO countries. They have spared no pains and no expenditure to ensure the success of the Games.

The entire Chinese people, their professionals, their security forces, their scientists have rallied together to make the Beijing Games an occasion to remember. Only sick minds will wish ill of them at this juncture.

At the end of my visit to Shanghai in May, an important personality had hosted a lunch for me. In my toast, I said: "In India, we all without exception want you to succeed and want the Beijing Olympics to be a memorable success. We want to hold the Olympics in New Delhi one day. We will learn from you how to organise a spectacular Olympics." I could see everybody at the lunch was touched.
We are all Chinese today. Chinese success will be our success. Chinese pride will be our pride.