Saturday, June 28, 2008




After a three-month futile courtship with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP) headed by Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan, the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) headed by Maulana Fazlullah of the Swat Valley in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and other jihadi organisations, the Pakistani Government headed by Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani has ordered a clean-up operation in the Khyber Agency and South Waziristan of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and in the Swat Valley. The operation started on June 28,2008, in the Khyber Agency.

2. While the resumed clean-up operation in South Waziristan and the Swat Valley is meant to put down recrudescence of jihadi terrorism by the TTP and the TNSM, which is a member of the TTP, the new clean-up operation in the Khyber Agency is designed to put down inter-sectarian, inter-tribal and inter-Mullah clashes, which have already caused a large number of deaths in the Khyber Agency and are threatening to spread to Peshawar, the capital of the NWFP. The Khyber Agency, which is adjoining Peshawar, has been seeing increasing attacks by local tribal jihadi groups on convoys carrying oil and other essential supplies for the NATO forces in Afghanistan from the Karachi port.

3. The courtship with the TTP, which was accompanied by a suspension of operations by the security forces and the TTP against each other and peace talks , has reportedly seen a 40 per cent increase in the infiltration of Taliban terrorists from the FATA and other areas into Eastern Afghanistan, thereby enabling the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan, headed by Mulla Mohammad Omar, to step up its attacks on the NATO forces. A wave of panic in Peshawar in the wake of forays by Khyber-based jihadis into the city for intimidating sections of the local population, including some Christians working in a local hospital, growing resentment in the Shia community of Pakistan over continuing attacks on Shias in the Kurram Agency of the FATA allegedly by Khyber-based Sunni terrorists and repeated expressions of serious concern by US commanders in Afghanistan over the casualties inflicted on NATO forces and members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) by infiltrators from Pakistani territory made the Government sit up and take notice of the deterioration in the situation right across the tribal belt and order action by the security forces even at the risk of a collapse of the peace talks, which could lead to a revival of acts of suicide terrorism in the non-tribal areas, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi and other cantonment towns and even in Punjab. While the courtship and the peace talks did not lead to real peace in the tribal belt, they did lead to a steep fall in acts of suicide terrorism in the non-tribal areas.

4. The decision to order the clean-up operation was taken after a meeting of some members of the Cabinet on June 25,2008, which was briefed on the deteriorating situation by Gen.Pervez Ashfaq Kiyani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS). Normally, the alarming situation should have been discussed by the National Security Council (NSC), which is chaired by President Pervez Musharraf. The Gilani Government avoided requesting for a meeting of the NSC. Nor did it brief Musharraf about the decision to order a clean-up operation. However, Gen.Kiyani, at his own initiative, called on Musharraf on June 27,2008, briefed him on the proposed course of action and took his clearance before implementing the decision of the Cabinet.

5. Well-informed sources say that he has been finding himself in a difficult situation with the Cabinet giving instructions in national security matters without consulting Musharraf or even keeping him in the picture. However, Gen.Kiyani has been trying to be correct by frequently meeting Musharraf, who continues to be his direct boss as the President and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The decision to relax restrictions on the movements of Dr.A.Q.Khan, the nuclear scientist, and on his interactions with the media also appears to have been taken by the Cabinet despite cautionary advice by Musharraf not to do so lest it add to US concerns over Pakistan.

6. The entire decision-making process in national security matters is in a mess, with too many cooks adding to the potency of the jihadi broth. While Gilani is the de jure Prime Minister, in matters relating to action against terrorism it is Rehman Malick, a close confidante of Asif Ali Zardari,the co-chairperson of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), who has been issuing confusing and contradictory instructions----sometimes to the Army, sometimes to the para-military forces such as the Frontier Corps (FC), sometimes to the Police and sometimes to the provincial Government of the NWFP. He is designated as the Adviser on Internal Security with the status of a Cabinet Minister. It is alleged by well-informed police sources that he takes his orders directly from Zardari without keeping Gilani in the picture. Thus, one has a strange situation with Gilani giving instructions without consulting Musharraf and with Malick issuing instructions at the instance of Zardari without consulting Gilani.

7.The NWFP Government was extremely unhappy over the manner in which Malick----on his own without consulting either Gilani or the provincial Government of the NWFP headed by the Awami National Party (ANP)--- announced the suspension of the peace deal negotiated by the provincial Government with the TNSM. When this caused friction in the ruling coalition at Islamabad of which the ANP is a member, he denied having issued any such order.

8. This growing confusion in the action against terrorism has resulted in a situation in which the Cabinet has reportedly ordered Gen.Kiyani to undertake the clean-op operation, but at the same time, instructed that he should use only the Frontier Corps (FC), which is increasingly infiltrated by pro-Taliban tribals, for this operation and should not use regular army troops. One does not know whether Musharraf approved of this or whether he instructed the COAS not to hesitate to use the Army if he considered it necessary to do so.

9. During his negotiations with the Government, Baitullah was demanding that the Army should be withdrawn from the FATA and that the responsibility for maintaining internal security should be re-entrusted to the FC. Even while ordering the clean-up operation, the Gilani Government has taken care not to hurt the sensitivities of Baitullah by ordering that the FC should be in the forefront of the clean-up operations and not the Army.

10. Last year,Musharraf inducted the Army in large numbers into South Waziristan and ordered it to act against the TTP because of reports of collusion between FC personnel and the TTP and the surrender of a large number of FC personnel including officers with their arms and ammunition to the TTP without putting up a fight. US commanders in Afghanistan make no secret of their doubts about the dependability of the FC, which they look upon as the secret protector of the Talibans of various hues, which have come up in the tribal belt.

11. There are Talibans and Talibans in the tribal belt-----some accepting the leadership of Baitullah and others not; some claiming to fight against the Americans and not against the Pakistan Army and others fighting against both; some consisting largely of Punjabis such as the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), which is active in parts of the Swat Valley, and known locally as the Punjabi Taliban and others consisting largely of Pashtuns and hence locally known as the Pashtun Taliban; some such as the Pashtun Taliban claiming to be waging a jihad purely for local objectives such as the enforcement of the Sharia in the tribal belt and others such as the Punabi Taliban claiming to be fighting for the pan-Islamic objectives of Al Qaeda; some virulently anti-Shia and others not.

12. Whenever they are not operating against the Pakistani security forces and the Americans, they keep operating against each other, dubbing and killing each other as American agents. The tribal belt on the Pakistani side of the border is ablaze with inter-sectarian, inter-tribal and inter-Mullah clashes over who is a better Muslim and who is closer to Allah. Disputes over the distribution of the growing narcotics money from Afghanistan among themselves are adding to the gravity of the situation. It is jihadi anarchy of the worst kind, the like of which the history of Pakistan has not seen. Every Mullah, who is some Mullah, has his own FM Radio station through which he keeps instigating his followers to attack rivals and the security forces. To keep the FC inactive, these Mullahs allegedly give its officers a share of the narcotics money.

13. These radio stations have been instigating the Pakistani Taliban---Punjabi as well as Pashtun--- to attack American military and intelligence officers and NATO supply convoys in Pakistani territory. They have been calling for attacks on ships bringing NATO supplies to the Karachi port and on the Karachi offices of truck companies whose trucks are used by the NATO. They have been calling upon the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG) and the Chechens to step up their jihad in Russian and Central Asian territories to disrupt the movement of NATO supplies through this route.

14.The Khyber Agency, better developed than the other Agencies of the FATA,is inhabited mainly by the Afridi and Shinwari tribes. Like the Swat Valley, it used to attract a large number of domestic and foreign tourists. The Agency was relatively peaceful till 2003. Trouble broke out in 2003, when a a local tribesman by name Haji Namdar returned from Saudi Arabia after performing Haj and set up an organization called Amr bil maroof wa nahi anil munkir, meaning the organisation for the “Suppression of Vice and Promotion of Virtue” . He started a campaign against music, dance, films and the TV and started punishing Muslims who did not regularly attend prayers in the mosques He started an FM radio station on which Mufti Munir Shakir, a virulently anti-Shia Mullah from the Kurram Tribal Agency, used to make anti-Shia broadcasts.

15.Mufti Shakir formed an organisation of his own called the Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) with its headquarters in the Bara town of the Khyber Agency. To counter the activities of the Wahabi-Deobandi LI, Pir Saif-ur-Rahman, a Mullah from Afghanistan who had settled down in the Agency and who belonged to the more tolerant Barelvi sect with its advocacy of Sufi traditions, started his own organisation called the Ansar-ul-Islam (AI). The AI also started making FM broadcasts against the LI and its Wahabi-Deobandi followers. In 2006, the two organisations came to frequent clashes. Following this, a jirga of the local Afridi tribes was held and the two were forced to leave the Agency by the local tribesmen in February 2006.

16.Following their expulsion, one Mangal Bagh Afridi, a 35-year-old local tribal, who had fought in Afghanistan with the Mujahideen against the Soviet troops, took over the leadership of the LI, which established its control over the whole of the Bara sub-division of the Agency.In April 2008, the LI extended its control to the Jamrud region of the Bara sub-division after a series of bloody clashes with the local Kukikhel sub-tribes of the Afridi tribe.The main artery connecting Peshawar to Kabul goes via the Khyber Pass. The Agency has two sib-divisions called Bara and Landikotal. Bara borders Peshawar.

17. The leadership of the Ansar-ul-Islam was taken over by one Maulana Mehboobul Haq. It is not known whether he too is a Barelvi or a Deobandi. However, under his leadership, the AI continued with its policy of resisting the activities of the LI. This resulted in many clashes with a large number of fatalities in the Teerah Valley of the Agency. The Pakistani security forces, which were preoccupied with their operations against the Taliban in South Waziristan and the Swat Valley, did not intervene in the Khyber Agency. Taking advantage of this, the LI consolidated its hold in the Khyber Agency and started enforcing its ban on music etc and punishing Muslims not attending prayers in the neighbouring areas of Peshawar too. It kidnapped 16 Christians, but released them later without harming them. It claimed that it mistook them for Muslims indulging in unislamic way of life, but released them on coming to know that they were Christians.

18. Mangal Bagh denies any links with Al Qaeda or the TTP. He does not accept the leadership of Baitullah. He says his fight is not against the Pakistani authorities, but against Muslims who are not living the life of true Muslims. While supporting the Taliban's jihad against the NATO forces in Afghanistan, he denies that his men are involved in the jihad against the NATO forces. Following a scare in Peshawar that the LI was about to attack Peshawar and capture it, he said in an interview on June 26,2008: “I am not about to attack Hayatabad or any other part of Peshawar.Ours is a reformist organization trying to promote virtue and prevent vice. We have rid Bara of drug-traffickers, gamblers, kidnappers, car-snatchers and other criminals and we want to cleanse Jamrud as well of those selling drugs and liquor and running gambling dens. That was the reason for us to send our mujahideen to Jamrud to accomplish the job. Lashkar-e-Islam is now able to enforce its code of conduct in almost the whole of Khyber Agency except parts of Jamrud inhabited by Kukikhels and a two-kilometre stretch of territory in Maidan area of Tirah valley. We have 120,000 men under arms who at a short notice would be able to assemble in case of need. All I have to do is to make an announcement on our FM radio channel and my mujahideen volunteers would be ready to fight for the Lashkar-e-Islam. I have no links with Al Qaeda or Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. I didn’t send my fighters to fight on the side of Taliban in Waziristan, Swat and Darra Adamkhel. The Taliban (of Mullah Mohammad Omar) are waging a jihad in Afghanistan for a just cause against foreign forces in their homeland. However, there are so many Taliban groups (in Pakistan) that it is difficult to tell as to which one is genuine."

19. Peshawar has on three sides areas over which the Pakistani security forces have no effective control. The Khyber Agency is under the effective control of the LI, which does not form part of the TTP. The Darra Adamkhel and Mohmand areas are largely under the control of the TTP. This situation has caused alarm not only to the non-religious political parties and the administration, but also to the traditional religious parties of the pre-9/11 vintage, who find a new generation of Mullahs of different hues supplanting them and making them increasingly irrelevant. Compared to the newly-emerging Mullahs of today, the pre-9/11 vintage appears rather moderate.The Reuters has quoted the Jamiat -ul-Ulema-Islam chief Fazlur Rehman, a member of the ruling coalition, who used to support Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban in the past, as warning as follows: " “It’s just a matter of months before news comes that the entire NWFP has slipped out of control.”

20. Nobody seems to be in effective control in the free-for-all tribal belt of Pakistan---- neither Musharraf nor Gilani nor Zardari nor Gen.Kiyani nor the provincial Government of the NWFP. It has to be seen to what extent, under these circumstances, the clean-up operation succeeds. ( 29-6-08)

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

Sunday, June 22, 2008




As Pakistan observed on June 21 the 55th birth anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated at Rawalpindi on December 27,2007, there has been an intriguing reluctance on the part of the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) to pursue the investigation into her assassination vigorously and to prosecute those already arrested.

2.While Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the former Amir of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), who had been named by her as a principal suspect in the failed attempt to kill her at Karachi on October 18,2007, has been quietly released after being in police custody for some time, the police investigation into her assassination on December 27,2007, has been discontinued. While legal proceedings have been delayed against those who have already been arrested and who have confessed about their role in the assassination, no action to arrest others, who had been declared as proclaimed offenders in the case by a court, has been taken.

3. Among those declared as proclaimed offenders in the case is Baitullah Mehsud, the Amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Instead of taking action to have him arrested and prosecuted, the Government has been negotiating a peace deal with him under which in return for his releasing Pakistani security forces personnel in the custody of the TTP and calling off all acts of suicide terrorism, the Government has offered to withdraw the Army from South Waziristan and make the Frontier Corps, a para-military force consisting largely of local Pashtun tribals, many of them sympathetic to the Taliban,responsible for internal security in South Waziristan.

4. The Government was embarrassed when US spokesmen repeatedly expressed their surprise over the Pakistani Government holding talks with the principal suspect in the assassination of Benazir and when Baitullah addressed a press conference in which he said that any peace deal will apply only to Pakistani territory and not to the operations of his men in the Afghan territory against the NATO forces and the Afghan National Army. Following these developments, the Govt. has suspended the peace talks with him, but has not asked the security forces to go after him in order to arrest him in the Benazir Bhutto case.

5. The case against those already arrested is being adjourned frequently under some pretext or the other on petitions filed by the defence counsels without the Government opposing these adjournments, which are against the provisions of the Anti-Terrroism Act, which clearly stipulate that the legal proceedings in terrorism-related cases should be held on a day-to-day basis without adjournments.

6. Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) No I of Rawalpindi once again adjourned on June 21,2008, the hearing into the Benazir murder case till July 14, 2008.

7.Critics of Asif Ali Zardari and Rehman Mallick, his confidante, who is the Advisor to the Ministry of the Interior with the status of a Cabinet Minister, have been alleging that neither of them seems to be interested in pursuing the case in order to bring to justice those responsible for her assassination. Rehman Mallick was a senior official of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) during the second tenure of Benazir as the Prime Minister (1993-96) and became a close confidante of Zardari. When former President Farooq Leghari dismissed her in 1996, he also suspended Rehman Mallick and ordered an investigation into charges of corruption against him. He escaped to the UK, from where he was co-ordinating the personal security of Benazir during her travels while she was in political exile.When she returned to Pakistan on October 18,2007, he returned before her and was looking after her physical security. There was considerable criticism of his absence from the vicinity of Benazir on December 27,2007, when she was assassinated.

8. Despite his alleged failure to protect her, he continues to enjoy the trust of Zardari who got him appointed as the Advisor to the Ministry of the Interior.

9.Murtaza Ali Bhutto, the younger brother of Benazir, was killed in a police encounter outside his Karachi residence in September,1996, after he had returned to Karachi from a visit to Islamabad where he allegedly had a quarrel with Zardari, who reportedly opposed his demand that he should be designated as the Vice-Chairman of the PPP. The failure of the Karachi Police to vigorously pursue the investigation was one of the reasons used by Farooq Leghari to dismiss Benazir shortly after the murder of her brother. Zardari was among those arrested and prosecuted by the police after her dismissal in connection with the murder of her brother. He was got discharged honourably from the case by the PPP-led coalition after it assumed office in the last week of March,2008.

10. Till today, the full facts relating to the murder of Murtaza and the identities of those responsible are not known to the public. The whole case has been covered up. There seems to be a similar attempt to cover up the case relating to the the assassination of Benazir despite the Government ostensibly moving the UN for an international investigation under the supervision of the UN Security Council. After her assassination, President Pervez Musharraf, in response to allegations of a cover-up by PPP leaders including Zardari, had requested the British Government to depute a team from the Scotland Yard to help in the forensic investigation. A team visited Pakistan and did a thorough forensic investigation. No action has been taken by the Government to follow up on their forensic investigation either. ( 22-6-08)

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2008



By B.Raman

On June 25,2006, I wrote as follows ( )

Quote We saw in Vietnam a clash of wills between a low-tech Vietcong and hi-tech Americans.

Low-tech ultimately prevailed over hi-tech.

Hi-tech taught the Americans how to kill----more and more.

One lost count of the body-counts projected by the US Army officers in South Vietnam and by Mr.Robert McNamara, the then US Defence Secretary, in Washington DC as indicators that the US was winning the war.

If body-counts alone could win a war, the Americans should have won in Vietnam. They did not.

There is something more to battles than body-counts-----morale,motivation, determination, ability to improvise and faith in oneself. The Vietcong had them in plenty.

In addition, the Vietcong had something more, which ultimately made the difference-----the ability to recover and fight again and again undeterred by all the losses suffered by them at the hands of the American troops, artillery and air force.

The Vietcong were like ants. They kept coming more and more. The more the Americans killed, the more they came. They kept coming out of dozens of ant holes located in foreign territory----in North Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China.

You cannot destroy ants unless you locate and destroy the ant holes. The American air strikes could not destroy all the ant holes in foreign territory.

They did not even try to destroy those in China lest they provoke Beijing. Their air strikes against those in North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were ineffective due to the complicity of the local authorities with the Vietcong.

Ultimately, the hi-tech Americans were overwhelmed by the low-tech ants. They called it quits.

We are seeing in Afghanistan a clash of wills between a low-tech Taliban and the hi-tech forces of the US-led coalition.

The hi-tech of the US-led forces is enabling them to kill more and more.

Body-counts reminiscent of the Vietnam days are back in vogue.

20 Taliban killed, 40 killed, 65 killed, 149 killed......

It goes on and on.

Every time you watch the TV, listen to the radio or read a newspaper, you see or hear only body-counts.

To whom did those bodies belong?

To the Taliban as claimed by the US-led forces? Or

To innocent civilians as alleged by the Taliban?

Definitely both.

The more the civilians you kill, the more the alienation.

The more the civilians you kill, the more the anger against you.

It is a vicious circle.

The Taliban are like ants. They keep coming more and more. The more the Americans kill, the more they come. They keep coming out of ant holes located in the Waziristan and Balochistan areas of Pakistan.

Instead of focussing on the ant holes from which the ants are entering Afghanistan, the Americans are focussing on the places in Afghanistan which are being invaded by the ants----killing many innocent civilians and driving others to join the ants.

This is like damaging or destroying your house because it is invaded by ants instead of locating the ant holes and destroying them first.

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is right.

The US-led forces have to change their methods. They have to attack the sources of terrorism.

They have to destroy the ant holes instead of keeping themselves confined to chasing the ants after they enter Afghanistan.

The American-led forces cannot be successful, despite all their resources and fire power, in destroying the ant holes unless they have the genuine co-operation of the military-dominated Government in Pakistan.

Expectations of such genuine co-operation have proved themselves to be illusory.

The Americans have only one option. Facilitate the coming into power of a genuinely democratic Government, which might co-operate sincerely.

It is better to have a sincere ally, even if it be only half effective, than to have an insincere ally, who feeds the ants while pretending to destroy them. Unquote

2. Hopes and expectations that a democratic Government in Pakistan will be more sincere in co-operating with the international community in destroying the jihadi ant holes in Pakistani territory are being belied. The democratically-elected leaders are showing themselves to be as insincere as the military leadership was. Instead of destroying the ant holes, they have made deals with the ants and are encouraging them to go to India and Afghanistan and do whatever they want. They pretend as if there are no ant holes in Pakistani territory. They pretend as if they see no ants entering Afghanistan and India.

3.Now that winter is over and the spring too is about to end, thousands of jihadi ants---old and new--- have started moving across Afghanistan. They nearly killed Mr.Karzai during a national day parade in Kabul on April 27,2008. They launched a spectacular attack on the Kandahar prison on June 13,2008, and freed all the about 1000 prisoners---400 of them jihad-hardened members of the Taliban. They forced open the gates of the prison with the help of a suicide truck. A group with hand-held weapons rushed into the prison, killed the guards and freed the prisoners. They identified those who were from the Taliban and spirited them out in 25 motor vehicles, which they had brought with them.

4. The entire operation took about an hour. About 40 minutes' drive from Kandahar was a post of the Canadian Army. It was supposed to protect Kandahar from the Taliban. The Canadians had no inkling of what the hell was going on till the Taliban had left with their vehicles transporting the freed Taliban prisoners.

5. Neither the US intelligence agencies nor those of other NATO countries and Afghanistan had noticed the Taliban vehicular armada driving into Kandahar. No helicopter took off from any of the NATO bases in the vicinity of Kandahar to make an air strike on the invading Taliban.

6. They came, they conquered and left triumphantly. Nobody knows where are the ants which attacked the prison. Nobody knows how the invading and freed ants have managed to disappear without trace. Nobody knows where the ants will strike next.

7. Are you as old as I am to remember the days of Vietnam? Remember the Tet (New Year---January 31,1968) offensive of the Vietcong, which totally took the Americans by surprise and proved all their assessments based on body-counts about a weakening Vietcong disastrously wrong?

8. Remember April 29, 1975, when the Vietcong attacked American positions in Saigon? The Americans and the South Vietnamese political and military rulers supporting them ran away from Vietnam---- some on foot, some in motor vehicles and some clinging pathetically to helicopters which took off from the roof of the US diplomatic mission.

9. If the US and other NATO forces do not draw the right lessons from the ants' raid on the Kandahar prison and act energetically and effectively against the ant holes in Pakistani territory, the day is not far off when April 29, 1975, in Vietnam will be repeated in Afghanistan.

10.The Taliban and Al Qaeda--- and the Pakistanis supporting them--- are waiting for that day. They are determined to re-create history. (17-6-08)

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

Friday, June 13, 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 North Waziristan, 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 Madad Khan 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 have been Abu Laith al-Libi, a Libyan national and an important Al Qaeda leader, whose martyrdom, meaning death while waging jihad, was announced by a web site ( associated with Al Qaeda, on January 31,2008. His so-called martyrdom has since been confirmed by Ayman 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 Americans and 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 a martyr falls, another martyr grabs the banner from him, and every time a chief goes down in blood, another chief completes the march after him."

4. Immediately after the missile strike, there was speculation in the area targeted by the US that Adam Gadhan, the American convert to Islam, 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.Three mysteries continue to surround this incident giving rise to interesting speculation in the global community of terrorism analysts. First, what happened to Madad Khan, the owner of the house attacked? Many members of his family were reportedly killed, but there is so far no confimed information regarding his fate. There has been speculation in the tribal belt of Pakistan that he must have been the man who tipped off the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) about the expected presence of Abu Laith in his house and that is how he escaped the missile attack of which he must have been aware.

6. The second mystery surrounds the fate of Adam Gadahn.According to Pakistani sources, he was also expected in the house along with Abu Laith. Did he come? If so, was he among those killed? If not, did he not keep his appointment with Abu Laith? If he had absented himself, did he also play a role in facilitating the missile strike? Did he know in advance about the impending strike and thus escape? Was he a mole of the CIA in Al Qaeda? Did he know that Madad Khan was also in touch with the CIA? Or were the two working independently of each other?

7. According to some sources in the tribal areas, Gadahn was not a mole of the CIA. He was present in the house of Madad Khan along with Abu Laith, but survived the missile attack with minor injuries. He was picked up by the Americans and flown to Morocco, where he is being interrogated by the US intelligence. It is also claimed by these sources that the US has not admitted this lest US legal rights experts raise the matter in US courts.

8. The third mystery surrounds the absence of Gadahn's translations in American English from the propaganda pieces produced by As-Sahab since the missile attack. He used to translate the messages of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri and provide English sub-titles. Since the missile attack, either the English sub-titles are missing or when they are given they are of a different quality----either Pakistani or Arab English and not American English.

9.Is Gadahn alive or dead? If alive, where is he? If dead, why Al Qaeda has not admitted his death as it admitted the death of Abu Laith? Why the CIA, whose Director Lt.Gen.Michael Hyden claimed credit for the death of Abu Laith in a recent interview with the "Washington Post" remained silent on Gadahn?

10. Well-informed police sources in the Pashtun belt assert that both Al Qaeda and the CIA know what happened to Gadahn, but neither of them wants to say anything on the subject. There is speculation galore.

11. Only four people must be knowing the truth---Osama bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, Lt.Gen.Michael Hayden and Gadhan himself, if still alive.Will one of them clear the mystery?

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2008




Twenty-seven persons----13 of them members of Pakistan's Frontier Corps, including a Major--- are reported to have been killed in an air strike by US Air Force planes on a check post of the FC located near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the Gora Parao area in the Mohmand agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan on the night of June 10,2008.

2. While a Pakistani army spokesman has condemned the US attack as cowardly and unprovoked, Pentagon spokesmen in Washington DC, while not denying the attack, have justified it as a legitimate act of self-defence.

3. The check post attacked by US planes was manned by the Mohmand Rifles, a unit of the FC, which consists mainly of local recruits. The Mohmand Agency is one of the preferred infiltration routes of the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan headed by Mulla Mohammad Omar and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) headed by Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan. In recent months, tribesmen from Mohmand Agency had also repeatedly attacked trucks transporting logistic supplies for the NATO forces in Afghanistan from the Karachi port.

4. Pakistani media accounts as well as reports from independent police sources indicate that the incident was provoked by a joint attack launched by the Neo Taliban and the TTP on a recently-opened post of the Afghan National Army (ANA) in Afghan territory just across the Gora Parao check post of the FC. When the ANA soldiers were outnumbered and outmanoeuvred by the Taliban attacks from the Pakistani territory, they sought the assistance of US troops. When the ANA and the US troops faced difficulty in countering the Taliban forces, who were supported by cover fire from Pakistani territory, they asked for air support. US planes then bombed the area in the vicinity of the FC check post. The air attack killed a number of Taliban cadres, but at the same time, it also destroyed the FC check post.

5. The incident once again underlined the difficulty faced by the ANA and the US troops in countering Taliban intrusions from Pakistani territory. These intrusions often take place through areas manned by the FC. The FC consists almost completely of tribals recruited locally, though some officers do come on deputation from non-tribal areas too.

6. While senior officers of the Pentagon and the State Department refrain from criticising the FC of complicity with the Neo Taliban and the TTP, US and Afghan soldiers in Afghanistan do not make any secret of their conviction that there is considerable sympathy for the Taliban among the tribal members of the FC and that they often facilitate infiltrations by the Taliban into Afghan territory. A recent report of the Rand Corporation of the US, which highlights the collusion of many serving and retired Pakistani personnel---from the Army as well as the FC--- with the Taliban largely reflects this conviction of the Afghanistan-based US troops. The US soldiers and their officers in Afghanistan consider retaliatory attacks on FC personnel and check posts aiding the Taliban as a legitimate exercise of their right of self-defence for which they require no clearance from Washington DC.

7. The fact that the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) of the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the TTP have been demanding that any peace agreement with the Government should provide for the withdrawal of the Pakistani Army troops from the tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan and their replacement by FC personnel reflects their confidence that the FC personnel will be more friendly to the Taliban.

8. The US faces a dilemma in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region. The FC's tribal recruits, with their considerable local knowledge, can be an asset in the operatins against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, provided they co-operate sincerely. At the same time, their sympathy for fellow-tribals serving in the Taliban comes in the way of such sincere co-operation and reduces their reliability. It has not so far found a way out of this dilemma. Its plans for a modernisation of the FC are unlikely to produce results so long as this sympathy for the Taliban among the recruits to the FC persists.

9. One way out of this dilemma could be by using the FC units for internal security duties in other parts of Pakistan and using regular Pakistan army units consisting of non-tribal soldiers for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency duties in the FATA. This is already being attempted for sometime now, but the regular army units, who were raised and trained essentially for duties on the Indian border, find themselves ill-adapted for duties in the tribal belt near the Afghan border.

10. Though Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), has reportedly been talking of the need to retrain the Pakistani army troops for counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency duties in the tribal belt, he has not taken any action to implement his idea because the Pakistan Army gives more importance to its role against India than to its role against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. (12-6-08)

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

Monday, June 9, 2008




A big debate is going on presently between Dr.Bruce Hoffman and Dr.Marc Sageman, two well-known terrorism analysts of the US, regarding the phenomenon of angry individual Muslims, not belonging to any organisation, taking to jihadi terrorism. Dr.Sageman, in his latest book, calls them leaderless jihadis. Dr.Hoffman is a reputed academic, formerly of the Rand Corporation and now of the Georgetown University, Washington DC. Dr. Sargeman is a retired officer of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

2. Has the rise of leaderless jihadis reduced the danger from Al Qaeda as an organisation? Can the present counter-terrorism policies and techniques, which were tailor-made to confront organisations such as Al Qaeda, be effective when the danger is no longer from organisations but from individuals? That is the central point of their debate.

3. Both are right and both are wrong. It is true---as pointed out by Sageman--- that more and more individual Muslims, out of anger, are taking to jihadi terrorism without identifying themselves with Al Qaeda. We in India have been seeing this phenomenon since 9/11. The West has been seeing it since the Madrid train blasts of March,2004. Pakistan has been facing this since the commando raid in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July last. The 56 suicide terrorists, who committed acts of suicide terrorism in different parts of Pakistan last year, were not members of Al Qaeda, though, personally, they were admirers of bin Laden.

4. At the same time, these individual jihadis---whom I have called citizen jihadis in my articles written after July,2007--- have the capability only for tactical terrorist strikes, but not strikes of a strategic nature such as an act of maritime terrorism, or strikes directed at energy supplies or strikes involving weapons of mass destruction matetrial. These are terrorists born out of the anger of the moment. They give vent to their anger through tactical strikes, but have no strategic objective.

5. Only Al Qaeda and other similar organisations have the capability for terrorist strikes of a strategic nature, which could cause mass casualties, mass economic damage, mass disruption and mass panic. Al Qaeda, which is a flexible organisation, has adapted itself to this phenomenon of individual jihadis by encouraging and helping them to do whatever they want, while retaining to itself the leadership role in respect of strategic strikes.

6. Any meaningful counter-terrorism policy has to cater to the continuing resilience of Al Qaeda while at the same time evolving new techniques of dealing with individual jihadis with no organisational affiliation.

7.Prof.Hoffman is right in warning that the rise of individual jihadis should not be interpreted as meaning that the strategic threat from Al Qaeda is diminishing.

8. I am appending below an extract from my latest book on "Terrorism: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow", which has some relevance to this debate, (9-6-08)

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


Extract from my latest book

On January 27, 2004--- two months before the Madrid blasts and 18 months before the London blasts---Hossam el-Hamalawy, an Egyptian free-lance journalist, in an article drew attention to the emergence of the phenomenon of free-lance jihadis----that is, individual Muslims not belonging to any organisation, who take to jihad against the US and Israel because of their anger against their policies. His article was titled Crusaders Vs Soldiers of Allah (Jundullah).

He wrote: Quote Observers in Cairo have highlighted the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada, September 11 attacks, and the US-led onslaught on Afghanistan and Iraq as triggers to the ongoing radicalization across the Muslim World, a radicalization that is feeding Islamist militancy, especially as Muslims could clearly see that it is largely the Islamists who are now on the forefront of the struggle to end Western hegemony in the region. It has never been that easy for rage to meet ideology. “September 11 was Islamism’s Suez War,” said Diaa Rashwan, an analyst with Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. “Nasser’s defiance of the West in 1956 was the virtual birthmark of pan-Arabism. September 11 attacks and the war on terror served the same purpose for pan-Islamism. They united Muslims around the world by the sense that ‘we are all under attack by the West, and we have to do something.’ ”This is pushing, Rashwan argues, new actors to enter the stage of armed politics: the “freelance jihadis.” Unquote.

Enquiries with well-informed sources in the Islamic world show that Jundullah is not the name of any particular organisation. It is the name of a pan-Islamic, anti-US and anti-Israel suicide terrorism phenomenon which is creeping across the Islamic world and the Muslim diaspora in the Western countries. Everybody, who takes to suicide terrorism against the US or Israel-----whether individually or as a member of a jihadi organisation---looks upon himself or herself as a Jundullah---a soldier of Allah. All pan-Islamic jihadi organisations---whether Al Qaeda or any other organisation--- look upon themselves as Jundullah fighting to establish the sovereignty of Allah over the Islamic world and to "liberate" areas which, according to them, historically belonged to the Ummah.

The Jundullah phenomenon has made its appearance in Pakistan at a time when 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, 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 International Islamic Front (IIF) such as the Pakistan-based Neo Taliban of Afghanistan, the various brands of Taliban of the tribal areas of Pakistan, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-Al Islami (HUJI), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (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. That is why the Pakistani Police has not been able to make much headway in its investigation of the acts of suicide terrorism, which have been taking place at regular intervals in different parts of the NWFP.

New leaders, new cadres, new groups and new mullas are coming up almost every other week and taking to jihadi terrorism. Old fundamentalist leaders of the 1980 Afghan war vintage such as Qazi Hussain Ahmed of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI), Maulana Fazlur Rahman of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam (JUI) of Pakistan, Maulana Samiul Haq of another faction of the JUI, Prof.Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed of the LET, Maulana Masood Azhar of the JEM, Fazlur Rahman Khalil of the HUM and Qari Saifullah Akhtar of the HUJI no longer command the kind of influence and obedience which they commanded in the past. Fatwas of the Mullas of the past do not carry much weight with these citizen jihadis. They ignored with contempt a fatwa against suicide terrorism against fellow Muslims issued by a group of old Mullas.

The traditional organisations of Afghan vintage were exploiting factors such as the alleged foreign occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, the perceived occupation of Muslim lands in Palestine, Jammu & Kashmir, Chechnya, Southern Philippines, Southern Thailand, the Arakan area of Myanmar etc by non-Muslims, violation of the human rights of the Muslims etc for motivating their recruits and making them take to suicide terrorism.

The citizen jihadis of Pakistan’s tribal belt, who see no TV, Internet and video players which they regard as evil, have no way of seeing with their own eyes what is happening in other lands and far-away places. They are being influenced more by what they hear on the FM radio stations operating in the tribal areas. Many Mullas have their own FM radio station. These stations have been propagating highly exaggerated accounts of the humiliation allegedly being inflicted on Muslims all over the world and of the evil impact of cultural globalisation on their religion, men, women and children. The news of Ms.Nilofer Bakhtiar, a former Pakistani Minister, letting herself be hugged by her French gliding instructor spread far and wide in the tribal areas through such FM stations. Stories of the evil influence of foreign culture on the Islamic way of life, trivialisation by foreign analysts of what is projected as the glorious instances of martyrdom by suicide terrorists etc are adding to the number of citizen jihadis.

The Internet plays an active role in the spread of pernicious ideas and calls for action in the Western world and in other countries such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria etc, but in the tribal areas of Pakistan, where the literacy rate is very low, it is the word of mouth and the FM broadcasts, which are instigating individual Muslims to acts of terrorism in the name of jihad.

In the non-tribal areas of Pakistan and in the Muslim diaspora in the West, the Internet plays an important role in motivation. A typical example of the spread of the Jundullah phenomenon to the diaspora abroad was the cell consisting of two Indian Muslims and some Arabs, which tried in vain to carry out acts of terrorism in London and Glasgow in June,2007. They were self-motivated Jundullahs not associated with any organization.

Al Qaeda and other structured jihadi organizations are concerned over this phenomenon because if this trend continues, it could affect the flow of volunteers and funds to their organisations. It is said that many angry Muslims in the non-tribal areas and in the diaspora no longer flock to these 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 by Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) of Pakistan, in an article in "Al Qalam", a publication of the JEM, written before the Pakistani Army raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July,2007. 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 jihadis."

However, unlike the JEM, Al Qaeda's reaction to this phenomenon has been more nuanced. It does not claim responsibility for these individual attacks, but at the same time, it does not discourage them. It has been trying to give the impression that it is still in total control of the global jihad and that whatever has been happening in the world in the form of jihadi attacks----whether by individuals not belonging to any organisation or by those belonging to Al Qaeda and other organisations---- is in pursuance of its global jihadi strategy. The stepping-up of its propaganda offensive and dire warnings since the beginning of 2007 are part of its strategy of creating an impression that it continues to be in total control of the jihad.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Dear Lt.Gen.Michael Hayden,

"On May 1, 2003, President Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln aboard an S-3B Viking jet, emerged from the aircraft in full flight gear, and proceeded to "press flesh," as The Washington Post put it, as he shook hands and hugged crew members in front of the cameras. Later that day, Bush delivered a nationally televised speech from the deck of the Abraham Lincoln in which he declared that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended," all the while standing under a banner reading: "Mission Accomplished." Despite lingering questions over the continued violence in Iraq, the failure to locate weapons of mass destruction, and the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein, as well as evidence that Bush may have shirked his responsibilities in the Texas Air National Guard (TANG) during the Vietnam War, the print and televised media fawned over Bush's "grand entrance" and the image of Bush as the "jet pilot" and the "Fighter".

2.So wrote on April 27,2006, a US website called "Media Matters For America"( .Mr.Bush's premature bragging that the US had accomplished its mission in Iraq and had emerged victorious in the war has haunted him and his advisers till now. So did the earlier claim of Vice-President Dick Cheney before the start of the war that the invading US troops would be welcomed by the people of Iraq as "liberators". Thousands of American troops have already died and more are dying. Thousands of Iraqi civilians have died and more are dying. Some "welcome", this!

3. On October 7,2001, the US launched its "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan.By the middle of 2002, we were told that the US troops had defeated the Taliban and badly disrupted the command and control of Al Qaeda. In 2004, the Taliban came back as if it had risen from its proclaimed grave and started hitting back at the US-led coalition troops in eastern and southern Afghanistan. The NATO forces are still struggling to prevail over the Taliban.

4. Till 2000, there was no suicide terrorism in Afghanistan. There was one in 2001 which killed Ahmed Shah Masood. Since 2004, instances of suicide terrorism in Afghanistan started going up. There were 137 last year. The Taliban's capability to hit at the NATO forces now extends to even Kabul. President Hamid Karzai owes it to the grace of Allah that he survived the attempt to kill him during a national parade at Kabul on April 27,2008. Neither the Afghan intelligence nor the CIA had any inkling of its plans to kill him. If Allah had not gone to his rescue, there might have been total instability in Afghanistan now.

5. Till 2006, Pakistan had an average of six acts of suicide terrorism per annum.It had 56 last year. It has already had 18 till now this year. In 2007, there were 193 acts of suicide terrorism in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region in which 195 suicide volunteers killed themselves. One act of suicide terrorism in Afghanistan was jointly staged by three volunteers.

6.Against this background, one read with some amazement your claim in your interview to the *Washington Post" (May 30,2008) that Al Qaeda has been strategically defeated and that the "war" against Al Qaeda is more or less over. The "Washington Post" has quoted you as saying: "On balance, we are doing pretty well.Near strategic defeat of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for Al Qaeda globally -- and here I'm going to use the word 'ideologically' -- as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam.The ability to kill and capture key members of Al Qaeda continues, and keeps them off balance -- even in their best safe haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border."

7. The "Washington Post" wrote: "Since the start of the year, he said, Al -Qaeda's global leadership has lost three senior officers, including two who succumbed "to violence," an apparent reference to Predator strikes that killed terrorist leaders Abu Laith al-Libi and Abu Sulayman al-Jazairi in Pakistan. He also cited a successful blow against "training activity" in the region but offered no details. "Those are the kinds of things that delay and disrupt Al Qaeda's planning," Hayden said."

8.Even as you were giving the interview to the "Washington Post" to mark the completion of your two years as the Director of the CIA, a suicide bomber----believed to be from Al Qaeda or one of its associates--- was taking up position in Islamabad to stage an act of suicide terrorism against the Danish Embassy on June 2,2008. Neither the CIA nor the Pakistani or Afghan intelligence had any inkling of their plans.

9. You claim that your Predator aircraft have killed two important operatives of Al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal region. Yes, true. But you don't mention that your Predator aircraft have also killed over 200 young children in the tribal region due to wrong intelligence and targeting. Even as you were giving your "Mission Accomplished" interview to the "Washington Post", Lt.Gen. Jamshed Gulzar Kiyani, of the Pakistan Army, who had served in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was telling the Geo TV of Pakistan in an interview as follows: "Today, everybody believed that Gen Musharraf was fighting the American war on the soil of Pakistan and we are paying for that today. Musharraf's departure from power was close at hand. The President should not have given in to US threat in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. The ISI was used to commit wrong acts. I was in the ISI and advised against such acts but my advice fell on deaf ears. As a result today, Musharraf is the most unpopular President. Suicide attacks that were beyond imagination before 9/11 are difficult to control now. I am not a supporter ofsuicide attacks, but these reflect an easy reaction that cannot be stopped by anyone. It was as a reaction to his policies that suicide attacks started in the country. Force was used in South and North Waziristan and 80 students were killed in a Bajaur Madrassa in an American operation. What was the crime of these students?"

10. For every innocent child and woman killed by your Predator aircraft, two or more suicide bombers are born. Musharraf, whom you projected as your frontline ally in the "war" against terrorism, is the most despised man in Pakistan today. One does not know how long he will lost in power.Mr.Asif Zardari, the leader of the Pakistan People's Party, recently described him as a relic of the past. The people of Pakistan look upon him as an American stooge who let himself be used by the CIA to kill Muslims and to pick up Pakistanis in dozens, if not hundreds, and hand them over to the CIA without following the due process of law.Nobody knows what happened to many of them.

11. President Karzai hardly knows Afghanistan outside Kabul. He spends his time globe-trotting and is rarely able to travel in his country. There is more anti-US anger in the Islamic world today than in the past. "Publicity is the oxygen of terrorism," said Mrs.Margaret Thatcher, when she was the British Prime Minister and banned any reference to the Irish Republican Army in the British radio and television. More than publicity, anger is the oxygen of any terrorism--- jihadi or non-jihadi.

12. It is this anger, which drove about 200 young Pakistani and Afghan Muslims to take to suicide terrorism last year. It is this anger which is behind jihadi terrorism---be it in Iraq or Afghanistan or Somalia or Algeria or elsewhere. It is this anger which has been behind the acts of jihadi terrorism which we have been having in India from time to time.

13. Whereas in India, the anger is largely due to domestic reasons, in the Islamic world the anger is due to the manner in which the US has been waging its so-called war against terrorism in general and Al Qaeda in particular. It is this anger which has been driving more and more young Muslim boys to take to suicide terrorism. As I have repeatedly pointed out in my articles, Al Qaeda is not recruiting volunteers. Young Muslims, angered by the manner in which the US has been waging its so-called war, have been going to Al Qaeda and its associates and volunteering themselves for suicide missions.

14. The Madrid bombers of March 2004 and the London bombers of July 2005 were not recruited by Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. They volunteered their services angered by the US policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. The London and Glasgow bombers of June,2007---one of them an Indian Muslim--- were not recruited by Al Qaeda or bin Laden. They volunteered their services due to anti-US anger. Adam Gadahan, the American convert to Islam, who used to head As-Sahab, Al Qaeda's psywar and propaganda division, was not recruited by Al Qaeda. He went to Afghanistan and volunterered his services. The German converts to Islam who were trained by the Islamic Jihad Group (ISG) in the Federally-Administetred Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, were not recruited by Al Qaeda. They went to FATA and volunteered their services.

15. The media has reported that you feel that Al Qaeda is on the retreat because there has been no repeat of 9/11 in the US homeland, there has been no repeat of July,2005, in the UK and because it could not capture power in Saudi Arabia. You had a major act of jihadi terrorism in the US homeland in February,1993, when some jihadis tried to blow up the New York World Centre. You did not tighten up physical security thereafter in the US homeland till 9/11. Despite this, it took Al Qaeda more than eight years to stage the 9/11 strikes. It takes a long time for a jihadi group from the Islamic world to carry out a successful strike in the US because it is thousands of kms away from the Islamic world and it has immense human and material resources. Moreover, Al Qaeda will strike in the US once again only when it feels that it has the potential and capability for another spectacular strike in the US. It is not interested in carrying out not so spectacular strikes in the US just as the jihadis have been carrying out in India.

16. You overlook that the jihadis totally took the British intelligence by surprise when they tried to stage a terrorist strike in June in London and Glasgow. Their attempts failed not because the British intelligence was alert but because the mobile telephones, which they had planned to use as triggers malfunctioned. If they had functioned properly, there might have been another July,2005.

17. As regards their failure to capture power in Saudi Arabia , insurgents seek territorial control and go after political power. Terrorists don't. Bringing about the exit of US troops from Saudi Arabia was one of the aims of Al Qaeda. Damaging its oil production was another in order to cause serious damage to Western economy. Capture of power was not. Your troops have left Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda was hoping to cause huge increases in oil prices in the world by attacking the Saudi oil production facilities.When oil prices are racing towards US $ 140 per barrel, threatening to create an economic chaos in the world, where is the need for an Al Qaeda operation to achieve this? They are not going to sacrifice their precious suicide bombers to achieve something which the US has already achieved for them.

18. There is no such thing as victory or defeat over a terrorist organisation. Terrorist organisations---jihadi or non-jihadi-- are not militarily defeated. They are made to wither away by weakening their motivation, damaging their capability and denying them popular support. To achieve this, two things are essential--- firm, but balanced---not disproportionate--- counter-terrorism operations and measures for the containment and reduction of anger.
19. In my view, the US is not yet in sight of achieving either of this objective.

With warm regards,

Yours sincerely,
B.Raman.Additional Secretary (retd),Cabinet Secretariat,Govt. of India.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008



My book as titled above will be on sale in Indian bookshops from June 9,2008---initially in New Delhi and then in other cities. It can be ordered electronically even now by visiting

Monday, June 2, 2008




Eight Muslims, two of them Policemen, were killed by a car bomb explosion in Islamabad on June 2,2008, outside the building of the Danish Embassy, which badly damaged the building. There were reportedly no Danish citizens working inside the Embassy. They had been withdrawn by the Danish Government weeks ago fearing a terrorist strike against Danish citizens in reprisal for the publication of cartoons purporting to depict the Holy Prophet by a Danish journal in September 2005, which were re-published by some journals in March last. Among those killed was a Pakistani citizen, who was working in the Embassy. The skeleton mission was largely being manned by local recruits. The Danish authorities have confirmed that there was no Danish citizen among the fatalities.

2. Ever since the original publication of the offending cartoons in September,2005, it was feared that there would be a reprisal attack on Danish targets either in Denmark or elsewhere and the Danish authorities had taken the necessary precautions. Attempts by local Muslims in Denmark itself, including some of Pakistani origin, to mount a terrorist strike were thwarted. The Neo Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan were looking out for Danish targets. There have been reports of Al Qaeda looking out for an opportunity for a Munich-style attack on the Danish team during the forthcoming Beijing Olympics in August,2008.

3. In their periodic messages to their followers, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, his No.2 in Al Qaeda, have been warning of reprisals against Danish targets. Against this background, the blast in Islamabad, believed to be a suicide attack, has not been a surprise.What is intriguing is why the reprisal took such a long time in coming, who were responsible and how come they were unaware of the fact that most, if not all of the Danish nationals, had been withdrawn weeks ago. If they were aware of this fact, they would have known that they would be killing only fellow-Muslims, who had nothing to do with the cartoons.

4. Since the Army commando raid into the Lal Masjid in Islamabad in July last, there have been innumerable suicide terrorist strikes in Islamabad--many of them against the Army and even the Inter-Services Intelligence. These strikes spoke of poor physical security, some sympathy for the terrorists among physical security personnel and the consequent capability of the jihadis to strike even at supposedly hard targets. That they were able to take an explosive-laden vehicle to the vicinity of the Embassy building and blow the vehicle up should not, therefore, be a matter of surprise.

5. Why now? Who is responsible? There have been reports that Al Qaeda, the Taliban of Afghanistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG) , another Uzbek group which had been training Muslim recruits---mainly Pakistanis, but also some local converts to Islam-- from Germany, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Holland,the UK,France and other European countries, and the Jaish-e-Mohamnmad (JEM) were unhappy with Maulana Fazlullah of the Swat Valley in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan, who is the so-called Amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), for negotiating a peace deal with the coalition Government.The JEM continues to be in occupation of some territory in the Swat Valley where it trains recruits from Pakistan and foreign countries.

6. It is suspected that one of these groups must have carried out this strike to underline that there can be no ceasefire so far as they are concerned. They chose the Danish embassy thinking that the deaths of Danish citizens in reprisal for the cartoons would meet with the approval of fellow-Muslims. The IJG and the JEM should figure on top of the suspects' list.

7.In this connection, reference is invited to my following comments in my article of April 27,2008,titled THE JIHADI WINDS FROM PAKISTAN at : "The TTP is not a homogenous group. It consists of leaders of different tribes in the FATA and in the adjoining districts of the NWFP, each having his own inflated ego and his own agenda. The common bonds uniting them are their pro-Taliban and pro-Al Qaeda feelings and their anti-US and anti-Musharraf anger. The desire to avenge the Lal Masjid raid by the Army is no longer as strong a motivating factor as it was before the elections, but the desire to help the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan, headed by its Amir Mullah Mohammad Omar, and Al Qaeda in their jihad against the NATO forces in Afghanistan is still a strong motivating factor. While they rallied behind the leadership of Baitullah, who is a strong supporter of Serajuddin Haqqani of the Neo Taliban, in the wake of the Lal Masjid raid and contributed volunteers for suicide missions, the ability of Baitullah to make all of them implement the terms of any peace agreement eventually signed by him with the Government is doubtful. The Mardan explosion is as much a message to the Government as it is to Baitullah not to take for granted their support to any peace agreement between the Govt. and Baitullah. "

8. The Islamabad blast against the Danish Embassy building is a message from Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations in Pakistani territory that the global jihad against the so-called Crusaders and the Jewish people will continue from their rear headquarters in the FATA whoever might be in power in Islamabad.(2-6-08)

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




(Based on two extempore interventions made by the writer at an international conference on " Terrorism: Threat Or Exaggeration" organised by the "Sabado"magazine of Lisbon at Lisbon on May 29 and 30,2008. He also submitted for circulation a power point presentation on Terroist Groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India & China's Xinjiang, which is annexed)

After the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, a New York-based journalist had come to India to study how the Indian people had reacted to the March,1993, serial explosions in Mumbai. She rang me up at Chennai and asked me what was my first impression on visiting the spot. I told her: "The explosions did not bother Mumbai's street children. They were playing cricket unconcerned near the scenes of the explosion. There was no sign of any panic."

2. The December 13,2001, attack on the Indian Parliament was the first terrorist strike in front of TV cameras. The whole attack was transmitted live by the TV channels. Some months later, I had been invited to the US on a lecture tour. I had taken with me video recordings of the terrorist strike on the Parliament and of terrorist incidents in the West. I used to show recordings of the Parliament attack as well as of the incidents in the West. I would then ask the audience:" Do you notice any difference?" They did not notice any. I then pointed out that in the Western scenes, scared people were running away from the scene. In the visuals of the Parliament attack, people were running towards the scene. Many had climbed on to tree branches and were watching the exchange of fire between the Police and the terrorists as if they were watching a film being shot by Steven Spielberg.

3. After the Bali explosion in Indonesia in October,2002, a meeting on terrorism was held in Bangkok. I attended the meeting. A Thai researcher presented a paper on the impact of the explosion on the tourist economy of Thailand and other countries of S.E Asia. According to him, after the explosion, practically all Western tourists, except some French, ran away from S.E.Asia. There were large-scale cancellations of air and hotel bookings. But Indian tourists did not run away and not a single Indian group cancelled its travel plans. On the contrary, many more Indian groups visited Thailand by taking advantage of the huge discounts offered by the airlines and hotels. He felt that the Thai tourist economy might have faced serious trouble but for the Indian tourists, who were not nervous or panicky after the explosion. He recommended that in future Thailand should pay more attention to promoting tourism from India.

4. I am mentioning these incidents to underline that no terrorist group---jihadi or non-jihadi--- generally succeeds in scaring or intimidating the Indian people. One of the objectives of the terrorists is to scare and intimidate the people. If they refuse to be scared or intimidated, the terrorists fail to achieve their objective. This is what we call the Indian spirit. So long as this spirit is alive and strong, no terrorist group will strategically succeed in India. We saw it in Punjab. We are seeing it in Jammu & Kashmir. We will see it in the rest of India where we continue to have sporadic acts of jihadi terrorism and Maoist terrorism.

5. India has been facing terrorism of different kinds---ethnic, separatist, jihadi and left extremist--- almost since its independence in 1947. None of them has ever succeeded. Despite their periodic attacks, the country continues to progress at 8 per cent plus, foreign investments continue to flow, India has emerged as a major IT power and India's foreign exchange reserves keep going up. This is the best way of dealing with terrorism---not to let yourself be intimidated and not to let the terrorists affect political stability and economic progress.

6. India has the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. No Indian Muslim went to Afghanistan in the 1980s to join the jihad against the Soviet troops. No Indian Muslim has gone to Afghanistan to join the jihad against the US and other NATO troops. No Indian Muslim has gone to Iraq to fight against the US troops.There is no Indian Muslim in the Guantanamo Bay centre for detained Al Qaeda suspects in Cuba run by the US. In the report of the US National Commission, which enquired into the 9/11 terrorist strikes, there is only one reference to India---- a visit to India by Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM), who is alleged to have orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist strikes on behalf of Osama bin Laden. He later told a US military tribunal that Al Qaeda had wanted to blow up the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi. But it did not.

7. Why? He did not explain. I could guess why. Because it did not have any local support in the Indian Muslim community.Many Pakistani terrorist organisations, which have joined the Al Qaeda-led International Islamic Front (IIF) formed in 1998, are active in different parts of India. They have been responsible for many of the terrorist strikes outside Kashmir. These are the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). Some Indian Muslims have joined them ---in India as well as from the Indian Muslim community in the Gulf.

8. But Al Qaeda as an organisation has not yet been active in India. There have been only two confirmed instances of Muslims of Indian origin gravitating towards Al Qaeda or its ideology. Both were residents of the UK. From time to time --- after terrorist attacks--- claims of responsibility are made on behalf of a so-called Indian branch of Al Qaeda. Indian Muslims ---- particularly in Kashmir--- are themselves the first to refute such claims. Indian Muslims do not deny that some of them have joined Pakistani jihadi organisations, but they always insist that none has joined Al Qaeda.

9. Why are they keeping away from Al Qaeda till now? Because they feel uncomfortable with the fact that it is largely an Arab organisation. Indian Muslims may accept money from Arab organisations---particularly from Saudi Arabia--- but they do not feel comfortable with Arabs. Sometime ago, a religious cleric in Hyderbad in Andhra Pradesh advised Indian Muslim girls not to marry Arabs. He alleged that Indian Muslim girls, who married Arabs and migrated to the Gulf, were ill-treated there. For an Indian Muslim, the cultural solidarity with the other Indians is more important than religious solidarity with the Arabs. So long as this feeling of cultural solidarity remains strong, Al Qaeda may continue to face difficulty in making an impact on the Indian Muslim community.

10. At the same time, we are concerned over certain trends in the Indian Muslim community. What are they?First, some Indian Muslim youth joining pro-Al Qaeda Pakistani jihadi organisations and helping them in carrying out terrorist strikes in different parts of India. Second, the beginning of an attraction for Al Qaeda in small sections of the Indian Muslim community in the UK. Third, the Glasgow incident of June,2007, which was the first instance of an Indian Muslim attempting an attack of suicide terrorism. Fortunately, this virus has not so far spread to India, but we have to be careful.

11. We in India do not believe that a Muslim is born to be violent. We do not believe that the Muslims of the world constitute a monolithic community. We do not believe that if you know one Muslim, you know all Muslims. We do not believe that all Muslims behave alike. At the same time, we are worried by the emerging trend of some Muslim youth belonging to organisations such as the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) taking to terrorism in the name of jihad and projecting their so-called jihad as part of a global jihad.

12. In our counter-terrorism policies, we make a distinction between the jihadi terrorists and peaceful members of the Muslim community. We focus our counter-terrorism policies on the terrorists and not on the community. While enunciating counter-terrorism policies, our Governments carefully consider their impact on the Muslim community as a whole and take care not to drive more Muslims into the arms of the terrorists. This should explain the reluctance of the Government to give greater powers to the Police as demanded by them.

13. Indian counter-terrorism is based on the principle that except in the border areas, where we face the problem of cross-border terrorism, the police has to be the weapon of first resort against terrorism and the Army the weapon of last resort. We do believe that the difficulties faced by the US and other NATO countries in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries is due to their failure to make this distinction between a small group of jihadi terrorists and the large numbers of the community. It is also due to the militarisation of counter-terrorism or Americanisation of counter-terrorism. This over-militarisation or Americanisation of counter-terrorism has itself become another cause of aggravated terrorism. We have carefully avoided associating ourselves with such policies.

14. I attend every year a number of international seminars or conferences on terrorism attended by well-known Western terrorism experts. I notice that they constitute an inbred community of analysts--- quoting from each other's analysis and corroborating each other. "I cite you, you cite me; I invite you to my conferences, you invite me to yours". That is the way they operate. I rarely come across an instance of a Western analyst citing an analysis made in the Islamic world. They seem to be interested only in each other's analysis. They are not well-informed about the thinking in the Islamic world. If you want to make a meaningful analysis, you must be abreast of the analyses coming out of the Muslim world.

15.There are two aspects to counter-terrorism---- the professional and the ideological and psychological. The professional deals with matters such as capacity-building, prevention, investigation, promoting international co-operation on the ground etc. That is the easier part of counter-terrorism.

16. The difficult part is understanding the mindset behind terrorism and countering it ideologically and psychologically. We tend to focus on what we understand. We do not focus on what we don't understand. What we have not been able to understand till now is the mindset and how to deal with it.After the London blasts of July,2005, Mr.Tony Blair, the then British Prime Minister, emphasised the importance of paying more attention to the ideological and psychological aspects. So did Mr.Gordon Brown after taking over as the Prime Minister. But this subject hardly figures in conferences and seminars such as this.

17. More than the frequent acts of jihadi terrorism in India, what concerns me is the mindset of large sections of the Muslim community---- young or old, fundamentalist or liberal. This mindset refuses to accept that there is a thing called jihadi terrorism and that many terrorists of today are Muslims.Recently, a number of Muslim clerics and scholars of India have come out with statements strongly condemning terrorism. They have reiterated these statements after the Jaipur blasts of May 13,2008. We in India have rightly welcomed them.

18.Does their action mean there has been a change in their mindset? I am not convinced of that. I will concede that there has been the beginning of a change in the mindset the day they condemn not only terrorism, but also the perpetrators, even if they are Muslims. They don't till now.

19. I recently attended a debate on terrorism in India, which was also attended by a leading Indian Muslim cleric-cum-intellectual.The statements condemning terrorism were welcomed by the participants. He was asked to go one step further and condemn organisations such as Al Qaeda and the SIMI, which indulge in terrorism. He declined. He said: " We do not have any independent information to show they are terrorist organisations. All the information we have presently comes from American or European sources or from the Indian intelligence and police. We will consider the matter the day we have independent information." He was asked what, in his view, would constitute independent information. He replied: " It is up to you to collect independent information."

20. Intervening in a recent debate in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the activities of Al Qaeda from the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, Senator John Kerry made a similar point. He had recently visited Pakistan and met many political leaders. He said that while all of them readily and strongly condemned terrorism and reiterated their determination to co-operate with the US against terrorism, they avoided mentioning the names of Al Qaeda or the Taliban or any other organisation. They evaded any assurance that they would co-operate with the US against Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

21. That is the problem confronting all of us in the international community----the reluctance of Muslim leadership all over the world to condemn the perpetrators of terrorism if they happen to be Muslims. 'The Muslims can do no wrong. All the evils of the world are due to non-Muslims." That seems to be their belief. How to deal with this mindset? This is a question which needs to be discussed in depth by a small group of like-minded people.

22. Jihadi terrorism is undergoing a metamorphosis. Many of those, who are suspected of participating in the wave of suicide terrorism in Pakistan since July last, grew up to adulthood after 9/11. One of the suspects in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case is a minor. He must have been six or seven years old on 9/11. They do not look upon the old generation leaders such as Osama bin Laden or Ayman Al-Zawahiri with the same awe and reverence as the more grown-ups of Afghan vintage do. They believe in their own way of carrying on jihad. The old generation of jihadis in Pakistan hesitated to attack the Pakistan Army. They considered any attacks on the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence as a betrayal of Pakistan. The new generation of jihadis has no qualms over attacking officers of the Pakistan Armed Forces. If the interests of Pakistani Islam and global Islam clash, they are prepared to die for global Islam at the expense of Pakistani Islam. Sections of the Pakistani media reported last year that Pashtun mothers are playing a role in motivating one of their sons to volunteer for suicide terrorism for the cause of Islam.

23. Since the elected coalition Government headed by Mr.Yousef Raza Gilani assumed office in Islamabad on March 25,2008, there has been a dramatic drop in suicide terrorism in Pakistan---even in the tribal areas. Jihadi attacks on the Armed forces have declined. The Gilani Government attributes this to its departure from Pervez Musharraf's policy of uncritical support to American counter-terrorism policies and objective and to its action in restoring to the Police and the para-military their due role in counter-terrorism.

24. This may be true, but only to a small extent. The real reason is that in order to bring down suicide terrorism in Pakistani territory, it has made many concessions to the Pakistani Taliban, which would strengthen their capability for action against the NATO forces and the Afghan National Army in Afghanistan. It has already entered into a peace deal with the Taliban forces in the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) headed by Maulana Fazlullah and is negotiating a similar deal with Baitillah Mehsud, the Amir of the Pakistani Taliban,who is based in South Waziristan in the FATA, despite his suspected involvement in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The Government has been embarrassed by a statement made by Baitullah to Pakistani journalists that he and the Pakistani Taliban would continue to assist the Taliban in Afghanistan against the NATO forces. NATO spokesmen have stated that the peace deals and the concessions have resulted in an increase in infiltration of terrorists into Afghanistan from Pakistan.

25. India has been facing a similar danger of increased infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan as a result of the relaxation of the restrictions on the anti-India terrorist organisations. Moreover, after a lull of two years, there have again been reports of violations of cease-fire by the Pakistan Army along the Line of Control (LOC) in J&K. The Pakistani media has repeatedly reported that as part of the peace deals the Gilani Government has agreed to withdraw the Army troops from the FATA and replace them with para-military forces such as the Frontier Corps. There is a possibility that the coalition Government might create fresh tensions along the LOC in order to justify to the US its shifting of troops presently deployed in the FATA to the LOC area and thereby meet the demands of the Taliban for withdrawing regular Army troops ftrom the FATA.

26. Pakistan has the legitimate right to protect the lives of its citizens from the terrorists. Similarly, India has the legitimate right to protect the lives of its citizens from Pakistan-based terrorists. So too Afghanistan. The US and the NATO forces have a similar right to protect the lives of their citizens from Pakistan-based Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations and to prevent another 9/11 in the US homeland. The only way of achieving all these objectives is by destroying all terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory---whether directed against India or Afghanistan or the US and other NATO countries. Instead of doing this, the coalition Government is trying to reduce acts of terrorism in Pakistani territory by encouraging and assisting these terrorists to go and operate in Indian and Afghan territories and in Europe and the US. The international community should strongly oppose this. (2-6-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also the author of " A Terrorist State As a Fontline Ally" and "Intelligence---Past, Present & Future" published in 2001, " the Kaoboys of R&AW---Down Memory Lane" published on July 30,2007, and "Terrorism--- Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow" being released for sale on June 8,2008. All the four books have been published by Lancer Publishers of New Delhi. The writer's E-mail address )

1.There were 56 acts of suicide terrorism in Pakistan during 2007 as against only six in 2006. Of these, 44 were committed in the tribal belt---23 in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and 21 in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The remaining 12 were in non-tribal areas---nine in Punjab, two in Balochistan and one in Sindh.

2.There were 17 acts of suicide terrorism between January 1, 2008, and March 25, 2008, when the new elected coalition Government headed by Mr.Yousef Raza Gilani assumed office . Of these, 11 were in the tribal belt---seven in the NWFP and four in the FATA. The remaining six were in Punjab.

3.The number of fatalities--- combatants as well as non-combatants--- increased from 137 in 2006 to 636 in 2007. There have so far been 278 fatalities this year. Of these 266 were reported before the new Government took office.

4.There have been only 12 fatalities due to suicide terrorism since the new Government took office two months ago. During this period, there was no act of suicide terrorism in the non-tribal areas and only one in the tribal belt at Mardan in the NWFP on May 18,2008.

5.The steep increase in suicide terrorism in 2007 was due to the following reasons:

(a). Anger over the co-operation extended by Gen.Pervez Musharraf to the US in its fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban of Afghanistan.

(b). Anger over the raid by commandoes of the Pakistan Army into the Lal (red) Masjid in Islambad between July 10 and 13,2007, to free it from the control of pro-Al Qaeda extremists. Three hundred tribal children studying in the madrasas of the Masjid allegedly died during the raid.

6.The steep decrease in suicide terrorism since March 25,2008, is due to the various concessions made by the elected Government to a pro-Al Qaeda coalition of tribal extremist groups called the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP---meaning the Taliban Movement of Pakistan), of which the Amir is Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan in the FATA. He is the principal suspect in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto on December 27,2007. Among the various concessions made or being made are:

(a).Enforcement of the Sharia in the Malakand Division of the NWFP, including the Swat Valley.

(b). Financial assistance from the NWFP Government for the establishment of an Islamic University at Imamdheri, the headquarters of the Swat Valley unit of the TTP, which would be managed jointly by the NWFP Govt. and the Pakistani Taliban.

( c ). Regularisation of the illegal FM radio stations run from mosques and madrasas in the tribal belt, which are carrying on propaganda against the NATO forces in Afghanistan and President Hamid Karzai.

(d). Withdrawal of the economic blockade imposed by the Army in the FATA.

(e).Non-opposition to the release on bail of clerics and others arrested during the commando raid in the Lal Masjid.

(f).The Government has reportedly accepted the demand of Baitullah that the two madrasas---one for boys and the other for girls--- attached to the Lal Masjid should be allowed to function again without any hindrance.

(g).Tariq Azizuddin, Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan, who was kidnapped by suspected Afghan Taliban elements on February 11,2008, was released on May 17,2008. While the Gilani Government has been claiming that he was got released by the security forces during an operation and has denied any deal with the Taliban, spokesmen of the TTP have asserted that in return for the release of the Ambassador, the Gilani Government has released Maulvi Obaidullah, former Defence Minister of the Afghan Taliban, who was a close associate of Mulla Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Afghan Taliban, and 54 other members of the Afghan Taliban, who were in different jails in the NWFP and Balochistan.

7.The NWFP Government has already signed a peace deal with a component of the Pakistani Taliban in the Swat Valley of the NWFP and the Federal Government is negotiating a similar deal with Baitullah Mehsud. The Government has denied media reports that as part of these peace deals it has agreed to withdraw army troops from the tribal belt and make the Frontier Corps, a para-military unit, responsible for security in the area.

8.The various concessions made by the Government to the Taliban and the peace deals will have the effect of allowing the Taliban to operate with greater freedom against the US and other NATO forces and the Afghan Army from sanctuaries in the Pakistani tribal belt.

9.The proposed withdrawal of the Pakistani troops from the tribal areas, if confirmed, will have the effect of allowing Al Qaeda and its associates to operate with greater freedom from North Waziristan, where they are presently based.US officials, including Mr.John Negroponte, the Deputy Secretary of State, and Congressional leaders have openly expressed their concern over these developments, but this has had no effect on the Government.

10.Even while openly proclaiming its determination to co-operate with the US against terrorism, the Government has been making concessions to the Taliban in order to end suicide terrorism in Pakistan.


11.In terms of fatalities, 2007 was the bloodiest year for the coalition forces since Operation Enduring Freedom was launched on October 11,2001. Of the 819 fatalities suffered since then, 232---that is more than one-fourth---were in 2007. They suffered an average of 19 fatalities per month. This year, till now, it has been 70 fatalities---- an average of 14 per month.

12.From the point of view of suicide terrorism too, 2007 was the worst year.

13.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.

14.The number of civilian casualties due to suicide terrorism was higher in 2007 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.

15.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.

16.Some of the suicide attacks were most bloody like the one at Baghlan in which 80 persons, including six Members of Parliament, were killed. Thirty policemen and many civilians 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.

17.Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, was quoted as saying by the agency that 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"

18. The number of suicide attacks has come down from an average of 11 per month in 2007 to about three per month this year. This was because of winter. It is expected to go up again in the summer months.In 2006, the Taliban demonstrated an ability to wage conventional as well as unconventional warfare. In conventional warfare, its troops were able to engage in large-scale attacks on coalition positions. The second half of 2007 saw a decline in its ability to engage in such large-scale conventional attacks. It rarely deployed groups of more than 10 for its conventional attacks.

19.In an investigative report (April 18,2008), “Newsweek” stated as follows: “The Taliban claims that its shift from large-scale engagements to smaller hit-and-run operations is less a sign of weakness than a change in strategy to counter heavy casualties incurred last year. Insurgent forces may have lost up to 50 per cent of their deputy commanders in 2007. The U.S. military believes it captured or killed some 100 midlevel Taliban COs.”

20..The death of Mulla Dadullah, a very competent conventional commander, in a clash in May, 2007, seems to have impaired the Taliban's capability for conventional fighting. It has not yet been able to produce a commander with a similar capability.

21.However, its capability for guerilla tactics and terrorism remain unimpaired under the leadership of Serjuddin Haqqani. It continues to exhibit a high level of proficiency in the assembling and use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) for suicide as well as non-suicide missions.

22.The physical security set-up in Afghanistan continues to suffer from serious deficiencies. This has enabled the Taliban’s conventional as well as non-conventional units to operate outside their traditional strongholds in Eastern and Southern Afghanistan---even in Kabul. This became evident during the unsuccessful attack on President Karzai during a national parade on April 27,2008.

23.Unless the sanctuaries enjoyed by the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal belt are ended, Afghanistan and the NATO forces will continue to bleed without, however, the Taliban being able to re-assume control of the country. There is a bleeding stalemate in Afghanistan with a no win-no defeat situation for either the Taliban and Al Qaeda or the coalition forces.


24.Jihadi terrorism in India started when elected civilian Governments were in power in Pakistan and continued under subsequent military rule too.

25.Jihadi terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir started in 1989 when Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister.

26.The first act of jihadi terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K took place with the serial explosions in Mumbai in March,1993, when Mr.Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister.

27.The infiltration of Wahabi pro-Al Qaeda Pakistani organisations of Afghan vintage such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) into Indian territory started in 1993 when Mr.Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister.

28.The Taliban was born in 1994 when Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister.

29.Osama bin Laden shifted from Khartoum to Jalalabad in Afghanistan in 1996 and formed Al Qaeda when Benazir was still the Prime Minister.

30.Bin Laden formed his International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People in 1998 when Mr.Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister.

31.From its sanctuaries in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda carried out the terrorist strikes in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in August,1998, when Mr.Nawaz Sharif was still the Prime Minister.

32.The Nawaz Sharif Government (1996 to 1999) avoided co-operating with the US and other members of the international community against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. If it had co-operated, 9/11 might have been prevented.

33.The pre-1999 Governments of Benazir Bhutto and Mr.Nawaz Sharif used the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan for sponsoring and using jihadi terrorism against India and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Army continued this policy with greater vigour after Musharraf seized power in October,1999.

34.The 9/11 terrorist strikes brought Musharraf under intense US pressure to co-operate with it against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

35.He co-operated against Al Qaeda, but avoided co-operating against the Taliban, which he wanted to preserve for use to re-establish Pakistan’s position in Afghanistan if and when the NATO forces were withdrawn.

36.The December,2001, terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament brought him under pressure to act against the anti-India terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory. He ostensibly banned them, but allowed them to operate under different names. He did not act against their terrorist infrastructure.

37.He relaxed the pressure against the terrorist organisations in 2003 and 2004, thereby enabling the Taliban to stage a come-back in Afghanistan from 2005.

38.In January, 2004, Musharraf assured Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, India’s then Prime Minister, when the latter visited Pakistan that he would not allow any territory under Pakistani control to be used for terrorism against India. Thereafter, he has been making a distinction between acts of terrorism in J&K, which he described as a freedom struggle, and terrorism in other parts of India, which he made a pretense of condemning. However, he ordered his Army to maintain a strict cease-fire along the Line of Control in J&K.

39.The relaxation of pressure enabled Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union, another Uzbek group, to set up new training camps and sanctuaries in North Waziristan from which the terrorists involved in the London blasts of July,2005, were trained and launched.

40..He again came under pressure from the West to act against the terrorists operating from Pakistani territory. He again made a pretense of curbing their activities.

41.When the Army was unable to control the activities of Al Qaeda and its supporters in the Pakistani tribal belt and sustained heavy casualties in the operations against them, he entered into peace deals with them initially in South Waziristan in 2005 and then in North Waziristan in 2006 in return for the promise of pro-Al Qaeda tribal leaders not to allow foreign terrorists to operate in their jurisdiction. They did not keep the promise. Al Qaeda and Taliban further strengthened their position in the FATA.

42.When the pro-Al Qaeda elements seized control of the Lal Masjid in the heart of Islamabad and started indulging in violent acts even against Chinese nationals in Pakistan, he came under pressure not only from the US, but also from China to act once again.

43.The Chinese pressure made him order the commando action in the Lal Masjid in July,2007. The anger over this led to the coming into being of the TTP and the wave of suicide terrorism.

44.Before the elections, the political parties attributed this wave to his co-operation with the US and the use of the Army in the FATA.

45.In its anxiety to put an end to suicide terrorism in Pakistani territory, the new Government has not only made many concessions to the Pakistani Taliban, but has also relaxed curbs on pro-Al Qaeda terrorist organisations such as the HUM, the HUJI and the LET, which operate against India from sanctuaries in Pakistan. They have once again stepped up their activities in J&K and outside. There have been reports of violations of the cease-fire along the LOC in Kashmir by the Pakistan Army after a lull of nearly two years.

46.There are reasons to suspect and fear that the Gilani Govt. may use these incidents staged by the Pakistan Army to justify the re-shifting of Pakistani troops from the FATA to the LOC in Kashmir on the ground that this was due to revival of tensions along the LOC and not to pressure from the pro-Al Qaeda terrorists.

47.Al Qaeda as an organisation does not operate in Indian territory, but four Pakistani organisations, which are members of Al Qaeda-led IIF, have been active in J&K and other parts of India. These are the HUM, the LET, the HUJI and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). In addition, the Bangladesh branch of the HUJI, known as HUJI (B), which is also a member of the IIF, has also been active.

48.The activities of these organisations in Indian territory are controlled by their leaders from Pakistan and/or Bangladesh. Bilal al-Hind, an Indian Muslim of East African origin, has been arrested and jailed in the UK on charges of helping Al Qaeda. Another Indian Muslim from Karnataka was involved in the attempted terrorist strike at the Glasgow airport in the UK in June last year. He tried to blow himself up in a car, but was prevented by the Police. He died subsequently of burns. He was motivated by anger over the US operations in Iraq. He did not belong to Al Qaeda, but shared its anti-US anger.

49.There has been no other confirmed instance of Indian Muslims co-operating with Al Qaeda. However, some Indian Muslims belonging to an Indian organisation called the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) have joined the LET, the HUJI and the HUJI (B) and have been involved in acts of terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K. Some Indian Muslims from the diaspora in the Gulf have also joined these organisations. The Glasgow incident was the first attempt by an Indian Muslim to indulge in suicide terrorism. All Kashmiri and other Indian Muslims involved in terrorism in India have kept away from suicide terrorism. There was no suicide terrorism by jihadis in Indian territory, including Kashmir, before 1999.

50.Since 1999, there have been about 56 acts of suicide or suicidal terrorism in Indian territory---mostly in Kashmir. In one instance, the perpetrator was suspected to be an Indian Muslim. In the remaining cases, the perpetrators had come from Pakistan.

51.Twenty terrorists---Khalistani and Jihadi--- wanted for their involvement in hijackings and other acts of terrorism in Indian territory are living in Pakistan. Dawood Ibrahim, an Indian mafia leader, closely involved with Al Qaeda and the LET, has also been living in Pakistan. The US declared him an international terrorist in October,2003. Just as Pakistan has been denying the presence of bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders in its territory, it has also been denying the presence of these terrorists wanted for trial in India in Pakistan.

52.In a recent interview, Mr.Gilani has made a distinction between militants and terrorists. According to him, not all militants are terrorists. While Pakistan would hold talks with militants, it would not hold talks with terrorists. It seems to be his view that while Al Qaeda is a terrorist organisation, the Taliban and the anti-India organisations are militants and not terrorists. This is a dangerous concept, which seeks to justify a reversion by the Govt. to the status quo ante as it prevailed before OP Enduring Freedom. This should be of concern to the international community as a whole and particularly to India, Afghanistan and the NATO countries.


53.After a long interval of inactivity in the Xinjiang region of China, Uighur extremist elements have again been involved in two incidents.The first incident took place at Urumqi, the capital of the province, on January 27,2008. There was reportedly an exchange of fire between the police and some Uighur extremists when the police raided a hide-out of a suspected sleeper cell of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an associate of Al Qaeda with close links to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) or Group, another Uzbek group.

54.The Chinese authorities assessed this incident as an indicator of a revival of the ETIM's activities as a prelude to a possible terrorist strike to be staged just before or during the Beijing Olympics of August,2008.

55.The second incident was reported to have taken place on board a Chinese commercial plane flying from Urumqi to Beijing on March 7,2008. Security guards travelling on board the plane overpowered three suspected Uighur extremists, including a woman,who tried to create an incident. The police alleged that they had managed to take on board a soft drink can into which some gasoline had been injected. Further details are not available. (29-5-08)

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