Sunday, September 28, 2008


"The discourse on our 24-hour news channels is even more predictable. The usual suspects are rounded up to provide insight andcorrective action. Experts like B. Raman, Ajit Doval and Julio Ribeiro, alas, provide no cure. Police reform always gets roped into thediscussion and we are reminded of Supreme Court orders which have been studiously ignored. There is an element of farce in the wholeexercise. When the next terrorist outrage happens, as it will, we will go over the rigmarole once more. I don’t have any solutions to a verycomplex problem but I do know that the present strategy is a total failure. Let me correct that because I believe no one in the countryunderstands or is aware that a strategy exists—except to condemn terrorism and terrorists. As the Indian Mujahideen in their e-mailboasted: they can strike anywhere, anytime."
Extract from the "Delhi Diary" of Shri Vinod Mehta, Editor, "Outlook" available at
Dear Shri Vinod Mehta,

I read with interest your above-quoted observations in the issue of "Outlook" dated October 6,2008. A major problem one faces in India inpromoting an adequate understanding of the problem of terrorism is that most of us have little time or patience for facts and figures and fordetails. We have our idees fixes and come to conclusions, which are often superficial, on the basis of such idees fixes. That is one of thereasons for the image of helplessness in dealing with terrorism which we project of ourselves to our own people and to the rest of the world.

2. Our record in dealing with terrorism and insurgency is not as negative as it is often projected to be. We have had a successful record inPunjab, Nagaland (partial), Mizoram, Tripura and in Tamil Nadu in dealing with terrorism of Al Umma. Even in Jammu & Kashmir, the groundsituation was showing signs of definite improvement till the recent avoidable controversy over facilities for the Amarnath pilgrims.

3.There are two kinds of terrorism/insurgency where our record has been poor till now---- the jihadi kind, which is essentially an urbanphenomenon outside J&K, and the Maoist (Naxalite) kind, which is essentially a rural phenomenon. If one compares these two kinds ofterrorism with the instances where we were not without success, one would find a striking difference. We have succeeded where theterrorism or insurgency was a regional phenomenon and was confined to a narrow area. We have not succeeded where the threat waspan-Indian in nature with the network extending its presence to many States in the North and the South.

4. A pan-Indian threat requires a co-ordinated pan-Indian response at the political and professional levels. Unfortunastely, we do not have it.The multiplicity of political parties, the era of coalition and the tendency in our country to over-politicise the problem of terrorism come inthe way of a pan-Indian political response. The tendency of the intelligence agencies and the police of different States to keep each other inthe dark about what they know and not to admit to each other as to what they do not know come in the way of a pan-Indian professionalresponse.

5. There has been a plethora of reports and recommendations on the need for better sharing and co-ordination, but without any effect onour agencies and the police. I was talking to a recently-retired Police chief on the present state of co-ordination and sharing. He admittedthat there has been no noticeable improvement. He added:" The agencies and the police show a greater readiness to share theirinformation with Praveen Swami, the journalist of "The Hindu", than with each other. We all wait for his columns in "The Hindu" to know whatinformation other agencies and the police of other States have."

6.The agencies and the Police are largely responsible for the absence of a co-ordinated professional response, but the political leadershipat the Centre and in different States cannot escape their share of responsibility.A determined political leader, who has the national interestsin mind, can use a whip and make the agencies and the police co-operate. We saw it in the case of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi andNarasimha Rao at the Centre and Beant Singh,former Chief Minister, in the case of Punjab, and Sharad Pawar in the case of Maharashtra. Apolitical leader whose policies and actions are motivated by partisan and not national interests will come in the way of professionalco-operation. We saw it in the case of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh.

7. Any cure to the problem of jihadi and Maoist terrorism has to start at the political level. A political leader has to play a dual role. He has tohelp the professionals in taking firm action against the terrorists---whatever be their community and ideology.He has to give them whatevertools they need. At the same time, he has to identify the circumstances and perceptions which drive young Muslims to take to jihaditerrorism and young tribals to take to Maoist terrorism. Anger is one of the common root causes of all terrorism. Unless this anger isaddressed, professional handling of the threat alone, however effective, cannot bring about an enduring end to this threat.

8. An effective political handling has to start with a detailed analysis of the causes of anger and action to deal with them. Our youngMuslims, who are taking to jihadi terrorism, are not bothered by issues such as lack of education and unemployment, reservation forMuslims etc . They are angry at what they consider to be the unfairness to the Muslims, which, according to them, is widely prevalent inIndia. They are angry with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for destroying the Babri Masjid and with the Congress (I) for not preventing it.They are angry with both for not implementing the Sri Krishna Commission report on alleged excesses commited by the Mumbai Police indealing with the riots by some Muslims after the Babri Masjid demolition. They are angry with the BJP for what happened in Gujarat in 2002.They are angry with both the BJP and the Congress (I) for their studied silence on the alleged violations of the human rights of theirco-religionists in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are angry with our political class----particularly the BJP and the Congress (I)--- for not utteringone word of criticism about the special detention centres for Muslim suspects set up by the US in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and in Bagramin Afghanistan. Even Tony Blair, who was widely perceived as an American poodle, criticised the Guantanamo Bay detention centre througha statement by his Attorney-General in 2006 before he left office, but none of our leaders has uttered a word on this subject. ManmohanSingh claims himself to be secular at home, but he profusely praises President George Bush, who is strongly disliked by large sections ofthe Muslims of the world. His unfortunate statement that the people of India like Bush is not shared by the 160 million Muslims of India andmany others.

9. Unsatisfactory political handling of the Muslim youth by all political parties is an aggravating cause of the threat from jihadi terrorism. Thepolitical class is not prepared to mend its ways and play its role in dealing with this problem. How can they expect the professional class toproduce a miracle cure?

10. Similarly, it is the absence of meaningful land reforms and perceptions of suppression of the tribals by the so-called upper caste Hindus ,which is an important cause of the tribal anger in Central India. It is the responsibility of the political class and the society as a whole toaddress this. They do not do so and keep nursing an illusion that more and more money, men and equipment for the agencies and the policewill end this problem. It won't.

11. The way we kick around the problem of terrorism like a football blaming everybodyelse except ourselves can be seen in the TV debatesand media columns. The same arguments are repeated without worrying over their validity. The Congress (I) and the analysts supporting itridicule the BJPs demand for the revival of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) by pointing out that despite the introduction of the POTAby the BJP-led Government, major acts of terrorism took place during its tenure. The BJP attributes the increase in jihadi terrorism since thepresent Government assumed office in 2004 to its abolition of the POTA.

12. Both the arguments are partly correct and partly wrong. Yes, it is correct that despite the POTA major terrorist strikes took place during the BJP regime. So too, in Western countries, despite special powers given to the agencies and the police major incidents ofterrorism took place. The Madrid blasts of March,2004, the London blasts of July,2005, and the Glasgow incident of June 2007, took placeafter special powers were given. Nobody in the West uses these incidents as an argument against special powers.

13. Similarly, an increase in attacks on soft targets has been faced by many countries of the world after the Bali explosion of October,2002.So too India. This is due to the tightening of physical security for hard targets after 9/11. The new focus of the jihadi terrorists on softtargets has meant more terrorist strikes and more casualties. The undoubted fact that casualties due to jihadi terrorism have more thandoubled since the Manmohan Singh Government came to power cannot be solely attributed to its abolition of the POTA.

14.Effective intelligence and physical security and a modern legal architecture are the three essential components of any counter-terrorismstrategy.Intelligence and physical security help in preventing acts of terrorism. Successful investigation and prosecution deter the flow ofnew recruits to terrorist organisations.If only we had a federal agency solely for the investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases, wewill not be facing the kind of messy situation we are facing today---- with the Gujarat police under a BJP Government giving one version ofthe so-called Indian Mujahideen (IM) and the Police in Congress (I) ruled Delhi and Maharashtra giving a different version.

15.Flow of human intelligence about jihadi terrorism is weak because of the post-9/11 phenomenon of global Islamic solidarity and theadversarial relationship between the agencies and the police on the one side and the Muslim community on the other.Feelings of Islamicsolidarity prevent even law-abiding Muslims from volunteering to the agencies and the police information about their co-religionists, whohave taken to terrorism and from assisting the police in their investigation. The adversarial relationship has resulted in mutualdemonisation. How to come out of this syndrome is a matter for serious consideration not only by the police and the agencies, but also bythe political class and the civil society, including the media.

16. Once we allow terrorism and insurgencies of different kinds to make their appearance in our society it takes a long time to deal withthem. We took 19 years to deal with the Naga insurgency, another 19 years to deal with the Mizo insurgency, 14 years to deal withKhalistani terrorism and about 10 years to deal with Al Umma. The French took 19 years to deal with the terrorism of Carlos and his group.Even after 41 years of vigorous implementation of a no-holds-barred counter-terrorism strategy, Israel is still grappling with the terrorism ofthe Palestinians and the Hezbollah. The British took over 20 years to bring the Irish Republican Army under control.

17. The jihadi terrorism in the Indian territory outside J&K is a post-Babri Masjid demolition phenomenon. This has been rendered moredifficult to handle by the post-9/11 emergence of the concept of a global jihad. Our jihadi terrorism is still only a pan-Indian phenomenon, butit has not yet become a part of the global jihadi phenomenon. Preventing it from happening is the responsibility of the political leadershipand containing and rooting it out is the responsibility of the professional class. The two have to work together, with understanding and support from the civil society. The attitude of our political class to terrorism is ambivalent. On the one hand, it is worried---rightly---over thisgrowing threat. On the other, it continues to view this as a vote-catcher. Every political party has been firm in demanding action againstterrorism when it is out of power. It becomes soft when it comes to power. That is the bane of our counter-terrorism. Only voter pressure canforce the political class to stop exploiting terrorism as an electoral weapon and to start dealing with it as a major threat to national security,which should unite the political class and the civil society. (29-9-08)

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2008



The twin truck bomb attacks by the Islamic Jihad against the US and French forces in Beirut on October 23, 1983, in which 241 US servicemen, 220 of them Marines, and 58 French paratroopers were killed, saw the beginning of a change in the modus operandi of terrorists all over the world. It was suspected that the Iran-supported Hizbollah had carried out the attacks under an assumed name.

2.Two suicide bombers in trucks packed with explosives were able to shake the will of a super power and another major Western power and force the withdrawal of the International Peace-Keeping Force from the Lebanon. Even dozens of terrorists with hand-held weapons could not have created the kind of devastation and impact which two bombers with explosives did. The number of fatalities per incident are more with explosives than with hand-held weapons. They demonstrate the helplessness of the State more dramatically than hand-held weapons.Since 1983, the global trend has been towards greater use of improvised explosive devices---- activated either through timers or remote-control devices or suicide bombers.

3.Terrorist organizations fall into two groups---- those which use a mix of hand-held weapons and IEDs and those which have almost completely gravitated to IEDs. To prevail over the State with only hand-held weapons, terrorists need a large number of recruits. With explosives, they need only a small number. The smaller the number of members in a terrorist organization, the more difficult for the intelligence agencies to penetrate it.

4.Examples of the first kind are the LTTE, the Taliban, the Kashmiri terrorist organizations, the Maoists and the United Liberation Front of Assam. Examples of the second kind are Al Qaeda and the jihadi terrorist organizations active in India outside Kashmir.The jihadi terrorists operating outside Kashmir continue to use hand-held weapons occasionally as they did in Bangalore in December 2005 and in Rampur in Uttar Pradesh in January,2008. But, their preference now is for IEDs.

5.Till 1993, the terrorists sought high-intensity explosives for their operations such as the RDX, the SEMTEX of Czech make which dogs found it difficult to detect etc. Physical security measures by States created difficulties in their procurement and improvement in explosive-detection technology made it difficult to use them. Since 1993, only terrorists sponsored by a foreign intelligence agency such as Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) use high-intensity explosives such as RDX. Others have been shifting to material, which could be easily procured without creating suspicions and converted into explosives. They initially started with nitrogenous fertilizers, which were used in the explosion in the New York World Trade Centre in February, 1993, and since the London blasts of July 2005, they have been shifting to chemicals of common use such as women’s cosmetics for fabricating explosives and inflammable material. With liquids such as cosmetics used for cleaning, one can fabricate an explosive on the spot as in the toilet of a plane, for example.

6.State agencies have tried to counter this trend through measures such as persuading manufacturers to reduce the nitrogenous content of fertilizers, issuing permits for the sale and purchase of fertilizers, advising fertilizer sellers to report to the police all suspicious purchases and restrictions on carrying chemicals of common use on board aircraft etc. Some of the recent detection of terrorist modules in Western countries was made possible by alert fertilizer sellers informing the police about suspicious purchases.

7.State agencies are yet to find a satisfactory response to suicide terrorism. While strict access control can prevent a suicide terrorist from reaching the intended target, it cannot prevent him from triggering off the IED, when suspected and questioned. Many of the fatalities in Pakistan and Afghanistan are being caused by suicide terrorists blowing themselves up when stopped for searching by the police or private security guards.

8.An effective answer to suicide terrorism will depend on our ability to detect a person carrying an IED from a distance without having to search him and to deactivate his detonating device through remote control. Years of research in the Western countries have not resulted in appropriate technologies to achieve these objectives.

9.In India, devising measures to make it difficult for the terrorists to procure explosives or commonly available materials which can be converted into explosives and promoting research and development of technologies which can be used against suicide bombers have not received much attention so far despite the death and destruction caused by the jihadi terrorists and the ULFA through IEDs. They are increasingly using material such as ammonium nitrate procured in India and not material from the ISI. While other countries imposed identity checks during the sale and purchase of nitrogenous fertilizers years ago, we are only now thinking of them. There is hardly any research and development on appropriate technologies to counter suicide terrorism. It is time the Government pays attention to this. 24-9-08)

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2008



Suspects in Pearl case yet to be tried over fears of damaging testimonies

By Azfar-ul-Ashfaque

KARACHI, Sept 22: Two high-profile militants of the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Attaur Rehman and Faisal Bhatti, who were picked up under suspicion of involvement in the kidnapping and murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, have remained in the custody of police and intelligence agencies for over six years without being charged, reportedly because their testimony may lead to a retrial of Shaikh Omar and his associates, who were found guilty of the kidnapping and murder in 2002.

Sources in the intelligence agencies said that in addition to having been involved in several sectarian killings, Rehman (alias Naeem Bukhari) and Bhatti (alias Zubair Chishti) were believed to have arranged a location on the outskirts of Karachi, where they kept Pearl after he was kidnapped in January 2002, and subsequently handed the victim over to some Arabs who eventually killed him.
The two militants were picked up from the Nazimabad area in June 2002 but none of the law-enforcement agencies acknowledged their arrest until 2007. On June 29, 2002, the Sindh home department published an advertisement declaring Rehman and Bhatti to be most-wanted terrorists and announcing a collective reward for Rs6 million for their arrest.

The pair’s relatives went to the Sindh High Court to challenge their illegal detention but the government insisted that neither of the men were under its custody. At the time these petitions were being heard, lawyer Aamir Mansoob Qureshi had quoted reports from the media that referred to the arrest of the men and the recovery of a large quantity of arms and ammunition from them. He had requested the court to bring the alleged recovery on the record so that if the police claimed the arrest of the suspected detainees in the future, the weapons’ cache could not be attributed to them.

Nevertheless, it was eventually on June 2, 2007, that the Kashmor police claimed to have arrested Rehman and Bhatti for possessing illegal weapons and explosive materials. The announcement of their arrest was made in order to escape action by the Supreme Court, which was hearing cases of ‘missing persons’ amongst whom the two militants were counted. At the time, Kashmor police chief Noor Ahmed Paichuho and other officials claimed that Rehman and Bhatti were being interrogated with reference to the Pearl murder case.
Neither of the men have, however, been produced so far in any court of law in connection with the Pearl case. The outcome of their interrogations was never made public and they are currently being held in Sukkur Prison.

‘Missing persons’ issue forced disclosure

Senior security officials told Dawn that the trial regarding Pearl’s kidnapping and murder was at its final stages when Rehman and Bhatti were arrested. Had the arrests been shown, they claimed, it would have ruined the prosecution’s argument that Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh, aka Shaikh Omar, and his accomplices were involved in the kidnapping and killing of the Wall Street reporter.

“We held day-long discussions with intelligence and government officials and prosecutors in order to decide whether or not to acknowledge the arrest of Attaur Rehman and Faisal Bhatti,” said a senior official on the condition of anonymity. “The common view was that the acknowledgement would ruin the prosecution’s argument and would lead to the acquittal of Shaikh Omar and his associates, so we decided not to announce their arrest.”

A month after Rehman and Bhatti were arrested, on July 15, 2002, an Anti-Terrorism Court in Hyderabad handed down a death sentence to Shaikh Omar, and life terms to his three associates, for the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl.

The official said that as a result of an unusual delay in the hearing of the appeals filed by the men convicted in the Pearl case, the police were forced to refrain from acknowledging the arrest of Rehman and Bhatti. “They were held secretly at different locations but it was the missing person’s case that forced the government to finally acknowledge their arrest in 2007,” he explained.
Once the arrests were acknowledged, a fresh petition was moved in the Sindh High Court through which the petitioner asked the court to record the statements of both Attaur Rehman and Faisal Bhatti, in order to ascertain where they had been kept in illegal custody between 2002 and June, 2007.
At a recent hearing, the additional advocate-general of Sindh presented a statement on behalf of the Sindh home department, which said that Rehman and Bhatti were wanted in eight criminal cases. However, the list of cases did not include the Pearl murder case.

A question of credibility

The petitioners’ counsel Aamir Mansoob told Dawn that his clients should be given the chance to appear before the court and record statements, so that it could be ascertained where they have been for the five years before their arrest was acknowledged by law enforcement agencies. “This is my sole plea to the court,” he said.

However, a source maintained that since the government was in no mood to reopen the Pearl murder case, it was unlikely to allow Rehman and Bhatti to record statements and apprise the court of their story, since that would go in favour of Shaikh Omar and his associates.

“We would face a nightmarish situation if either of the two militants confessed before a court of law to involvement in the Pearl murder case,” said a senior security officer. “I advised the government not to charge them in the Pearl case since otherwise, this would lead to a retrial of Shaikh Omar and his associates, and the acquittal of all the men already convicted. And if that had happened, our credibility would have been questioned by the whole world.”

According to this officer, this was also the reason why the government did not initiate prosecution proceedings against one of the absconders in the Pearl murder case, Hashim Qadeer (alias Arif), who was formally arrested in August 2005 under suspicion of involvement in the Pearl case. Since then, however, he has remained incarcerated in a Karachi jail without having faced trial.

Sunday, September 21, 2008




There are some indications that Denmark might have been the target of the massive blast directed at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on thenight of September 20,2008. While no organisation has so far claimed responsibility for the blast, the hand of Al Qaeda is suspected.According to IntelCenter, a US-based group which monitors and analyzes the Internet-based communications of Al Qaeda and itsassociates, a senior Al Qaeda leader Mustafa Abu al-Yazid had threatened attacks against Western interests in Pakistan in a video disseminated on the recent anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

2.However, in an investigative report carried by the "News" of September 22, 2008, Amir Mir, the well-informed Pakistani journalist, hasstated that Pakistani investigators suspect that the blast must have been carried out by the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), which is amember of the Al Qaeda-led International Islamic Front (IIF), formed by bin Laden in 1998.

3. Amir Mir has reported as follows: "According to intelligence circles in Islamabad, which are probing the latest suicide attack, the methodof the bombing and the nature of explosives resemble four previous vehicle bomb attacks, carried out by suicide bombers in Lahore,Islamabad and Rawalpindi ---- the March 4, 2008 attack on the Naval War College building in Lahore; the March 11, 2008 suicide bombingstargeting the headquarters of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Lahore; the June 3, 2008 attack outside the Danish Embassy inIslamabad; and the December, 25, 2003 twin suicide attacks targeting former President General Pervez Musharraf's cavalcade inRawalpindi. The bombers used different types of vehicles, laden with high-intensity explosives to hit their targets. The investigators sayabout 600 kilograms of explosives were used in the Marriott Hotel attack which created a 25 feet deep and 50 feet wide crater. They have concluded that the material used in Saturday's attack was a mix of cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine or RDX and trinitrotoluene orTNT explosives. RDX is used as a major component in many plastic bonded explosives to increase their intensity while TNT is usually usedto shatter concrete structures and hillocks. The investigators say the similar mix of RDX and TNT explosives had been used in the fourearlier attacks in Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Lahore, which were carried out by operatives of the HUJI."

4. While Al Qaeda had claimed the responsibility for the blast outside the Danish Embassy in Islamabad on June 3,2008, it did not in respectof the other strikes mentioned by Amir Mir. Al Qaeda targeted the Danish Embassy in protest against the cartoons on the Holy Prophetcarried by the Danish media. It continues to call for more attacks on Danish targets.

5. After the controversy over the cartoons broke out two years ago, Denmark had drastically reduced the strength of its home-based staff inits Embassy in Islamabad. It was running a truncated mission with the help of either Pakistani recruits or Danish citizens of Pakistani origin.However, it is learnt that it was having a small office in the Marriott Hotel, which was staffed by officers of the Danish intelligence agencyresponsible for counter-terrorism. They were monitoring the developments relating to terrorism in Pakistan and maintaining a liaison withthe Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The information about the presence of a small cell of the Danish intelligence in the hotel seems to haveleaked out to Al Qaeda.

6.The official figures of fatalities in the blast are 53. Of these, one has been described as a Danish citizen. Another Danish citizen is statedto be missing. An Agence France Press (AFP) report from Copenhagen says as follows: " A Danish intelligence agent is missing afterSaturday's devastating suicide bomb attack on the Marriott hotel in Pakistan's capital Islamabad, Denmark's Foreign Minister said onSunday. "We are talking about a member of the intelligence services stationed at the embassy in Islamabad, with no sign of life," Per StigMoeller told TV2 news channel. "What we have heard is that a Dane likely figures among the dead. If that proves to be the case, it would beprofoundly tragic," he added, because he had been sent to Pakistan to improve security for Danish staff there. The Danish intelligenceagency, PET, said in a separate statement that one of its agents, a security advisor, had been posted missing, presumed dead. A secondPET official was unhurt, it said. Earlier, the Foreign Ministry's head of diplomacy Klavs Holm told AFP that teams were scouring the city'shospitals and other places looking for the missing national. "Several other Danes were in the hotel, they have been slightly hurt" in theexplosion, Holm said, adding that these people, three in number, were all employed by the Danish Embassy in Islamabad. Saturday's suicideblast was "an attack on cooperation between Pakistan and the international community, because these Islamists, these fanatics, want tobreak relations between the West and the democratically-elected Pakistani Government," he added.

7. Media reports have quoted Lou Fintor, a spokesman of the US Embassy in Islamabad, as saying that there was no evidence thatAmericans were the target.However, two US Defense Department employees were among the dead and a third American—a StateDepartment contractor—was missing. Three U.S. Embassy employees and an embassy contractor were injured, Fintor said. (22-9-08)

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

Saturday, September 20, 2008




Since 9/11, the Marriott Hotel Chain has been the victim of six terrorist strikes mounted by Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda jihadi terroristorganisations. On four occasions---- thrice in Islamabad and once in Jakarta--- it was directly targeted. On the remaining two occasions (NewYork and Karachi) it was a collateral victim of a terrorist strike not directly targeting it.

2. On 9/11, the destruction of the two towers of the New York World Centre by Al Qaeda destroyed the New York Marriott World Trade CenterHotel and damaged the 504-room Marriott Financial Center located there. Some senior executives of the hotel chain, who had their officesin the towers, were killed.

3.On June 14, 2002,the Marriott Hotel in Karachi suffered minor damages when a suicide car bomb exploded near the US Consulate in thesame area. Eleven persons----mostly passers-by---were killed. The hotel was not targeted.On August 5, 2003, the Marriott Hotel in Jakartawas the direct target of an attack in which 14 people were killed. The pro-Al Qaeda Jemmah Islamiya was suspected. On October 28,2004,the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad suffered some damage to its lobby, as a bomb went off inside the hotel. Fifteen persons were injured,including an American diplomat.On January 26, 2007, an alleged suicide bomber and a private security guard, who stopped him forquestioning, were killed when the terrorist blew himself up in the parking lot of the hotel.

4. In the third attack directly targeting the hotel at Islamabad on September 20,2008, sixty persons---including some foreigners--- werereported to have been killed when a truck bomber carrying about one ton of explosive blew the truck up, when he was stopped forquestioning at the gate by the security guards. The explosion, which practically destroyed part of the hotel causing a major fire,, took placeon a day when physical security in Islamabad was very tight since only a few hours before the explosion President Asif Ali Zardariaddressed a joint session of the two houses of the Parliament. The Parliament House, the Presidency, the Prime Minister's House, offices ofministers, the judges colony and the housing colony of some of the staff of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are located near the hotel.

5. Hotels and restaurants with suspected Jewish ownership have been among the favourite targets of Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaedaorganisations. Al Qaeda had also targeted the Hilton Hotel in Sharm-el-Sheikh in 2005 and the Jewish-owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa in2002. Pro-Al Qaeda jihadi terrorists had targeted French submarine construction engineers staying in the Sheraton Hotel of Karachi inMay,2002.

6. Apart from suspected Jewish ownership, another reason for the targeting of the Marriott hotels in Jakarta and Islamabad are the factthat often Western Embassies in these capitals use these hotels for providing accommodation to their staff and visiting officials. They alsohire a large number of rooms in the hotels for temporarily locating some of their offices till permanent accommodation is found.

7. Pakistani authorities suspect thast the explosion of September 20,2008, might have been carried out by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan(TTP) in retaliation for the current operation s of the Pakistani security forces in the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP)and in the Bajaur Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Another suspicion voiced by them is that the Parliament Housemight have been the real target of the attack and that the bomber instead went to the hotel when he found that access control to theParliament House was tight.

8. Even though it may turn out to be correct that the suicide bomber was a Pashtun tribal from the TTP, Al Qaeda involvement in theplanning and execution is a strong possibility. Since the commando raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July last year, the TTP and individual terrorists acting on their own have repeatedly demonstrated a capability for terrorist strikes in highly-protected areas inIslamabad, Rawalpindi, where the General Headquarters of the Army are located, and other cantonments. They had even targeted the GHQitself as well as the offices of the ISI. In most of these cases, the explosions took place under identical circumstances----the suicide bombertriggering the explosion when stopped for questioning by the security personnel.

9. Since the beginning of 2007, there have been nearly 300 suicide explosions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Most of these strikes arebelieved to have originated from Pakistan's tribal belt where Al Qaeda and the Taliban have their sanctuaries. These statistics and thecontinuing wave of suicide strikes or attempted strikes show the inexhaustible availability of explosives and detonators and volunteers forsuicide terrorism in the tribal belt. Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan nor the US nor the other NATO forces have been able to come out with aworkable answer to the question as to how to dry up these sources of supply. Unless an answer is found to this question, one has to watchhelplessly as suicide bombers spread death and destruction. Whereas in India, the jihadi terrorists have been switching over to commonlyavailable material such as a mix of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, the terrorists in Pakistan seem to have a plentiful supply of highmilitary-grade explosives. (21-9-08)

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




The rules of engagement relating to Pakistan's tribal belt followed by the US forces in Afghanistan before July,2008, were that whilePakistan had agreed to deniable air strikes by unmanned Predator aircraft of the US on suspected terrorist hide-outs in Pakistani territoryadjoining the Pakistan-Afghan border in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), it had not agreed to any unilateral ground strikes bythe US forces based in Afghanistan either in exercise of the right of hot pursuit or to pre-empt planned attacks by Al Qaeda and the Talibanon the NATO forces in Afghanistan from sanctuaries in Pakistani territory.

2. According to leaks to sections of the US media by unidentified US officials, in the middle of July President George Bush approved somechanges in the rules of engagement relating to ground strikes under which he authorised the US special forces to undertake unilateralground strikes in Pakistani territory under certain circumstances. In this connection, reference is invited to my previous article titled PAK-US SNAFU of 13-9-08 at .

3. Under these revised rules of engagement, a ground strike in Pakistani territory was undertaken by the US special forces in the SouthWaziristan area on September 3,2008. According to Pakistani claims, the strike was not successful and resulted only in the deaths of somecivilians.

4. This ground strike and the stepped up Predator air strikes since the present-Pakistan People's Party-led coalition came to office on March18,2008, came in for strong criticism from the Pakistan Army, including its Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, and thepolitical leaders of the present Government. They were embarrassed by speculation that the Government had infiormally agreed to therevised rules of engagement during the visit of Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani to Washington DC in the last week of July,2008.

5. The US ground strike of September 3 and the stepped-up air strikes also came in for criticism from tribals, who have remained loyal to theGovernment and have been co-operating with it in its operations against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) headed by Baitullah Mehsud ofSouth Waziristan. The Government had to take note of the widespread criticism of the US air and ground strikes from the tribals of the areabecause of the possible impact of their anger on the Frontier Corps (FC) and the Frontier Constabulary on which the Army relies for itsmilitary operations in the tribal areas. The FC is deployed in the FATA and the Frontier Constabulary in the North-West Frontier Province(NWFP). Both consist largely of Pashtuns recruited from the tribal belt, but officered mainly by Punjabis from the Army.

6.The revised rules of engagement were greeted with concern not only in the NATO countries, but by influential American experts onPakistan, who apprehended that unilateral ground strikes by the US special forces in Pakistani territory might prove counter-productive.They argued that apart from adding to the prevailing instability in the tribal area, they could also create dangerous situations if Al Qaeda orthe Taliban managed to capture some of the raiding American forces. During a private visit to the UK to admit his daughter in a localUniversity, President Asif Ali Zardari met Prime Minister Gordon Brown and reportedly urged him to advise the US to desist from undertakingany more ground strikes similar to that of September 3.

7. The concern in Pakistan over the political and operational implications of the revised rules of engagement led to an unscheduled visit toIslamabad by Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, US Joins Chief of Staff, on September 16 and 17,2008, during which he met Prime MinisterGilani and Gen.Kayani. A statement issued by the US Embassy in Islamabad after his meetings said: "Admiral Mullen reiterated the UScommitment to respect Pakistan's sovereignty and to develop further US-Pakistan cooperation and coordination on these critical issuesthat challenge the security and well-being of the people of both countries."

8. Even as Admiral Mullen was in Islamabad for his meetings, US forces based in Afghanistan undertook yet another ( the 13th since March18) Predator air strike on September 17,2008, on an alleged Al Qaeda hide-out in the same area of South Waziristan where the US specialforces had carried out a ground strike on September 3. Seven persons---two of them Arabs of Al Qaeda and one a terrorist from Punjab---were reported to have been killed in this air strike.

9. This air strike clearly indicated that the reported US assurances to respect Pakistani sovereignty in its territory did not apply to airstrikes, which could continue as before. In fact, the Pakistan Army itself had agreed to these air strikes when Musharraf was the Presidentand the COAS. Kayani was a party to that decision and he could not now object to such air strikes unless the Army wanted the permissionfor air strikes accorded by Musharraf to be withdrawn.

10. However, Musharraf had consistently refused to agree to unilateral ground strikes by the US special forces. The present Government cannot give the impression that it had gone even further than Musharraf in its co-operation with the US forces in their operations against AlQaeda and the Taliban

11. The US has been undertaking air strikes only in those areas of South and North Waziristan, which are no longer under the de factocontrol of the Pakistan Government and where Al Qaeda and the Taliban have established their de facto control. It intended to undertakeground strikes too only in those areas where the writ of the Pakistani Government no longer runs. The US has not so far undertaken any airand ground strikes in those agencies of the FATA, which are still under the de facto and the de jure control of the Pakistan army eventhough such control might be weakening. However, it had undertaken in the past air strikes against suspected hide-outs of AymanAl-Zawahiri, the No.2 to Osama bin Laden, in the Bajaur Agency.

12. What the Pakistanis want is that the US should not undertake any ground strikes even in those areas of South and North Waziristan,where its writ no longer runs. This poses a dilemma for the US. The Pakistani security forces continue to be engaged in severe clashes withthe Taliban in the Swat Valley of the NWFP and in the Bajaur Agency of the FATA. Despite the use of air strikes by the Pakistan Air Forceand of helicopter gunships, the Pakistani security forces have not been able to overcome the resistance of the Taliban in these areas. Inthe Bajaur Agency, the TTP is also being aided by elements from Al Qaeda.

13. The fighting has been going on intermittently in the Swat Valley for over six months now and in the Bajaur Agency for nearly six weekswithout the Pakiastani security forces being able to prevail over the TTP. As such, till they prevail in restoring the authority of theGovernment in these areas, the Pakistani security forces are not in a position to undertake similar operations in the two Waziristans torestore the writ of the Government. Taking advantage of this, Al Qaeda and the Taliban have stepped up their operations in the Afghanterritory from these areas, which are under their effective control.If the US does not put down their sanctuaries in the two Waziristans, theNATO forces and the Afghan National Army will continue to bleed.

14. From the vague and contradictory statements coming out of Islamabad and Washington DC as to what was really agreed to during thetalks of Admiral Mullen, one could assess that while the US has not agreed to abandon the revised rules of engagement reportedlyapproved by Bush in July, it has assured Pakistan that these rules will apply only in the areas under the effective control of Al Qaeda and theTaliban in the two Waziristans and not to other areas of the FATA. Future operations of the US special forces will show to what extent thisassessment is correct. (20-9-08)

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

Friday, September 19, 2008




The events in New Delhi since the terrorist strike by the so-called Indian Mujahideen (IM) on September 13 2008, which killed 26 innocentcivilians, should be a matter of concern for all right-thinking Indians.

2. The pent-up anger of large sections of our society over the helplessness and ineptitude of Shivraj Patil, the Home Minister of theGovernment of India, who occupies a position similar to that of the British Home Secretary and the Secretary for Homeland Security in theUS, burst out with many demands either for his resignation from the Cabinet of Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh or for his dismissal if herefused to resign.

3. Neither happened. Patil brazenly said: "There is no question of my resigning so long as I retain the confidence of my leader." Whom did hemean by "my leader"? Dr.Manmohan Singh? No. Sonia Gandhi. He himself said so. What he said amounted to his asserting that so long asSonia Gandhi had confidence in him, he did not have to worry about Manmohan Singh, who cannot touch him, or about the hundreds ofinnocent civilians, who have been killed by the jihadi terrorists in recent months..

4. On September 17,2008, Dr.Manmohan Singh addressed the conference of the Governors of the States of India at New Delhi. His addressreflected his concern over the widespread perception right across India that his Government was soft on terrorism and was unable tocontrol it for want of effective legal measures to empower the police to deal with this cancer effectively . It also carried an admission that inaddition to the continuing threat of jihadi terrorism sponsored by Pakistan, India was facing a new dimension to the threat to nationalsecurity due to a number of Indian Muslims gravitating to the ranks of the jihadis .

5. His address was widely welcomed as indicating that he and his Government were at long last coming out of the denial mode into whichthey had kept themselves confined since they came to office in 2004 and were now prepared for action to empower the police against thejihadi terrorists and to counter effectively the activities of the home-grown jihadis, but the hopes were belied within 24 hours. The PrimeMinister was apparently over-ruled by sections of his own colleagues in the Cabinet and in his Congress (I) party and by the other parties,which are part of the ruling coalition.

6. Briefing the media after a special Cabinet meeting to discuss counter-terrorism on September 18, Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, Minister forInformation and Broadcasting in the Cabinet of Manmohan Singh, virtually debunked and nullified what his own Prime Minister had told theGovernors the previous day. He said that there was no need for special powers for the Police to deal with jihadi terrorism. " If the presentlaws are implemented properly, there is no need for additional laws, " he said as reported by "The Hindu" of September 19,2008.

7. Thus, twice within five days of the New Delhi blasts, two senior Ministers of his Cabinet had sought to give an impression as if the PrimeMinister's views on counter-terrorism did not count. His authority in matters relating to counter-terrorism against jihadi terrorists has beensought to be marginalised by members of his own Cabinet and party as well as by members of the ruling coalition.

8. Some weeks ago, when there was a similar attempt to weaken the authority of the Prime Minister in matters relating to India's closerelations with the US and the concretisation of the agreement with the US for civil nuclear co-operation, the Prime Minister reportedlythreatened to resign in protest. This led to his party supporting him in this matter. One would have expected the Prime Minister to similarlythreaten to quit if his authority in matters relating to counter-terrorism is not respected and upheld by his colleagues in the Government andparty. He has chosen not to do so even though the subject of protecting the lives and property of the citizens of this country is a much moreimportant issue than the question of the nuclear agreement with the US.

9. Dasmunshi did not stop with debunking his own Prime Minister and others who spoke of the need for additional laws to deal with jihaditerrorism. He even ridiculed the concerns of the public over the recurring jihadi terrorist strikes across the country. The same issue of "TheHindu" has quoted him as saying : "Can anyone predict a terrorist strike? No Government can prevent it." So, to go by his words, theinnocent civilians of this country have no other option but to keep dying at the hands of the jihadi terrorists.

10.The events of the past few days have further indicated----if further indication was necessary--- as to who lays down the counter-terrorismpolicy of this country against jihadi terrorism.
Sonia Gandhi? No.
The Prime Minister of India? No.
The Home Minister of India? No.
The intelligence chiefs? No.
The police chiefs? No.

11. It is laid down by the leaders of the Muslim community themselves. They indicate the dos and don'ts and the Government does not havethe courage to go against them. There is a systematic attempt by the leaders of the Muslim community to ridicule the results of the policeinvestigation into the activities of the IM. The police are accused of fabricating evidence and of targeting innocent Muslim youth in order todiscredit Islam and the Muslim community. Everytime a suspected jihadi terrorist is sought to be arrested by the police, these leaders andthe members of the community rally to his suppport. They either try to prevent him from being arrested or if the police manage to arrest, tofrustrate his interrogation by making allegations of targeting the Muslim community in order to discredit it.

12. In recent months, the Tamil Nadu police have arrested dozens of Tamil citizens of India on suspicion of their links with the LiberationTigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Do the Tamils allege that their community is being targeted? No.Many Nagas used to be arrested in Nagalandbecause of their alleged links with Naga insurgent organisations? Did the Naga leaders allege that their community was being targeted? No.Many Hindus in Assam are arrested on suspicion of their links with the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). Do the leaders of the localHindu community allege that the Hindus are being targeted? No.

13. But the moment the Police arrests a Muslim for any reason-----for being a mafia leader, a narcotics smuggler, a counterfeiter or a jihaditerrorist--- large sections of the Muslim community rise in his or her defence and try to discredit the police by accusing it of targeting thecommunity by fabricating evidence. No leader of the Congress (I) or other parties of the ruling coalition has the courage to tell the Muslimleaders that the law has to take its own course against any wrong-doer whatever be his or her religion or ethnicity or language and that thepolice should do whatever they have to in order to protect the lives and property of the citizens of this country. The leaders of the Muslimcommunity are seeking to create an impression that a Muslim can do no wrong and that all the wrongs are committed by non-Muslims.

14. The comprehensive UN Security Council Resolution No.1373 passed unanimously after the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, inter alia,called upon the member-countries of the UN to take necessary legal measures to further empower the police. India is one of the fewcountries in the world not to have implemented the resolution in toto due to fear of adverse reactions from its Muslim community. TheAzamgarh District of Uttar Pradesh is not located in a remote area of the country where the Police cannot reach. It is in the heart of India. Itwas previously the Sicily of India from which many of the Muslim mafia leaders, narcotics smugglers and other criminals emerged. It is nowbecoming the breeding ground of India's home-grown jihadi terrorism. Many of those arrested in connection with the investigations into theactivities of the IM have had an Azamgarh connection. Azamgarh is slowly emerging as India's South Waziristan, a new radiating point ofjihadi terrorism. The police is not given a free hand to put an end to this spawning ground. The predominantly Muslim areas of this districtare becoming no-go areas for the police----not because the Police do not have the capability to neutralise the emerging jihadi breedinggrounds, but because the political leadership will not allow them to use that capability for fear of displeasing the Muslims.

15.Pleasing the Muslims at any price----by closing our eyes to the depredations of the jihadi terrorists in our midst--- in order to retain theirsupport during the election has become an important driving force of the electoral strategy of the ruling coalition. If hundreds of innocentcivilians have to die as a result, so be it. Keeping the Muslims happy is more important than protecting the lives and property of the citizensof this country.

16. Another disturbing trend has not received the attention it deserved. Many members of the Cabinet of Manmohan Singh and manyleaders of the ruling coalition are reportedly unhappy with the intelligence agencies and the Police for speaking of home-grown jihaditerrorism. They are also reportedly unhappy with the Prime Minister himself for drawing attention to this in his address to the Governors'conference. They want that the focus should continue to be on Pakistan and the terrorists sponsored by Pakistan and that one should nothighlight the role of the Indian Muslims in the global jihad. They are worried that the talk of home-grown jihadi terrorism might increasepressure on the Government to step up the monitoring of developments in the Indian Muslim community and identify and neutralise theIndian Muslims taking to jihadi terrorism.

17. On September 19,2008, Mohan Chand Sharma, a legendary and brave Inspector of the Delhi Police, succumbed to bullet injuries after hewas shot thrice by a group of jihadi terrorists from Azamgarh, who were operating from a hide-out in a Muslim area in the heart of New Delhi.Sharma, with a small team of his officers, had gone to the hide-out to arrest a group of five jihadi terrorists, believed responsible for therecent serial blasts. The cynical reaction of the so-called secular class as a whole to this despicable action of the jihadis has shocked thecountry. The so-called secular political class has vied with one another in praising this brave officer and in announcing financial assistancefor the members of his family. But, not one of them has condemned the Indian jihadis for their despicable crime and called for action to rootout jihadi terrorism in our midst.

18. Fortunately, we are a democratic country. If the Muslims, who constitute only about 15 per cent of the population of the country, havethe power of the vote, the rest of the population has it too. The Hindus constitute about 80 per cent of the population. At the time of voting,every voter should have before his or her eyes the pictures of the death and destruction being caused right across the country by the jihadisand the faces of Sharma and other similar brave officers of the security forces, who have sacrificed their lives in the fight against jihaditerrorists despite the lack of support from the so-called secular political class.

19. Every vote in the forthcoming elections should be a vote against jihadi terrorism and against the political leaders who are not preparedto act against the jihadi terrorists. Let there be an anti-jihadi tsunami against all of them.

20. Thus far and no further----that is the message that should go across to the jihadi terrorists and their political backers and secularapologists. (20-9-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretay (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies,Chennai. E0-mail: )

Thursday, September 18, 2008




The address of the Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, to the Governors’ conference at New Delhi on September 17,2008, contains a number of important pronouncements relating to the fight against terrorism. These pronouncements taken together amount to an attempt by the Government, which is almost at the end of its term before the general elections are due, to come out of the denial mode into which it had kept itself confined since it came to office in 2004.

2.While refuting allegations from the critics that the Government was soft on terrorism, the Prime Minister admitted that there had been intelligence failures and that in addition to the continuing threats from jihadi terrorists infiltrated from Pakistan, the nation is now finding itself confronted with a new dimension of the threat posed by more Indian nationals gravitating to the ranks of the jihadis.

3. A point, which was not mentioned by the Prime Minister, but which needs to be underlined is that the phenomenon of home-grown jihadis is not new to India. We had faced a serious threat of home-grown jihadis from the Al Umma of Tamil Nadu after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992. Al Umma spread death and destruction across Tamil Nadu between 1993 and 1999 including the orchestrated serial blasts in Coimbatore in February,1998. Al Umma was almost a hundred per cent home-grown movement with no links to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) or to the global jihad waged by Al Qaeda and its Pakistani associates. The threat from Al Umma was largely neutralized by the effective action taken by the Tamil Nadu Police after the Coimbatore blasts.

4. Between the end of the Kargil conflict with Pakistan towards the end of 1999 and November,2007, we saw a new wave of jihadi terrorist strikes outside Jammu & Kashmir involving either the ISI-sponsored Pakistani organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) or a mix of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian elements. While the Pakistani and Bangladeshi elements in this mix largely belonged to the LET and the HUJI, the Indian elements came largely from the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) plus a few with no previous affiliation to any organization. These groups thought and acted tactically as well as strategically.

5.Tactically, they viewed their operations as meant to retaliate against the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the anti-Muslim incidents in Gujarat in 2002 after the massacre of some Hindu pilgrims traveling by a train by some Muslim fanatics at Godhra. Strategically, they viewed them as part of the global jihad being waged by the International Islamic Front (IIF) under the leadership of Al Qaeda for achieving an Islamic Caliphate and putting an end to the presence and influence of the US in the Islamic world.

6. What we have been seeing across India since November last year is a revival of the Al Umma phenomenon of reprisal terrorism with the tactical objective of wreaking vengeance against the society as a whole and the Governments in New Delhi and different States for the alleged wrongs done to the Indian Muslims. These elements have been operating under the name of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and deny vehemently in their propaganda any foreign links either with the ISI or with the Pakistani organizations. They have till now not given any indication of any strategic objective. They just want to kill and desire to demonstrate their ability to kill wherever and whenever they want.

7. All the suspected perpetrators arrested till now in Ahmedabad, Jaipur and other places in connection with the serial blasts for which the IM has claimed responsibility are Indian Muslims. This need not mean that there is no hidden foreign involvement either of Pakistani organizations or of Al Qaeda. The fact that till now they have not been talking and acting strategically does not mean that they do not consider themselves as part of the global jihad being waged under the leadership of Al Qaeda.

8. One significant difference needs to be noted in the modus operandi of the Pakistan-sponsored jihadi organizations and the IM. Under instructions from the ISI, Pakistani organizations generally do not claim responsibility for attacks on civilians. They claim responsibility only for the attacks on the security forces. Like Al Qaeda, the IM admits its responsibility for targeted attacks on civilians and proclaims such attacks as part of its policy. Al Qaeda admitted its responsibility for the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US and lionized the terrorists, who attacked the London public transportation system in July,2005. There have been other instances of Al Qaeda openly proclaiming its responsibility for attacks on civilians.

9. The new dimension of the threat as stated by the Prime Minister has made him concede the need to enhance the powers of the police through special laws where necessary and to set up a special central agency to investigate and prosecute terrorism-related cases.

10. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister’s pronouncements, which indicate a change in the Government’s thinking and strategy, have come hardly a few months before the elections. His critics would, therefore, suspect that his pronouncements were more an electoral ploy than the result of a genuine change of conviction as to how to fight terrorism.

11.Moreover, even if he is able to counter successfully suspicions of an electoral ploy, the concretization of his pronouncements through the drafting and enactment of appropriate laws and introducing the necessary changes in the counter-terrorism architecture will take at least a year. This is not something that can be done overnight. The Lok Sabha is about to enter the lame duck mode and the opposition will try its best not to give the Government any credit for bringing about the necessary changes.

12.In this context, what is important is an urgent short-term plan to identify the brains behind the self-styled IM and neutralize them before they spread further death and destruction. As I have been pointing out repeatedly, this is a pan-Indian threat not confined to a single State and hence calls for a pan-Indian response. It is important to make the Police in all the States where the blasts have already taken place carry out their investigations in an integrated manner through an appropriate short-term mechanism, which would not require any major change in the existing laws.

13. We have had three examples of successful investigations and prosecution. The first was the investigation into the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi by the LTTE in 1991. In view of its ramifications extending to more than one State and its external linkages, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), then headed by Vijaykaran, an officer of the Intelligence Bureau, was asked to take over the investigation through a special task force headed by D.R.Kartikeyan.

14. The second was the investigation into the Mumbai serial blasts of March,1993. Here the investigation was done by the Mumbai Police with the CBI handling the external ramifications. Narasimha Rao, the then Prime Minister, set up a co-ordination committee headed by S.B.Chavan, the then Home Minister, to co-ordinate the investigation on a day-to-day basis. Rajesh Pilot, the then Minister of State for Internal Security, played a live wire role in this co-ordination. Narasimha Rao closely monitored the work of this committee, by periodically chairing the meetings himself.

15. The third was the investigation into the terrorist strikes in Tamil Nadu. This was done in a very creditable manner by the Tamil Nadu Police through its own resources.

16. The serial blasts, which the country has been facing since November 2007, are more complicated. While the Police officers of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Delhi have been doing excellent work through their resources, the final results in terms of identification, neutralization and prosecution may not be quite satisfactory in the absence of a continuous and effective central role. How to achieve this has to be decided by the Prime Minister quickly in consultation with the Chief Ministers of the targeted States.

17. Political and electoral considerations should not be allowed to come in the way of time-bound action to put a stop to these serial blasts.

18. If these blasts continue in this manner with the police and the intelligence agencies being perceived not only by our public, but also by foreign Governments and investors as helpless, it could come in the way of our efforts to invite more foreign investment. The foreign investors have till now shown signs of continuing confidence in the capability of our Police and security agencies to prevail over the terrorists sooner than later. But, if such incidents continue at regular intervals, this confidence could be shaken.

19. The time for action is now, not tomorrow, which may be too late.(18-9-08)

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

Monday, September 15, 2008




( To be read in continuation of my earlier article of 26-8-08 titled "Indian Mujahideen Planning Suicide Attacks" at )

The group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen (IM) has so far sent five E-mail messages to sections of the media since it made its appearance in November last year. The first message was sent a few minutes before the serial blasts in three towns of Uttar Pradesh in November last year. The second was sent after the blasts in Jaipur in May,2008. The third was sent before the blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26,2008. The fourth was sent after the press conference held by the Gujarat Police in August,2008, in which they claimed to have solved the case relating to the Ahmedabad and Jaipur blasts, identified the perpetrators and arrested many of them. According to the Gujarat police version, it was the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which is now operating as the IM. The firfth message was sent before the blasts in New Delhi on September 13,2008.

2.The first, second, third and fifth messages claimed responsibility for the blasts and the fourth debunked the claims of the Gujarat Police of having solved the case and tried to convey the impression that the arrested persons had nothing to do with the blasts. Surprisingly, the IM has not sent any E-mail messages claiming responsibility for the serial blasts in Bangalore on July 25,2008.

3.Intriguingly, the IM describes its latest E-mail warning of the New Delhi blasts as "our third consecutive E-mail ". It says: "The INDIAN MUJAHIDEEN accepts the sole responsibilityof Delhi serial blasts, and we claim this, through our third consecutive email, which is, unfortunately, still a mystery for you. It is very sad to see the bad condition of your cyber forensics who have still failed to find out our technique of sending the “Message of Death”." Why does the IM talk of only three E-mail messages, when the media had received five E-mails, all purporting to be from the IM?

4. A careful study of all the E-mail messages purported to have been sent in the name of the IM indicates the following:

While the first two E-mail messages were virulent in their content, they were not obnoxiously abusive in their language. The last three messages were not only virulent in their content, but also obnoxious in their language. I had pointed out in my earlier paper cited above that in the message about the Ahmedabad blasts, they had used the word bastard which normally Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations are never known to use. The latest message on the New Delhi blasts are even more abusive than the previous two messages regarding the blasts in Ahmedabad.P.C.Pandey, the DG of Police of Gujarat, has been abused as a rascal, a bastard, a corrupt old hag, a base-born criminal and a filthy loyal dog of Narendra Modi. These are typical of the Mafia underworld of Mumbai and Gujarat.

The Gujarat Police and the Rajasthan Police and their Police chiefs have been severely condemned in the latest and a specific threat of terrorist attack has also been held out against A.K.Jain of the Rajasthan Police. But, significanly, there is no criticism of the Karnataka Police and its chief. There is not even a reference to the investigation by the Bangalore Police, whereas the investigations by the Ahmedabad and Jaipur police have been debunked and their claims of having solved the cases have been questioned. Similarly, there is no reference to the UP Police investigation of the blasts of November last.

The language used in the third and fourth messages about the Ahmedabad blasts and the fifth message about the New Delhi blasts, which are very abusive, differ from the language used in the first message about the UP blasts and the second about the Jaipur blasts.

5. Why such discrepancies? It is important to find answers to them before we come to definitive conclusions about the IM. Just as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the proof of the terrorist is in the catching.Unless and until we are able to identify and neutralise or arrest the right persons, who are the brains behind the IM, we will have more surprises. We have arrested many perpetrators of individual blasts, but I am not sure we have arrested the brains. By thinking and prematurely projecting that we have identified and arrested the brains, we will make ourselves liable for more surprises, which could damage the credibility of the police in the eyes of the public.

6. In the latest message, the State Governments of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have been criticised for their alleged harassment of the Muslims, but the main brunt of the criticism has been on Maharashtra and the Mumbai Police. Having attacked the national capital in New Delhi, they could next target the economic capital in Mumbai.

7. From these messages, it is apparent that the IM does not as yet have a strategic objective such as the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate or the "liberation" of the Muslims of India. Its objective till now is purely tactical to wreak vengeance on the Hindutva organisations and the various State Governments accused of harassing the Muslims. New Delhi seems to have been targeted not only to exhibit their capability for action in the capital, but also to wreak vengeance on the Government of India for its failure to prevent the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December,1992.The message says: "Babri Masjid was and will remain to be our glorious self esteem and Inshallah, we will prove it to you a hornet’s nest in which you have immersed your bare hand, unaware of the pain to come. If you are prepared to suffer the results of this issue,then by the will of Allah, verily! We will make you face it, and if you feel you are wise enough, then here we announce our ultimatum:Vacate the land of Babri as soon as you can." (15-9-08)

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

Saturday, September 13, 2008




The so-called Indian Mujahideen (IM) has once again, through an E-mail sent to some media offices, claimed the responsibility for a series offive explosions in three crowded market places of New Delhi between 6-45 PM and 7 PM on September 13,2008. At least nine persons arereported to have been killed and many injured. The message is reported to have been sent five minutes before the explosions took place. Itspeaks of nine Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) planted in different places. Five of these have exploded. Three are reported to havebeen detected by the police before the explosion could take place. One remains unaccounted for.

2.One has to await details of evidence regarding the IEDs before one could comment on their similarity,if any, with the earlier blasts in threecities of Uttar Pradesh last November, in Jaipur in May and in Bangalore and Ahmedabad in July, but the means of communication used toclaim responsibility for the blasts and to provide authenticity of the claim are the same.The use of E-mails signed by similar kuniyats(assumed names such as al-Hindi or al-Arabi) and similar-sounding E-mail addresses indicate the same organisation has been responsible.
3. It is already quite clear that a wide area pan-Indian network of terrorists has come up in our midst and has managed to train a number ofIndian Muslims not only in assembling IEDs, but also in clandestine methods of operation and communication. From what one heard of thecontents of the message from the IM about the New Delhi blasts, there is an element of bravado in it. It taunts the security experts for notbeing able to establish who are behind these messages. It shows a certain confidence that the police are not yet on the trail of thosesending these messages.

4. The success of the UP Police in identifying some of those involved in the blasts of last November did not prevent the blasts that followedin other cities. Similarly, the success of the Ahmedabad and Jaipur Police in arresting many of those responsible for the blasts in their citieshas not come in the way of the successful strike in New Delhi.

5. Normally, timely preventive intelligence comes either from intercepts of communications and/or penetration of the terrorist organisations.The IM has apparently been using the Internet for its internal communications and not telephones. If so, this highlights our inadequacies inintercepting Internet communications. Since we still do not know the identity and organisational structure of the IM, penetrating it wouldhave been understandably difficult. We were presuming before the UP blasts of last November that all terrorist strikes must be the work ofthe Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) or the Pakistan/Bangladesh based Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI). Since November last, we havebeen focussing on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). It is possible that elements from all these organisations are involved. It isequally possible that there are other Indian Muslim elements who had not come to the notice of the police earlier/. It is important to keep anopen mind and establish the composition and structure of the IM. Only then penetration would be possible.

6.Preventive intelligence also comes fom the thorough interrogation of those arrested in connection with the previous blasts. All the arrestsmade so far, whether in UP or Jaipur or Ahmedabad , were mainly of those involved in those blasts. They apparently did not enable us toidentify and arrest those trained with a capability for assembling IEDS, but who had not yet participated in any terrorist strike.

7. It should be apparent by now firstly, that we have only identified the tip of the jihadi iceberg in our midst. The iceberg itself remainsunexposed. Secondly, we have not yet been able to identify the command and control of the IM. Thirdly, like Al Qaeda, the IM is divided intoa number of autonomous cells each capable of operating independently without being affected by the identification and neutralisation ofthe cells involved in previous blasts.

8. All these years, our focus was on the training camps for jihadi terrorists in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Interrogation of those arrestedsince the beginning of this year has brought out that many training camps had been held in different parts of India by the SIMI. We wereapparently oblivious of the details of these camps and the identities of those trained. It is important to have a common investigation cell forthe whole of India to identify the various elements involved in this wide area network and neutralise them. Piecemeal investigation indifferent States ruled by different political parties each with its own partisan perception and agenda will result in our continuing to bleed atthe hands of this network (13-9-08)

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




"Even though the US does not rate highly Zardari's leadership qualities, it prefers him to Nawaz because of his willingness to maintain Musharraf's policy of co-operation with the US in its so-called war against terrorism in Afghanistan and his perceived amenability to pressure by the US because of its role in persuading Musharraf, when he was the President, to issue the NRO ( National Reconciliation Ordinance). The US is also hopeful that, unlike Nawaz, Zardari will avoid any humiliation of Musharraf and will let him continue to live in Pakistan without fearing any harassment by the Government. Well-informed PPP sources say that the entire scenario has been proceeding according to a tacit understanding reached with US officials during the visit of Yousef Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister, and Rehman Malik, his Advisor on Internal Security, to Washington DC, in the last week of July, 2008. According to these sources, this understanding provided for: launching of a special land-cum-air operation by the Pakistan military against Al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries in the Bajaur Agency, permission to be accorded by the Gilani Government for continuing unmanned Predator strikes by the US intelligence agencies on terrorist hide-outs in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and US pressure on Musharraf to resign thus paving the way for the election of Zardari. The object of the entire exercise was to keep Nawaz out of power, marginalise him and keep up the present level of US-Pakistan co-operation against terrorism."

Extract from my article of August 27,2008, titled "AFTER TRICKY MUSH, TRICKY ZARDARI" at

The same well-informed sources of the Pakistan People's Party cited in the above-mentioned article of August 27,2008, say that it is correct that Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari had been kept in the picture by officials of the Bush administration, including President George Bush himself, about the new rules of engagement approved by Bush in July before the visit of Gilani to Washington DC. Under these new rules of engagement, the US has been allowed to step up aerial attacks on suspected terrorist hide-outs in Pakistani territory by the Predator pilotless planes and undertake ground operations through special forces within a depth of not more than five kms if warranted by precise intelligence without informing the Pakistan Army beforehand. According to them, these rules of engagement also lay down that ground operations would be undertaken in such a manner as not to involve an accidental confrontation with the Pakistani security forces. As against three Predator strikes and no ground strike during the whole of last year when Pervez Musharraf was the President and the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), there have already been 12 Predator strikes and one ground strike since the Gilani Government came to office on March 18,2008.

2. These sources say that Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), was also briefed on these new rules of engagement during his meeting with Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, on board a US aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea on August 27,2008. However, Kayani has strongly denied this. A press release of the Inter-Services Press Office issued on September 10,2008, quoted Kayani as saying as follows while commenting on media reports: "The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country will be defended at all costs and no external force will be allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan. There is no question of any agreement or understanding with the coalition forces whereby they are allowed to conduct operations on our side of the border."

3. Referring to his meeting with senior officers of the US on board USS Abraham Lincoln, the aircraft-carrier, on Aug 27, he said they were informed about the complexity of the issue that required understanding in depth and more patience for evolving a comprehensive solution.He said it was stressed that in such like situations, military action alone would not solve the problem. Political reconciliatory effort was required to get along with the military prong to win the hearts and minds of the people. During the discussions with the US officers, the imperative of public support at large for the military operations also came under focus."Ultimately it is our national interest which would always guide our policy. The trust deficit and misunderstandings (between the US and Pakistan armies) can lead to more complications and increase difficulties for all. The constraints of operating in these areas must never be lost sight of. There are no quick fixes in this war. Falling for short-term gains while ignoring our long-term interest is not the right way forward.To succeed, the coalition would be required to display strategic patience and help the other side the way they want it; rather than adopting a unilateral approach which may be counter productive. It is the multi-pronged approach, fully supported by the people of Pakistan, which will help us defeat the threat of internal terrorism," Kayani said.

4.These sources point out that before her assassination, Benazir Bhutto herself had said in media interviews that if she became the Prime Minister she would allow the US forces to search for Osama bin Laden in Pakistani territory if they had reliable intelligence and allow the interrogation of Dr.A.Q.Khan, the nuclear scientist, by an international team of investigators. She had also said that she would consider the arrest of Dawood Ibrahim, the Indian mafia leader, if he was found in Pakistan and hand him over to India. According to these sources. Zardari is merely following the policies as laid down by her. These sources say that both she and Zardari were concerned over the control established by Al Qaeda and the Taliban over the Pashtun tribal belt and wanted to fully co-operate with the US in neutralising them.

5. According to these sources, Zardari, Gilani and Kayani have been completely taken aback by the leakage of the information about the new rules of engagement to sections of the media by unidentified officials in Washington DC. They are reportedly indignant over this leakage, which, they fear, could worsen the situation in the tribal belt and result in a fresh upsurge of suicide terrorism directed against Pakistani security forces and leaders, including possibly Zardari himself. They say that this was a gentlemen's agreement reached in total secrecy and by leaking it out, the US has made it difficult for Pakistan to step up the co-operation with the US against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. They are unable to understand the motives of the US officials who leaked out this information and whether this leakage had the authorisation of Bush and other senior leaders.

6. Kayani is stated to be indignant over the officially-leaked allegations in sections of the US media that he was aware of the plans of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for a car bomb explosion outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul on July 7,2008. He reportedly feels that what he regards as such reckless media allegations in the US, inspired by unidentified officials, tend to damage his image in the eyes of his soldiers and this could be counter-productive.

7. Zardari and Gilani are in a dilemma due to the media leaks in the US and the strong reactions of Kayani and the Corps Commanders to it. While backing the strong line taken by Kayani without consulting the political leadership, Gilani has been urging that this matter should be left to be handled by the Pakistani Foreign Office through the US State Department and that everyone should refrain from comments or reactions, which might add to the already strong anti-US anger in the public. The "Dawn" of September 13,2008, has quoted Gilani as saying as follows during an Iftar (fast-breaking) party on September 12,2008: "Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has ruled out retaliatory action against incursions by US-led coalition forces into Pakistan’s territory and said that the Government will instead use diplomatic channels to dissuade the United States and the United Kingdom from taking such actions.Replying to a question about a US missile attack in North Waziristan on Friday morning, the Prime Minister said: “We can take up the issue of these attacks at the diplomatic level but we cannot go to war.”He said: “Pakistan is capable of dealing effectively with terrorists and militants on its soil.” He reiterated that Pakistan was capable of taking action against terrorism inside the country in an affective way.Mr Gilani said Pakistan had cordial relations with all countries and it could convince them that the situation in its areas was its internal matter. “We will convince both the US and the UK to respect our sovereignty.”

8. In the meanwhile, to convince the US of its sincerity in fighting terrorism, the Gilani Government has withdrawn the suspension of its military operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban elements in the Bajaur Agency. The Frontier Corps (FC) and the Air Force have again started attacking the terrorist strongholds and claim to have already killed over 100 jihadis, many of them allegedly foreigners. (13-9-08)

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

Friday, September 12, 2008




The "New York Times" reported as follows on September 9,2008:

"A lengthy trial centering on what Scotland Yard called a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners ended Monday when the jury convictedthree of eight defendants of conspiracy to commit murder.

"But the jury failed to reach verdicts on the more serious charge of a conspiracy to have suicide bombers detonate soft-drink bottles filledwith liquid explosives aboard seven airliners headed for the United States and Canada.

"The failure to obtain convictions on the plane-bombing charge was a blow to counterterrorism officials in London and Washington, who haddescribed the scheme as potentially the most devastating act of terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks seven years ago this week. British andAmerican experts had said that the plot had all the signs of an operation by Al Qaeda, and that it was conceived and organized in Pakistan.

"The arrest in August 2006 of two dozen suspects, including the eight put on trial, set off a worldwide alarm in the airline industry and led toa tightening of airport security, including time-consuming restrictions on passengers carrying liquids and creams in their carry-on luggagethat remain in force at most airports around the globe.

"But the case was hampered from the beginning, prosecutors said, by an investigation that was cut short, by the conflicting demands ofintelligence agencies, and by problems with introducing evidence in the courtroom. To protect sources and methods, the prosecution wasunable to introduce material from British or foreign intelligence agencies. In addition, Britain does not allow information in court that hasbeen gathered from domestic wiretaps.

"The arrest in Pakistan of Rashid Rauf, a Briton of Pakistani descent who American, British and Pakistani officials said was a liaison to AlQaeda, set off a series of events that led the British police to roll up the London-based cell far earlier than they had intended. The haste inmaking sweeping arrests made it hard for prosecutors to persuade the jury that the bomb plot had reached the stage at which an attack onairliners was imminent.

"Partly as a result, prosecutors never convinced the jury that the suspects were prepared to strike immediately, or even that they hadchosen planes as their targets. Nor did they convict a man whom they had accused of having links to Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

"Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said it might decide to call for a retrial of the case if it decides it might win convictions on the mostserious charges. A decision on that is expected within weeks. In addition, a number of other suspects will face trial related to the plot."

2. In this connection, I am annexing the following two articles written by me in August 2006:

3. The post-9/11 war on terrorism has many mysteries buried deep inside. The first mystery is about Omar Sheikh, the alleged master-mindbehind the kIdnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the journalist of the "Wall street Journal". He was sentenced to death by a court inPakistan, but his sentence has not been executed. The hearing on his appeal against the sentence has been adjourned over a hundredtimes till now. He is the fittest case for interrogation in Guantanamo Bay, but, for some strange reasons, the US authorities have shown no interest in getting hold of him and taking him to Guantanamo Bay for interrogation to find out the real truth about the kidnapping andmurder of Pearl.

4. The second mystery is about the arrest by the Pakistani authorities in August 2006 of Rashid Rauf, a Briton of Mirpuri origin, who isrelated by marriage to Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the Jaish-e-Mohammad. He was projected as one of the master-minds of theBojinka--2006 plot and as the man, who tipped off the Pakistani authorities about the plot. No serious attempt was made by the British policeto get hold of him, take him to the UK and interrogate him. He escaped from Pakistani custody in December,2007, and has not been tracedso far. No attempt has been made by the Pakistani authorities to trace him.

5. One understands that there is a sensational untold story about these two mysteries, which could make a mother of all best sellers relating to the war on terrorism.( 12-9-08)

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




by B. Raman

There is considerable skepticism in informed circles in Pakistan, including the Police, over claims being made by the British, US andPakistani authorities of having thwarted a planned Al Qaeda terrorist strike of catastrophic potential by blowing up 10 US-bound aircraftsimultaneously. They suspect that it is a co-ordinated attempt by the authorities of the UK and the US, with the collusion of the Pakistanimilitary-intelligence establishment, to divert attention from the growing public criticism of their backing for Israel's military operations inthe Lebanon.

2. They give the following arguments in support of their skepticism:

To blow up 10 aircraft simultaneously by smuggling liquid explosives inside and assembling an improvised explosive device (ISD) insidewould have required at least two suicide volunteers per aircraft, thus making a total of at least 20. Plus, they would have required at least 10 or more support volunteers to back them up. Thus, according to them, an operation of this type would have required a network of at least 50 volunteers whereas the British have arrested only 24 and say that they have arrested all those who were involved.

Those, who claim to know either personally or indirectly the background of the persons of Pakistani origin picked up by the British Police,say that not more four or five of them are motivated strongly enough to serve successfully as suicide volunteers. They claim that the rest ofthem are not suicide material.

Police sources, who had earlier reported about the visit of some people of Pakistani origin to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) to participate in earth-quake relief and who were subsequently got trained in the Waziristan training camp of the pro-Al Qaeda Jundullah (Armyof Allah), say the number involved was not more than four or five. They also say that these people were not capable of organising a catastrophic terrorist strike of the dimensions mentioned by the British and American authorities. They say their own suspicion was that these people were planning another 7/7 in the UK or a terrorist strike in Copenhagen in protest against the caricaturisation of the HolyProphet in a Danish journal.

3. During the sermons following the Friday prayers in the mosques and madrasas in the tribal areas of Pakistan on August 11, 2006, theBritish and American claims were debunked and Gen.Pervez Musharraf was accused of helping the British and the Americans in theirattempts to spread a canard. The speakers compared this to what they described as the canard spread by the US and the UK about Iraq'salleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) before invading that country in 2003 and the dramatic claims about an Al Qaedaplot made by the US' Homeland Security Department before the US Presidential elections of 2004 in order to swing the election results infavour of President George Bush..

4. Delivering a Friday sermon at the Jamia Mosque Mansoorah at Lahore on August 11, 2006, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) President andJamaat-e-Islami Pakistan Amir, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, said that “the hoax of the bombing plan in passenger planes is a well-orchestrated USand UK ploy to divert the attention of world media from the humiliation meted out to Zionist forces at the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon.” Headded that “it is shameful that Islamabad is unilaterally taking credit for extending a helping hand in arresting or unveiling the so calledterror plan in American and British planes for which no independent confirmation has yet been made.”

5. The skepticism is not confined to the jihadi circles. It is also evident in an editorial carried by the highly-respected "Daily Times" ofLahore on August 12, 2006. It said inter alia: "Whatever the case, a terrorist act on the alleged scale and coordination would have requiredmonths — if not a couple of years — of planning. This means that intelligence operatives, whether in Pakistan, Britain or the US, did notimmediately pounce on these men but kept them under watch for a long time and allowed the plot to unfold. This would have required amajor effort and the agencies must have got a lot of information while tracking these suspects and intercepting their communications. Weflag this point because the lack of information following the bust does not square, either with the commotion in the foreign media or the factthat the intelligence agencies in Pakistan or abroad should have the low-down on these people and be happy to share it with the media.

6. "The argument that little information is being given because the intelligence agencies do not want to alert other terrorist cells does notwash. The arrests, as we have noted, seem to have come after a patient sting operation and the alleged terrorists were caught just as theplot entered its final phase. In the event, there is no more that the intelligence operatives can do now; as for other terrorist cells, thearrests themselves would force them to scatter, abandon their plans and lie low for a fairly long time.

7. "We say this because the arrests by the Canadian authorities of dozens of people some months ago have proved to be trumped-up.Similarly, this revelation comes close on the heels of the disappearance of 11 Egyptians in the US. There is also a horrible war going on inLebanon and it is not unfolding in favour of Israel, the US and UK. Iraq has gone bad; Afghanistan is getting worse. The Bush-Blair duo is introuble at home and both need something really big to happen to justify their policies and distract attention from their losses. True, thisargument comes dangerously close to the realm in which conspiracy theories reside, but the past record of intelligence agencieseverywhere suggests they are quite capable of blowing up or underplaying things for better media management of their respectivegovernments’ performance. So a bit of skepticism is in order.

8. "Of course, there is every possibility that MI5, with ISI’s help, have captured a hoard of terrorists and no conspiracy is afoot to distract attention from Lebanon and Iraq and Afghanistan. But if that is the case then we must be given much more credible information by the UK and Pakistan governments than we have received so far."




By B.Raman

A hilarious novel by Graham Greene titled "Our Man in Havana" became a best-seller in the 1970s. It was about a mediocre officer of theMI-6, Britain's external intelligence agency, posted to Havana as a punishment for failing to produce any worthwhile intelligence in hiscareer. One day he sends to his headquarters a sensational report, which he claims to have obtained from a mole, about the arrival in Cubaof a highly lethal Soviet missile for use against the US.

2. The MI-6 and the CIA examine the report. There is excitement in both the agencies over this intelligence coup. They inform theirrespective political leaders. The MI-6's man in Havana is flooded with encomiums.The more the MI-6 asks him for further details of themissile, the more he gets from his mole.

3. One day, the excitement in the MI-6 breaks the ceiling when they receive from their man what he claimed was a copy of the diagram ofthe missile.The UK Defence Department, the Pentagon and the political leaders of the two countries are informed. The British and Americananalysts are mystified.The missile, going by the diagram, looks like no other missile the USSR was known to have produced before.Studiesare ordered as to how to counter it.

4. One British analyst has a vague feeling that he had seen a similar diagram somewhere before, but he cannot recall when and where.Oneday the vacuum cleaner in his house goes out of order.He opens it. Hey presto, he finds inside a diagram of the vacuum cleaner. He realisesthat what their man in Havana had sent as the diagram of a new Soviet missile, was actually the diagram of a vacuum cleaner.

5.There is utter consternation in the MI-6 headquarters. They call their man to London and question him. He admits that he never had a molein the Cuban security set-up and that he had fabricated all his reports. He got the idea about the new missile while repairing his vacuumcleaner one day.

6.The chief of the MI-6 and his officers ask him to wait outside while they discuss his cheating.The senior officers advise the chief not toadmit to the Prime Minister and the CIA that there was no such missile and that their man had made an ass of them.It would destroy theorganisation's credibility and that of the chief.

7.They decide to request their man to apply for premature retirement and recommend to the Government that his request be accepteddespite his outstanding work. They also decide to recommend him for knighthood for his outstanding performance in Havana. He remains onthe records of the MI-6 one of the greatest intelligence operatives produced by the British intelligence.

8. One is reminded of the MI-6's Man in Havana as one watches with amazement the encomiums being showered on President Gen. PervezMusharraf of Pakistan as a stalwart ally in the war against terrorism by President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair despite anavalanche of evidence regarding his duplicity. What is the evidence available against Musharraf so far:

His reluctance to hand over Omar Sheikh to the Americans for questioning regarding the kidnapping and beheading of Daniel Pearl, the USjournalist.

His continued refusal to hand over A.Q.Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, to the US for interrogation on his links with Iran,Libya,NorthKorea, Syria, Iraq and Al Qaeda.

His non-co-operation in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, his No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri and other remnants of Al Qaeda, who are now operatingfrom Waziristan in Pakistani territory.

His reluctance to act against Mulla Mohammed Omar, the Amir, and other leaders and cadres of the Taliban, who are killing Americans,British, Canadians, Afghans and others from their sanctuaries in Pakistani territory.

His refusal to act against the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and its mother organisation the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) despite the LET's globalramifications and its links with Al Qaeda.

His indignant denials of Indian and Afghan allegations regarding the jihadi terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory, which continues toencourage terrorism in India and Afghanistan.

His making a deal with the Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants in Waziristan under which they have agreed to observe a cease-fire insideWaziristan in return for Musharraf's closing his eyes to their raids into Afghan territory

9. And, so on and so on and so on. In spite of all this, Mr.Bush and Mr.Blair keep showering praise on Their Man in Islamabad. Their praise shows no sign of stopping despite new evidence of the General's duplicity regarding the alleged plot to blow up 10 US-bound aircraft, thediscovery of which was announced dramatically by the British police on August 10, 2006.

10.Musharraf and his officials proclaimed that it was Pakistan, which discovered the plot and alerted the British about it on August 9. Theyprojected Rashid Rauf, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, as the chief co-ordinator of the plot on behalf of the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Whatstrip-tease they have been playing about Rashid Rauf!

They said he was arrested while crossing into Pakistan from Afghanistan a week before the British announcement. Sections of the Pakistani media reported that he was actually arrested in Bahawalpur in southern Punjab on August 8. He had acquired anexpensive house there and married the sister-in-law (wife's sister) of Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM),which was designated by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in December,2001.

After the publication of the report of his arrest in Bahawalpur, the Pakistani officials changed their version. They said they had actually arrested an associate of Rashid Rauf while crossing over into Pakistan from Afghanistan and he led them to Rashid in Bahawalpur. Theyhave not given the name of this associate.

They said that the entire plot was conceived by the No.3 of Al Qaeda who, according to them, is based in Afghanistan, but they could notgive his name except to say he was close to No.2 Zawahiri.

Then, they said it was actually a son-in-law of Zawahiri, who conceived the plot and tried to use Rashid to have it executed. They gave the name of the so-called son-in-law. When it was pointed out to them that this son-in-law was reported by them earlier this year to have been killed in an American air raid in the Bajaur tribal agency, they have gone silent. Musharraf has advised his agencies not to give any more briefings to the media.

11.Musharraf has suddenly become a stickler for the law. In the past, the Pakistani authorities had informally handed over to the Americanswithout following the due process of the law Mir Aimal Kansi, Ramzi Yousef, Abu Zubaidah, Ramzi Binalshib, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, AbuFaraj al-Libi and many others without informing their courts about their arrests.Abu Faraj was handed over despite the fact that he was theprincipal accused in the case relating to the plot to kill Musharraf in December,2003.

12.In the case of Rashid Rauf, they are following the entire procedure as laid down in the law. They informed a court of his arrest. Theyproduced him before a magistrate and obtained his remand in police custody for interrogation. They have reportedly requested the Britishfor a formal written application for handing him over so that they can put it up to the Magistrate for orders. A British police team is waiting inIslamabad patiently for an opportunity to question him.

13. Any police would have been anxious to question him as urgently as possible in order to neutralise any other threat before it materialises,but not the British. It is now 10 days since the plot was discovered, but the British are yet to interrogate the so-called principal co-ordinatorof it. They are showing remarkable patience.It is like a clip in slow motion from a Charlie Chaplin movie. The whole case relating to Rashid ismoving at a pace which would make the proverbial snail look a great sprinter.

14. Rashid Rauf may well go down in history as the terrorist, whom nobody wanted to interrogate. The Pakistanis don't want to interrogate him too much lest their duplicity be exposed.The British and the Americans don't want to be in a hurry to interrogate lest their own gullibilitybe exposed.Moreover, there is a great danger if it comes out that they again let themselves be taken for a ride by Musharraf.Not only will their credibility be in ruins, but they may even face claims for damages from airline companies and passengers, who incurred losses amounting to billions of dollars as a result of the drama staged by the British police.
15. The only way of avoiding all this is to persist with the drama and to go on showering encomiums and lollipops on Musharraf. It would be dangerous to admit that he was a trickster, who took them for a ride. Better to let him go down in history as the world's greatest warrior against terrorism and as the hero of the discovery of a plot to blow up 10 US-bound planes.

16. They sink or swim with Their Man in Islamabad.