Friday, February 29, 2008




India is presently facing the problem of ideological terrorism in the tribal belt of central India, ethnic tribal insurgency in its North-East bordering Bangladesh and Myanmar, separatist terrorism in parts of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and jihadi terrorism in J&K as well as certain other parts of India. In the 1980s and the 1990s, it was also faced with the problem of Khalistani terrorism by some sections of the Sikh population in the Punjab, who wanted an independent State for themselves to be called Khalistan. Their activities have considerably declined since 1995, but some of their leaders continue to be active from their sanctuaries in Pakistan.

Another threat to India’s internal security arises from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka. The LTTE used to enjoy some support from sections of fellow-Tamils in Tamil Nadu, but this has declined after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister, by a suicide bomber of the LTTE near Chennai (Madras) in May,1991. Despite this decline in public support, the LTTE continues to use the Indian territory in Tamil Nadu for the procurement of material required for making improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other material such as medicines etc. The naval and air capabilities of the LTTE are of great concern to India since they could pose a threat not only to the security of Sri Lanka, but also to peace and security in the region as a whole.

The oldest insurgent-cum-terrorist movement in India is the ideological terrorist movement inspired by the peasants-led model of the Chinese Revolution. It is essentially rural terrorism, which has not spread to urban areas. It made its appearance in certain parts of Andhra Pradesh in 1948, when Andhra Pradesh was not yet a separate State and formed part of the undivided State of Madras. From there, it spread to the Naxalbari area of West Bengal in the 1960s and came to be known as the Naxalite movement. It has since spread right across the tribal belt in Central India and has now come to be known as the Maoist movement. It is led by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), but there are other smaller groups with different names which are also involved. They have the same ideology as the CPI (Maoist), but prefer to retain their separate identities instead of merging themselves with the CPI (Maoist).

The Maoists are inspired by the ideology of Mao Zedong and the Shining Path Guerillas of Peru. Like Mao, they advocate the initial “liberation” of the rural areas and then taking their revolution to the urban areas. They believe that power comes out of the barrel of the gun. The fact that China has almost discarded the Maoist ideology has not had any impact on them. They used to be in receipt of material assistance from China till 1979. This assistance has since stopped after the late Deng Xiaoping gave up the policy of exporting the revolution.

The Maoists of India maintain close relations with their counterparts in Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. There were unconfirmed reports in the past that some of their cadres had been trained by the LTTE, but there have been no recent reports of such assistance. The Maoists are the only terrorist group in India, which has not received any assistance from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The Maoist movement is essentially an indigenous movement with external ideological inspiration, but it has no trans-national operational linkages.

It has considerable public support in the tribal belt of Central India. The social and economic grievances of the tribals arising from factors such as exploitation of the tribals by non-tribals, rich landlords, money-lenders and forest contractors, the absence of land reforms in order to reduce the number of landless peasants and lack of economic development in the tribal areas have been driving sections of the angry tribals into the arms of the CPI (Maoist), which has been exploiting them in the hope of achieving power through a peasant-led revolution. The leaders of the movement are well-educated and strongly influenced by Marxism and Mao Zedong’s Thoughts, but their cadres are ill-educated.

The Maoists use terrorism as well as guerilla warfare tactics. They mostly operate with hand-held weapons, IEDs and landmines. They operate in small clandestine cells as well as in large conventional fighting formations. Extortions from rich landlords and forest contractors is their main source of revenue.

Pockets in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Jharkand, Orissa and West Bengal have been affected by their activities. The Government has been adopting a two-pronged approach in dealing with this terrorism ---- the law and order approach in order to reduce their capability for terrorism and the hearts and minds approach in order to address the legitimate root causes of the people. Despite this, the Maoist terrorism is not showing any signs of coming under control due to the neglect of rural policing, weak capability for intelligence collection in the rural areas and lack of satisfactory economic development in the tribal areas. Compared to the non-tribal areas, which have been progressing at a rapid rate, the progress of the tribal areas has been slow due to poor infrastructure, low level of education and poor scope for starting industries, which could generate jobs and reduce the pressure on land. This problem is likely to continue for at least another five to eight years till the capacities of the rural police and intelligence agencies are strengthened, there is visible economic prosperity in the tribal belt and the present divide between the tribals and non-tribals is reduced, if not eliminated.

The second longest insurgency-cum-terrorist movement is in India’s North-East, where it is a separatist movement caused by feelings of separateness from the people in the rest of the country. There the demand was not for economic and social reforms as in the tribal belt of Central India, but for the creation of independent States in the tribal areas of Nagaland, Mizoram,Manipur and Tripura and in Assam, which is not a tribal area. The separatist movement started first in Nagaland in the 1950s and from there spread to Mizoram in the 1960s, to Manipur in the 1970s and to Tripura and Assam in the 1980s.The movement has the least public support in non-tribal Assam, but used to have more public support in the tribal areas.

The insurgents/terrorists operating in these areas have been in receipt of financial, training and arms assistance and sanctuaries from the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Bangladesh. The separatists of Nagaland and Mizoram were also in receipt of similar assistance from the Chinese intelligence between 1968 and 1979, but this has since been discontinued. The Nagas and the Mizos, who are largely Christians (mainly Baptists), were also being assisted by Western Baptist missionary organizations. The separatists in Manipur, Tripura and Assam are largely Hindus, but they look upon themselves as ethnically different from the Hindus in the rest of India. The failure of successive Governments at New Delhi and in these States to check the large-scale illegal migration of Muslims from Bangladesh into these areas----particularly Assam--- was one of the root causes of the separatist terrorism in these areas. There has been a steady increase in the Muslim population in these Hindu-majority areas due to this illegal migration and fears in Assam that the Hindus might one day find themselves reduced to a minority have aggravated the problem.

The modus operandi of the insurgents and terrorists of the North-East include the use of hand-held weapons and IEDs and kidnapping for ransom and extortion. In Manipur, the problem is compounded by the smuggling of narcotics from the Golden Triangle of Thailand and Myanmar through this area. More narcotics ---natural as well as synthetic--- come into India from the Golden Triangle than from the Golden Crescent in the Pakistan-Afghanistan area.

Here too, the Government of India follows a two-pronged approach in dealing with the problem---- a law and order approach to neutralize the terrorists and insurgents and a hearts and minds approach to wean the people away from terrorism and insurgency through the grant of greater political powers to them and through the economic development of the affected areas. Through these methods, the so-called Naga Federal Government, the main insurgent organization in Nagaland, was persuaded to end its insurgency in 1975 and the Mizo National Front in 1986. There has been a decline in insurgency in Manipur and Tripura. The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), another Naga insurgent organization, and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), the main insurgent organization in Assam, have not yet given up insurgency. The NSCN is observing a ceasefire and is negotiating with the Government, but the ULFA has rejected all approaches for a negotiated solution.

The third oldest terrorist movement in India was in Punjab where some Sikhs, instigated by their fellow-religionists in the UK and Canada, took to arms in 1981 to demand an independent State for the Sikhs to be called Khalistan. Actually, the Khalistan movement was started first by some members of the Sikh diaspora in the UK and Canada. From there, it spread to Punjab. It was partly a separatist and partly a religious terrorist movement. It took a very violent form through targeted killings of political leaders, officials, Hindu migrant workers and others, indiscriminate use of IEDs, kidnappings and hijackings of the planes of the Indian Airlines etc.

Their violence further increased after a raid by the Indian Army into the Golden Temple at Amritsar in June,1984, to arrest some terrorists who had taken shelter there. The temple was damaged during the raid. This led to a series of acts of reprisal terrorism. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, was killed by some of her Sikh security guards. Gen.A.S.Vaidya, who was the Chief of the Army Staff during the raid, was assassinated after he had retired. “Kanishka”, a plane of the Air India, was blown up in mid-air off the Irish coast in June,1985, killing all the passengers and crew.

The Khalistani terrorists also indulged in acts of terrorism in and from foreign territory. Alarmed by this, Western intelligence agencies closely co-operated with their Indian counterparts in keeping them under surveillance. The Khalistani terrorists had no legitimate root causes. Punjab was a highly developed State and the Sikhs enjoyed a place of honour in the Indian society. As a result, the public in Punjab, which was initially intimidated, stopped supporting them and the movement lost steam from 1995.

Pakistan’s ISI was their main source of support in terms of funding, sanctuaries, training and arms and ammunition. Even today, some of the Khalistani terrorist leaders are living in Pakistan and have been trying to revive the movement. However, they have not met with much success so far.

Terrorism made its appearance in J&K for the first time in 1971 when two members of the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) hijacked an Indian Airlines plane to Lahore and blew it up after asking the crew and passengers to vacate the plane. However, it took a virulent form only from 1989 after the jihad against the Soviet troops had ended in Afghanistan. The ISI diverted to J&K from Afghanistan much of the funds and many of the experienced jihadis, arms and ammunition and explosives in order to achieve Pakistan’s long-term objective of annexing J&K.

After 1989, there was a mushrooming of terrorist organizations in J&K. They fell into three groups. The first group consisted of separatist elements, which wanted independence for the whole of J&K, including all parts which were under the jurisdiction of India, Pakistan and China. Between 1989 and 1991, they were in the ascendancy. Alarmed by the support gathered by the separatists, the ISI reduced its assistance to them and started encouraging a second group, which called for the merger of India’s J&K with Pakistan and justified its demand on the basis of religion. Thus, from a separatist movement it turned into an indigenous jihadi movement. When this group, which too consisted largely of indigenous Kashmiris, failed to make headway, the ISI infiltrated into the State from 1993 onwards Wahabised pan-Islamists, who were veterans of the Afghan jihad against the Soviet troops. The majority of them were Pakistani nationals, who had fought in Afghanistan. They belonged to four principal organizations called the Harkat-ul-Ansar (HUA), re-named as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) in 1997, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), formed in 2000 as a result of a split in the HUM. They described their aims as the “liberation” of the Muslims of not only J&K, but also other parts of India from the control of the Hindus and to incorporate them into an Islamic Caliphate.

These Pakistani organizations spread the jihadi terrorism from J&K into other parts of India. They joined the International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People formed by Osama bin Laden from Kandahar in Afghanistan in 1998. They support the pan-Islamic ideology of Al Qaeda and project their jihad in India as part of the global jihad against what bin Laden described in April 2006 as the anti-Islam conspiracy of the Christians, the Jewish people and the Hindus. They introduced what is called the practice of fidayeen attacks (suicidal terrorism) in J&K after 1999. The jihadis are using hand-held weapons, IEDs and kidnappings, but suicide bombing of the kind seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is not yet seen in India.

Before 1993, there was no jihadi terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K. The Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was the only organization of Indian Muslims outside J&K, which was in touch with the ISI and the Pakistani jihadi organizations. Even before 1989 it had sent some of its members to Pakistan for training, but when they came back they never took to terrorism. No Indian Muslim had gone to Afghanistan in the 1980s to join the Jihad against the Soviet troops. No Indian Muslim had gone to Pakistan to study in the jihadi madrasas. The Indian Muslims by and large resisted the attempts of Pakistani and Saudi organizations to Wahabise them and the pan-Islamic ideology advocated by Al Qaeda and the Pakistani organizations had no attraction for them.

But, all this started changing gradually due to the anger caused in the Indian Muslim community by the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya by a group of Hindu nationalists in December, 1992. Since then, Indian Muslim youth in small numbers started gravitating towards the pan-Islamic ideology and participating in acts of jihadi terrorism by collaborating with the ISI and the Pakistani jihadi organizations. After 1998, pro-Al Qaeda Pakistani organizations such as the LET, the HUJI, the JEM and the HUM set up sleeper cells in different cities of India in order to take advantage of the anger among small sections of the Indian Muslim youth and spread jihadi terrorism. Initially, they recruited from the Indian Muslim community in India and subsequently from the Indian Muslim diaspora in the Gulf. The number of Indian Muslim youth, who have joined the pro-Al Qaeda Pakistani organizations, is still very small when compared to India’s large Muslim population, which is the second largest in the world after that of Indonesia, but it is the beginning of a disturbing trend.

While small numbers of Indian Muslim youth in India and the Gulf thus started joining the pro-Al Qaeda Pakistani jihadi organizations and helping them in organizing terrorist attacks in different parts of India, they still kept away from Al Qaeda, which was and continues to be a largely Arab organization. As a result, Al Qaeda as an organization has not so far been involved in any act of terrorism in Indian territory though it has been wanting to target American and Israeli nationals and interests in Indian territory.

The 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US and the involvement of 19 Arabs in them led to a strict surveillance on Arab terrorist suspects all over the world and particularly in the Western countries. Arabs had, therefore, difficulties in traveling. Al Qaeda started recruiting from the Pakistani diaspora in the UK, the US, Canada, Spain, Portugal and other countries. The involvement of British citizens of Pakistani origin in the London blasts of July,2005, led to a similar surveillance on the Pakistani diaspora in the West. In view of this, Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organizations are now looking for recruits from the Indian Muslim diaspora in the West. Even before the London blasts, there was one instance of Al Qaeda using a British resident Muslim of Indian origin for collecting intelligence about possible targets in the US. The attempted jihadi strikes in London and Glasgow in June,2007, brought out the involvement of two educated Indian Muslims living in the UK----one of them an engineer who tried to blow himself up in Glasgow and died of burn injuries and the other a doctor, who was aware of the plot, but did not alert the Police. The Karnataka Police has recently arrested some educated Indian Muslims, who were allegedly planning terrorist strikes against Israelis in Goa and US companies in Bangalore. A new trend, which has come to notice since the London and Glasgow attempts, is small numbers of Indian Muslim youth willing to take to jihadi terrorism against American and Israeli nationals and interests because of their anger against the Israeli policies towards the Palestinians and the US policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has to be emphasized again that the numbers involved is very small, but it is the trend, which should be of concern.

India is fortunate that the preponderant majority of its Muslim community have remained intensely patriotic and law-abiding. They have kept away from Al Qaeda and its global jihad. They have also rejected so far the Wahabising and Arabising campaigns promoted by organizations in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. At the same time, India should be concerned over the drifting of small numbers of educated Indian Muslim youth in India as well as in the Gulf and the West towards Al Qaeda inspired pan-Islamic ideologies either because of their anger against the Government of India or because of their anger against the US and Israel. India’s close relations with the US and Israel are threatening to become a new root cause of jihadi terrorism involving Indian Muslims.

India should be able to deal with ideological terrorism in Central India and the insurgencies-cum-terrorism in the North-East in the immediate and short terms without difficulty. As these areas get economically developed and the quality of governance improves, non-jihadi terrorism will wither away. So too the separatist, indigenous terrorism in J&K , which is already showing signs of a decline.

What is likely to become even more difficult to handle than at present is the pan-Islamic terrorism promoted by pro-Al Qaeda Pakistani organizations. Just as the jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s led to the beginning and intensification of separatist and religious jihadi terrorism in J&K, the present wave of jihadi terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan promoted by Al Qaeda, the Taliban and Pakistani organizations allied to them is likely to have its repercussions in India. Jihadi terrorism in India is likely to get worse before it gets better.

India’s counter-terrorism policy is based on the use of the police as the weapon of first resort and the Armed Forces as the weapon of last resort except in the areas adjoining the Pakistani, Myanmar and Bangladesh borders where the Army has to play the leadership role because of the problem of cross-border terrorism originating from Pakistani territory with the support of the ISI and the weak police capabilities in the North-East. President Pervez Musharraf had assured Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then Indian Prime Minister, at Islamabad in January,2004, that he would not allow any territory under the control of Pakistan to be used for terrorism against India. He has not kept up this promise. He has not taken any action against the ISI-supported jihadi terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory directed against India just as he has not acted against the Neo Taliban’s terrorist infrastructure. There has been no change in Pakistan’s policy of using jihadi terrorism against India in order to annex Kashmir and using the Taliban against the Hamid Karzai Government in order to get in Kabul a Government which would serve Pakistan’s interests.

The Joint Counter-Terrorism Mechanism set up by Musharraf and Dr.Manmohan Singh during their meeting at Havana in September 2006, reportedly under US nudging, has been a non-starter. Musharraf continues to project jihadi terrorism in Kashmir as a freedom struggle and jihadi terrorism in Indian territory outside Kashmir as a phenomenon over which he has no control .

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Terrorism is a continuously evolving threat. It has been continuously undergoing mutations. From a uni-dimensional threat involving attacks with hand-held weapons, it has evolved into a multi-dimensional threat involving the use of hand-held weapons, improvised explosive devices, landmines, mobile phones as triggers, aircraft hijackings, cyber attacks through the Internet etc. They have been networking with trans-national organized crime and mafia groups such as the one led by Dawood Ibrahim. Terrorism of today is different from terrorism of yesterday. Terrorism of tomorrow is likely to be different from terrorism of today.

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

The majority of the post-9/11 terrorist strikes involved the use of IEDs, with suicide terrorists wielding IEDs proving highly lethal. The terrorists have been devising ever new methods of fabricating explosives from commonly available material such as nitrogenous fertilizers, women’s cosmetics etc. No state has so far been able to find an effective counter to the proliferation of conventional explosives and their flowing into the hands of terrorists and proliferation of knowledge regarding the fabrication and use of explosives. If they can fabricate their own explosives in their bath-tub as the London bombers of July,2005, did and use them with devastating effect, one should be worried over the possibility that one day they might be able to similarly fabricate their own WMD and use them.

Just as one used to talk of comprehensive national security, one is now talking of comprehensive counter-terrorism---which has three components, namely, preventive intelligence, preventive physical security and consequence management if the preventive mechanism fails. These three components have to be meshed into a fail-safe mechanism, so that if one fails, others take over.

Preventive intelligence is improving, but not as rapidly as the ability of the terrorists to take us by surprise. The knowledge and tradecraft used by the intelligence agencies were evolved in days when the main threats to security largely emanated from State adversaries. The agencies are yet to evolve appropriate tradecraft tailor-made for use against non-State adversaries. Our intelligence officers largely come from the urban milieu. They have very little exposure to and understanding of the rural milieu, from which the ideological terrorism of today is coming.

Our preventive security has improved, but still there are serious gaps as one saw during the terrorist raid into the CRPF camp at Rampur in UP on January 1,2008. The importance of a well-structured consequence management infrastructure has dawned upon our policy-makers as seen from the establishment of the National Disaster Management Agency by the Government of India. But its thinking seems to be oriented more towards the management of natural disasters than man-made disasters.

After the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984, Rajiv Gandhi had constituted a special cell in the Ministry of Home Affairs headed by R.T.Nagrani, an IPS officer from Andhra Pradesh, who had distinguished himself in the R&AW and the Directorate-General of Security, to undertake capacity building in consequence management. After the exit of Rajiv Gandhi and Nagrani, this cell was consigned into the abyss of the Government of India. For 15 years, we paid no attention to it. Only after the Tsunami disaster of 2004 has the mechanism started by Rajiv Gandhi been resuscitated and given a shape and a structure. There is a need for similar structures at the state levels and for close networking between those at the Centre and the States.

Is there a need for a special law to deal with terrorism? Yes, there is. This has been realised by all countries facing the problem of terrorism. Even the UN Security Resolution No 1373 relating to terrorism passed a few days after 9/11 has recognized the need for empowering the police and other counter-terrorism agencies. Empowering does not mean modernization of their training, equipment and methods of operation alone, but also modernization of the laws under which they have to operate. Our Police and counter-terrorism agencies continue to operate under antiquated laws.

In the West, victim activism and citizens activism play an important role in counter-terrorism. We saw it from the determined manner in which the relatives of those killed on 9/11 forced the US Government to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. In India, such activism is sadly lacking.

Counter-terrorism is everybody’s business. It is not just the business of the intelligence and security agencies. Just as the agencies keep a watch on the terrorists, it is the duty of the citizens and the victims to keep a watch on their political leadership to ensure that they are not soft towards terrorism. After 9/11, no political leader in the West can hope to win an election if he is perceived as soft on counter-terrorism by the voters. Our voters should emulate those of the West.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi. He was the head of the Counter-Terrorism Division of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), India’s external intelligence Agency, from 1988 till his retirement in August,1994. He was a member of the Government of India’s National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) from July 2000 to December,2002. He was also a member of the Special Task Force appointed by the Government of India in 2000 to make recommendations for strengthening the Indian intelligence agencies. )

Thursday, February 28, 2008



A missile suspected to have been fired by an unmanned US aircraft early on the morning of January 29, 2008, had destroyed a house,owned by Madad Khan, a local leader of the Taliban at a village called Khushali Torikhel, 12 kilometres south of Mir Ali town, in NorthWaziristan, where the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Group, another Uzbek jihadi organisation, are based.While Madad Khan reportedly survived the attack, his 10 guests----all believed to be Uzbeks and Arabs---were killed. Two wives of MadadKhan and three of their children were also killed.

2. While the Pakistani authorities did not confirm the identities of those killed, local tribals suspected that one of those killed must havebeen Abu Laith al-Libi, a Libyan national and an important Al Qaeda leader, whose martyrdom, meaning death while waging jihad, wasannounced by a web site ( associated with Al Qaeda, on January 31,2008. His so-called martyrdom has since been confirmed byAyman al-Zawahiri, the No.2 to bin Laden, in an audio message disseminated on February 27,2008.

3.The nine-minute, 59-second message titled "An Elegy to the Martyred Commander Abu Laith al-Libi," was issued by as-Sahab, the group's PSYWAR branch.It described al-Libi as a "knight" of Al Qaeda's holy war. He was "a mountain of Jihad and a lion." It added: "You Americansand you the agents of the Americans: (al-Libi and others) are the pioneers of the march and the good omen of a new dawn.Every time amartyr falls, another martyr grabs the banner from him, and every time a chief goes down in blood, another chief completes the march afterhim."

4. Immediately after the missile strike, there was speculation in the area targeted by the US that Adam Gadhan, the American convert toIslam, who headed As-Sahab, was also with Abu Laith at the time of the attack and was also killed, but this has not been confirmed so far.

5. In my comments on the missile attack of January 29,2008, available at, I hadstated as follows: "While neither Al Qaeda nor US sources have associated his reported death with the missile attack, there is a strongbelief in local Police circles that he must have died in the missile attack. If it turns out that he died during the precision missile strike, itspeaks highly of the improvement in the US intelligence collection capability----particularly human intelligence. It remains to be seen whatimpact this will have on the on-going confrontation between the Pakistan Army and the Tehrik (e-Taliban Pakistan). Will it once again unitethe various factions of the Tehrik under the leadership of (Baitullah)Mehsud or add to the differences? The successful missile strike, ifconfirmed, would show that the improved US intelligence collection capability should be able to get Osama bin Laden and his No.2 Aymanal-Zawahiri one day."

6. In a second precision strike within a month, a missile widely believed to have been fired by an unmanned US plane, struck a house in theKalosha village near the Afghan border in South Waziristan around 2 AM on February 28,2008, killing at least 12 persons, of whom four werereportedly Arabs, two Turkmen and two Pakistanis. Three non-Pakistanis were injured and were evacuated by fellow-jihadis. There is so farno indication regarding the identities of those killed.

7. The strike of February 28 was apparently as precise as that of January 29,2008, and would have been possible only with humanintelligence (HUMINT) and not technical intelligence (TECHINT). A significant sequel to the January 29 strike was there were no majorprotest demonstrations against the US by the villagers in the targeted area. This was because the strike and the HUMINT on which it wasbased were so accurate that there were no collateral civilian casualties. The lack of major demonstrations showed that the villagers do notmind precisely targeted attacks on jihadi terrorists provided the attacks kill only known terrorists and not innocent civilians.

8. In the past, almost every suspected US missile strike in the tribal belt had been followed by violent demonstrations because the strikeswere based on intelligence, which proved to have been inaccurate, and resulted in the death of a large number of innocent civilians. Recentstrikes by the US forces on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border have been more precise and more successful in avoiding innocentcivilian casualties.

9. It would be interesting to see whether there is any demonstration by the people of the area against the missile strike of February 28,2008.It is not yet known whether there were any collateral casualties of civilians.

10. In an effort to improve HUMINT collection, the US intelligence had been announcing from time to time since 9/11 huge cash rewardsamounting to millions of dollars to anyone providing accurate information relating to bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and other important terroristsoperating from the tribal areas. Till the end of last year, there were not many takers for these reward amounts. Since the beginning of thisyear, there are indications that these offers of huge rewards have started helping in HUMINT collection.

11. bin Laden, Zawahiri and co must be worried men. (28-2-08)

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2008




A day after the assassination of Lt.Gen.Mushtaq Baig, the Surgeon-General of the Pakistan Army, by an un identified suicide bomber atRawalpindi on February 25,2008, the Lahore Police have announced the arrest of Qari Saifullah Akhtar, former Amir of theHarkat-ul-Jihad-Al-Islami (HUJI) and his three sons----Muhammad Asif Ali alias Hassan, Abdul Rehman alias Mani and Mureed Ahmad alias AbuDajana--- from a mosque near Lahore. They also announced the arrest of Fahad Munir alias Mithtoo, a nephew of the late Riaz Basra, of theanti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ).

2.In 2002, the Police had picked up Riaz Basra for interrogation during the investigation into the kidnapping and subsequent murder ofDaniel Pearl, the US journalist, who was working for the "Wall Street Journal". The Police never officially admitted his arrest. They showedhim as killed in an encounter with the police when he resisted arrest.

3.Hamid Nawaz, the Pakistani Interior Minister, has been quoted as telling the media that Qari Saifullah would be questioned by the police inconnection with the investigation into the unsuccessful suicide attack on Ms.Benazir Bhutto, former Pakistani Prime Minister, at Karachi onOctober 18,2007.

4. In the revised edition of her memoir titled "Recollections", published after her assassination on December 27,2007, she had written asfollows: "“ I was informed of a meeting that had taken place in Lahore where the bomb blasts (of October 18,2007) were planned. Accordingto this report, three men belonging to a rival political faction were hired for half a million dollars. They were, according to my sources,named Ejaz, Sajjad and another whose name I forgot. One of them died accidentally because he couldn’t get away fast enough before thedetonation. Presumably this was the one holding the baby. However, a bomb maker was needed for the bombs. Enter Qari Saifullah Akhtar, awanted terrorist who had tried to overthrow my second government. He had been extradited by the United Arab Emirates and waslanguishing in Karachi central jail. According to my second source, the officials in Lahore had turned to Akhtar for help. His liaison withelements in the government, according to this source, was a radical who was asked to make the bombs and himself asked for a fatwamaking it legitimate to oblige. He got one(p.221)”.

5. Since 1995, the name of Qari Saifullah Akhtar had figured repeatedly in connectiion with various investigations---- a plot to overthrowBenazir Bhutto, then Prime Minister, in 1995, the kidnapping and murder of Pearl in 2002, the suicide attack on French submarine experts inKarachi in 2002, the two attempts to assassinate President Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi in December,2003, and the unsuccessful attackon Benazir at Karachi on October 18,2007.

6. In 1995, the Pakistani Military Intelligence arrested Maj-Gen-Zahir-ul-Islam Abbasi, former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence set-up inthe Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi, and some other officers on a charge of plotting to kill Benazir and Gen.Abdul Waheed Kakkar,the then Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), and stage a coup. They also arrested Qari Saifullah Akhtar as an accomplice. While the arrestedarmy officers were court-martialled and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, Saifullah was not prosecuted. He was released aftersome months in detention. Abbasi was released from jail after Musharraf seized power in October 1999. The HUJI joined Osama bin Laden'sInternational Islamic Front (IIF) after it was formed in 1998.

7.After the suicide bomb attack in Karachi on May 8, 2002,which killed 11 French experts working in a submarine project, Khaled Ahmed,the well-known Pakistani analyst, wrote an article titled "The Biggest Militia We Know Nothing About" in the "Friday Times" of Lahore. Inthis article, he stated as follows: "ARY DIGITAL TV’s host Dr Masood, while discussing the May 8 killing of 11 French nationals in Karachi,named one Harkat al-Jahad al-Islami as one of the suspected terrorists involved in the bombing. When the Americans bombed the Talibanand Mulla Umar fled from his stronghold in Kandahar, a Pakistani personality also fled with him. This was Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the leader ofHarkat al-Jahad al-Islami, Pakistan’s biggest jihadi militia headquartered in Kandahar. No one knew the name of the outfit and its leader. A large number of its fighters made their way into Central Asia and Chechnya to escape capture at the hands of the Americans, therest stole back into Pakistan to establish themselves in Waziristan and Buner. Their military training camp (maskar) in Kotli in Azad Kashmirswelled with new fighters and now the outfit is scouting some areas in the NWFP (North-West Frontier Province )to create a supplementarymaskar for jihad in Kashmir. Its ‘handlers’ (in the Inter-Services Intelligence) have clubbed it together with Harkatul Mujahideen to create Jamiatul Mujahideen in order to cut down the large number of outfits gathered together in Azad Kashmir. It was active in Held Kashmirunder the name of Harkatul Jahad Brigade 111.

8."The leader of Harkat al-Jahad al-Islami, Qari Saifullah Akhtar was an adviser to Mulla Umar in the Taliban government. His fighters werecalled ‘Punjabi’ Taliban and were offered employment, something that other outfits could not get out of Mulla Umar. The outfit hadmembership among the Taliban too. Three Taliban ministers and 22 judges belonged to the Harkat. In difficult times, the Harkat fightersstood together with Mulla Umar. Approximately 300 of them were killed fighting the Northern Alliance, after which Mulla Umar was pleased to give Harkat the permission to build six more maskars in Kandahar, Kabul and Khost, where the Taliban army and police also receivedmilitary training. From its base in Afghanistan, Harkat launched its campaigns inside Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Chechnya. But thedistance of Qari Saifullah Akhtar from the organisation’s Pakistani base did not lead to any rifts. In fact, Harkat al-Jahad al-Islami emergedfrom the defeat of the Taliban largely intact. In Pakistan Qari Akhtar has asked the ‘returnees’ to lie low for the time being, while hisPakistani fighters already engaged are busy in jihad as before.

9."The Harkat is the only militia which boasts international linkages. It calls itself ‘the second line of defence of all Muslim states’ and isactive in Arakan in Burma, and Bangladesh, with well organised seminaries in Karachi, and Chechnya, Sinkiang, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.The latest trend is to recall Pakistani fighters stationed abroad and encourage the local fighters to take over the operations. Its fund-raisingis largely from Pakistan, but an additional source is its activity of selling weapons to other militias. Its acceptance among the Taliban wasowed to its early allegiance to a leader of the Afghan war, Maulvi Nabi Muhammadi and his Harkat Inqilab Islami whose fighters became apart of the Taliban forces in large numbers. Nabi Muhammadi was ignored by the ISI in 1980 in favour of Hekmatyar and his Hezb-e-Islami.His outfit suffered in influence inside Afghanistan because he was not supplied with weapons in the same quantity as some of the otherseven militias.

10."According to the journal Al-Irshad of Harkat al-Jahad al-Islami, published from Islamabad, a Deobandi group led by Maulana IrshadAhmad was established in 1979. Looking for the right Afghan outfit in exile to join in Peshawar, Maulana Irshad Ahmad adjudged Maulvi NabiMuhammadi as the true Deobandi and decided to join him in 1980. Harkat Inqilab Islami was set up by Maulana Nasrullah Mansoor Shaheedand was taken over by Nabi Muhammadi after his martyrdom. Eclipsed in Pakistan, Maulana Irshad Ahmad fought in Afghanistan against theSoviets till he was killed in battle in Shirana in 1985. His place was taken by Qari Saifullah Akhtar, which was not liked by some of the Harkat leaders, including Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khaleel who then set up his own Harkatul Mujahideen.

11."According to some sources, Harkatul Mujahideen was a new name given to Harkatul Ansar after it was declared terrorist by the UnitedStates. Other sources claim that it was Harkat al-Jahad al-Islami that had earlier merged with Harkatul Ansar. But relations with FazlurRehman Khaleel remained good, but when Maulana Masood Azhar separated from Harkatul Mujahideen and set up his ownJaish-e-Muhammad, Harkat al-Jahad al-Islami opposed Jaish in its journal Sada-e-Mujahid (May 2000) and hinted that ‘you-know-who’ hadshowered Jaish with funds. Jaish was supported by Mufti Shamzai of Banuri (Binori) Mosque of Karachi and was given a brand new maskarin Balakot by the ISI.

12."The sub-militia (of the HUJI) fighting in Kashmir is semi-autonomous and is led by chief commander Muhammad Ilyas Kashmiri. Itstraining camp is 20 km from Kotli in Azad Kashmir, with a capacity for training 800 warriors, and is run by one Haji Khan. Harkat al-Jahadal-Islami went into Kashmir in 1991 but was at first opposed by the Wahhabi elements there because of its refusal to criticise the grandDeobandi congregation of Tableeghi Jamaat and its quietist posture. But as days passed, its warriors were recognised as ‘Afghanis’. Itfinally had more martyrs in the jihad of Kashmir than any other militia. Its resolve and organisation were recognised when foreigners wereseen fighting side by side with its Punjabi warriors.

13."To date, 650 Harkat al-Jahad al-Islami mujahideen have been killed in battle against the Indian army: 190 belonging to both sides ofKashmir, nearly 200 belonging to Punjab, 49 to Sindh, 29 to Balochistan, 70 to Afghanistan, 5 to Turkey, and 49 collectively to Uzbekistan,Bangladesh and the Arab world.

14."Because of its allegiance to the spiritual legacy of Deobandism, Harkat al-Jahad al-Islami did not attack the Tableeghi Jamaat, whichstood it in good stead because it became the only militia whose literature was allowed to be distributed during the congregations of theTableeghi Jamaat, and those in the Pakistani establishment attending the congregation were greatly impressed by the militia’sorganizational excellence. It contained more graduates of the seminaries than any other militia, thus emphasising its religious character asenvisaged by its founder and by Maulvi Nabi Muhammadi. It kept away from the sectarian conflict unlike Jaish-e-Muhammad but its menwere at times put off by the populist Kashmiri Islam and reacted violently to local practices.

15."The leader of Harkat al-Jahad al-Islami in Uzbekistan is Sheikh Muhammad Tahir al-Farooq. So far 27 of its fighters have been killed inbattle against the Uzbek president Islam Karimov, as explained in the Islamabad-based journal Al-Irshad. Starting in 1990, the war againstUzbekistan was bloody and was supported by the Taliban, till in 2001, the commander had to ask the Pakistanis in Uzbekistan to return tobase.

16."In Chechnya, the war against the Russians was carried on under the leadership of commander Hidayatullah. Pakistan’s embassy inMoscow once denied that there were any Pakistanis involved in the Chechnyan war, but journal Al-Irshad (March 2000) declared fromIslamabad that the militia was deeply involved in the training of guerrillas in Chechnya for which purpose commander Hidayatullah wasstationed in the region. It estimated that ‘dozens’ of Pakistani fighters had been martyred fighting against Russian infidels.

17."When the Harkat al-Jahad al-Islami men were seen first in Tajikistan, they were mistaken by some observers as being fighters fromSipah Sahaba, but in fact they were under the command of commander Khalid Irshad Tiwana, helping Juma Namangani and Tahir Yuldashevresist the Uzbek ruling class in the Ferghana Valley. The anti-Uzbek warlords were being sheltered by Mulla Umar in Afghanistan.

18."Maulana Abdul Quddus heads the Burmese warriors located in Karachi and fighting mostly in Bangladesh on the Arakanese border. Korangi is the base of the Arakanese Muslims who fled Burma to fight the jihad from Pakistan. A large number of Burmese are located insideKorangi and the area is sometimes called mini-Arakan. Harkat al-Jahad al-Islami has opened 30 seminaries for them inside Korangi, therebeing 18 more in the rest of Karachi. Maulana Abdul Quddus, a Burmese Muslim, while talking to weekly Zindagi (25-31 January 1998), revealed that he had run away from Burma via India and took religious training in the Harkat seminaries in Karachi and on its invitation wentto Afghanistan, took military training there and fought the jihad from 1982 to 1988. In Korangi, the biggest seminary is Madrasa Khalid binWalid where 500 Burmese are under training. They were trained in Afghanistan and later made to fight against the Northern Alliance andagainst the Indian army in Kashmir. The Burmese prefer to stay in Pakistan, and very few have returned to Burma or to Bangladesh. Thereare reports of their participation in the religious underworld in Karachi.

19."Harkat al-Jahad al-Islami has branch offices in 40 districts and tehsils in Pakistan, including Sargodha, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan,Khanpur, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Mianwali, Bannu, Kohat, Waziristan, Dera Ismail Khan, Swabi and Peshawar. It also has an office in Islamabad.Funds are collected from these grassroots offices as well as from sources abroad. The militia has accounts in two branches of Allied Bankin Islamabad, which have not been frozen because the organisation is not under a ban. The authorities have begun the process ofreorganisation of jihad by changing names and asking the various outfits to merge. Harkat al-Jahad al-Islami has been asked to merge withHarkatul Mujahideen of Fazlur Rehman Khaleel who had close links with Osama bin Laden. The new name given to this merger is Jamiatul Mujahideen. Jamaat Islami’s Hizbul Mujahideen has been made to absorb all the refugee Kashmiri organisations. Jaish and Lashkar-e-Taybahave been clubbed together as Al-Jihad. All the Barelvi organisations, so far located only in Azad Kashmir, have been put together asAl-Barq. Al-Badr and Hizbe Islami have been renamed as Al-Umar Mujahideen, " the article concluded.

20. Saifullah's name had figured along with that of Amjad Hussain Farooqi in connection with the investigation into the two attempts to killMusharraf at Rawalpindi in December,2003. He managed to run away to the United Arab Emirates before he could be arrested.The Pakistanimedia reported that Saifullah was picked up by the Dubai authorities on August 6, 2004, and handed over to the Pakistani authorities, whohad him flown to Pakistan the next day.

21.The "Daily Times" of Lahore wrote in an editorial [August 09, 2004] after the arrest of Saifullah as follows: “ Qari Saifullah Akhtar — bornin 1958 in South Waziristan — is a graduate of the Banuri Masjid in Karachi. He was a crucial figure in Mufti Shamzai’s efforts to get Osamabin Laden and Mullah Umar together as partners-in-jihad. Qari Saifullah’s repatriation (from the UAE) signals the closing of the Saudi channelof escape for the Deobandi jihadis.But Qari Saifullah was not the only one hiding in that region. There were other less known personalitieswith contacts who could go at will to Saudi Arabia and the UAE to bide their time when the political heat increased in Karachi and their‘handlers’ told them to take a sabbatical. For Qari Saifullah Akhtar the sabbatical is now over. The timing of Qari Saifullah’s repatriation issignificant. It happened after the arrest of Al Qaeda operative Muhammad Khalfan Ghailani from Gujrat along with Al Qaeda’s computergenius Muhammad Naeem Nur Khan. It is said that the Pakistani agencies recruited Khan as a double agent and were thus able tocommunicate with Al Qaeda through him. Because of a premature disclosure of Khan as a double agent in the United States, the slowlytightening noose around Al Qaeda in the UK had to be quickly sprung. The home-coming of Qari Saifullah Akhtar could well be connectedwith the revelations made in Gujrat.”

22.On August 20, 2004, the Pakistani authorities had announced cash rewards amounting to Rs.20 million each (US $ 344800) to anyonewho would give information leading to the capture of Amjad Hussain Farooqi, a Pakistani national, and Abu Faraj al-Libbi, a Libyan national,said to be belonging to Al Qaeda.Amjad Hussain Farooqi was accused of acting at the instance of the Libyan in his attempts to killMusharraf.

23. On September 26,2004,the Pakistani security agencies claimed to have killed Amjad Hussain Farooqi alias Mansur Hasnain alias Imtiaz Siddiqui alias Hyder, alias Doctor who, according to them, was the mastermind behind the two abortive attempts to kill Musharraf in Rawalpindi. According to them, he was killed during an encounter with the para-military forces who had surrounded a rentedhouse in Nawabshah in Sindh, where he along with some others had been living for two months.

24.Talking to the media at The Hague on September 27,2004, Musharraf was reported to have stated as follows:" We eliminated one of thevery major sources of terrorist attacks. He was not only involved in attacks on me, but also in attacks elsewhere in the country. So a verybig terrorist has been eliminated."

25.Reliable accounts from Nawabshah indicated that if the Pakistani authorities had wanted, they could have caught him alive andquestioned him about the role of Pakistani civilian and military officials in the various post-9/11 terrorist incidents, including the kidnappingand murder of Daniel Pearl, the attempts to kill Musharraf himself and Shaukat Aziz, the then Finance Minister, who subsequently becamethe Prime Minister, and the attacks directed against American and French targets. But, they did not allegedly want to capture him alive.

26.In a report under the heading "Real conspirators in Musharraf case may never be exposed", Kamran Khan, the Pakistani investigativejournalist, stated as follows in the "News" of September 28, 2004: "Senior lawyers say that the killing of Amjad Farooqi, the main accused inPresident Musharraf and Daniel Pearl cases, may also influence the final outcome of the two most important cases. A nationwide militaryinvestigation launched after two assassination attempts against President Pervez Musharraf last year had unveiled that some civilian and low level military individuals were the field operatives while Amjad Farooqi played an anchor in the abortive bids on Gen Musharraf’s life. Because of the most sensitive nature of the probe the principal investigative work was carried out under the supervision of the CommanderCorps 10 (My comment: Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the present Army chief), who received inputs from all federal and provincial lawenforcement agencies in the most extensive investigation of a crime case in Pakistan. "It was very important to catch Amjad Farooqi alive,"said a senior law-enforcement official. "Farooqi was the key link between the foot soldiers and those who ordered the murder."

27."Amjad Farooqi is now dead with the most important secret and we still don’t know for sure the real identity of the Pakistani or al-Qaedaor any other foreign elements who had launched Farooqi into action to remove General Musharraf from the scene," said a second seniorlaw-enforcement official. Some circumstantial evidence collected during the investigation of President Musharraf case had cited some connection between Abu Feraj, an al-Qaeda operative of Libyan origin, and Amjad Farooqi, hence the suspicion that al-Qaeda could bebehind the murder attempts through Amjad Farooqi.The military investigators had found solid evidence to connect Amjad Farooqi with thesuicide bombers involved in December 25 attacks on President Musharraf. Farooqi’s connections were also established with the group oflow level Pakistan Air Force technicians who had planted bombs under Lai Bridge for the December 11 bid on the President’s life. Themilitary investigators were also baffled how come the Air Intelligence, the intelligence wing of the PAF, detected no signs that about twodozen PAF men posted at the Chaklala airbase had been attending meetings with religious extremists and in the first week of Decemberwere making active preparations at the heart of the PAF base to bomb the presidential motorcade.

28.“Pakistani officials, worried that Farooqi’s killing would prevent them from getting the full knowledge about Farooqi’s connections and hisactions, said that if captured alive Farooqi could have provided crucial information on the plot to kidnap and murder the Wall Street Journalreporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.Pakistani officials believed that, like in the murder attempts against the President, Farooqi was an anchor inthe Pearl case. "The gruesome murder of Pearl and its video filming for the world was the work of Amjad Farooqi- Khalid Sheikh Muhammadcombine," said a senior intelligence official who did not want to be identified,” the report concluded.

29. Since September,2004, the relatives of Qari Saifullah had been filing habeas corpus petitions in different courts to trace him. The Policerepeatedly denied that he was in their custody. They denied any knowledge of his whereabouts. Then suddenly, on May 26,2007, the InteriorMinistry informed the Supreme Court that 98 missing persons had been traced and sent to their relatives. They did not say where they weretraced and how. One of the persons they claimed to have traced and sent back to his relatives was Qari Saifullah.. From Benazir's account,it would appear that he was in the Karachi jail from August 2004 to May,2007, but the Police repeatedly told the courts that they did notknow his whereabouts. It is not known whether he was questioned about the murder of Pearl and the attempts to assassinate Musharrafand, if so, what was the result of the interrogation.

30. Now, nine months later, the Police have arrested him again for questioning in connection with Benazir's allegation regarding hisinvolvement in the October 18,2007, attempt to kill her at Karachi. (27-2-08)

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

Monday, February 25, 2008




Eight persons, including Lt Gen Mushtaq Baig, the Surgeon-General of the Pakisan Army, his driver and body guard, were killed onFebruary 25,2008, at Rawalpindi when a youngish-looking suicide bomber, who pretended to be a beggar, approached Lt.Gen.Baig's carwhile it had stopped at a traffic signal under the pretext of begging and blew himself up.

2. This is the first time unidentified terrorists have killed an officer of the rank of Lt.Gen. In the past, they had tried to kill a Lt.Gen., who wasthe Corps Commander of Karachi at Karachi and Pervez Musharraf himself, when he was the Chief of the Army Staff, but all those attemptsfailed.

3. This was the second jihadi attack on personnel of the Army Medical Corps since the commando action in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad inJuly last year. In the earlier suicide attack, which also took place at Rawalpindi on February 4,2008, a suicide bomber on a motor-cycledashed his motor-cycle against a bus carrying some staff of the Army Medical Corps to work. Six members of the staff of the Army MedicalCorps and five bystanders were killed.

4. Since the commando action in the Lal Masjid, jihadi suicide bombers have carried out 49 suicide attacks against military targets.Forty-seven of these attacks were against targets associated with the Army, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Special ServicesGroup (SSG) and the Air Force, all of which played a role either in the Lal Masjid operation or in the operations against the jihadis in Southand North Waziristan and in the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Two attacks were against the personnel of theArmy Medical Corps, who had no role to play either in Lal Masjid or in the operations in the Pashtun belt. The Pashtuns supporting theTehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan headed by Baitullah Mehsud and the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), headed by Maulana Fazlullah,have had no reasons for anger against the Army Medical Corps.

5. The Army Medical Corps has a large number of Shia doctors. While it is not yet known whether Lt.Gen.Baig was a Shia himself, it is knownthat Shia doctors constitute the largest single group in the Army Medical Corps. Since 2000, the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) has killednearly 30 Shia civilian doctors --- the majority of them in Karachi. Keeping this in view, the needle of suspicion in the case relating to theassassination of Lt.Gen.Baig points to the LEJ and not to any other organisation. This attack also underlines the continued vulnerability ofRawalpindi, where the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army are located, to jihadi strikes by different organisations. There were fivesuicide attacks in Rawalpindi last year---two against the personnel of the Inter-Services Intelligence, which were successful, two againstthe GHQ or Army officers, which were unsuccessful, and one against Benazir Bhutto, which succeeded. This year, there have already beentwo suicide attacks in Rawalpindi----both directed against the Medical Corps and both successful.

6. After the elections of February 18,2008, the LEJ and the TNSM have already resumed their activities. The Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistancontinues to observe the ceasefire, under an agreement which it had entered into with the Army through the intermediary of pro-Army triballeaders.

7. There is a high level of threat from the jihadis to Mr.Asif Zardari, the co-Chairperson of the PPP, whom they look upon as close to the USlike Benazir, his wife, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the chief of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam (JUI), whom they look upon as a turncoat, and the leaders of the Awami National Party, whom they look upon as apostate because of their secular and leftist policies.

8. In the meanwhile, the Pakistani Intelligence Bureau (IB) has mounted an insidious exercise to drive a wedge between Mr.Nawaz Sharif onthe one side and Mr. Asif Zardari and Mr.Altaf Hussain, the head of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), on the other and to plant seeds ofsuspicion in the minds of the jihadis about Nawaz. Through a mole in the entourage of Nawaz Sharif, it has managed to clandestinelyvideo-record a meeting of Nawaz with Ms.Anne Patterson, the US Ambassador, during which Nawaz claimed that his party would have alarger following than the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) with the support of independents and drifters ftrom the Pakistan Muslim League(Qaide Azzam) and expressed his opposition to any deal with the MQM. Nawaz Sharif is strongly opposed to any deal with the MQM becausePervez Musharraf is a Mohajir and enjoys the support of the MQM. While the IB has reportedly managed to have video-recorded the entirediscussions between the US Ambassador and Nawaz, it has leaked to sections of the media through compliant journalists only the portionsrelating to Nawaz's remarks on the PPP and the MQM. Through this exercise, the IB is also trying to convey a message to the jihadis that,like Fazlur Rahman, Nawaz too is allegedly playing a double game. While openly projecting himself as opposed to the way the US is carryingon the so-called war against terrorism, he is actually colluding with the US.

9.Suspecting the hand of Brig. (retd) Ejaz Shah, the Director of the IB, in the recording and dissemination of a small portion of this tape, thePakistani media has exercised caution. It may be recalled that before her return to Pakistan from exile on October 18,2007, Benazir Bhuttohad expressed her fears that there could be a threat to her life from him.(25-2-08)

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2008




Who are the main beneficiaries of the elections held in Pakistan on February 18,2008?

The Pakistan Muslim League of Mr.Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister, hereafter to be referred to as the PML (N) and the Awami NationalParty (ANP), which is an ethnic party of the Pashtuns of Pakistan. The PML (N) and the ANP bore the brunt of the disinformation, PSYWARand denigration campaign carried on by the Army and the intelligence agencies since 2002. President Pervez Musharraf missed noopportunity to belittle and humiliate Nawaz. The ANP was looked down upon not only by the Pakistan Army and the ISI, but also by theCentral Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the US State Department as the stooges of India and the former USSR as well as the present Russia ofPresident Vladimir Putin. Additional causes for the US dislike for the ANP was its leftist ideology, which was seen by the US as nothing butMarxism, and its closeness to the former Afghan Government of Najibullah. The ISI and the CIA, in the past, made every effort to undermineits influence in the Pashtun belt. It is the only political party in Pakistan, whose leaders were never invited to the US. In the elections ofFebruary 18, the PML (N) increased its tally in the National Assembly almost four-fold from 18 in 2002 to 66 now. It has swept the polls inmost of the urban towns of Punjab, which were the targets of jihadi terrorist strikes. It has swept the polls even in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad area where Mrs.Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27,2007, and where there have been six otherterrorist strikes since July last.It won eight out of nine seats in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad area with one going to the Pakistan People'sParty (PPP). In Lahore, which saw a major terrorist strike in January,2008, outside the High Court. the PML (N) bagged 11 out of the 13National Assembly seats. The ANP's tally in the National Assembly went up ten-fold from zero in 2002 to 10 now. In the provincial Assemblyof the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), its tally went up from 10 in 2002 to 30 now. It has emerged as the largest single party in theprovincial Assembly.

What are the reasons for the successes of the PML (N) and the ANP?

These were the only two parties, which took a strong line against the so-called war on terrorism as being waged by the US in thePakistan-Afghanistan region and the manner in which Musharraf has been co-operating with the US. During the campaign, Nawaz clearlysaid that the impact of the war on Pakistan has been more negative than positive. He assured that if the PML (N) came to power, it wouldhelp the US by acting against the alleged cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan from Pakistan. At the same time, he made it clear that so faras action against terrorism in Pakistani territory is concerned, it is for Pakistan to decide what action to take and it is not for the US to tellPakistan what to do. The ANP was strongly critical of the over-militarised counter-terrorism policies of the US and said that if it came topower the emphasis would be more on the hearts and minds approach. The PML (N) also called for a review of the implications of the USdeclaration of Pakistan as a non-NATO ally. There were strong anti-US feelings in Pakistan---particularly in the tribal belt--- before and duringthe elections of 2002, which took place within a year of the launching of US counter-terrorism strikes in Afghanistan. There are equallystrong anti-US feelings now---particularly since suicide terrorism shot up after the commando action in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in Julylast. The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), a coalition of six fundamentalist parties, was the beneficiary of the anti-US feelings of 2002. TheMMA has now practically broken up. Of the two principal components of the MMA, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) boycotted the elections inprotest against the unconstitutional and illegal actions of Musharraf. Its cadres supported the PML(N).The Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam (JUI) ofMaulana Fazlur Rahman, the other principal component, contested the elections, but fared badly in the NWFP as well as at the nationallevel. Fazlur Rahman has always been suspected to be openly critical of the US and the ISI, but secretly collaborating with them. As a resultof the practical break-up of the MMA, the PML (N) and the ANP were the beneficiaries of the anti-US vote this time.

What could be the implications of the successes of the PML (N) and the ANP?

Both are against allowing the US to dictate the reforms of the madrasas. Both are against allowing the US troops to operate in Pakistaniterritory or against allowing US planes to bomb suspected terrorist camps in Pakistani territory. By calling for an examination of theimplications of the US declaring Pakistan as a non-NATO ally, the PML (N) is seeking a review of the present policy of the supplies for theNATO troops in Afghanistan being allowed to be unloaded at the Karachi port and moved to Afghanistan by road through Pakistani territory.Both want the economic and social development of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), but want that this should be accordingto a plan to be drawn up by Pakistan and not by the US State Department or the Pentagon. The ANP has stated that its co-operation with the PPP, the largest single party in the National Assembly, in government formation would be dependent on the PPP-led Government agreeing tochange the name of the North-West Frontier Province as Pakhtoonkwa or Pashtunistan or Afghania and accepting its demand for provincialautonomy for the Pashtun homeland. The Punjabi-dominated army will be strongly opposed to this. This could encourage similar demandsfrom the Baloch and Sindhi nationalists.

How has been the performance of the PPP? Did it really benefit from the expected sympathy wave after the assassination of Benazir?

The so-called sympathy wave had very little impact. The PPP, which won 80 seats in the 2002 elections despite the split engineered in theparty by the ISI and despite Benazir and Mr. Asif Zardari being out of the country in political exile, has managed to increase its tally in theNational Assembly only to 87--- an increase of just seven seats. The leadership of Zardari has not made much of an impact on the elections.While the Party did as well as expected in rural Sindh and increased its tally by one seat in Karachi, it did not do as well as expected inPunjab. Some Pakistani analysts attribute this to the unpopularity of Zardari among the Punjabis and their distrust of him. Benazir's opensupport for the commando action in the Lal Masjid and her proclaimed readiness to allow the US troops to operate in Pakistani territory ifneed be and to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to interrogate Dr.A.Q.Khan, the nuclear scientist, and the general perceptionthat the PPP is as much amenable to US influence as Musharraf neutralised the sympathy wave and came in the way of the PPP improvingits tally substantially.

How to explain the rout of the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam), which was seen as Musharraf's party?

Its tally dropped steeply from 118 in 2002 to 38 now. Its close identification with Musharraf and its responsibility for the steep deteriorationin the economic situation marked by shortages of electricity, gas, wheat and wheat flour contributed to its rout in the urban areas, whichbore the brunt of the economic hardships. It has not done too badly in the rural areas. A wave of Punjabi sympathy for Nawaz and his familyfor the way they were sought to be humiliated by Musharraf since 1999 also created sympathy for Nawaz and his party.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of Mr.Altaf Hussain is also closely associated with Musharraf? How come Musharraf's unpopularity has not affected it?

Yes. It was not much affected. In fact, it improved its National Assembly tally from 17 to 19 seats. Its following is confined to the Mohajirs(refugees from India) in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur. They want that Musharraf, a fellow-Mohajir, should continue to be the President ofPakistan. Musharraf discontinued the policy of the suppression of the Mohajirs and the MQM previously followed by the Governments ofBenazir and Nawaz.

What are the prospects for political stability?

Low to medium. The PPP will not remain as united behind Zardari as it did behind Benazir. Many old guards of the party look down upon him.The chances of a split between Zardari loyalists and Bhutto loyalists are high. Its opportunistic policies of the past make others look upon itwith suspicion. Its support for the present policy of close co-operation with the US will have a negative impact on its relations with the PML(N) and the ANP. It will find it difficult to accept the PML (N)'s demand for the reinstatement of the members of the judiciary sacked byMusharraf and the ANP's demand for re-naming the NWFP and provincial autonomy. Any coalition, whether led by the PPP or the PML (N), willbe in a permanent state of disequilibrium

What will be the impact on jihadi terrorism in Pakistani territory?

Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan will go after the ANP with a vengeance. They look upon it as apostate becauseof its secular and leftist policies and its pass co-operation with the Najibullah Government. There will be a further increase in AlQaeda-inspired terrorism in the Pashtun belt. If the ANP succeeds in getting the name of the NWFP changed and in getting provincialautonomy, its popularity among large sections of the Pashtuns will go up and this could enable it to wean the people away from Al Qaedaand the Taliban, but the Punjabi-dominated Army will oppose the demands of the ANP strongly. (20-2-08)

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

Friday, February 15, 2008




Suicide terrorism is not new in South Asia. The Sri Lankan Tamils belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Punjabi Muslims belonging to the anti-Shia extremist organisations of Pakistan such as the Sipah-e-Sahaba and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) have been practising suicide terrorism for some years.

2.However, the Khalistani terrorist organisations of Indian Punjab, the indigenous Kashmiri terrorist organisations of India's Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the terrorist/insurgent organisations of India's North-East, the Maoist terrorist organisations of India and Nepal and the jihadi terrorist organisations of Bangladesh did not practice suicide terrorism. Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) repeatedly failed in its efforts to persuade the Khalistanis to take to suicide terrorism. Even in Pakistan, the non-sectarian jihadi terrorist organisations such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM---previously known as the Harkat-ul-Ansar) , the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) did not practice suicide or suicidal terrorism till 1999.

3.The position started changing after Osama bin Laden shifted to Afghanistan from the Sudan in 1996 and formed his International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People in 1998. The HUM, the HUJI and the LET, which joined the IIF, took to suicide or suicidal terrorism thereafter and introduced the virus into the Indian territory ---initially in J&K and then in other parts of India. So did the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), which came into existence in 2000 due to a split in the HUM, and joined the IIF. But the small number of Indian Muslims, who joined these organisations, as well as the indigenous Kashmiri organisations kept away from suicide terrorism. The incident in Glasgow on June 30, 2007, in which an Indian Muslim from Bangalore tried to crash a car filled with fuel and a gas cylinder into the local airport was the first confirmed instance of the involvement of an Indian Muslim in an act of suicide terrorism.

4.Almost all the Pakistani Muslims involved in acts of suicide or suicidal terrorism in the Indian territory were Punjabi and Mirpuri Muslims. Like the Khalistanis and other terrorist/insurgent organisations of India, the Pashtuns, who live on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, did not believe in suicide terrorism. This modus operandi (MO) was not used by them against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s or against the troops of the Government of President Najibullah after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops or against the troops of the Northern Alliance headed by the late Ahmed Shah Masood. In fact, none of the ethnic groups of Afghanistan---the Pashtuns, the Uzbeks or the Tajiks--- practised suicide terrorism.

5.Even the advent of bin Laden and his Al Qaeda into Afghanistan in 1996 could not induce them to take to suicide terrorism. That was why for killing Masood on September 9, 2001, through an act of suicide terrorism, he had to depend on Arab volunteers. However, the position started changing after the US troops started their military operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda on October 7, 2001. The Pashtuns and the Uzbeks also started practising suicide terrorism. Initially, it was the Pashtuns on the Pakistan side of the border, who took to suicide terrorism against the Pakistani security forces in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Then, the Pashtuns from both sides of the border took to suicide terrorism against the Western and Afghan forces in Afghan territory. This was followed by small numbers of Uzbeks taking to suicide terrorism in Afghanistan as well as Uzbekistan.

6.The UN has made an interesting study on suicide terrorism in Afghanistan by a team of competent professionals led by Ms. Christine Fair, formerly of the Rand Corporation and now of the US Institute of Peace, Washington DC, who is quite knowledgeable on jihadi terrorism in the Indian sub-continent. The results of this study were released by the UN on September 9, 2007.

7.According to this study, the number of suicide bombings in Afghanistan increased from 17 in 2005 to 123 in 2006 and touched 103 till August 31, 2007. The report added that most suicide bombers were Afghan nationals, but received training or support in Pakistan's tribal region where many were recruited from madrasas (religious schools). Unlike the suicide bombers of Al Qaeda, who came from a well-to-do and educated background and were well-trained and well-motivated, those of the Neo Taliban came from poor families and were poorly educated. According to the report, although the vast majority of suicide bombers targeted military and government establishments, around 80 per cent of the casualties were innocent civilians.

8.The report did not sufficiently highlight the following facts: firstly, the majority of the suicide bombers were Pashtuns---- Afghan as well as Pakistani; secondly, while the Pakistani Pashtuns belonged mostly to the FATA and some to the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), the majority of the Afghan Pashtuns were from the refugee camps in Pakistani territory; thirdly, these Pashtuns took to suicide terrorism only after the US went into action against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and the US counter-terrorism actions---particularly the disproportionate use of the Air Force and heavy artillery--- resulted in a large number of civilian casualties; fourthly, the Pashtun anger against the US increased after bombings on madrasas in the FATA located near the border, which were suspected to be training camps for terrorists, in which a large number of young students were killed; and fifthly, though the Pakistani Army took upon itself the responsibility for the bombings, the Pashtuns believed that the bombings were actually carried out by the US troops based in Afghan territory.

9.The Pashtun anger was against the US as well as the Pakistani security forces. The anger against the Pakistani security forces further increased after the raid of the Pakistani military commandoes belonging to the Special Services Group (SSG), to which Gen. Pervez Musharraf belonged, into the Lal Masjid in Islamabad between July 10 and 13, 2007. In this raid, about 300 young girls studying in a madrasa inside the masjid campus were alleged to have been killed. Practically all of them came from Pashtun families of the FATA and the NWFP.

10.As a result of this anger, there was a surge in acts of suicide terrorism by the Pashtuns in Pakistani territory. These attacks initially started in the FATA and the NWFP and then spread to Islamabad, the capital, Rawalpindi, where the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army are located, Tarbela Ghazi, where important establishments of the SSG are located, and Sargodha where officers and trainee pilots of the Pakistan Air Force were attacked. The Pashtun suicide bombers have been targeting military and police personnel, though, as in Afghanistan, more civilians than personnel of the security forces were killed except in Rawalpindi and Tarbela Ghazi, where many personnel of the security forces and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were killed. There was also a large number of targeted killings of Pakistani army personnel by the Pashtuns in South and North Waziristan.

11.According to statistics of the Pakistani Interior Ministry,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.

12. 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. 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 protest against Pervez Musharraf's action in contesting re-election as the President from the outgoing Assemblies elected in 2002. Thereafter, the Army went into action.

13.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. There were eight in August, seven in September and six each in October and November, 2007. One of the six in October was the unsuccessful 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 in the Lal Masjid. The suspected killers of Benazir were reported to have told the Police that they killed her because of her support to the commando raid in the Lal Masjid and her backing to the US war against terrorism.

14.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.

15.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.

16.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 an Army cadet school is located.

17.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.

18.Since the police was not able to detect most of these incidents, it was not clear 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.

19.According to the Pajhwok Afghan News agency, during 2007 there were 137 suicide attacks in Afghanistan resulting in 1730 casualties. Even though the number of suicide attacks was less as compared with 2006, the casualties were 1.5 times higher. There were 141 suicide attacks in 2006 with 1166 casualties. However, according to the UN study mentioned in a previous para, there were only 123 suicide attacks in 2006. There is thus a discrepancy in figures.

20.The number of civilian casualties was higher this year than during 2006. Three hundred civilians were killed and 757 wounded in 2007. In the security forces,171 policemen were killed and 213 wounded, 37 Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel were killed and 50 wounded. Twelve foreign soldiers were killed and 54 wounded.

21.One hundred and forty suicide attackers killed themselves in these 137 suicide attacks.Three suicide terrorists killed themselves in one attack in the Nangarhar province. Some of the suicide attacks were most bloody like the one at Baghlan in which 80 persons, including six MPs, were killed. Thirty policemen and many civilians s were killed in a suicide attack across Kabul police headquarters in June 2007. In another suicide attack in the Baharistan locality of Kabul city, 27 ANA troops were killed.

22. Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said even though they had threatened far more suicide attacks in 2007, they changed their tactics and diverted their plan to ambushes: "We want to hurt the opposition.Instead of losing our colleagues, we use other tactics to inflict more loses to enemies"

23.Forty-two suicide attacks were carried out in Kandahar, the largest in any province,22 in Kabul and 21 in the Helmand province.Khost and Paktika reported 11 each while seven were in Kunduz. Paktia, Nangarhar, Zabul, Nimroz, Urozgan, Logar, Herat, Farah, and Balkh also witnessed suicide attacks in 2007. Takhar, Kunar, Laghman and Maidan Wardak witnessed suicide attacks for the first time.

24.The torrent of anti-US anger in the Pashtun tribal areas has now been joined by an equally strong torrent of anti-Pakistani Army and anti-Musharraf anger, with each aggravating the other. The Pakistani security forces have literally been reeling under the impact of this spreading prairie fire of Pashtun suicide terrorism. Not much is known about the identity of the individual suicide bombers due to poor investigation by the Pakistani police officers. In fact, the Police officers are afraid of vigorously investigating these incidents due to a fear that they might themselves be targeted by future suicide bombers.

25.From the circumstantial evidence available from the Pakistani media and police sources, the following factors emerge:
• While the suicide bombers have been coming from all Pashtun sub-tribes, the Mehsud sub-tribe of South Waziristan headed by Baitullah Mehsud has been contributing a large number.

• Many of the suicide bombers did not belong to any organisation. They were angry individuals acting as Jundullas or soldiers of Allah in order to give vent to their anger. However, the Pakistani media identifies them as belonging to the Pakistani Taliban or as pro-Taliban.

• While Al Qaeda has been exploiting this anger for its own purpose, there is no evidence to show that it has been orchestrating the wave of suicide attacks. All it has been doing is to keep the anger alive and encouraging Jundulla terrorism by disseminating video and audio messages praising the concept of martyrdom. On July 14, 2007, the day after the Pakistani military commandos captured control of the Lal Masjid, As-Sahab, Al Qaeda's propaganda and Psywar wing, had put out a video of past clips of Osama bin Laden and others, in which they had glorified martyrdom in the cause of Islam. "Arise wherever you are and martyr yourself"----that was the hidden message it sought to convey. The video's central message was: "‘By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I would love to attack and be martyred, then attack again and be martyred, then attack again and be martyred." The Pashtuns have been following this advice on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

• Many of the suicide bombers were not recruits for suicide terrorism, but volunteers. Some of them were self-trained while many were trained by the Uzbeks belonging to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Islamic Jihad Union or Group in their training camps in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan. The Mehsuds are strong supporters of the Uzbeks. There is no evidence of Al Qaeda training.

• There was very little involvement of Punjabi and Mirpuri volunteers in the wave of suicide terrorism in the tribal areas.

26.In its issue of August 3-9, 2007, the "Friday Times" of Lahore wrote as follows: "Recruits are formally registered with the Taliban as suicide bombers and given a receipt indicating their registration number. At any given point, there are thousands in line waiting to sacrifice their lives, an observer returning from South Waziristan told the weekly. If one of them is selected to be the next bomber, the news is a cause for celebration in his household. Once confirmation arrives of his death, the funeral prayers are substituted with congratulatory messages for the family....Women, because of the Taliban's strict anti-wife-beating policy, are largely in favour of them..... This is part of the strategy of winning over the mothers, who, according to the Taliban, have the greatest influence on the child as he grows up. Women are thus actively involved in the process of indoctrinating children in favour of the Taliban."

27.This Pashtun anger on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border can be contained and hopefully reduced only by a change in the present counter-terrorism methods of the American and Pakistani Armed Forces, which involve a disproportionate use of force, resulting in a large number of civilian casualties----particularly children studying in madrasas. It is alleged that during the three years from 2005 to 2007, at least 600 children studying in the madrasas were killed by the Pakistani security forces during their bombing of tribal madrasas suspected to be terrorist training centres, either on their own or at the instance of the Americans. While no one can find fault with bombing of clearly identified terrorist training camps, the bombing of madrasas because of a suspicion that they are in fact terrorist training centres is adding to the anger. (16-2-08)

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

Thursday, February 14, 2008




At long last, nemesis overtook Imad Mughniyeh, the head of the covert action division of the Hezbollah, who was trained by the Iranianintelligence. At Damascus on February 12,2008,he died the way he had sent hundreds of innocent civilians---- Americans, Israelis, Frenchand many others--- to their cruel deaths---- through a car bomb.

2. Nobody knows who planted the car bomb that killed him. The Hezbollah and Iranian sources have blamed the Israeli intelligence. One willnever know, but whoever killed him has made a major contribution to the fight against terrorism. No tears need be shed over his death.There need be no qualms of conscience over the way he was killed, through the car bomb technique which he himself had developed in theLebanon in the early 1980s and used with devastating effect to kill hundreds of American and French soldiers stationed in the Lebanon.

3. Since the explosion in the New York World Trade Centre in February,1993, the world has been talking of what has come to be known asnew or catastrophic or mass casualty terrorism. Osama bin Laden has been projected as the father of this new terrorism. He is not. The realfather was the Iranian-trained Imad Mughniyeh. Many of the new mass-killing and mass-intimidating modus operandi being used by differentterrorist organisations all over the world--- the car bomb, the suicide bomber, attacks on mass transportation systems etc--- were born inthe head of Imad Mughniyeh. bin Laden hated the Hezbollah and Imad, but at the same time admired their ingenuity in devising ever newtechniques of mass casualty terrorism. He copied their techniques and imparted a greater lethality to them.

4.bin Laden was not the only one to emulate this diabolical killer of people in their hundreds. So did Prabakaran, the head of the LiberationTigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). His techniques of the suicide bomber, the suicide car and the suicide boat were based on a study of the MOused by Imad. The deaths of hundreds of civilians in Sri Lanka and of Rajiv Gandhi in India were the outcome of the ideas and techniqueswhich Prabakaran and the LTTE learnt by studying the terror strikes carried out by the Hezbollah under the guidance of Imad.

5.Imad, bin Laden and Prabakaran--- have one thing in common. Their readiness to send hundreds of misled young people to death assuicide terrorists, while saving themselves from death. But, death in the form of a car bomb ultimately caught up with Imad just as it willone day catch up with bin Laden and Prabakaran.

6. Nemesis strikes not only terrorists, but also intelligence agencies, which use terrorists for achieving strategic objectives.. That is whatPakistan has been learning for the last one year and that is what Syria has been learning. Imad was not the only terrorist leader to haveoperated from a sanctuary provided by Syria. So did Carlos, So did George Habash, who died recently. So did the leaders of the Red ArmyFaction of the then West Germany and Japan. So did many others. Iran was not the only country with which A.Q.Khan, Pakistan's nuclearscientist, was in touch. He was in touch with Syria too. In 2003, when the US-led troops invaded and occupied Iraq, I had reported about thesecret visit of A.Q.Khan to Syria. The alleged Israeli Air Force strike on a suspected Syrian nuclear facility last year was meant to convey amessage not only to Syria , but also to Iran. The message was: " If we want to, we can. Nobody can stop us."

7. The death of Imad would not be the end of the Hezbollah. Nor would it be the end of jihadi terrorism of the Iranian or the Pakistani or AlQaeda brand. It will be the beginning of a new phase of terrorism ----- particularly directed at Israeli targets all over the world. Hezbollh is notknown to have a presence in India, but that does not mean it would not try to attack Israeli targets in India if an opportunity presented itself.Both the Iranian intelligence and the Hezbollah have cause for anger against India because of the launching of an Israeli satellite by anIndian rocket. They may calculate that a terrorist strike against an Israeli target in Indian territory would convey an appropriate message toIsrael as well as India. (15-2-08)

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