Tuesday, January 29, 2008
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO.363
"The UP Police are since reported to have detained some Indian Muslims on suspicion of having been involved in these explosions ( of November 23,2007). They have been described as members of the Harkat-ul-Jihad--Al-Islami (HUJI). The HUJI has its headquarters in Pakistan and an active branch in Bangladesh. In the past too, the HUJI had been involved in terrorist strikes in different parts of India. The dramatis personae came from Pakistan and/or Bangladesh with some Indian involvement. From the indications available so far, the November 23, 2007, strikes with IEDs would appear to have been carried out by Indian cells of the HUJI with only Indian Muslims as members. If this is proved by further investigation, the HUJI possibly now has an Indian branch with Indian operatives, capable of carrying out terrorist strikes autonomously without too much dependence on their counter-parts in Pakistan and Bangladesh. There is a possibility that the Rampur strike might have also been carried out by the same organisation, which had carried out the explosions of November 23, 2007. If so, the fact that the arrests made by the UP Police during the investigation of the November 23 strikes did not disrupt or prevent the attack at Rampur, would indicate that the organisation has a wider network of clandestine cells in UP than detected so far."
-----Extract from my article dated January 2,2008, titled "Terrorist Attack on CRPF Camp at Rampur in UP", which is available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers26/paper2532.html
In "The Hindu" of January 26,2008, Shri Praveen Swami, its correspondent in New Delhi, repored as follows: " Police in the mountain District of Doda, Jammu and Kashmir, have shot dead Bashir Ahmed Mir, the Harkat-ul-jihad-al-Islami's commander-in-chief for operations across India. Operating under the code name Hijazi, Pakistan-trained Mir is believed to have ordered a string of strikes across North and South-East India last year, including the court complex bombings in Uttar Pradesh, the bombing of the Ajmer Sharif shrine in Rajasthan and the multiple bombings, which took place in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, in May and August"
2.In this report as well as in his subsequent reports, he has given the names of other HUJI members, who are suspected by the Police to have been involved in the terrorist strikes. A perusal of Praveen Swami's reports as well as those carried by other sections of the media on these arrests would indicate that all those arrested or suspected as members of the HUJI cells in India are Indian and not Pakistani Muslims. There has been no reference to the involvement of any PakistanI Muslim in the unearthed HUJI cell.
3. During his meeting with Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then Indian Prime Minister, at Islamabad in January 2004, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan gave an assurance that no territory under the control of the Government of Pakistan would be allowed to be used by terrorists for their operations against India. Since then, Pakistani authorities have been claiming that the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) is no longer active in Pakistani territory, though the Pakistani media continues to report about the presence and activities of the LET in Pakistani territory. The Markaz-Dawa-Al-Irshad (MDI), as the political front of the LET was previously known, now operates in Pakistan under the name Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) and its Amir is the same Prof.Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, who used to be previously projected as the Amir of the MDI. The Pakistani authorities as well as Prof.Sayeed himself have been denying any links between the JUD and the LET. They have been projecting the JUD as a purely humanitarian relief organisation, which has nothing to do with the LET. However,Governmental counter-terrorism experts of the US treat the JUD as a re-incarnation of the MDI and as a political front of the LET. They have designated it as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation because of its links with the LET.
4. President Musharraf has resisted US pressure to declare the JUD as a terrorist organisation. When the question of recommending the freezing of the bank accounts of the JUD came up before the standing committee of the UN Security Council, which monitors the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution No.1373 regarding action against terrorism, Pakistan refused to freeze the accounts of the JUD on the ground that it was a humanitarian relief organisation, which had nothing to do with the LET, which was active in India and not in Pakistan. Chine also supported the Pakistani stand. As a result, the recommendation was not approved.
5. While continuing to give financial, training and arms assistance to the LET, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan has been encouraging the LET to depend for its operations in Indian territory on Indian Muslims only and not to depute Pakistani Muslims for this purpose.
6. It is evident that the ISI has now started following a similar policy in respect of the HUJI, by encouraging it to set up a separate organisation for India consisting of recruits from the Indian Muslim community with no involvement of Pakistani Muslims. The headquarters of the HUJI are located in Pakistan. It has an active branch in Bangladesh, consisting of Bangladeshi nationals only of the Afghan war (1980s and 1990s) vintage, which is referred to by US counter-terrorism experts as the HUJI (B). Members of the HUJI (B) were coming to India for organising terrorist strikes with the co-operation of recruits from the Indian Muslim community. Now, a HUJI set-up in India consisting of recruits from the Indian Muslim community has come up, which could be projected in future as a purely Indian organisation with no Pakistani or Bangladeshi involvement.
7. It is only a question of time before the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) and Al Qaeda itself set up their own outfits or sleeper cells in India consisting only of Indian Muslims so that these too could be projected as indigenous Muslim organisations of India and not as Pakistani or Arab organisations. The pan-Islamic jihad in India to support Al Qaeda's pan-Islamic objectives is sought to be given an Indian facade with the encouragement of the ISI. The ISI's tactics have changed, but not its objective of keeping India bleeding by sustaining and intensifying the activities of jihadi terrorists in Indian territory. Pakistan is presently under international focus because of the activities of Al Qaeda, Taliban and other jihadi organisations in and from its territory. To divert part of the international attention away from it and project the increase in jihadi terrorism as a sub-continental and not a purely Pakistani phenomenon, the ISI is likely to accelerate this process of giving Al Qaeda-inspired International Islamic Front (IIF), of which all these organisationals are members, a sub-continental visage and clothing and project the so-called Kashmir issue as a root cause of this expanding phenomenon.( 30-1-08)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-nail:email@example.com ).
Sunday, January 27, 2008
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO.362
"Of the 56 attacks during 2007, 23 were in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), 21 in the NWFP, including four in the Swat Valley,nine in Punjab, two in Balochistan and one in Sindh. Of the 23 in the FATA, only two were in North Waziristan and one in the Bajaur Agency,where, according to the US, the terrorist infrastructure of Al Qaeda is located. The remaining 20 were in South Waziristan, where there areno confirmed reports of any Al Qaeda infrastructure. All the attacks in South Waziristan came from areas which are controlled by theMehsuds. In the areas controlled by other tribes, there were no incidents of suicide terrorism. Two cantonments saw repeated suicidestrikes--- Rawalpindi (5), where the General Headquarters of the Army are located, and Kohat (3) in the NWFP where a training centre formiddle-level army officers is located. " Extract from my article of January 14,2008. titled "Suicide Terrorism In Pakistan--2007" at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers26/paper2550.html -----------------------------------------------
The Pakistan Army has been forced by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) headed by Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan to wage afour-front "war"----- against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in South Waziristan, against theTehrik and the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) in the sensitive Darra Adam Khel---Kohat area of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP)and the Shia-dominated Kurram Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA),and against theTehrik-e-Nifaz-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) headed by Maulana Fazlullah and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) in the Swat Valley of the NWFP.
2. The fresh wave of fighting in the Kurram Agency, which started on November 15,2007, has since subsided following a peace agreementsigned by the leaders of the local Shia and Sunni communities. The Afghan Sunnis living in the area, who had fled into Afghanistan followingfierce attacks on them by the Shias, have started returning to their homes. The peace agreement is holding and there have been no reportsof any fresh violence for over a week now.
3. The Army has claimed to have defeated the TNSM, which is helped by the JEM, in the Swat Valley. Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the Chief ofthe Army Staff (COAS), had also visited the Valley last week to congratulate the army troops and para-military forces, which had participatedin the operations. However, reports from reliable police sources say that the forces of Fazlullah and the JEM have dispersed and moved intohill tops, but have not been defeated. Fazlullah and his senior officers have not been captured, but their houses or hide-outs have beenblown up by helicopter gunships of the Army. His FM radio station continues to broadcast, but not as regularly as before. While the TNSMand the JEM are no longer fighting pitched battles against the Army and the Frontier Corps as they were doing earlier, they continue toindulge in sporadic guerilla attacks against military vehicles and outposts.
4. Despite the use of air and artillery strikes and commando actions by three plus platoons of the Special Services Group (SSG) onsuspected hide-outs of Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, his forces, helped by men of IMU, have managed to keep up their attacks onthe Army, including the SSG, and the Frontier Corps units. Among the dead bodies so far recovered from the various scenes of the fighting inSouth Waziristan are those of over a dozen Mehsuds, six Uzbeks, one Tajik and one Uighur. There are no reports of any Arab involvement inthe fighting in South Waziristan. Interestingly, Al Qaeda, the IMU and the Neo Taliban have refrained from creating any difficulties for thePakistan Army in North Waziristan. There has been only one minor incident in North Waziristan. This has enabled the Army to shift some ofits forces from North to South Waziristan. Taliban elements have warned that if the Army continues to use its forces in North Waziristan tokill the Mehsuds, they will attack the Army and FC posts in North Waziristan.
5. The Darra-Adam Khel-Kohat area of the NWFP, which had seen unchecked infiltration by pro-Al Qaeda elements, including the TTP and theLEJ, duruing the last five years when the religious fundamentalist coalition called the Muttahida- Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) was in power inPeshawar, has seen heavy fighting between the Army and the FC on the one side and the TTP and the LEJ on the other. The flare-up startedafter the TTP and LEJ, acting jointly, seized on January 24,2008, four private trucks transporting arms and ammunition from Peshawar to the Pakistani forces in South Waziristan as they were passing through the Japanese-constructed Kohat Tunnel and captured control of theTunnel.
6. There was panic in the Corps and FC headquarters in Peshawar when it was reported that some tribal cadets of the Army Cadet College in the Kohat Cantonment had joined the TTP and the LEJ and helped them in seizing the trucks and capturing control of the Tunnel. Policesources say that like the Rawalpindi Cantonment, the Kohat Cantonment too has been heavily infiltrated by Al Qaeda, Taliban, the LEJ, theJEM and other jihadi elements. These sources also say that during the five years of MMA rule, large areas of the NWFP were heavily infiltrated by Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements and they could anytime capture control of the Kohat Cantonment without difficulty.
7. The seriousness with which the Army viewed the developments in the Darra Adam Khel--Kohat area would be evident from the fact that itrushed 20 tanks to the area to re-capture the Tunnel and the seized trucks. The army has claimed to have re-captured the Tunnel onJanuary 27,2008, but this has been denied by the TTP, which claims that the Tunnel is still under its control.
8. A report that Mulla Mohammasd Omar, the Amir of the Neo Taliban, has sacked Baitullah Mehsud for fighting against the Pakistan army,which was disseminated by a Pakistani journalist, has not been corroborated. The reports are that Baitullah Mehsud continues to operateunder the over-all guidance of Serjuddin Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the Afghan Mujahideen leader of 1980s vintage, who is nowreportedly in poor health.
9. The demands of the TTP and the TNSM continue to be the same, namely, suspension of all military operations in the tribal areas;withdrawal of army posts from the FATA; release of all tribals arrested under the Anti-Terrorism Act; release of Maulana Abdul Aziz Ghaziand tribal students arrested during the Commando action in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July,2007 and enforcement of the Sharia in thetribal areas.. (28-1-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Friday, January 25, 2008
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO.361
"I tell Pervez and his army: your betrayal of your nation and people has been exposed, and the people are no longer fooled by your showingoff militarily by launching some missiles after every disaster and massacre you commit against the populace, as has occurred repeatedly inthe border regions, or after the biggest massacre in Lal Masjid most recently. How is the nation benefited by these weapons and tests ofyours? The same goes for the nuclear bomb itself. When the American foreign minister Powell came to you, you cowered, bowed andsubmitted to him like a lowly slave, and you permitted the American Crusader forces to use the air, soil and water of Pakistan, the country ofIslam, to kill the people of Islam in Afghanistan, then in Waziristan. So woe to you and away with you."(My comment: This is an interestingattempt by bin Laden to project that Musharraf is in the habit of frequently carrying out missile tests in order to divert the attention of thePakistani people away from his collusion with the US in its war against Islam and the Ummah.) ---- Extract from my paper dated September22,2007 titled " Bin Laden's Fatwa Against Musharraf & Pakistani Army", which is available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers24/paper2388.html
In a message disseminated on September 20, 2007, Osama Bin Laden had pointed out that President Pervez Musharraf was in the habit ofordering the firing of missiles from the Pakistani military stocks, whenever he faced trouble at home and warned him that the people ofPakistan would no longer be fooled by such showing-off. My analysis of the message may be seen athttp://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers24/paper2388.html.
2.Musharraf proved bin Laden right by ordering the firing of a Shaheen--1 (Hatf-IV) missile on January 25,2008, at a time when Pakistan andits army are reeling under the blow of one suicide attack by jihadi terrorists after another-----many of them on the Pakistani Armed Forcesand the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)---- millions of people short of wheat and flour are increasingly looting trucks carrying food rations forthe NATO troops in Afghanistan, he is involved in an escalating controversy over his failure to protect Mrs.Benazir Bhutto from beingassassinated, an increasing number of retired military officers are calling for his resignation and there are growing demands in the West tostop supporting him whether he is right or wrong. The missile-firing also coincided with his tour of Europe since January 20,2008, where hehas been facing highly embarrasing questions regarding his policies and failures.
3. The adulation for Musharraf in the Western policy-making circles---particularly in the US --- has made him feel that it is easy to fool theWest and manipulate its public opinion. The acceptance of his lies by the West without asking questions and its continued praise of himdespite his failures and lies have facilitated his manipulation of public opinion in order to divert attention from the dangerous state of affairsin Pakistan and feed the "after Musharraf, the deluge" fears in the Western policy-making circles.
4. Two examples of the blatant manner in which he bluffs his way through in his interactions with the West were noticed during his currenttravels in Europe. At one of his interactions in Europe, he was asked about the militant movement launched by the Baloch nationalists. Hedenied the existence of any such movement and described Balochistan as the most peaceful province in Pakistan. Nobody asked him howhe described Balochistan as the most peaceful province when every day there are attacks on military and para-military forces and sabotage of gas pipelines and electricity transmission lines and when the Neo Taliban was operating from sanctuaries in Balochistan.
5.On January 22,2008, a statement signed by more than 100 retired Generals, Admirals, Air Marshals, other senior officers and enlistedranks urged Musharraf to resign in "the supreme national interest". According to the Associated Press,speaking at Davos, Switzerland,where he was attending a meeting of the World Economic Forum, Musharraf described his critics as "insignificant personalities" whom hehad dismissed from service.
6. What a shocking lie, which he seems to have uttered without batting a eye-lid!Most of those, who had signed the statement, were muchsenior to Musharraf in service and had retired before Musharraf became the Chief of the Army Staff in 1998 and then appointed himself asthe President in 2001. And yet, he described them as disgruntled juniors, whom he had dismissed from service. The most surprising thing is not that he uttered lies----- he has always been in the habit of doing this--- but nobody pointed out these lies to him. It is because of thisreluctance to talk to him bluntly and the tendency to give him undeserved praise that he has been nursing a conviction that he has madehimself indispensable to the West and that he could do or say anything and get away with it.
7. As things keep getting more and more difficult for him at home, what has been his response? Flood the TV screens with dramatic visualsof one more missile-launching.
8. bin Laden understands Musharraf better than the US and the rest of the West do. (26-1-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )
Thursday, January 24, 2008
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR--PAPER NO.360
Following is an update on the situation in the South Waziristan Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan after my earlier article of January 19,2008, titled "PAF, SSG Go Into Action Against Mehsuds", which is available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers26/paper2559.html .
January 22,2008: Mehsud fighters of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan attacked a fort at Ladah, where a mixed detachment of Frontier Corps and Special Services Group (SSG) personnel was deployed. They killed seven members of the detachment. They also claimed to have captured three SSG personnel and 10 members of the Frontier Corps, but this has been denied by the Pakistan Army. Despite the Army denial, the Mehsuds have continued to claim that they inflicted fatalities on the SSG personnel posted in the fort and captured three of them plus 10 members of the Frontier Corps. The detachment managed to beat back the attack. Two fighter jets of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) carried out an air strike on nearby Mehsud villages. The Army claimed to have killed 37 members of the Taliban, but this has been denied by a spokesman of Baitullah Mehsud, the Amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban. He described all those killed as innocent civilians.
One Maulvi Umar, who claims to be the spokesman of Baitullah and keeps making phone calls to the Pakistani media from undisclosed destinations, rang up some media offices and warned that the Tehrik-e-Taliban would soon expand its activities from the tribal areas to the rest of the country and would launch severe attacks on Islamabad and other big cities, if the military operation was not stopped . He was quoted by the media as warning as follows: "Our attacks would destabilise the country and the Government would find it hard to control the situation." He also claimed that the Tehrik was responsible for assassinating three days earlier Nisar Ali Khan, the head of the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB) of the Intelligence Bureau in the Charsadda District of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). He said: "We killed him because people like him associated with intelligence agencies pass on false information about religious people, which later puts innocent people in trouble. It was because of their false information that innocent people suffered in Swat, Bajaur, Waziristan and other areas. We will target sensitive installations in Islamabad, including the headquarters of intelligence agencies, if the military does not stop its operation.”
January 23,2008: Reinforcements from the regular Army consisting of about six companies and six tanks along with heavy artillery were rushed to South Waziristan from the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). They went into action against suspected jihadi hide-outs. Simultaneously, air strikes by fighter planes of the PAF and helicopter gunships of the Army were intensified. In another phone call to the media, Maulvi Umar reportedly warned that the conflict could expand to North Waziristan if the Government did not halt the operation. He warned: “We are ready to fight and will attack army anywhere in Waziristan. The security forces would not be able to subjugate the tribal region and they would be forced to withdraw."Some Uzbeks of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) attacked a base of the Shawal Rifles in the Razmak area of North Waziristan and killed one soldier.
January 24, 2008: Ten Pakistani soldiers were killed and 32 injured in fierce clashes with the Taliban in different towns/villages of South Waziristan. The Army claimed to have killed 40 terrorists. This too was denied by the Tehrik, which described those killed as innocent villagers. The Army started taking action against Mehsud villages under the Frontier Crime Regulations (FCRs) of 1901 and seizing the movable and immovable properties of suspected pro-Baitullah village elders. The FCRs promulgated by the British are still in force in the FATA and the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan). Under these Regulations, if a tribal villager commits a crime and absconds, his entire village can be held accountable and punitive fines imposed on the villagers till they catch and hand over the absconding criminal to the police. The Army has warned that such punitive actions would continue till the villagers help in the killing or capture of Baitullah. Many Mehsud villages observed a strike. Their elders claimed that only five per cent of the Mehsuds supported Baitullah and alleged that even those not supporting him were punished indiscriminately. They have refused to shift to refugee camps set up by the Army so that they could escape air and artillery attacks. (25-1-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Sunday, January 20, 2008
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO.359
"The SSP (Sipah-e-Sahaba) and the LEJ (Lashkar-e-Jhangvi) have not come to notice till now for any activities in the Indian territory---either in Jammu & Kashmir or outside. In view of the recurring explosions targeting Muslims and Muslim places of worship in Delhi, Malegaon, Hyderabad and Ajmer since last year, one has to look into the possibility of the involvement of the SSP and the LEJ in terrorism in Indian territory. None of the Muslim places of worship targeted in India so far belonged to the Shias, but one must note that in Pakistan, the LEJ targets not only Shias and their places of worship, but also the Barelvi Sunnis and their places of worship. The Barelvis are a more tolerant Sunni sect and have rejected Wahabism so far. Despite the progress made by Wahabism and Deobandi sects, the Barelvis are still in a majority in the Indian sub-continent. Hence, the LEJ's attacks on the Barelvis, many of whom are descendents of converts from Hinduism. The Wahabis/Deobandis are mainly descendents of Muslim migrants into the sub-continent from West and Central Asia.Indian investigators should not keep their focus exclusively on the LET and the HUJI. They should keep their mind open and look into the possibility of the involvement of other jihadi terrorist organisations too"
------ From my article dated November 11,2007, titled THE NEW TROJAN HORSE OF AL QAEDA which is available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers25/paper2451.html
This year's Muharram observance in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has led to unusual clashes between the local Sunnis and Shias, the like of which one had not seen in the past. A Shia procession was reportedly attacked when it passed through a predominantly Sunni area called Gojwara in Srinagar. Fiften persons were reported to have been injured in the resulting clashes between the members of the two sects. This was followed by an attempt by a group of Sunnis to raid a Shia area. This was, however, prevented by timely police intervention. There have been no reports of similar clashes from other parts of India.
2. Even though India has as many Shias as Pakistan, the two sects have had no history of mutual animosity similar to what one sees in Pakistan. There are occasionally instances of tensions due to differences between the two sects over procession routes, but these are sorted out by the local leaders of the two communities and a resort to violence is prevented.
3. The violence seen in J&K this year has come in the wake of explosions targeting Muslim places of worship in Delhi,Malegaon, Hyderabad and Ajmer . The attack on the Ajmer shrine was particularly worrying and significant because of its historic sufi traditions.
4. Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF) formed in 1998 has five Pakistani members---the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) Of these, the LET,the JEM, the HUM and the HUJI have been active in J&K and other parts of India for over a decade now. However, the LEJ, which is an anti-Shia organisation, has not so far been active in India. Till 2006, its activities were confined to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
5. Of these Pakistani organisations, the LET and the JEM used to be the closest to Al Qaeda. The JEM continues to be as close to Al Qaeda as in the past and has been actively involved in the anti-Army and anti-Shia incidents in the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and in the anti-Shia violence in the Kurram Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). There are reports that the LET leadership is feeling uncomfortable about the increasing anti-Shia violence of Al Qaeda. In view of this, since last year, Al Qaeda has been encouraging the LEJ to come to the forefront of the global jihad against the Crusaders, the Jewish people and the Hindus.
6. Al Qaeda had in the past been avoiding direct criticism of Iran and the Hizbollah of the Lebanon. It has now started accusing Iran of stabbing the Ummah in the back and describing the Hizbollah as an Iranian stooge, which is fighting for the strategic interests of Iran and not for the interests of the Ummah or of the people of the Lebanon.In this connection, reference is invited to my article of January 1,2008, titled "Iran Stabbed The Ummah In The Back"---Zawahiri at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers26/paper2529.html
7. The intensification of Al Qaeda's anti-Iran and anti-Shia propaganda and anti-Shia violence in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is seeking to replicate its earlier anti-Shia campaign in Iraq, which is still continuing.It is quite likely that this growing anti-Shia trend in the propaganda and activities of Al Qaeda could be extended to India too through the LEJ in order to create a divide between the Sunnis and the Shias in the Indian Muslim community. The possibility of the LEJ having already established sleeper cells in places like J&K, Lucknow, Hyderabad and Mumbai, where there is a sizable Shia population, needs to be enquired into seriously before this anti-Shia virus spreads further in J&K and other parts of India. (21-1-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO.358
( This may please be read in continuation of my earlier article at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers/paper80.html . I had subsequently made a reference to the Tablighi Jamaat in many other articles too, which are available at www.southasiaanalysis.org )
Twelve Pakistani and two Indian Muslims, allegedly belonging to the Tablighi Jamaat, have been arrested by the Spanish authorities following raids in a number of houses and a mosque in the Barcelona area of Spain. The Spanish authorities announced the arrests on January 19,2008, but it is not known when the arrests were made. It is also not known whether the arrested Muslims were residents of Spain or were members of a travelling group of the Tablighi Jamaat of Pakistan.
2.The Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) of Pakistan has branches in many countries. It also frequently sends groups on visits to other countries having a Muslim population ostensibly to give talks on the Holy Koran to the local Muslims. It has close association with the jihadi terrorist organisations and during their travels, its members spot talents for recruitment by the jihadi organisations. Al Qaeda and other jihadi terrorist organisations also make recruitment from among the Muslims from other countries attending the annual conventions of the Tablighi Jamaat in Pakistan and Bangladesh, which are largely attended.
3. The Tablighi Jamaat of Pakistan also includes Muslims from other countries such as India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar etc in its travel groups for interacting with Muslims from those countries living in the West. It was reported last year that the Argentinian authorities found a Tablighi group from Pakistan, which had many Malaysian nationals studying in the madrasas of Pakistan. Similarly in the past, Thai and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar studying in Pakistani madrasas had travelled with TJ groups of Pakistan to the Central Asian Republics and Dagestan.
4. Announcing the arrests at a press conference on January 19,2008, Mr.Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the Spanish Interior r Minister, said that more arrests were expected. According to him, the police, who acted with the help of information from foreign intelligence agencies, raided several apartments, a prominent mosque ( the Torek Ben Ziad mosque), and a small prayer hall. The police reportedly seized material for making explosives, including four timing devices, during the raids. He said that the detained suspects were Islamists who “belonged to a well-organized group that had gone a step beyond radicalization.” He added: "“When someone has timers in their home, you have no option but to think violent acts are being planned.”
5. News agency reports have quoted the Minister as characterising the detained group of Pakistani and Indian Muslims as "highly organised radical Islamists", who were preparing to carry out a terrorist strike in Spanish territory. He added that it was "probable" that some of the 14 were innocent. A private radio station called Cadena Ser claimed that the suspects were believed to have links to a financial network for certain branches of Al Qaeda. All the arrests were reportedly made in the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona, where there is a large Muslim immigrant population.
6."El Pais", a Spanish daily, claimed that the Spanish authorities have warned France, Portugal and Britain of the possibility of attacks on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf during a visit to Europe the coming week. The newspaper cited sources in the Spanish intelligence as saying that small groups composed principally of Pakistanis were preparing to carry out attacks "imminently." Musharraf, who is addressing the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzereland, is also scheduled to visit the UK, France and Belgium.The Spanish Prime Minister, Mr. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has cautioned the public not to jump to conclusions about those arrested.
7. In May last year, the authorities of Barcelona had claimed to have dismantled a network that was allegedly recruiting fighters and funding militant organisations in North Africa and Iraq. Thirteen Moroccans and two Algerians were arrested in that case.In September 2004, 11 Pakistanis were arrested in Barcelona on suspicion of planning terrorist attacks. None of them was prosecuted.Three Pakistanis were arrested and prosecuted last year on a charge of raising funds illegally from the local Muslim community. Two Pakistanis were arrested and prosecuted on a charge of forging travel documents.
8. On October 24,2007, the Spanish authorities arrested four Algerians and two Moroccans on a charge of recruiting jihadis for fighting in Iraq and collecting funds through the Internet. The authorities alleged that they were collecting the funds to assist the families of those arrested in Morocco in connection with the May 2003 bombings in Casablanca that killed dozens of people.
9. After the Madrid blasts of March,2004,Moroccans and Algerians in Spain are under close surveillance by the local police and intelligence agencies. In view of this, Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations have been looking for recruits in the communities of Pakistani and Indian Muslims, who were not subjected to the same strict surveillance.
10. The Spanish authorities have not so far released the personal particulars of the detained Pakistani and Indian Muslims. ( 20-1-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Saturday, January 19, 2008
GLOBAL JIHADI TERRORISM---THREATS & VULNERABILITIES
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO. 357
(Article written for the inaugural issue (January-March,2008) of the newly-launched quarterly "India & Global Affairs" (IGA). An edited version of this has been carried by it under the title "The Jihad Against Terrorism" )
The threat from Al Qaeda is expanding----geographically and operationally. Despite the losses in manpower, sanctuaries and capabilities suffered by Al Qaeda and the member-organisations of the International Islamic Front (IIF) formed by Osama bin Laden in1998, they have been able to keep up their campaign of jihadi terrorism. Continuing flow of angry Muslim youth to these organizations is mainly responsible for the undamaged resilience of Al Qaeda and the IIF. Many of the young Muslims, who are supporting the operations of Al Qaeda, do not necessarily support its cause and objectives. And yet, they volunteer themselves for joining its operations, firstly, because of their anger over the way the so-called war against international terrorism is being waged and, secondly, because of their belief that in the absence of the willingness of any Islamic State to stand up to the US, only non-State actors such as Al Qaeda and the IIF are able to do so. They ,therefore, deserve the support of the community even if the community does not agree with their objectives and logic. So the Muslim youth think.
2.Pakistani jihadi terrorist organizations, which are members of Al Qaeda-led IIF, such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) have been active in the Indian territory. First they infiltrated into Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and subsequently spread to other parts of India. They have been operating with the co-operation of Indian Muslim organizations such as the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). While the majority of their members operating in the Indian territory continue to be Pakistanis, since 2003 one has been seeing a small number of Indian Muslims from India as well as the Indian Muslim diaspora abroad gravitating towards them and helping them in their operations. Al Qaeda, which is exclusively an Arab organization, is not yet active in India, but its Pakistani associates are. Since the visit of President George Bush to India in March 2006, Al Qaeda and bin Laden have been projecting their global jihad as directed against what they describe as the anti-Islam conspiracy of the Christians, the Jewish people and the Hindus. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM), who allegedly co-ordinated the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US from his Pakistani hide-out, is reported to have told US investigators during his interrogation that Al Qaeda had planned to attack the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, but could not carry out its plan. In view of India’s close relations with Israel and developing strategic relationship with the US, it is quite on the cards that Al Qaeda might try to mount a strike against US and/or Israeli nationals and interests in Indian territory----either by itself or through its Pakistani surrogates.
3.Jihadi terrorism in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is undergoing a disquieting metamorphosis. More and more individual Muslims are taking to jihad and suicide terrorism out of their own volition. They were not made into suicide terrorists, with offers of money or women or a place in heaven by their religious leaders. One has been seeing this not only in Afghanistan, but also in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Traditional pan-Islamic jihadi organisations allied with Al Qaeda in its IIF such as the Pakistan-based Neo Taliban of Afghanistan, the various brands of Taliban of the tribal areas of Pakistan, the LET, the HUM, the HUJI, the JEM, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) and Gulbuddin Heckmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami (HEI) have been claiming credit for the acts of terrorism of these citizen jihadis and trying to give an impression as if all that has been happening in the areas on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border has been orchestrated by them.
4. It is true that these organisations continue to play an active role in the further radicalisation of the people of these areas and in egging them on to join the on-going jihad. At the same time, an increasing number of incidents being reported from these areas is the result of individual jihadi initiatives by persons unconnected with any of the known organisations. New leaders, new cadres, new groups and new mullas are coming up and taking to jihadi terrorism.
5.It is said that many angry Muslims no longer flock to the old
organisations to volunteer their services for suicide terrorism. Instead, they rush to the nearest Internet Cafe to learn how to be a suicide bomber, gang up with a small number of like-minded persons, pool their savings, buy material which could be converted into explosives and embark on their suicide missions.
6. For these Made-in-the-Internet suicide bombers, the cyber world has become a virtual Ummah and everyone of them looks upon himself as a bin Laden or as an Amir fighting for the cause of his religion. Concern over this development has been openly expressed even by Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the JEM of Pakistan, in a recent article in "Al Qalam", a publication of the JEM. He said: "Now, there are hundreds of jihadi outfits and hundreds of Amirs. Most of these Amirs are computer operators, who have become jihadis by watching CDs of jihad. They have received jihadi training through websites. They think that via the Internet, they have become Amirs. If they come across a gullible youth, they tie a bomb around his body and send him to jihadi battlefields. Some of the jihadis are in the business of drugs, human smuggling and kidnapping for ransom. Jihad has become everybody's business. Now, it is difficult to control these (Made-in-the-Internet) jihadis." Fortunately, India has not yet faced this problem of citizen jihadis, but our intelligence agencies should be alert to this virus spreading to India and our political leadership and civil society should avoid any aggravation of anger among Muslim youth, which gives rise to this phenomenon.
7.One of the important lessons of 9/11 was the need to anticipate and prepare oneself to prevent other similar unconventional scenarios of a catastrophic potential and, if prevention fails, to have in place a capability for coping with the resulting situation. Amongst such likely scenarios of catastrophic potential increasingly receiving attention since 9/11 are those relating to maritime terrorism, terrorist threats to energy security, terrorism involving the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) material and terrorist threats to critical information infrastructure. Strategic counter-terrorism refers to the drill and the capabilities to be put in place in order to be able to prevent such scenarios and to cope with them if they do materialise despite the preventive measures.
8. Strategic threat analysis has undergone a significant change since 9/11. Before 9/11, analysis and assessment of threat perceptions were based on actual intelligence or information available with the intelligence and security agencies. 9/11 has brought home to policy-makers the difficulties faced by intelligence agencies, however well-endowed they may be, in penetrating terrorist organisations to find out details of their thinking and planning. This realisation has underlined the importance of analysts serving policy-makers constantly
identifying national security vulnerabilities, which might attract the attention of terrorists, and suggesting options and actions to deny opportunities for terrorist strikes to the terrorists. Vulnerability analysis has now become as important as threat analysis.
9.The 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US and the precision and the evil ingenuity with which they were planned and executed created a wave of alarm about the likelihood of similar strikes at coastal and maritime targets. Interrogation of Al Qaeda operatives arrested since 9/11 have brought out that Al Qaeda has been planning a major maritime terrorist operation in order to damage global economy.Post-9/11, scenario-building exercises have invariably included scenarios involving possible catastrophic acts of maritime terrorism. Four of these possible scenarios are or should be of major concern to our national security managers:
First, terrorists hijacking a huge oil or gas tanker and exploding it in mid-sea or in a major port in order to cause huge human, material and environmental damage.
Second, terrorists hijacking an oil or gas tanker or a bulk-carrier and exploding it or scuttling it in maritime choke-points such as the Malacca Strait in order to cause a major disruption of energy supplies and global trade.
Three, terrorists smuggling weapon of mass destruction material such as radiological waste or lethal chemicals or even biological weapons in a container and having it exploded through a cellular phone as soon as the vessel carrying the container reaches a major port.
Four, sea-borne terrorists attacking a nuclear establishment or an oil refinery or off-shore oil platforms.
10. Regional and international co-operation to enforce maritime security has not only prevented any catastrophic act of maritime terrorism so far, but has also helped in bringing trans-national piracy in the South-East Asian region under control. The number of major attacks by pirates in the South-East Asian region declined from a high of 70 in 2001 to 28 in 2003, 18 in 2005, and 10 in 2006.In the second quarter of 2007, no major pirate attacks were reported from this region. The damage in men and equipment suffered by pirate gangs during the Tsunami of December 2004 did contribute to some extent to this fall, but increased maritime security co-operation with measures such as
co-ordinated patrolling of the Malacca Strait by Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia played an important role in bringing about this decline. India has also been playing a discreet, but significant role in contributing to a strengthening of maritime security without giving rise to fears of any ulterior strategic motives.
11.Till last year, the focus of India’s maritime counter-terrorism policy was mainly on the seas to the East of India----particularly on the Malacca Strait despite the fact that not a drop of our oil supplies passes through it. The security of the Malacca Strait is important for the energy security of China and Japan, but not for India’s energy security. For the security of our oil supplies, the seas to the West of India are more important than those to the East. Since the beginning of this year, this focus has been sought to be corrected with more attention to the West than in the past. The fact that effective physical security and naval patrolling have prevented thus far any major act of maritime terrorism does not mean that Al Qaeda and the IIF have given up their plans to target shipping, coastal installations and the maritime choke-points. They continue to pay attention to these targets and India has to be careful, inter alia, about the threat of an act of maritime terrorism mounted against it or against US ships in Indian waters. The Maldives, which has many uninhabited islands, could provide a launching base for such an attack.
12. Threats to energy security from jihadi terrorism would come under the category of mass economic damage or mass panic terrorism. Actual as well as apprehended terrorist strikes against energy supplies could cause damage to the world economy through serious disruption of supplies and panic rise in oil and gas prices. Amongst possible scenarios of terrorist threats to energy security are:
Terrorists capturing power in a major oil-producing country and using oil as a jihadist weapon. The two countries most vulnerable to this threat are Iraq, if Al Qaeda ultimately prevails over the US troops there, and Saudi Arabia, where Al Qaeda has been quite active.
Terrorists attacking oil-production facilities even if they are not able to capture power.
Terrorist attacks on pipelines and tankers.
13. Initially, Al Qaeda was against attacking the oil production capabilities of Islamic countries since it looked upon oil as an Allah-given asset for the Muslims, which should be kept available for the Muslims of the Ummah. The focus of its operation was, therefore, on the supply network through pipelines and
tankers. A change of this policy was evident in a statement attributed to bin Laden, which was disseminated in December,2004. He said in that statement: "One of the main causes for our enemies' gaining hegemony over our country is their stealing our oil; therefore, you should make every effort in your power to stop the greatest theft in history of the
natural resources of both present and future generations, which is being carried out through collaboration between foreigners and [native] agents. . . . Focus your operations on it [oil production], especially in Iraq and the Gulf area, since this [lack of oil] will cause them to die off [on their own]." This call for attacks on oil production facilities has since been repeated by Ayman al- Zawahiri, bin Laden’s No.2 in Al Qaeda.
14.The likely impact of pan-Islamic jihadi terrorism on the global economy received considerable attention at the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security held at Madrid from March 8 to 11,2005, which I too attended . The prevailing view among the experts, who participated, was that for damaging the economy of their adversaries, the focus of Al Qaeda and other jihadi terrorist organizations would continue to be on maritime trade, energy security, the information network, tourism and road and rail transport. Of these, while the first three are hard targets since they are well protected, tourism and transport would continue to be soft targets.
15. The threat perceptions relating to energy security that emerged from the discussions at Madrid were as follows:
· Threats to pipelines and oil tankers ----Medium to high.
· Threats to production and storage facilities---Low to medium.
16.These perceptions were based on the presumption that it is easier to provide effective physical security to the production and storage facilities than to pipelines and oil tankers. An important point stressed was the need for a thorough re-examination of the present concepts and assumptions underlying the strategy relating to strategic reserves of energy. It was pointed out that the present policy initiatives in this regard were based on perceptions of conventional threats to energy supplies from State actors. It was felt that the present policy framework had not paid adequate attention to the impact on energy supplies due to threats from non-State actors.
17. There is very little India can do to prevent terrorist attacks on the oil production and distribution facilities of other countries. What our Strategic Counter-Terrorism policy should provide for is contingency planning to deal with an energy crisis should the terrorists succeed in capturing power in countries such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia and if they are able to seriously disrupt energy supplies to other countries, including India. The contingency plans should provide for a diversification of our sources of supply in order to reduce too much dependence on a single source and the building-up of a Strategic Energy Reserve. China, which did not have a strategic reserve before 9/11, has already started building up such a reserve at four different locations in the country, of which one has already been constructed. Its objective reportedly is to build up a strategic reserve to meet 35 days' requirements by 2008 and 90 days' requirements by 2020.
18. The strengthening of physical security measures for the protection of our own oil and gas production and distribution facilities against attacks by indigenous terrorist groups either on their own or at the instigation of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has to be given priority. In the past, organisations such as the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) had targeted our oil production and distribution facilities. The ISI had asked the Babbar Khalsa in the early 1990s to target the Bombay off-shore oil platform. Even the Pakistani members of the IIF could pose a threat to our energy-related facilities.
19.Concerns over the likelihood of jihadi terrorists using WMD material for their acts of terrorism could be traced to the threats held out by the Chechen terrorists in 1995 to seize and blow up a Russian nuclear power station if the Russian troops did not withdraw from Chechnya. Subsequently, in two interviews given
by him to American journalists after he had shifted to Afghanistan from the Sudan in 1996, Osama bin Laden spoke of the religious right and obligation of the Muslims to acquire WMD and use them, if necessary, to protect their religion.
20. Documentary and other evidence collected by the US forces in Afghanistan after they had driven out the Taliban and Al Qaeda from there in 2001-02 reportedly showed that Al Qaeda had set up a special wing headed by one Abu Khabab to undertake research and development in WMD. They also recovered video recordings of experiments with chemicals carried out on dogs. On the basis of the evidence collected by their forces, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had also asked the Pakistani authorities to detain two retired nuclear scientists---Sultan Bashiruddin Mohammad and Abdul Majid--- on suspicion of their having had contacts with bin Laden, while he was living in Kandahar under the protection of the Taliban. Sultan Bashiruddin, who was educated in Canada, was the first head of the Kahuta uranium enrichment project before he was replaced by A.Q.Khan, the so-called father of Pakistan's atomic bomb.
21. During their interrogation by the US and Pakistani officials, the two retired scientists reportedly admitted having visited Kandahar and met bin Laden, but insisted that their visit was mainly to seek his co-operation and assistance in a project for humanitarian assistance to poor Afghans, which they had
started. They denied having had any discussions with bin Laden on the research and development of WMD. Since no incriminatory evidence of involvement in helping Al Qaeda in developing a capability for WMD terrorism could be found against them, they were released, but restrictions were imposed on their travel and the bank accounts of the humanitarian relief organisation founded by them were frozen under the UN Security Council Resolution No.1373. The US also seems to be having concerns, not yet openly expressed, that A.Q.Khan's proliferation activities might not have been confined to State actors only such as Iran, Libya and North Korea.
22. There seems to be a convergence of threat perceptions between American and Russian counter-terrorism experts that of all terrorist organisations in the world, Al Qaeda and the Chechens definitely have the intention and the required ruthlessness to acquire and use WMD---the Al Qaeda against the US nationals and interests in the US homeland and the Chechens against Russian nationals and interests in Russia. The Pakistani organisations allied with Al Qaeda in the IIF project Pakistan's atomic bomb and nuclear technology as belonging to the Ummah as a whole. Since the LET has reportedly sympathisers in Pakistan's nuclear and missile scientists' community, the dangers of nuclear technology one day leaking out to organisations such as Al Qaeda through pro-LET scientists should be a matter of serious concern to the international community.
23.At the international summit on Terrorism, Democracy and Security held at Madrid from March 8 to 11,2005, the foremost concern in the minds of the participants was the likelihood of an act of catastrophic terrorism involving the use of WMD. This concern figured repeatedly--in the discussions of the Working Groups on March 8, in the panel discussions on March 9 and 10, in the keynote address of Mr.Kofi Annan, the then UN Secretary-General, to the plenary on March 10 and in a final document called the Madrid Agenda issued on March 11 on the basis of the recommendations emanating from the summit.
24. During a panel discussion on March 10,2005, on "Stopping the Spread of WMDs" , Mr. Rolf Ekeus, former Head of the UN Security Council Observer Mission (UNSCOM),who was then the Chairman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said that of the four types of WMD (nuclear, biological,
chemical, radiological) chemical and radiological weapons were accessible to terrorists, with chemical weapons posing the greatest threat. Because terrorists were now prepared to die in the attacks, radiological weapons now posed a far greater risk than in the past. The science behind BW was readily accessible, but the difficulty was in its dispersal.
25.Retired Lt.-Gen. Eugene Habiger of the US Air Force (USAF) described the risk of terrorists using WMD as severe, and added that this threat could not be averted. It was not a question of if, but when, there would be a terrorist WMD attack.
26.Mr.John Colston, then NATO´s Assistant Secretary-General for Defence Planning and Operations, said that the events of 9/11 in the U.S. and 3/11 in Madrid showed that terrorists did not shrink from attacks that would result in mass casualties. “Even if we assessed the risk of terrorist WMD use as low, we would still have to accept that the implications of such an attack were great. This meant that the threat had to be taken very seriously. To avert it required action in four key areas: policy, good intelligence, plans, and the execution of plans.”
27. Any counter-terrorism strategy to deal with WMD-related terrorism should provide for effective physical security measures and contingency planning to meet each of the possible scenarios. The contingency planning has to be scientists-driven since our civilian and other agencies may not have the required
expertise in this matter. The leadership role in WMD counter-terrorism has to be that of the scientists, with the civilian agencies actively assisting them.
28.Cyber warfare essentially refers to the techniques of massive disruptions in the economy and the critical infrastructure of the adversary and denying to the adversary the ability to effectively use the Internet for operational purposes, such as waging a conventional or unconventional warfare. As the world,
its economy and infrastructure become more and more Internet dependent and driven, they become more and more vulnerable to catastrophic acts of mass disruption not only by States and non-State actors such as terrorists, trans-national crime syndicates etc, but also by lone-wolf cyber warriors, working either independently, or in tandem with other lone-wolf warriors or at the instance of States or non-State actors. Cyber warfare provides the means of conducting covert actions such as sabotage, subversion, mass disruption etc without having to physically cross borders or travel.
29. While many States are believed to be acquiring a capability for waging a cyber warfare, evidence is still lacking as to whether the terrorist organisations too have been doing so. The terrorists have definitely acquired a capability for disfiguring the web sites of their adversaries. There have been innumerable instances of terrorists doing so. Are they also trying to acquire a capability for mass disruption operations through the Internet against economic and other critical infrastructure? The evidence regarding this is still incomplete and weak.
30. Much has been written and discussed on the dangers of cyber warfare by terrorists, involving mass disruption covert actions against their adversary States. The debate on this subject is based more on perceptions of vulnerabilities than on those of real threats. However, intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies cannot afford to overlook this possibility while developing their capabilities in the field of net-centric counter-terrorism.
31. Since 9/11, the jihadi terrorists have been increasingly using the cyber space for some of their activities such as propagation of their cause, recruitment of volunteers, collection of funds, imparting training, secret communications and data-mining. As Bruce Hoffmann, a well-known US counter-terrorism expert, remarked in a Congressional testimony, cyber space has become the new sanctuary of the terrorists practising new terrorism. One can bomb out real sanctuaries on land, but how to remove virtual sanctuaries in cyber space?
32.The remarkable manner in which they have built up their cyber capabilities speak of the availability to them of a fairly large reservoir of information technology (IT) proficient volunteers who are prepared to place their services at their disposal for operational purposes.
33. While their increasing web presence has enabled the jihadi terrorists and their objective allies in the community of free-lance jihadis and lone-wolf cyber activists to promote and strengthen feelings of Islamic solidarity and to give a push to the trend towards the monolithisation of the community, though
this objective is still far away, its actual contribution to the success of specific acts of terrorism is difficult to quantify. However, their ability to communicate with each other through the Internet without their planned operations being detected by the intelligence agencies has definitely been an important factor in some of their successful terrorist strikes.
34. Neither prevention nor pre-emption is possible in cyber-space. Only effective countering can deny the terrorists the advantages presently enjoyed by them. Countering their innumerable web sites by suppressing them would be counter-productive. The web sites run by the jihadi organisations and their associates are a valuable source of open information regarding the terrorists. There would be no point in suppressing them. What needs to be suppressed are those pages or sections of their web sites, which disseminate information about how to commit an act of terrorism. An effective counter to their use of the web for propaganda and PSYWAR purposes is not by suppressing them, but by the State developing better means of dissemination of information and a better PSYWAR capability in order to discredit the terrorist organisations and wean
their followers away from them.
35. The most important component of net-centric counter-terrorism is the capability to monitor/intercept their communications through the Internet, to break their codes and take timely action on the intelligence thus collected. Very few countries in the world presently have the human, financial and technical resources required for this. It would be very difficult to undertake this task through national capabilities alone. While there has been an increase in international co-operation by way of intelligence-sharing, there is very little co-operation by way of technology-sharing. (7-10-07)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, and former member of the National Security Advisory Board of the Govt. of India )
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR--PAPER NO.356
Two platoons of the US-trained Special Services Group (SSG) of the Pakistan Army, accompanied by Peshawar-based units of the Frontier Corps (FC), were helicopter-lifted to South Waziristan on January 18,2008, to beat back a group of about 150 Mehsuds and Uzbeks, who had assembled in an attempt to capture a third fort near Laddah, in which an outpost of the FC was located. They dispersed the jihadis after killing about 60 of them. Another platoon of the SSG recaptured the fort at Siplatoi, which had been taken over by the Mehsuds on January 17, 2008, after the FC personnel posted there surrendered or ran away without a fight.
2. The Army has also started moving troops of the regular Army by road in order to strengthen the morale of the FC personnel deployed in South Waziristan. The Mehsuds tried to ambush an army convoy on the Jandola-Wana road, but their ambush did not succeeed. The troops in the convoy took up position and beat back the attackers after killing about 20 of them.
3. Simultaneously, two fighter aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force and two helicopter gunships of the army made repeated punitive strikes on Mehsud-majority villages. These air strikes continued intermittently the whole of January 18,2008. More Pakistani troops from regular army units are likely to be rushed to South Waziristan on January 19,2008.
4. The Army has been desperately trying to kill or capture Maulana FM Radio Fazlullah of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) of the Swat Valley and Baitullah, the Amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, who operates from South Waziristan, but it has not so far succeeded for want of precise intelligence regarding their whereabouts.
5.The Air Force has alerted all its stations in the country to strengthen security in anticipation of a reprisal attack by the terrorists outside the tribal area. The use of fighter planes for air strikes against the Uzbeks in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan in October,2007, had led to a suicide attack on a bus carrying PAF personnel to a PAF base near Sargodha in Punjab.
6. The Army is worried over the media giving publicity to what it alleges to be unsubstantiated claims of the Taliban, which tends to have an adverse impact on the morale of the para-military forces.(19-1-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )
Friday, January 18, 2008
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO.355
The Mehsud followers of Baitullah Mehsud, assisted by some Uzbeks of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), have stepped up their attacks on the thinly-manned outposts of the Frontier Corps (FC) in different parts of South Waziristan. These outposts were withdrawn under a peace agreement signed by the Pakistani Army with Baitullah at the Sararogha fort in February,2005. When President Pervez Musharraf ordered the commandoes of the Special Services Group (SSG) to raid the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July,2007, he also ordered the re-establishment of these outposts of the FC since he apprehended that the Mehsuds, many of whose children were studying in the two madrasas attached to the Lal Masjid, could retaliate for the commando action.
2.Baitullah interpreted the re-establishment of these outposts as a bad breach of faith by Musharraf and announced that the Mehsuds would no longer be bound by the ceasefire agreement of February,2005. Since then, the Mehsuds have unleashed a wave of suicide attacks not only in South Waziristan, but also in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh. He had also resumed the guerilla attacks of his force on the para-military forces and captured nearly 300 of them. Under a fresh cease-fire agreement reached in November,2007, Baitullah agreed to suspend his operations and release the captured personnel of the FC in return for the Government closing again the FC outposts re-established in South Waziristan, releasing all Mehsuds arrested in South Waziristan and the NWFP, and also Maulana Abdul Aziz Ghazi, the chief cleric of the Lal Masjid, and the students of the madrasas of the mosque arrested during the commando action.
3. Baitullah released all the FC personnel captured by his force. In return, Musharraf ordered the release of all but six of the Mehsuds arrested by his security agencies. He has not ordered the release of these six on the ground that they are under trial before the Anti-Terrorism courts and hence he has no powers to order their release. He has not agreed to release those arrested during the commando raid in the Lal Masjid. Nor has he agreed to withdraw the FC outposts re-established in the area. On the contrary, after the assassination of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto on December 27,2007, allegedly at the instance of Baitullah, he has reinforced the FC posts in South Waziristan in an attempt to hunt for Baitullah.
4. This has provoked Baitullah to step up attacks on the FC posts. Though the FC consists largely of Pashtun tribals recruited in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the NWFP, these Pashtuns are looked upon by Baitullah and Al Qaeda as apostate for allegedly collaborating with Musharraf, who has already been declared an apostate by Al Qaeda since 2003. The FC comes operationally under the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Army and administratively under the Ministry of the Interior.
5.Between 1878 and 1903, the British set up the various tribal agencies, which, after Pakistan's independence in 1947, were constituted into the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The British created in each agency para-military forces called militias recruited from amongst the various Pashtun sub-tribes in that agency. Thus came into existence militias such as the Khyber Rifles (1878), the Zhob Militia (1883), the Kurram Militia (1892), the Tochi Scouts (1894), the Chagai Militia (1896), the South Waziristan Scouts (1900) , the Chitral Scouts (1903) etc. Lord Curzon, who became the Viceroy in 1899, created the Frontier Corps to serve as the umbrella organisation of these militias and to co-ordinate their functioning in all the tribal agencies. This arrangement has continued till now. The Frontier Corps, whose General Headquarters are located in Peshawar, functions under the over-all supervision of the Corps Commander of the Pakistan Army at Peshawar.
6. As mentioned by me in my article of November 15,2007, titled "The State of Jihadi Terrorism in Pakistan" (http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers25/paper2459.html ), a major blunder committed by Musharraf was the over-use of para-military forces such as the Frontier Constabulary and the Frontier Corps in the operations against terrorists in the tribal areas. He wanted to avoid using the Punjabi-dominated Army for ground operations. While the Army is actively involved in the ground operations against the Baloch freedom-fighters in Balochistan, it was confining itself to the barracks in the FATA and in the Provincially-Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). American officials and their counterparts in Pakistan often claim that Musharraf has deployed nearly 80,000 troops in the tribal areas. The Americans cite this as one of the reasons for their strong backing to the General despite his growing unpopularity.
7. What they do not mention is that many of these security personnel are the tribal members of the para-military forces, who come from that area, and not Pakistani military personnel recruited from other areas of the country. A large number of the Pakistani army personnel are used not for ground operations against the terrorists, but for providing physical security to American and other NATO military supplies to Afghanistan from the Karachi port after they are landed there. This has been creating resentment among the tribal personnel of the para-military forces, who feel that Musharraf, under US pressure, is making not only Muslims kill Muslims, but also Pashtuns kill Pashtuns, in the name of the so-called war on terrorism. The FM radio stations operated by pro-Al Qaeda jihadi leaders in the tribal areas have been repeatedly alleging in their broadcasts directed to the fellow-tribals in the para-military forces that innocent tribals are being killed in order to save American lives in the US homeland.
8. As a result of this, there has been a growing number of desertions of Pashtuns serving in the para-military forces. Musharraf did use regular Army units to counter the supporters of Maulana Fazlullah in the Swat Valley, but afraid that the Pashtun soldiers of the Army too might start deserting their units like the Pashtun members of the para-military forces, he has been avoiding the use of the army in ground operations and has instead been relying increasingly on helicopter gunships. This has, on the one hand, resulted in an increase in the number of civilian casualties due to indiscriminate air-mounted actions and, on the other, further fuelled the resentment in the para-military forces, whose personnel are asking: Are the lives of the Army personnel more precious than those of the Frontier Constabulary and the Frontier Corps?
9. I had also written that Musharraf has so far not told his people and the international community that Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations in the tribal areas have been increasingly targeting Shias and Christians. Captured Shia members of the para-military forces are being treated with brutality and killed by beheading or by cutting their throats. Shia members of the civil society are also being targeted. The FM radio stations have been indulging in the most horrible anti-Shia broadcasts. Shias are being projected as American agents in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. They are alleging that the majority of the prostitutes in Pakistan are Shias and projecting the Shias as the sect of the prostitutes in the Ummah. A highly reputed school for poor tribal girls run in the FATA by a Christian missionary organisation was targeted and forced to close through intimidation. There are no Buddhists in the tribal areas, but many historical Buddhist heritage sites are there. These too are systematically being attacked. Al Qaeda is trying to replicate Iraq in Pakistan by exacerbating the already existing divide between the Shias and the Sunnis in the civil society as well as in the Army.
10. In their renewed offensive in the wake of the assassination of Benazir, the Mehsuds and the Uzbeks of the IMU have been taking advantage of the low morale of the personnel of the FC. After overrunning the FC outpost in the Sararogha fort on January 15,2008,, they are reported to have overrun another post of the FC located at a place called Seplatoi in South Waziristan. What is disquieting is that whereas the FC personnel at Sararogha put up a fight against the Mehsuds and Uzbeks and suffered fatalities before they were overrun, those ( 60 in number) at Seplatoi are alleged to have either run away or surrendered without even a semblance of a fight.
11. Of course, the Army has strongly denied this, but other reliable sources say this incident did happen. The declining morale of the Pashtun members of the Frontier Corps should be a matter of serious concern. Can it spread to the Pashtuns in the Pakistani Army? That is a question, which should worry not only Musharraf, but also the international community.
12. The time has come for Pakistan and the international community to review the physical security arrangements in Pakistan's nuclear establishments in order to look for signs of declining morale there. While Pakistan's principal nuclear establishments are located in Punjab and are guarded by carefully selected Punjabi soldiers, its nuclear waste dumps are located in the tribal areas of the NWFP such as Dera Ismail Khan and are guarded by the FC.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Thursday, January 17, 2008
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO.354
The termination of the 2002 cease-fire agreement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and of the role of the foreign cease-fire monitors and facilitators underlines the determination of the Government not to let anything stand in the way of its military operations against the LTTE reaching their logical conclusion.
2. In its objective, such a logical conclusion would be the disruption, if not the destruction, beyond recovery of the command and control of the LTTE and the re-enforcement of the writ of the Government over the areas in the Northern Province, which are still under the control of the LTTE. Nobody can quarrel with this objective.
3. This objective is sought to be achieved through a two-pronged action---- intensified air strikes against the LTTE's command and control in the Wanni region and graduated ground operations, which are initially focussed more on a decimation of the LTTE's rank and file than on recovery of territory. If and when the rank and file is weakened substantially, the focus would turn to the recovery of territory presently under the LTTE's control.
4.The more the command and control is disrupted by the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF), the easier will be the ground operations. The longer the command and control remains intact, the slower will be the progress of the ground operations. Unlike Al Qaeda, which is a decentralised organisation with its operatives capable of autonomous operations for a long time even in the absence of a centralised command and control, the LTTE is a very rigid and centralised organisation. Its operatives do not seem to have the same capability as the operatives of Al Qaeda for autonmous action. The disruption of the command and control could have a debilitating effect on the organisation.
5. The LTTE has a very narrow pyramid at the top. Its command and control is concentrated in the hands of essentially three persons---Prabakaran, its leader, Pottu Amman, the chief of its intelligence wing, and Soosai, the chief of the Sea Tigers. If the air strikes can eliminate these three persons, that could mark the beginning of the end of the LTTE as it is constituted today and the ground operations could achieve their objective without large-scale civilian casualties.
6. The law of diminishing options and assets has set in for the LTTE. The law is already operating inexorably. It has very little option for offensive ground action of the guerilla type not amounting to terrorism. It has been reduced to fighting one defensive action after another against a harassing army in order to retain control of the territory and retard the advance of the Army towards Wanni. A guerilla force without offensive options slowly bleeds to death. It still has the option of the card of terrorism in areas outside the Tamil belt. It has already been using this card, killing innocent civilians without minding about the impact of its acts of terrorism on the international community. It has already lost considerable international support and understanding for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause. The more it resorts to terrorism against soft targets, the more will be the loss of international support and the ultimate casualty will be that of the Tamil cause.
7. It has still two options left for it to use---- a successful ground strike to destroy the fighter planes of the SLAF and a successful attack on an economic target of considerable strategic significane for the Government.To use these options, it needs assets----human and material. Its human assets are still well-motivated and capable of turning the tide in its favour. But, its material assets are diminishing due to the disruption of its supply channels from abroad and its inability to mount successful offensive operations against the Army, which could replenish its stocks of arms, ammunition and explosives. Human assets alone, however top grade, cannot produce miracles without adequate material assets.
8. Internationally, the LTTE finds itself more and more isolated. What goodwill it had in the international community till 1991! A series of political blunders by Prabakaran like the brutal assassinations of Rajiv Gandhi, Premadasa and Laxman Kadirgamar and the unsuccessful attempt to kill Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunge, when she was the President, and its frequent resort to terrorism against Sri Lankan Tamil leaders disliked by Prabakaran and other innocent civilians have severely damaged this goodwill. Prabakaran has shown again and again a tendency to lift huge boulders and drop them on his own feet. He started his career as the well-heard voice of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause. He seems destined to fade into history as its curse.
9. There is no need to feel concerned over the self-created predicament of the LTTE and its ultimate fate. But one has to feel concerned over the fate of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause. Rajapaksa and his advisers have been saying soothing words about the importance of India for Sri Lanka, their receptivity to India's security concerns, their readiness to right the wrongs done to the Sri Lankan Tamils in the past etc.
10.But, let there be no doubt about it. If they succeed militarily, the dictated peace, which they will seek to impose on the Tamils, will be the peace of medieval conquerors over the conquered. They will seek to take Sri Lanka back to 1982 and the years before.
11. India has done well to assist the Sri Lankan Navy in its operations against the LTTE's Navy. It will also be justified in assisting the SLAF in destroying the so-called air force of the LTTE. The LTTE's naval and air capabilities pose a threat to the security of not only Sri Lanka, but also of the region as a whole. But this assistance should have been as a quid pro quo to simultaneous steps by the Rajapaksa Government to address the aspirations and grievances of the Sri Lankan Tamils, with firm commitments on the kind of peace, which would be acceptable to India and the world. India's action in not insisting on a visible and palpable quid pro quo in favour of the Tamil cause can prove to be a strategic blunder. (18-1-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR: PAPER NO.353
The Pakistani authorities, including President Pervez Musharraf, continue to be convinced that the assassination of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto at Rawalpindi on December 27,2007, was masterminded by Baitullah Mehsud ( stated to be 32 years old), the Amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, who is the head of the Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan. Baitullah himself has strongly denied this and accused the Pakistani Army of spreading disinformation in order to divert attention away from the alleged involvement of military officers in the assassination. The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of Benazir has not accepted the claim of the Government. It claims that before Benazir's assassination Baitullah had sent a message to her through an intermediary that he would pose no threat to her.
2. Despite this, the conviction of Musharraf and his officers regarding the alleged involvement of Baitullah remains strong. The authorities also insist that a telephone conversation regarding the assassination between Baitullah and one of his associates, who had allegedly co-ordinated the operation to kill Benazir, which they had claimed to have intercepted was authentic.
3. The authorities are concerned over reports that Baitullah is planning to organise other assassinations before the elections of February 18,2008. Amongst those allegedly figuring in his hit list are Musharraf himself, Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the Chief of the Army Staff, Mr.Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, who was the Interior Minister at the time of the commando action in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July last, Mr.Amir Muqam, former Minister for Political Affairs, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the head of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam (JUI) Pakistan, and Mr.Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister. Sherpao has already escaped two assassination attempts last year and Muqam escaped one attempt. The authorities have already cautioned these persons about the likely threats to their security and advised them to reduce their public exposure.
4. Another point of concern to the authorities is the increasing involvement of the Mehsud followers of Baitullah not only in acts of suicide terrorism in the tribal belt and outside, but also their repeatedly demonstrated capability to engage in conventional-style battles---not amounting to terrorism--- against the security forces. Even in the past since 2003, the Mehsuds have been undertaking such conventional-style guerilla operations, but mostly in the Mehsud area of South Waziristan. Recent evidence indicates that training in similar guerilla tactics has been imparted by the Mehsuds to the followers of Maulana FM Radio Fazlullah of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) in the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and to some Sunnis of the Shia-majority Kurram Agency. In addition to imparting the training to them, Baitullah has also been sending some of his well-trained and well-motivated followers to Swat and Kurram to participate in the fighting there. Some Sunnis from Kurram and Swat are also participating in the operations of Mehsud's force in South Waziristan. The Mehsuds have been among the major contributors of tribal soldiers to the Pakistan Army since 1947. A large reservoir of well-trained and experienced ex-servicemen is, therefore, easily available to Baitullah for recruitment.
5. To counter the enhanced threats from the followers of Baitullah, Kiyani has sent additional para-military forces to South Waziristan to mount a fresh hunt for Baitullah, with the help of helicopter gunships and artillery. A problem faced by the Army arises from the fact that nobody in the Government knows how he looks like. He is as mysterious a figure as Mulla Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Neo Taliban. He has rarely been photographed.He attended a function held in February 2005 in the Sararogha fort of South Waziristan at which a cease-fire agreement between the Government and his group was signed, but he came wearing a mask, which he never removed.
6. Baitullah has retaliated against the stepped-up hunt for him by the Army by intensifying attacks against the Army and the para-military forces deployed in South Waziristan. His reprisal attacks started even before the expiry on January 5,2008, of the ultimatum issued by him to the Government demanding the suspension of the military operations in Swat and South Waziristan, the closing-down of the security posts set up by the Army in South Waziristan in July last, coinciding with the commando action in the Lal Masjid, release of six of his followers, who are facing trial before an Anti-Terrorism Court, and the release of Maulana Abdul Aziz Ghazi of the Lal Masjid, who was arrested by the Pakistani authorities during the commando raid when he tried to escape by wearing a burqa. His brother Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi was killed by the commandoes of the Special Services Group (SSG). The Government has rejected these demands.
7. Disregarding the ultimatum, the para-military forces, on the orders of Kiyani, went into action against the Mehsud followers of Baitullah almost immediately after the Ministry of the Interior claimed to have intercepted a telephone conversation of Baitullah indicating his involvement in the assassination of Benazir. On January 3,2008, two unidentified aircraft----some alleged they were of the Pakistani Air Force, others claimed they came from Afghanistan--- bombed villages, where Baitullah had stayed in the past. In its hunt for Baitullah, the Army also sought the co-operation of the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe, which had helped it last year in driving out the Uzbeks of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) from South Waziristan. Baitullah's followers retaliated against the Ahmadzai Wazirs on January 7,2008, by killing nine Wazirs of a peace committee set up by the authorities. Maulvi Nazeer, the head of the Ahmadzai Wazirs, issued an order directing all Mehsuds living in villages and towns where the Wazirs are in a majority, to leave the villages. He also announced the setting-up of a 600-strong self-defence force to protect the Wazirs against future attacks by the Mehsuds.
8. The Pakistan Army retaliated against the Mehsuds by imposing an economic blocade of all Mehsud villages and by stopping the supply of food and other essential articles to them.On January 12,2008, there were reports that Uzbeks of the IMU, who were based in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan, had moved to South Waziristan in large numbers to help the Mehsuds counter the Army. On the night of January 15,2008, a 200-strong force of Mehsuds and Uzbeks surrounded the Saraogha fort inside which an outpost of the Frontier Corps manned by 42 officers and men was located. This outpost was engaged in the hunt for Baitullah. The attackers blew up a wall of the fort, entered it, over-ran the post and looted the arms and ammunition kept there. Seven members of the FC were killed in the exchange of fire. Fifteen others managed to escape and reach another post of the FC. The remaining 20 are believed to have either surrendered to the attacking jihadis or captured by them. While the Army has claimed that the FC personnel managed to kill 40 of the jihadis, the Mehsuds have denied this. They claimed that they suffered only two fatalities----one from South Waziristan and the second from Kurram. The jihadis may not retain control of the fort since they would be vulnerable to air strikes on the fort. (17-1-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Monday, January 14, 2008
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO.352
At a time when Pakistan is reeling under a wave of terrorist attacks in its Pashtun tribal belt and outside, it has started facing growing public anger due to an acute shortage of essential commodities such as wheat and wheat flour, oil and gas. Irregular power and water supply has also added to the difficulties faced by the common people.
2. President Pervez Musharraf, who has been facing a determined campaign against him from lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and other sections of the elite since March last year, has till now been able to deal with them mainly because the common masses did not come out in the streets in support of the agitating elite and against him. This did not happen even after the assassination of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister, at Rawalpindi on December 27,2007. There were public demonstrations in Sindh with attacks on public and private property, but he was able to control them with the help of the Sindh Government dominated by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of Mr.Altaf Hussain, who is living in exile in the UK. The Mohajirs of the MQM do not have much love for Benazir or her Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and put down the demonstrations firmly. Moreover, the PPP itself, which has strong pockets of support in the Seraiki areas of Southern Punjab, got alarmed when the demonstrations in Sindh took an anti-Punjabi turn, which would have cost it votes in Punjab. It strongly discouraged the demonstrations from continuing. Its appeal to the Sindhis to show their anger at the time of voting and not in the streets cooled the situation.
3. The anger over the growing shortages and scarcities of essential articles could bring the people out into the streets in large numbers not only against the Musharraf Government, but also against the elite itself, which has till now shown little concern over the economic hardships of the weaker sections of the society. The Government asserts that there is no shortage of wheat and flour in the country and feels that a psychologfical atmosphere of shortages has been created by anti-social elements such as smugglers and profiteers. It has deployed the police and the para-military forces in large numbers in flour mills and wheat and flour godowns in order to prevent the anti-social activities of these elements.
4. At a time when the security forces were already overstretched in countering jihadi terrorism and in ensuring law and order for the elections due on February 18,2008, the diversion of forces for ensuring the availability of essential articles for the common people could redound to the benefit of the terrorists by relaxing pressure on them.
5. At a time of acute shortages and scarcities, the sight of long convoys of vehicles of private contractors carrying rations meant for the NATO forces in Afghanistan from the Karachi port through the tribal belt is acting like a red rag to the bull. There have been attacks on these convoys in the tribal belt and looting of their contents. Initially, the attacks were on convoys carrying oil. Now, convoys carrying food rations are being attacked by Al Qaeda and pro-Taliban elements. They have been looting the rations and selling them at low prices to the poor people. This increases their popularity with the people and has become an additional source of funding for their terrorist operations.
6. After some such attacks on convoys and the looting of the rations meant for NATO forces by pro-Al Qaeda and pro-Taliban elements in the Mohmand Agency in the first week of January,2008, Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the Chief of the Army Staff, ordered the use of helicopter gunships and artillery against local tribal elements indulging in the looting. This has led to a wave of anger against him and the Army in the Mohmand Agency, which has till now remained free of the wave of suicide terrorism sweeping across Pakistan. There have been demonstrations against the Army action not only by the tribals of the Agency, who were till now not supporting the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan headed by Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan, but also by migrants from the Agency living in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).
7. Seven Pakistani members of a para-military unit and 23 tribals were killed in a clash between protesting tribals and the para-military force unit in the Agency on January 14,2008. (14-1-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR--PAPER NO.351
There were 56 acts of suicide terrorism in Pakistan during 2007, resulting in the death of 419 members of the security forces----the majority of them from the police and para-military forces--- and 217 civilians.The most important civilian killed was Mrs.Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister. As against this, there were only six incidents in 2006 in which 46 members of the security forces and 91 civilians were killed.
2.Of the 56 incidents of 2007, there were only four during the first six months of the year. The remaining 52 took place after the Pakistani commando action in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad between July 10 and 13,2007, in which about 300 tribal girls studying in a madrasa attached to the mosque were allegedly killed.
3. Three events of the second half of 2007 led to a wave of suicide terrorism--- the commando action in the Lal Masjid and the alleged death of a large number of tribal girls; the suicide committed by Abdullah Mehsud, a former inmate of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba, when he was surrounded by the security forces in Balochistan on July 27,2007, and the army operation in the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) in December,2007, against the members of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) headed by Maulana FM Radio Fazlullah, who had captured de facto control of it, when the NWFP was ruled by a six-party coalition of religious fundamentalist parties called the Muttahida- Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). The coalition quit office in proterst against Pervez Mushaaraf's action in contesting re-election as the President from the outgoing Assemblies elected in 2002. Thereafter, the Army went into action.
4. The largest number of suicide attacks in a month was in July. There were 15 suicide strikes between July 14 and 31,2007--- an average of one a day. The second largest number in a month was in December,2007. There were 10, including the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
5. There were eight in August, seven in September and six each in October and November,2007. One of the six in October was the unsuccesful attempt to kill Benazir Bhutto in Karachi on October 18.Of the 52 suicide attacks in the second half of 2007, five were against political leaders--- two against Benazir in Karachi and Rawalpindi, one against some workers of her Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in Islamabad and one each against Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, a Pashtun leader of the PPP who had deserted her in 2002 and supported Musharraf, and a junior Minister of the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam). Sherpao was the Interior Minister at the time of the Lal Masjid raid. He and the junior Minister escaped being killed.The PPP workers in Islamabad were targeted because Benazir Bhutto had supported the commando action into the Lal Masjid.
6. There was one directed against the Chinese working in Pakistan. In Hub,Balochistan, Chinese engineers travelling by a bus escaped death when the bus was attacked by a suicide bomber. There was no attack against American targets despite a strong anti-US feeling.
7. The remaining 46 attacks were against targets associated with the Army, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Special Services Group (SSG) and the Air Force. The police were not the primary targets, but a large number of them died because they were deployed in large numbers to protect the targets. Whenever the police guards suspected anyone and called him for frisking, he blew himself up.
8. Of the 56 attacks during 2007, 23 were in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), 21 in the NWFP, including four in the Swat Valley, nine in Punjab, two in Balochistan and one in Sindh. Of the 23 in the FATA, only two were in North Waziristan and one in the Bajaur Agency, where, according to the US, the terrorist infrastructure of Al Qaeda is located. The remaining 20 were in South Waziristan, where there are no confirmed reports of any Al Qaeda infrastructure. All the attacks in South Waziristan came from areas which are controlled by the Mehsuds. In the areas controlled by other tribes, there were no incidents of suicide terrorism. Two cantonments saw repeated suicide strikes--- Rawalpindi (5), where the General Headquarters of the Army are located, and Kohat (3) in the NWFP where a training centre for middle-level army officers is located.
9. During the second half of 2007, there were two calls for suicide attacks in reprisal for the Lal Masjid raid by Pakistan Army Commandoes. The first was issued by Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi of the Lal Masjid before he and his student supporters were killed by the commandoes. The second was by Osama bin Laden in his message coinciding with the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 strikes in the US Homeland. The call given by Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi before his death at the hands of the Army had a greater impact on the tribal population in South Waziristan and the Swat Valley than the call of bin Laden. The death of Ghazi was followed by one act of suicide terrorism almost every day for 15 days.
10. Since the police has not been able to detect most of these incidents so far, one does not know for certain how many of these were the outcome of outpouring of anger by individuals not belonging to any organisation and how many were orchestrated and co-ordinated by organisations such as Al Qaeda or the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan of which Baitullah Mehsud is the Amir. (14-1-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )