Sunday, November 30, 2008
( This incorporates some of the points coming to my mind, but is by no means a totally comprehensive list. I have deliberately not touched upon the Pakistan dimension. I would like to wait for some more details before commenting on the action that needs to be taken)
POINT 1: Set up a National Commission of professionals with no political agenda, in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, to enquire into all the major terrorist strikes that have taken place in the Indian territory outside Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) since November,2007, and task it to submit its report within four months, with no extensions given. Its charter will be not the investigation of the criminal cases arising from these terrorist strikes, but the investigation of the deficiencies and sins of commission and omission in our counter-terrorism agencies at the Centre and in the States, which made these strikes possible.
POINT 2: Induct proved experts in terrorism and counter-terrorism from the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the State Police and the Army into the R&AW at senior levels. Presently, the R&AW does not have any such expertise at senior levels. Of the four officers at the top of the pyramid, two are generalists, one is an expert in Pakistan (Political) and the other in China (Political).
POINT 3: A similar induction from the State Police and the Army would be necessary in the case of the IB too. Since I have no personal knowledge of the officers at the top of its pyramid, I am not in a position to be specific.
POINT 4: Make the IB the nodal point for all liaison with foreign intelligence and security agencies in respect of terrorism, instead of the R&AW.Give the IB direct access to all foreign internal intelligence and security agencies, instead of having to go through the R&AW.
POINT 5: Have a common data base on terrorism shared by the IB and the R&AW directly accessible by authorized officers of the two organizations through a secure password.
POINT 6: Make the Multi-Disciplinary Centre of the IB function as it was meant to function when it was created----- as a centre for the continuous identification of gaps and deficiencies in the available intelligence and for removing them and for effective follow-up action.
POINT 7: Revive the covert action capability of the R&AW and strengthen it. Its charter should make it clear that it will operate only in foreign territory and not in Indian territory. Give it specific, time-bound tasks. All covert actions should be cleared and co-ordinated by the R&AW. Other agencies should not be allowed to indulge in covert actions.
POINT 8: The National Security Guards (NSG) was created as a special intervention force to deal with terrorist situations such as hijacking and hostage-taking. Stop using it for VIP security purposes. Station one battalion each of the NSG in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore. Ensure that its regional deployment does not affect its in-service training. Review the rapid response capability of the NSG in the light of the Mumbai experience and remove loopholes. In handling the Kandahar hijacking of 1999 and the Mumbai terrorist strikes, the delay in the response of the NSG would appear to have been due to a delay in getting an aircraft for moving the NSG personnel to Mumbai from Delhi.
POINT 9:Give the police in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore a special intervention capability to supplement that of the NSG.
POINT 10:After the series of hijackings by the Khalistani terrorists in the early 1980s, Indira Gandhi had approved a proposal for the training of Indian experts in dealing with hostage situations and hostage negotiation techniques by foreign intelligence agencies, which have acknowledged expertise in these fields. The training slots offered by the foreign agencies have been largely monopolized by the IB and the R&AW. The utilization of these training slots and the selection of officers for the training should be decided by the NSA---- with one-third of the slots going to Central agencies, one-third to the NSG and one-third to the State Police. It is important to build up a core of terrorism and counter-terrorism expertise in all metro towns.
POINT 11: The IB’s Multi-Disciplinary Centre should have a constantly updated database of all serving and retired officers at the Centre and in the States, who had undergone overseas training, and also of all serving and retired officers and non-governmental figures who have expertise in terrorism and counter-terrorism so that their expertise could be tapped, when needed.
POINT 12: Strengthen the role of the police stations in counter-terrorism in all major cities. Make it clear to all Station House Officers that their record in preventing acts of terrorism, in contributing to the investigation and prosecution of terrorism-related cases and in consequence management after a terrorist strike will be an important factor in assessing their suitability for further promotion. Revive and strengthen the beat system, revive and intensify the local enquiries for suspicious activities in all railway stations, bus termini, airports, hotels, inns and other places and improve police-community relations. An important observation of the UK’s Security and Intelligence Committee of the Prime Minister, which enquired into the London blasts of July,2005, was that no counter-terrorism strategy will succeed unless it is based on the co-operation of the community from which the terrorists have arisen. The UK now has what they call a community-based counter-terrorism strategy. The willingness of different communities to co-operate will largely depend on the relations of the police officers at different levels with the leaders and prominent members of the communities.
POINT 13: Adopt the British practice of having Counter-terrorism Security Advisers in Police Stations. Post them in all urban police stations. Their job will be to constantly train the PS staff in the performance of their counter-terrorism duties, to improve relations with the communities and to closely interact with owners of public places such as hotels, restaurants, shopping malls etc and voluntarily advise them on the security precautions to be taken to prevent terrorist strikes on soft targets and to mitigate the consequences if strikes do take place despite the best efforts of the police to prevent them.
POINT 14: Stop using the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) as a dumping ground for retired officers, who are favoured by the Government. The NSCS cannot be effective in its role of national security management if it is not looked upon with respect by the serving officers. The serving officers look upon the retired officers of the NSCS as living in the past and in a make-believe world of their own totally cut off from the ground realities of today in national security management. The NSCS should be manned only by serving officers of acknowledged capability for thinking and action.
POINT 15: Strengthen the role of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) as a Government-sponsored think tank of non-governmental experts in security matters to assist the NSCA and the NSA. Give it specific terms of reference instead of letting it free lance as it often does. It should be discouraged from undertaking esoteric studies.
POINT 16: Set up a separate Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) to deal with internal security. Assessment of intelligence having a bearing on internal security requires different expertise and different analytical tools than assessment of intelligence having a bearing on external security. In 1983, Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister, bifurcated the JIC and created a separate JIC for internal security. Rajiv Gandhi reversed her decision. Her decision was wise and needs to be revived.
POINT 17: Set up a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC)under the National Security Adviser (NSA) to ensure joint operational action in all terrorism-related matters. It can be patterned after a similar institution set up in the US under Director, National Intelligence after 9/11. The National Commission set up by the US Congress to enquire into the 9/11 terrorist strikes had expressed the view that better co-ordination among the various agencies will not be enough and that what was required was a joint action command similar to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Armed Forces. Its tasks should be to monitor intelligence collection by various agencies, avoid duplication of efforts and resources, integrate the intelligence flowing from different agencies and foreign agencies, analyse and assess the integrated intelligence and monitor follow-up action by the Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other concerned agencies. Every agency is equally and jointly involved and responsible for the entire counter-terrorism process starting from collection to action on the intelligence collected. If such a system had existed, post-Mumbai complaints such as those of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) that the advisories issued by them on the possibility of a sea-borne attack by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) on Mumbai were not acted upon by the Mumbai Police would not have arisen because the IB and the R&AW would have been as responsible for follow-up action as the Mumbai Police.
POINT 18: The practice of the privileged direct access to the Prime Minister by the chiefs of the IB and the R&AW, which came into force under Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, should be vigorously enforced. This privileged direct access is utilised by the intelligence chiefs to bring their concerns over national security and over inaction by the agencies responsible for follow-up on their reports to the personal notice of the Prime Minister and seek his intervention. If the intelligence chiefs had brought to the notice of the Prime Minister the alleged inaction of the Mumbai Police on their reports, he might have intervened and issued the required political directive to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
POINT 19: Either create a separate Ministry of Internal Security or strengthen the role of the existing Department of Internal Security in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and make it responsible for dealing with internal security operationally under the over-all supervision of the Minister for Home Affairs.
POINT 20:Either create a separate federal terrorism investigation agency or empower the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate all cases involving terrorism of a pan-Indian dimension. It need not take up cases where terrorism is confined to a single state or a small region such as terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir or the Al Umma in Tamil Nadu. It should be able to take up the cases for investigation without the need for prior permission from the Governments of the States affected. It should not have any responsibility for investigating crimes other than terrorism. If its charter is expanded to cover other crimes too, there will be political opposition. There is a lot of confusion about this concept of a federal terrorism investigation agency. Many critics ask when the IB is there, what is the need for another central agency. The IB is an intelligence collection agency and not an investigation agency. The IB has no locus standi in the Indian criminal laws. It collects intelligence and not evidence usable in a court of law. It cannot arrest and interrogate a suspect or search premises or perform other tasks of a similar nature, which can be performed only by police officers of the rank of Station House Officers. The IB officers are not recognized as equivalent to SHOs.
POINT 21: Set up a task force consisting of three senior and distinguished Directors-General of Police (DGPs) and ask it to come up with a list of recommendations for strengthening the powers of the police in respect of prevention, investigation and prosecution of terrorism-related offences and the capabilities of the Police in counter-terrorism and implement its recommendations. This is the only way of getting round the present political deadlock over the revival of the Prevention of Terrorism ACT (POTA).
POINT 22: Expedite the erection of the border fence on the border with Bangladesh without worrying about opposition from Bangladesh.
POINT 23: Start a crash programme for the identification of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and for deporting them. Ban the employment of immigrants from Bangladesh anywhere in Indian territory.
POINT 24: Strict immigration control is an importat part of counter-terrorism The post—9/11 safety of the US is partly due to the tightening up of immigration procedures and their strict enforcement. Among the best practices adopted by the US and emulated by others are: Photographing and finger-printing of all foreigners on arrival, closer questioning of Pakistanis and persons of Pakistani origin etc. We have not yet adopted any of these practices. Hotels and other places of residence should be banned from giving rooms to persons without a departure card and without a valid immigration stamp in their passports. They should be required to take Xerox copies of the first page and the page containing the immigration stamp of the passports of all foreigners and also the departure card stapled to the passport and send them to their local Police Station every morning. All immigration relaxations introduced in the case of Pakistani and Bangladesdhi nationals and persons of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin should be cancelled with immediate effect. The requirement of police reporting by them should be rigorously enforced. It should be made obligatory for all persons hosting Pakistanis and Bangladeshis to report to the local police about their guests. A vigorous drive should be undertaken for tracing all Pakistanis and Bangladeshis overstaying in India after the expiry of their visas and for expelling them.
POINT 25: The MEA’s capability for terrorism-related diplomacy should be strengthened by creating a separate Division for this purpose. It should continuously brief all foreign governments about the role of Pakistan and Bangladesh in supporting terrorism in Indian territory and press for action against them.
POINT 26: The Mumbai strikes have revealed serious gaps in our maritime security on our Western coast. This is partly the result of our over-focus on the Look East policy and the neglect of the Look West dimension. This was corrected earlier this year. Despite this, there are apparently major gaps and an alleged failure by the Naval and Coast Guard authorities to act on the reports of the IB and the R&AW about likely sea –borne threats from the LET. The identification and removal of the gaps need immediate attention. The Mumbai off-shore oil installations and the nuclear and space establishments on the Western coast are also vulnerable to sea-borne terrorist strikes. (1-12-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Saturday, November 29, 2008
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR—PAPER NO.462
While the picture of what happened in Mumbai between 9-21 PM on Wednesday and 8 AM on Saturday, when the terrorist situation was finally terminated, is still incomplete and confusing, certain facts available should give an attitude of the magnitude of the strikes, the like of which the world has not seen before:
There were 13 incidents of intense firing with assault rifles at different places, including the Chhatrapati Shivaji Train (CST) terminus, where the terrorist operation started at 9-21 PM, the Metro Cinema junction, the Cama and Albless Hospital, outside the Olympia restaurant in Colaba, the lobbies of the Taj Mahal and Oberoi/Trident hotels, and the Leopald Café behind the Taj Mahal Hotel. The terrorists would seem to have chosen the CST for the launching of their strikes because it is named after Shivaji, a Hindu ruler, who fiercely opposed the Muslim rulers of India. Near the Metro Cinema junction, some terrorists hijacked a police vehicle and went around spraying bullets on passers-by.
There were seven incidents involving explosive devices----outside the Taj Mahal Hotel, in the BPT Colony at Mazgaon, three near the Oberoi/Trident Hotels, the Colaba market and inside a taxi.
There were many incidents of throwing hand-grenades---two of them at the Cama hospital and on Free Press Road. Hemant Karkare, the legenday head of Mumbai’s Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS), is reported to have been killed in the incident near the hospital.
There were three incidents of fidayeen style (suicidal, not suicide) infiltration into buildings followed by a prolonged confrontation with the security forces before being killed or captured. These took place in the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi/Trident hotels and in the Narriman House in Colaba, where a Jewish religious-cum-cultural centre is located, headed by a Jewish Rabbi. Jewish people of different nationalities often congregate there. The centre also has cheap accommodation for Jewish visitors from abroad.
According to the local authorities, most of the hotel guests who
were subsequently rescued by the NSG, had run into their rooms and locked themselves up when the terrorists forced their way into the lobbies and restaurants and started opening fire. They were not hostages. It is not yet clear whether the terrorists did manage to take hostages and, if so, of which nationalities.
The terrorists took four Jewish people hostages in the Narriman House, three of them Israeli nationals. They were found dead when the NSG made their entry and killed the terrorists. It is not yet known how they died-----through bullet wounds or beheading as the jihadis normally do.
There were over 160 fatalities. The number may go up as the security forces inspect the hotels. According to present indications, the number of foreigners killed was about 10 only--- including three Israelis, two Greeks, one Japanese and possibly two Americans (not yet confirmed ). The terrorists were reportedly looking for people with American, British and Israeli passports.
Almost all the terrorist strikes took place against targets near the sea, indicating thereby that the terrorists, who had reportedly come by sea, were hoping to escape by sea if they managed to survive.
Between 15 and 20 terrorists, who came from outside, are believed to have participated in the operation, The kind of local support they had is not yet clear.
Two of the terrorists are reported to have been caught alive and are presently under interrogation. According to the police, one of them, who gave his name as Ajmal Amir Kamal, is a resident of Faridot, near Multan, in Pakistani Punjab. He identified himself as a member of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET). His preliminary interrogation also indicates that the others, who came from outside, also belonged to the LET and had been trained at Muridke, in Pakistani Punjab, where the headquarters of the LET are located.
2. The Mumbai Police, the NSG, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Mumbai Fire Brigade have confronted the terrorists and handled the crisis in an exemplary manner, of which the entire nation can be proud. Their performance has been as exemplary as the crisis management of their counterparts in New York after 9/11. About 20 officers of various ranks, including the chief of the ATS, an additional Commissioner of Police of Mumbai, and two young and intrepid officers of the NSG have died fighting the terrorists.
3.The Government of Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh and his Congress (I) are back to their denial and cover-up mode. They play down the possibility of the involvement of Al Qaeda despite tell-tale signs of an Al Qaeda stamp on the strikes. They continue to maintain a silence on the role of sections of the Indian Muslims lest any open projection of this cost them Muslim votes. They continue to highlight the role of the LET, but without highlighting the fact that it is a member of Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front (IIF) and that it has many associates in the Indian Muslim community.
4.I watched with shock and disbelief on the TV, visuals of Karkare trying different helmets and bullet-proof vests before choosing one which suited his build. Here was the most threatened officer of the Mumbai Police and the Government had not even given him a protective gear tailor-made for him. This is a telling instance of the casual way we handle counter-terrorism and we look after our brave officers fighting terrorism.
5.The Prime Minister has been unwise in reportedly suggesting a visit to India by Lt.Gen.Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the Director-General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for discussions on the Mumbai blasts. One fails to understand what useful results will come out of it. There are strong indications of the involvement of the LET in the Mumbai strikes----either on its own or at the direction of bin Laden and most likely with the logistic support of some Indian Muslims. By failing to act against the LET, its leaders and terrorist infrastructure even after ostensibly banning it on January 12,2002, the State of Pakistan has definitely facilitated its acts of terrorism in Indian territory. By sharing the information collected by us at this stage with the ISI chief we will help him in covering up the tracks of the LET and the ISI before we could complete the investigation. There has been opposition in Pakistan to his visit particularly from the Army.
6.One should not be surprised if the suggestion for the visit had come from the US and the Prime Minister had accepted it just as he accepted in September,2006, the US suggestion for setting up a joint counter-terrorism mechanism with Pakistan. The American ploy would have been to divert any Indian public anger against Pakistan and the Prime Minister should have firmly rejected it.
7.Three of the most gruesome acts of terrorism since India became independent have taken place in Mumbai---the March 1993 blasts, the July 2006 blasts in suburban trains and the strikes of November 26-29. It is a shame that we have not been able to protect effectively this city, which is the jewel of India. Mumbai is India’s New York and Shanghai. Look at the way the Americans have protected NY after 9/11. Look at the way the Chinese have protected Shanghai. The immediate priority of the Government should be to set up a joint task force of serving and retired officers from Maharashtra in the Police, intelligence agencies and the Armed Forces to work-out and implement a time-bound plan to ensure that 26/11 cannot be repeated again. Mumbai has till now been the gateway of India. The terrorists have exploited it. We should make it Fortress India. Foreign investors will lose confidence in India if Mumbai, where most of the corporate headquarters are located, can be attacked repeatedly with impunity by terrorists.
8.The second lesson is that confidence-building measures with Pakistan cannot be at the expense of national security. In the name of confidence-building, there have been too many relaxations of immigration regulations applicable to Pakistan. There has been pressure on the Government for more relaxations from the so-called Indians-Pakistanis Bhai Bhai (Indians-Pakistanis are brothers) lobby. The terrorists have been a major beneficiary of these relaxations. These relaxations have decreased the vigilance of our people. For example, hotels, which immediately used to alert the Police when a Pakistani national or a foreigner of Pakistani origin checked in, no longer do so. According to one as yet unconfirmed report, some of the perpetrators of the attacks on the hotels had checked in some days before the strike and the others came subsequently by boat. If this was so and if the hotels had immediately alerted the Police, the terrorist strikes might have been prevented.
9. In my view, the terrorist strikes in Mumbai had the stamp of Al Qaeda in the way they were conceived, planned and executed. There has also been a touch of the Hizbollah of the Lebanon, the Popular Front For The Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade and other Palestinian organizations.
10.The reported use of boats and dinghies for the clandestine transport of men and material for terrorist strikes on land is an old modus operandi (MO) used in the past against Israel. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had copied it from them. The anti-India jihadis have emulated their West Asian counterparts.
11.The use of boats for transport enables the terrorists to evade physical security checks by road, rail and air. The numerous creeks between India and Pakistan across the Bhuj area of Gujarat enable the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan and the pro-Al Qaeda Pakistani terrorist organizations to clandestinely transport men and material by sea. Reports that the ISI had planned to use this MO for helping the Khalistani terrorists in the 1990s had led to the Border Security Force acquiring some boats which could be used for surveillance in these creeks.
12.The success of the terrorists in evading detection by our Coast Guard and the police reveals a serious gap in our maritime counter-terrorism architecture. If this gap is not quickly identified and closed, the vulnerability of the Bombay High off-shore oil installations and the nuclear establishments to terrorist attacks from the sea would be increased. Many of our nuclear and space establishments----not only in Mumbai, but also in other areas---are located on the coast and are particularly vulnerable to sea-borne terrorist attacks.
13.The stamp of Al Qaeda is evident in the selection of targets. The Taj Hotel, old and new, the Oberoi-Trident Hotel and the Narriman House were the strategic focus of the terrorist operation. The terrorist strikes in other places such as railway stations, a hospital etc and instances of random firing were of a tactical nature intended to create scare and panic.
14. The strategic significance of the attacks on the two hotels from Al Qaeda’s point of view arose from the fact that these hotels are the approved hotels of the US and Israeli Governments for their visiting public servants and for the temporary stay of their consular officials posted in Mumbai till a regular house is found for them.
15. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, presently undergoing trial before a military tribunal in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre for his involvement in the 9/11 terrorist strikes, was reported to have told his American interrogators that before 9/11 Al Qaeda had planned to blow up the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi. After the visit of President George Bush to India in March,2006, Osama bin Laden had, in an audio message, described the global jihad as directed against the Crusaders, the Jewish people and the Hindus.
16.Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organizations have been critical of India’s close co-operation with Israel and the US. In the past, the ISI had also shown an interest in having Indo-Israeli relations disrupted through terrorist attacks on visiting Israeli nationals in India. In 1991, it had instigated an attack by the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front on some Israeli tourists in Srinagar by alleging that they were really Israeli counter-terrorism experts.
17.The fact that the number of foreigners killed was small would show that the attacks on the foreigners in the hotels was selective and not indiscriminate. Available reports indicate that the terrorists were looking for American, British and Israeli nationals----particularly visiting public servants among them with official or diplomatic passports.
18.The only reason for their targeting the British could have been the active British role in the anti-Taliban operations in Afghanistan and in training the commandoes of Pakistan’s Special Services Group (SSG), jointly with an American team of instructors. The SSG was in the forefront of the raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July,2007, and has been playing an active role in the operations against the Pakistani Taliban in the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
19. The terrorist strike has also had an anti-Jewish angle as evident from the raid into the Narriman House and the taking of Jewish hostages there. The targeting of the Americans, British, Israelis and Indian Jews has to be seen in the overall context of not only the anger of some Muslims against the Indian co-operation with the US and Israel , but also the role of the US and the UK in the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. One should be prepared for more attacks in future not only on American, British and Israeli nationals, but also on their diplomatic and consular missions and their business interests in India.
20. The attacks on the foreigners have already disrupted the ongoing tour of India by the English cricket team. it is ironic that at a time when we were considering the advisability of our cricket team going to Pakistan due to the poor security conditions there, foreign cricket teams sould start having fears about coming to India due to the poor internal security in India.Similar nervousness in the minds of businessmen in foreign countries over security conditions in India could be an outcome of the spectacular terrorist strikes.
21.In the US, Spain and the UK, the terrorist strikes attributed to Al Qaeda were followed by detailed enquiries to identify deficiencies which made the strikes possible and recommend remedial measures, which were implemented. In India, even though we have been facing a series of major terrorist strikes since November 2007, no enquiry has been held. Unless we have the courage to admit our deficiencies and correct them, our counter-terrorism machinery is unlikely to improve. The public has a right to be kept informed of the results of the enquiries and the action taken.
22.There is a misleading debate started by the Congress (I) on the importance of patriotism in the face of the terrorist strikes. It has been trying to silence criticism of its mishandling in the name of patriotism. It has been citing the example of the US after 9/11. In the US, patriotism did not mean support of the Government, right or wrong. It meant support for all the measures taken by the Government for strengthening the counter-terrorism machinery such as additional powers for the agencies and the police, increase in budgetary allocations for the agencies, tightening of immigration procedures etc. It did not mean silence on the sins of commission and omission of the Government. Electoral calculations seem to be the only motivating factor of the Government’s actions and not national interests and national security----even after the colossal Mumbai failure and the consequent tragedy. (29-11-08)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The war of civilisation between the Muslims and the infidels has begun in Indian territory.
2.So said the first statement issued in the name of the so-called Indian Mujahideen (IM) in November,2007, after the three orchestrated explosions in three towns of Uttar Pradesh outside local courts.
3.We saw the latest round of this war in Mumbai on the night of November 26, 2008, as an unestimated number of terrorists----divided into small groups and wielding hand-held weapons and improvised explosive devices (IEDs)--- literally took control of Mumbai and targeted with frightening precision famous hotels preferred by the rich of the country and foreign tourists, railway stations, a hospital and many other places scattered across this business capital of India.
4. It is not just 9/11. It is not just Madrid,March,2004. It is not just London,2006.
5.It is --- I am using the present tense because the situation is still not under control at 5-30 AM despite the Army's assistance being sought--- an act of terrorism, the like of which the world has not seen before. Mind boggles as one tries to think and figure out how the terrorists could have planned and carried out terrorist strikes of such magnitude, territorial spread and ferocity without our intelligence and police having been able to get scent of it. Like what the Vietcong did during the Tet offensive
6.The iceberg of jihadi terrorism to which I have been drawing attention since November,2007, in article after article, in interview after interview , in discussion after discussion has struck not only Mumbai, but the Indian State.
7. The iceberg moved from UP to Jaipur. From Jaipur to Bangalore. From Bangalore to Ahmedabad and Surat. From there to Delhi. From Delhi to Assam. From Assam to Mumbai now-----despite the claims made by the Mumbai Police some weeks ago of having discovered and crushed a plot of the IM to carry out strikes in Mumbai.
8.The Government of Manmohan Singh reacted to the repeated warning signals of the moving iceberg since November 2007, in the same way as the Bush Administration reacted to reports about the plans of the Al Qaeda for an of aviation terrorism in the US; in the same way Megawati Sukarnoputri reacted to reports of the activities of the Jemmah Islamiyah; and in the same way Khalida Zia reacted to reports of the plans of the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen .
9. Bovine. It just did no react. It was in a total denial mode.I wrote and said again and again ----hand over all the investigation about the IM to a central investigating agency for a co-ordinated investigation instead of their being investigated by the police in a piecemeal manner in different States ruled by different political parties. No reaction.
10.From a localised threat, jihadi terrorism has become a pan-Indian threat with a pan-Islamic ideology. Deal with it with a pan-Indian strategy, I said. No reaction.
11.The terrorists arrested some weeks ago in Mumbai, three of whom were IT experts well-placed in trans-national companies, pose a new dimension of the threat. Seek the help of the US, I said. No reaction.
12.I drew attention to an article of Hamid Mir, a journalist of Pakistan, which spoke of Indian Muslims going to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban against the US and which also said that India is one of the routes being used by foreign jihadis going to Afghanistan.No reaction just as Rajiv Gandhi did not react to repeated wake-up calls from the then Afghan President Najibullah that Muslims from Kashmir were being trained by the Afghan Mujahideen.
13.In October, when I had come to Delhi for a seminar two diplomats from the EU countries sought an appointment with me for a discussion on the IM.They expressed their surprise and concern over the fact that the Indian intelligence and police seemed to know so little about the IM despite their having arrested many perpetrators of the previous blasts and interrogated them.
14.Is the IM the name of an organisation or of a movement? Is it one or many organisations in different States acting, like the International Islamic Front (IIF) of Osama bin Laden, as a united front-----autonomously where they can and unitedly where they should? Who constitute its command and control? Where are they? In India or outside? Nobody knows for certain.
15.I could not sleep the whole of last night. One question, which kept bothering me again and again was: how safe are our nuclear establishments and material?
16. Till now, we were greeting with glee Pakistan's incompetence in dealing with terrorism. We can no longer do so. We have become as clueless as Pakistan.
17. I wanted to write much more, but my mind doesn't work.As I watch on the TV what is happening in Mumbai, I shiver and sweat at the thought of what is waiting to happen tomorrow and where. (27-11-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi,and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2W@gmail.com
Saturday, November 22, 2008
"The post-9/11 war on terrorism has many mysteries buried deep inside. The first mystery is about Omar Sheikh, the alleged master-mind behind the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the journalist of the "Wall Street Journal". He was sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan, but his sentence has not been executed. The hearing on his appeal against the sentence has been adjourned over a hundred times 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 and murder of Pearl.
"The second mystery is about the arrest by the Pakistani authorities in August 2006 of Rashid Rauf, a Briton of Mirpuri origin, who is related by marriage to Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the Jaish-e-Mohammad. He was projected as one of the master-minds of the Bojinka--2006 plot and as the man, who tipped off the Pakistani authorities about the plot. No serious attempt was made by the British police to get hold of him, take him to the UK and interrogate him. He escaped from Pakistani custody in December, 2007, and has not been traced so far. No attempt has been made by the Pakistani authorities to trace him."
--------Extract from my article dated September 12,2008 , titled "Terrorism: A Mother of All Best Sellers Waiting To Be Written" available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers29/paper2842.html
Quoting an unnamed senior Pakistani security official, an Islamabad datelined report of the Agence France Press (AFP) stated as follows on November 22,2008: "The alleged mastermind of a 2006 transatlantic airplane bombing plot was killed in a US missile attack in northwest Pakistan early Saturday (November 15,2008) .The transatlantic bombing plot alleged mastermind Rashid Rauf was killed along with an Egyptian Al-Qaeda operative in the US missile strike in North Waziristan early Saturday," a senior security official told AFP. The Al-Qaeda operative killed in the strike was identified as Abu Zubair al-Misri, the official added. He and the Egyptian Al-Qaeda operative were killed along with at least two other militants in a US drone attack on the house of a local tribesman in the village of Alikhel, part of a district known as a stronghold for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, officials said. The missile strike came days after another US drone attack which killed six rebels, including an Arab Al-Qaeda operative. That attack prompted Taliban militants based in the rugged tribal territory bordering Afghanistan to warn of reprisal attacks across Pakistan if there were more strikes by the US. "
2. The US intelligence agencies, which supervise the unmanned Predator air strikes, have had two major successes of significance in November so far. The first was in an air strike on a house belonging to Dilbar, a member of the Janikhel tribe, in a village of the Miryan Police Station in the Bannu District of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) on November 19,2008. Six persons were killed in that air strike, including a middle-level Al Qaeda terrorist identified as Abdullah Azam Al-Saudi. US officials have projected him as themain link between Al Qaeda’s senior command and Taliban networks in the Pakistani border region. The AFP quoted an unidentified Pakistani security official as saying: “He was the man co-ordinating between Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders on this side of the border, and also involved in recruiting and training fighters.” The Associated Press (AP) reported two Pakistani intelligence officials based in Bannu as saying that the Taliban had begun moving away from the border, including districts and other settled areas, in an apparent bid to avoid the missile strikes.
3. The Bannu strike was the first one carried out by the US in the NWFP. All the previous strikes since 2005 were on targets in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), mainly in North and South Waziristan and some in the Bajaur Agency. The surge in the Predator strikes since August 1 (20 plus) and the increasing success rate speak of an improvement in the flow of human intelligence (HUMINT) to the US forces and of the keenness of the Bush Administration to eliminate as many senior leaders of Al Qaeda as possible before the presidency of George Bush ends on January 20,2009. The success rate of HUMINT and air strikes is still only 25 per cent plus, but it is better than around 10 per cent in the previous two years. Bush would like nothing better than to eliminate Osama bin Laden and his No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri before his term ends and thereby deny to Barrack Obama, the President-elect, the credit of doing so.
4. It is not yet clear whether all the correct HUMINT reports came from sources operated by the US agencies or whether some of the reports also came from the Pakistani agencies. Whatever may be the answer, the improvement in the success rates bodes well for the war against Al Qaeda The improvement in the quantity and quality of HUMINT reports to the US----either directly or through Pakistan---- and the increasingly active role being played by the tribal militias (Lashkars) set up by the Pakistan Army in the counter-Taliban and counter-Al Qaeda operations in the Bajaur Agency of the FATA and in the Swat Valley of the NWFP show that the US and Pakistani forces have succeeded in creating some wedge betweem different Pashtun tribal groups and have been skilfully exploiting the sectarian differences between Shia and Sunni Pashtuns. The recent increase in the Taliban attacks on the Shia Pashtuns in the FATA and the NWFP indicates the suspicion of the Taliban that the Shias were responsible for the US successes.
5. It would be premature to talk of an Al Qaeda weakened beyond recovery. Its resilience is intact, but the US has definitely kept its cadres, some of them at senior level, in Pakistani territory on the run. (23-11-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Friday, November 21, 2008
The policy of the Indian Navy in its operations against Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden area can be characterised as one of active defenceof Indian shipping. That means, protection of Indian commercial ships and foreign ships with a large complement of Indian crew transitingthrough these waters and action in self-defence against pirate boats and ships, which threaten Indian lives and interests and threaten toattack Indian naval ships patrolling the seas in this area. The indications till now are that their role will not be extended to cover activeintervention to free already hijacked ships. If preventive measures fail, the responsibility for getting a hijacked ship released from thecustody of the pirates will be largely that of the company owning the ship.
2. Any active intervention role will require the presence of more ships with more specially-trained commandoes on board. Moreover, if theintervention attempt fails, there could be diplomatic and other complications. It has been reported that the Ministry of Shipping of theGovernment of India is keen that at least four ships of the Navy should be on anti-piracy patrol. The present policy seems to be to have oneship on rotation on permanent anti-piracy patrol. At the most, this may be increased to two if resources and circumstances permit. AdmiralSureesh Mehta, the Chief of the Naval Staff, told the media on November 20, 2008,that the Navy was also considering the option of an aerialrecce of the region. He has also been quoted as saying: "We are considering augmenting our efforts to keep the Indian traffic in the regionsafe.”
3. The Government of India has reasons to be gratified that the successful action of INS Tabar, the frigate presently on patrolling duty, insinking a suspected mothership of the pirates on November 18,2008, has been positively viewed by the countries of the region as well as bythose outside the region. It has also been uniformly hailed by private shipping companies using the Gulf of Aden. It is equally gratifying thatthe Government of Pakistan, which under Pervez Musharraf was opposed to any Indian role in maritime security in this region, has not so farreacted adversely to the proposed permanent presence of one or two Indian naval ships in the waters of this region.
4.Was the US consulted before India decided to deploy INS Tabar in the Gulf of Aden? An answer to this question is not available. It may berecalled that in the past the US had tried to have India's role in maritime security confined to the seas to the East of India. It was opposedto any Indian role in the seas to the West of India out of deference to the sensitivities and concerns of Pakistan.Now, it seems to bereconciled to India's role even if it had not actively encouraged it.
5.Pakistani sources, however, suspect that India would not have taken this initiative without an approving nod from the US and that the USwould not have given this nod without consulting the Government of Pakistan. If it ultimately turns out that the US did consult Pakistan andthat it did not object to the Indian role, this would mark a qualitative change for the better in the perceptions of the present PakistaniGovernment towards India.
6. It is, at the same time, intriguing that the US has not hailed the successful action of INS Tabar as enthusiastically as one would haveexpected it. Official US comments on what is perceived by private shipping companies as the weak response of the US-led coalition to thesurge in piracy in this region have emphasised caution in dealing with the piracy. According to a despatch of the Agence France Presse(AFP), Geoff Morrell, a media spokesperson of the Pentagon, told pressmen in Washington DC on November 19,2008, that a militaryapproach was not the answer to a surge in piracy off the Horn of Africa and said that the shipping companies should do more on their ownto protect their vessels. "You could have all the navies in the world having all their ships out there, you know, it's not going to ever solve thisproblem," he said, and added: "It requires a holistic approach from the international community at sea, ashore, with governance, witheconomic development."
7. According to the AFP, Morrell said that at least 18 ships are currently being held for ransom by Somali pirates, along with 330 crewmembers taken hostage. This year there have been 95 attempted ship seizures by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, 39 of them successful.Notonly has the incidence of piracy increased, but pirates are going farther out in the high seas. He then said: "Trust me, this subject is beingdealt with at the highest levels of this Government.It is a real concern. And we are constantly evaluating what the best approach is.I'm justtrying to get you to think beyond the notion of, 'The answer is strictly kinetics. We've got to board more ships. We've got to fire on morepirates.'
8. Commenting on the hijacking of a Saudi oil supertanker, another Pentagon spokesperson Dana Perino said: "The White House saidPresident George W. Bush had been briefed about the seizure of the Saudi supertanker. Ensuring the safety and well being of the crew is ofparamount importance in preventing or dealing with issues of piracy.And the goal would be to try to help get this ship to safety, secure thecrew, and then work with our international partners to try to alleviate the piracy problem. Washington is working with other members of theSecurity Council right now to work out how to more effectively fight against piracy.It's a very complicated issue. There's a lot ofinternational laws that factor into these efforts."
9. According to the AFP report, Morrell urged that the UN Security Council should vote a resolution that authorizes anti-piracy activities. Hesaid that commercial shipping companies also should stick to safer sea lanes away from shore and invest in protective measures, includingtechnical devices and armed guards."The shipping companies also have an obligation to secure their ships to prevent incidents such thatwe've been seeing at alarming rates over the past several months," he added.
10.The State Department convened a high level group of officials to examine the issue, but Sean McCormack, a spokesperson of the Department, called piracy "an international problem" that the US was not going to solve alone.
11. Do the guarded comments of the Pentagon and the State Department and the absence of appreciative references to the action of INSTabar in US Governmental circles indicate a discomfort over India's unilateral and proactive role? Such guarded comments, however, arenot new. In the past too, the US attitude to its anti-piracy role in the Horn of Africa region lacked clarity and a readiness to act.Caution indealing with the increasing problem of piracy in the Horn of Africa area has been a defining characteristic of the US policy and this is one ofthe reasons which had contributed to the surge in piracy.
12.After launching its military action against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom on October 7,2001,the US took the initiative in setting up a joint naval task force called the Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, with headquarters in Djibouti. ThePakistani Navy was invited to be a member of this Task Force. Musharraf agreed to the Pakistani Navy joining it on condition that the IndianNavy would be kept out. The Task Force is commanded by naval officers from different member countries by rotation. It is presentlycommanded by Commodore Per Bigum Christensen of Denmark. It conducts Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Gulf of Aden, the Gulfof Oman, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
13.According to a US Navy website, "the MSO help develop security in the maritime environment, which promotes stability and globalprosperity. These operations complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violentextremists’ use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material." Since its inception,its focus was mainly on anti-smuggling and anti-infiltration tasks----meaning preventing the smuggling and pentration of men and materialto Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and to Al Qaeda in Iraq. Counter-piracy was given a low priority.
14.On August 22,2008, the Task Force established a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) in support of the International MaritimeOrganization's (IMO) call for international assistance to discourage attacks on commercial vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden. According tostatements issued by the US Navy, the MSPA is a geographic area in the Gulf of Aden utilized by Combined Maritime Forces to focus theirefforts against destabilizing activities. These activities include, but are not limited to: criminal activities, drug smuggling operations thatsupport terrorist and violent extremist organizations and human smuggling. Coalition forces patrol the MSPA, which is not marked or definedby visual navigational means, on a routine basis.Vice-Admiral Bill Gortney, Commander, Combined Maritime Forces, was quoted as saying:"Coalition maritime efforts will give the IMO time to work international efforts that will ultimately lead to a long-term solution." He said thatthe shipping industry must consider hiring security teams for their vessels.
15.Even after the setting-up of the MSPA, the US response to the surge in piracy has been cautious. It has been trying to discourage anyundue expectations from the shipping companies that this probably presaged a more robust role by the US Navy against Somali piracy. Theonly Navies, which have so far shown a readiness to play a robust role are those of France, the UK and India. The reasons for the continuedUS caution are not clear.
16. India's decision to send INS Tabar to the Gulf of Aden to protect Indian shipping was triggered off by the hijacking of a Japanese shipwith largely Indian crew and the emotional criticism by the families of the crew of the seeming Government inaction. It was a tactical movetaken in a hurry without much thought being given to the development of a strategic martime security architecture in the region to protectthe region against piracy as well as maritime terrorism, in concert with other affected countries. The development of such a mechanismneeds attention.
17. The Chinese are as much worried over piracy in this region as we are.A Chinese fishing vessel with a 26-member crew, 17 of themChinese, was hijacked recently by Somali pirates. It is not known whether the vessel is still in the custody of the pirates or has beenreleased. Our support for any Chinese role in a multilateral maritime security mechanism should be made conditional on their supportingIndia's permanent membership of the UN Security Council. (21-11-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com )
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
On October 12,2000, a boat filled with explosives with a suicide bomber of Al Qaeda rammed against a US destroyer named USS Cole in theAden harbour. In the resulting explosion, 17 US naval personnel were killed and the ship was severely damaged. A subsequent enquirybrought out that a US naval officer on watch duty on the deck of USS Cole had seen the boat approaching USS Cole at high speed, but hedid not fire on it and sink it. The rules of engagement of the US Navy then in force reportedly provided that US naval personnel should fireupon inside a harbour only if fired at. Since the Al Qaeda boat did not open fire, it was not fired at and sunk before it could ram against USSCole. In justification of the seeming inaction of the officer on watch duty, it was stated during the enquiry that inside busy harbours such asthat of Aden, many small boats operated by the harbour management keep moving around for providing logistics. It would have beendifficult to assess the hostile intent of an approaching boat inside the harbour.
2. After this incident, the navies of many countries undertook an exercise to revise and update the rules of engagement when confrontedwith a possible maritime terrorism situation. Two possible scenarios received special attention:
SCENARIO NO 1: An unidentified boat approaches a naval ship in or near a harbor. The revised rules of engagement reportedly provide for immediate neutralisation of such a boat before it could come within ramming or boarding distance of the ship without waiting to verify the intention of the boat. Action can be initiated even at the risk of casualties of innocent civilians.
SCENARIO NO.2: A naval ship moving or patrolling in high seas encounters an unidentified ship or boat moving around in suspicious circumstances or which seems to be coming towards the naval ship. This scenario gives some window for verification. The revised rules of engagement provide for opening fire if the suspicious ship or boat resists attempts at verification or opens fire or seems to be planning to open dire on the naval ship. Appropriately judging the situation and acting is left to the discretion of the naval personnel depending on the circumstances of the case.
3. These revised rules of engagement, which were designed mainly to deal with maritime terrorism situations, also apply to situationsinvolving armed pirates, irrespective of whether they are acting on their own or in association with a terrorist organisation. These revisedrules of engagement are now being brough into action by naval ships on anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden and other areas to counter theactivities of Somali pirates. The French naval ships operating in these waters were the first to start using more robust methods to deal withsuspected pirate boats and ships.
4.Their example was followed by a British naval vessel.In a recently reported engagement (exact date not available), two Somali pirates ina Yemeni-registered fishing dhow were killed, and a third pirate, believed to be a Yemeni, suffered injuries and subsequently died. Somemedia reports described the incident as the first time the Royal Navy had been engaged in a fatal shoot-out on the high seas in livingmemory. The British media reported as follows on the engagement: Under rules of engagement which allow the Royal Navy to intervenewhen pirates are positively identified, the commandos were dispatched from their frigate in rigid-raider craft and sped towards the pirates’dhow. The Ministry of Defence said the Marines circled the pirates’ boat to try and persuade them to stop. As they approached, however,several of the pirates, a mixed crew of Somalis and Yemenis, swung their assault rifles in their direction and opened fire. The MoD said theRoyal Marines returned fire “in self defence”, and then boarded the dhow — a stolen Yemeni-registered fishing vessel.
5.The Indian Navy announced on November 19,2008, that the previous day the Navy's INS Tabar, which has been patrolling the Gulf ofAden since October 23, 2008, and has escorted 35 ships safely through the pirate-infested waters, spotted what looked like a mother shipof the pirates while patrolling 285 nautical miles (528km) south-west of Salalah in Oman.The pirates on board were armed with guns androcket propelled grenade launchers. When it demanded the vessel to stop for investigation, the pirate ship responded by threatening to"blow up the naval warship if it closed on her", the statement said. Pirates then fired on the Tabar, and the Indian Navy said that Tabarretaliated and that there was an explosion on the pirate vessel, which sank. The naval statement added: :"Fire broke out on the vessel andexplosions were heard, possibly due to exploding ammunition that was stored in the vessel." Some of the pirates tried to escape on twospeed-boats. The Indian sailors gave chase but one boat was later found abandoned, while a second boat escaped. In an earlier incident inthe second week of November helicopter-borne commandos from the Tabar stopped pirates from boarding and hijacking an Indianmerchant vessel.
6.Many of the pirate attacks of the Somalis and Yemenis are launched from small speed- boats in the high seas far away from the coast.Even the hijacking of a Saudi oil super-tanker on November 15 was carried out from small boats in the high seas. Since such smallspeed-boats cannot travel far from the coastal waters, there has been a suspicion since 2005 that the Somali and Yemeni pirates must bepossessing some big ships, which keep moving around in the seas of the region looking for remunerative targets. When they locate suchtargets, small boats with armed pirates are launched from the mother ship to board the targeted vessel and capture it. These so-calledmother ships had till now proved elusive.
7.Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), was quoted as telling the media on November 11,2005,that pirate attacks were being launched from at least two "mother-ships". According to him, speedboats carried out the attempted hijacksbefore returning to the larger vessels floating at sea. This meant that even ships sailing far off the coast were vulnerable to attack. InNovember 2005, the crew of a luxury liner called the Seabourn Spirit, which was steaming some 100 miles (160km) off the Somali coast,managed to scare away pirates who approached the liner in small boats, believed to have been launched from a mother ship, by activating a military-grade sonic weapon, which can cause permanent damage to hearing from a distance of more than 300 metres (984ft).
8.The Associated Press (AP) reported as follows on December 1,2007: " Following a rash of pirate attacks off the lawless Somali coast, aninternational coalition headed by a U.S. Admiral has come up with a new strategy — to target the elusive pirate motherships preying onboats. Pirates from two small skiffs seized the crew of a Japanese vessel off anarchic Somalia's coast. American forces fired on the skiffsand destroyed them. Now the navies of the U.S. and 19 other countries are after bigger prey.The U.S.-led coalition working to secure sealanes beset by pirates believe skiffs like the ones used in the attack on the Japanese ship must have come from elusive "mother ships."
9. The AP report added: "No warship has located a mother ship yet, although that could be due to the continuos radio chatter they put out towarn pirates that they are patrolling the area in an effort to deter attacks. However, numerous ship captains have reported seeing thebigger pirate vessels. "I thought it was an ordinary ship, then I saw two small fast motorboats coming from it toward us," Capt. Ling Xinshen,now safely in Mombasa, Kenya, said in recounting his vessel's seizure by pirates. He and his crew were held for ransom for seven months onthe ship by pirates who killed one crew member. Ling said he never again sighted the mysterious mother ship that loomed up so suddenlythe sunny afternoon his ordeal began. "
10. The AP report continued: "Everyone has a theory about where the mother ships hide. Cmdr. Robert D. Katz of the USS Stout says Somalinational waters remain a blind spot for the coalition forces because they are barred from patrolling that territory. International maritime lawsays a country is responsible for law enforcement within 12 miles of its own coast, but Somalia is a failed state.Somalia has not had afunctioning government since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. Now the weak transitional government and itsEthiopian allies are battling an Iraq-style Islamic insurgency. The chaos, combined with connections between the pirates and powerfulfigures in key Somali clans that receive multimillion-dollar ransoms, mean that pirate ships can cruise the ragged coastline with relativeimpunity. Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenya-based East Africa Seafarers' Assistance Program, says the mother ships melt into theordinary shipping traffic without notice once they have disgorged their packs of speedboats. Coalition warships have frequently passed amother ship without even realizing, he says. The mother ships don't carry weapons, he says, preferring to arm two or three smaller boatswith anti-tank missiles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. They leave the small boats at sea, possibly with another boat loadedwith fuel. When a merchant ship comes into view, the small, fast boats attack as a pack. Mother ships simply blend in among the fishingvessels, Mwangura said. "They won't find it until there are no fishing vessels in Somali waters."
11. There is no information so far as to how many "mother-ships" the pirates have at their disposal. The Indian Navy's action is the firstsuccessful attempt to locate an elusive mother-ship and sink it. It remains to be seen what impact it has on the capability of the pirates tooperate in high seas. The previous estimates were that the Somali pirates possessed at least two mother-ships.
12. Action to stop piracy in these waters has to have three components: firstly, protection of the commercial ships and tankers transiting the waters of this region to prevent the pirates from capturing them. Secondly, location and neutralisation of the "mother-ships" of thepirates. Thirdly, identifying and neutralising the hide-outs of the pirates in Somalia through air strikes. The naval ships of India, the US, theUK, France, Pakistan and other countries deployed in the waters of this area are performing the first two tasks. Only the US is in a positionto undertake the third task. The dilemma faced by the US arises from the fact that at any given time the pirates have about 10 to 12 hijacked ships in their custody. Air strikes on hide-outs or fire-fights with the hijackers on board the captured ships might not only endangerthe lives of the crew, but, in the case of an oil supertanker, could also cause a huge environmental disaster. (20-11-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2 @gmail.com )
(To be read in continuation of my article of October 19,2008, titled "India At Long Last Wiser To Maritime Threats From The West " availableat http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers29/paper2884.html )
Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the US Navy's 5th Fleet, said on November 17,2008, that "Sirius Star", a Saudi-owned oilsuper-tanker, was hijacked by Somali pirates off the Kenyan coast on November 15. The tanker, owned by Saudi oil company Aramco, is 330meters (1,080 feet), about the length of an aircraft carrier. It can carry about two million barrels of oil. He stated that the Sirius Star wascarrying crude at the time of the hijacking, but he did not know what quantity, but, according to some news agency reports, it was carryingcrude worth US $ 100 million. He also did not know where the ship was sailing from and where it was going with the crude.
2. According to a press release issued on November 17 by the 5th Fleet's Middle East headquarters in Bahrain, the super-tanker wasoverpowered and captured by the pirates more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa in Kenya. It was built in South Korea'sDaewoo shipping yards and was commissioned last March. It was categorised as a Very Large Crude Carrier and had 318,000 dead weighttons.
3.According to the Associated Press, the NATO has three warships in the Gulf of Aden and the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet has its own ships in theregion. But the MV Sirius Star was seized far from their normal area of patrol. The Gulf of Aden, off Somalia, connects to the Red Sea, whichin turn is linked to the Mediterranean by the Suez Canal. The route is thousands of miles and many days shorter than going around the Capeof Good Hope off the southern tip of Africa.
4.Following the incident, Odfjell SE, a major Norwegian shipping group, announced on November 18 that it has ordered its tankersnumbering about 90 to sail around Africa rather than use the Suez Canal. According to the AP, it took this decision after the U.S. and othernaval forces deployed in the region decided against intervening to free the supertanker from the control of the pirates, who have sizedseven ships in the last 12 days, including an Iranian cargo ship which was seized by them on November 18.Terje Storeng,the President andthe Chief Executive Officer of the Norwegian shipping group, said in a press statement: "This will incur significant extra cost, but we expectour customers' support and contribution.Odfjell is frustrated by the fact that governments and authorities in general seem to take a limitedinterest in this very serious problem.The seizures by the pirates operating in the area are ruthless, high-level organized crime."
5. The AP has reported that the Sirius Star was anchored on November 18 close to Harardhere, the main pirates' den on the Somali coast,with a full load of two million barrels of oil. The pirates have managed to have the supertanker moved for nearly 450 nautical miles withoutbeing intercepted by any naval ship in the region. It is not yet known how many pirates were involed in the capture and how did theymanage to board the supertanker and take control of it without facing any resistance.
6. Since the beginning of this year there has been a worrisome increase in incidents of strategic piracy involving the capture of shipscarrying food grains and one Ukrainian ship carrying about 50 tanks and allegedly also some chemicals. According to the Ukrainianauthorities, who have not confirmed the presence of any chemicals, the tanks had been ordered by the Kenyan Government, but US navalsources reportedly suspect that the tanks were actually meant for a dissident group in the Sudan. The Ukrainian ship is still under thecontrol of the Somali pirates since September 25.
7. This year, there have so far been 81 incidents of piracy attack---- 58 in the Gulf of Aden, 12 off the East coast of Somalia and 11 offTanzania. In 36 of these incidents, the pirates managed to hijack the ships attacked by them. Twelve of these ships, with a total of 250 crewmembers, are still in the custody of the Somali pirates without a multi-naval force called the Combined Task Force 150 based in Djibouti,which has reportedly established a 960-km long safe corridor for commercial ships, being able to prevent incidents of piracy outside thiscorridor . Nor have the naval ships in the region been able to intervene and get the hijacked ships released.
8. Somalia itself, which is facing an insurgency by Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda forces, is not in a position to act against the pirates. The onlysporadic armed interventions have been from the security forces of northern Somalia's breakaway Puntland region.They haveoccasionally confronted the pirates.They freed a Panama-flagged cargo ship from the pirates on October 14.
9.This is the first time the Somali pirates have seized a supertanker carrying crude and that too in an area far away from their normal zoneof operation. Their intention in seizing a supertanker with such a large quantity of crude is not yet clear. Are they interested only in ransomas they were in the case of other ships seized in the past? Or do they also intend selling the crude to smugglers to make extra money? Dothe pirates operating in this region have links with Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda groups active in the Somalia region? Is there any danger ofthe pirates, acting jointly with the terrorists or at their instance, blowing up the supertanker in order to disrupt maritime trade passingthrough the region? These are questions to which answers are not yet available.
10. Secnarios of terrorists, acting with the support of pirates or on their own, seizing supertankers and blowing them up at or near importantports or in maritime choke points have been worrying maritime security experts since 9/11----particularly ever since it came to notice that AlQaeda had contemplated such scenarios. It was to prevent such scenarios that the maritime security architecture in the Malacca Strait andthe neighbouring areas was strengthened with the countries of the region, including India, and the US co-operating in the matter.
11. The bringing into force of such a maritime security architecture against pirates and terrorists in the seas to the West of India has notreceived adequate attention so far. India itself was remiss in this matter till recently. Only after the hijacking of a Japanese ship with alargely Indian crew by the Somali pirates that the Indian Navy decided to deploy one of its ships with helicopters in the region to protectIndian ships and foreign ships with a large Indian crew. The deployment of the ships of countries such as the US, France, Russia, Iran andIndia separately of each other has not had a deterrent effect. They have not demonstrated a capability for active intervention againstsuccessful pirates. Not even US naval ships.
12. Apart from the navies of the US and other NATO countries and Russia, the only other Navies with a capability for operations in the seasfar away from their base are those of India, Pakistan and Iran. Saudi Arabia's largely French-assisted Navy has very little experience ofoperations in the high seas. No mechanism for maritime security in the region can be effective without the co-operation and participation ofthe Iranian Navy. The present state of non-relations between the US and Iran comes in the way of any participation by Iran.
13.The bulk of India's foreign trade and practically all its energy supplies transit through this region. So too the energy supplies of China,Japan and the ASEAN countries. Instead of leaving it to the US, India should take the initiative in bringing like-minded countries----- includingJapan, China, the ASEAN countries, Pakistan and Iran--- together for working out an effective maritime security architecture. India shouldalso examine how to associate the US, other NATO countries and Russia with this architecture despite any US reservations regarding theparticipatiion of Iran. The matter brooks no further delay. (19-11-08)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
( A data-base prepared in connection with a a four-day conference on terrorism held at Tokyo from November 11 to 14, 2008, under the joint auspices of the Institute of Defence Analyses (IDA) of Washington DC and the Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX) of the Japan Science and Technology Agency. A report on my interventions in the conference is already available under the title "There Is No MacCounter-Terrorism)
Cross Border Terrorist Links
(1). Indian terrorist Groups with links in Pakistan:
(a). The Hizbul Mujahideen (HM): An indigenous Kashmiri group of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), which advocates the merger of J&K with Pakistan. Its leader, Syed Salahuddin, who was an Indian national, lives in Pakistan and co-ordinates the activities of the organization from Pakistan. Funded, trained and armed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Continues to be active in J&K.
(b). The Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). It has two branches. The Indian branch, which operates from Srinagar, is headed by Yasin Malik. The Pakistani branch, which operates from Rawalpindi, is headed by Amanullah Khan, a native of Gilgit in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. Both the branches advocate an independent Jammu & Kashmir comprising all Kashmiri territory presently under the control of India, Pakistan and China. It was the first to start a violent struggle in J&K in 1989 supported by the ISI. Alarmed by the public support for independence, the ISI cut down its assistance to the JKLF and propped up the HM. The JKLF has given up resort to terrorism and has converted itself into a purely political movement for an independent Kashmir
There are many other terrorist organizations too in J&K with links in Pakistan, but they are not as important as the two mentioned above.
( c ). The Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Formed in Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh in 1977 by some students of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) to function as a Muslim Rights Movement among the students. Some of its members went to Pakistan in the late 1980s and were got trained by the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) of Pakistan. Took to reprisal terrorism against the Hindus and Hindu nationalist organizations after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 by a mob of pro-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Hindus. Its activities have spread to different parts of India since then. Its objectives are partly retaliation for the excesses allegedly committed against the Muslims by the police and Hindu nationalist elements and partly to fight against the wrongs allegedly committed against the Indian Muslims. Acts sometimes on its own and sometimes in tandem with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) of Pakistan and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami of Bangladesh (HUJI-B). Some of its cadres were trained in LET/HUJI camps in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
(d). The Indian Mujahideen (IM): It came to notice after serial blasts carried out in three cities of Uttar Pradesh around the same time in November,2007. It projected itself as an organization of purely Indian Muslims with no links to Pakistan or Pakistan-based terrorist groups. It also claimed post-facto responsibility for some previous terrorist strikes including the serial explosions in some suburban trains of Mumbai in July,2006, in which over180 commuters and other civilians were killed. Since November,2007, the IM has also claimed responsibility for the serial blasts in Jaipur in May,2008, in Ahmedabad in July,2008, and in Delhi in September ,2008. Its claims of responsibility were believed to be authentic. Subsequently, there were serial blasts in Agartala and at four towns in Assam in October, 2008. Over 80 persons died due to the blasts in Assam----62 on the spot and the remaining in hospitals while under treatment. A claim of responsibility in respect of the Assam blasts was made by an organization calling itself ISF/IM-----which has been interpreted by the police to mean Islamic Security Force, Indian Mujahideen. This claim is yet to be proved to be authentic. In messages sent before and after the blasts in UP, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi the IM had referred to the various wrongs allegedly committed against the Muslims by the Indian criminal Justice system. The perpetrators of the blasts in Ahmedabad and Delhi have been identified and arrested. Some members of the IM based in Mumbai, who were allegedly planning to commit acts of terrorism in Mumbai, have also been arrested. The organization has at its disposal educated Muslims, some of whom have had the benefit of secular education. Among those arrested in Mumbai were three trained persons in Information Technology (IT), one of whom was a senior executive in the Indian office of yahoo.com. According to the police, he had visited the US in the past. While many perpetrators and other members have been arrested, the police do not seem to have a clear idea of its structure, leadership and command and control. The indications till now are that the organization has many sleeper cells in different urban centres of India, capable of operating autonomously of each other. The investigations also indicate links between this organization and the world of organized crime. Riaz Bhatkal, still absconding, one of the principal motivators of the IM, is allegedly a mafia operator. Many of those arrested so far have a SIMI background. This would indicate that it is either an off-shoot of SIMI or has drawn many of its members from the SIMI. According to the Delhi Police, the organization has had contacts with Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Toiba. Contacts with the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) of Bangladesh are also suspected. The organization itself denies any external links.
(2). Pakistani terrorist groups with links in India:
(a). The Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) with its headquarters in Muridke, near Lahore. Came into existence during the Afghan Mujahideen’s fight against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. After the Afghan Mujahideen captured power in Kabul in April,1992, the ISI sent the LET’s trained cadres into J&K to help the HM and other pro-Pakistan groups. From 1999, its cadres have spread to other parts of India too. Wahabi in orientation. Strongly opposed to liberal democracy of the Western model. Describes Kashmir as “the gateway to India” and its objectives as to help in the merger of Kashmir with Pakistan and help the Indian Muslims in other parts of India in their fight against the Hindus and the Government. Its sleeping cells in India have been discovered in many urban towns in the north as well as the south. It operates in India with its own trained cadres, who are Pakistani nationals, as well as Indian Muslims recruited by it through the SIMI and got trained in Pakistan. It is the most-favoured terrorist organization of the ISI. A member of bin Laden’s International Islamic Front (IIF) for jihad against the Crusaders and the Jewish People formed in 1998. It has cells in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to recruit members from the Indian Muslim diaspora in West Asia for its operations in India. It has followers and sympathizers in the Western countries too in the local Pakistani diaspora. Abu Zubaidah, projected by the US as the then No.3 of Al Qaeda, was arrested in March,2002, in the house of an LET cadre in Faislabad in Pakistani Punjab. Designated by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in October,2001
(b).The Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM): Also came into being during the Afghan Mujahideen’s fight against the Soviet troops. It used to be known as the Harkat-ul-Ansar (HUA), but changed its name as the HUM after the US State Department designated the HUA as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) in 1997. It was so designated because of its suspected involvement in the kidnapping of some Western tourists, including an American, in J&K under the name Al Faran in 1995. A founding-member of Al-Qaeda led IIF. Its then Amir, Maulana Fazlur Rahman Khalil, was a co-signatory of the fatwa issued by bin Laden in 1998 against the US and Israel. The ISI infiltrated the HUM’s cadres into J&K from 1993 onwards. Quite active in J&K, but does not have much of a presence in the rest of India. Has been focusing on the jihad in J&K. It claims to have helped the terrorists in Southern Philippines, Chechnya and in the Arakan area of Myanmar and to have trained some Afro-Americans in the 1990s in its camps in Pakistan. Was suspected to have been involved in the kidnapping and execution of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist, in Karachi in January-February 2002 under the name HUM (International) along with the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) of Al Qaeda, who is under trial before a military tribunal in the Guantanamo Bay for his principal role in orchestrating the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US. Strongly Wahabi.
( c ). The Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) : Its headquarters are in Pakistan. It has a branch in Bangladesh, which is referred to as HUJI (B). Also came into being during the Afghan jihad of the 1980s. It used to be part of the HUA. There was a split in the HUA after it was designated by the US as an FTO in 1997. One group under Fazlur Rahman Khalil constituted the HUM and another group under Qari Saifullah Akhtar constituted the HUJI. Saifullah was suspected of involvement in an attempted coup by a group of middle and lower level officers of the Pakistan Army led by a Brigadier in 1995. The Army officers were tried by a military court and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Surprisingly, Saifullah was released after being kept in custody for some months. He was not prosecuted. After the two failed attempts to kill Pervez Musharraf at Rawalpindi in December 2003, in which the HUJI and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) were suspected to have participated at the instance of Al Qaeda, he fled to Dubai. The Dubai authorities arrested him in 2006 and handed him over to the Pakistani authorities. He was informally detained for some months, questioned about the HUJI’s role in the failed attempts to kill Musharraf and then released for want of any evidence against him. He was again detained after the failed attempt to kill Benazir Bhutto in Karachi on October 18,2007,following a complaint by her that she suspected his role in the assassination attempt. He was again released after some weeks of interrogation. Recently after the huge explosion outside the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad in September,2008. Amir Mir, the usually well-informed Pakistani journalist, had reported that the HUJI was suspected, but there has been no evidence against it. It is a member of bin Laden’s IIF. Saifullah was considered close to Mulla Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Taliban.It used to have an extensive network of cells in Tajikistan and Chechnya. The “Friday Times” of Lahore had once described it as the Punjabi Taliban. HUJI prefers to operate in India through HUJI (B) and not directly. HUJI (B) takes advantage of the presence of a large number of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in different parts of India to recruit Indian Muslims for jihad in Indian territory. It has had links with the SIMI. Links with the IM are suspected, but not yet proved. Wahabi.
(d).The Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM): Came into existence in Januarey,2000, following a split in the HUM due to differences over funds and property. Its Amir, Maulana Masood Azhar, a resident of Bahawalpur in southern Punjab of Pakistan, used to be in jail in India following his arrest for involvement in terrorism in India. The Govt. of India released him and Omar Sheikh, a terrorist of British origin, in December 1999, in order to save the lives of the passengers of an Indian Airlines aircraft, which was hijacked by some members of the HUM after it had taken off from the Kathmandu airport and taken to Kandahar. On his return to Pakistan from Kandahar, Maulana Azhar developed differences with Maulana Fazlur Rahman Khalil, the then Amir of the HUM, over the division and utilization of the funds collected by the HUM during his absence in an Indian jail. He and his followers left the HUM in January,2000, and formed the JEM. A member of the IIF. Suspected of involvement in the attempted attack on the Indian Parliament along with the LET in December,2001, in the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl along with the HUM in January-February 2002 and in the two attempts to kill Musharraf in December,2003, along with the HUJi and Al Qaeda. Its operations in India are confined to J&K and New Delhi. It is reported to be helping the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in its operations against the Pakistani security forces in the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Wahabi. Designated by the US as an FTO in December,2001.
(e).Al Qaeda: Has till now no organizational presence in India, but has admirers in the SIMI. It prefers to operate in Indian territory through its Pakistani surrogates, namely, the LET, the HUM, the HUJI and the JEM. According to the British authorities, Bilal al-Hindi, a Hindu convert to Islam, whose family had migrated to the UK from East Africa, had helped Al Qaeda in collecting target intelligence from the US. He was arrested and prosecuted for his links with Al Qaeda and has been sentenced by a British court to a long term of imprisonment. In his confessional statement before the US military tribunal in the Guantanamo Bay, as released by the Pentagon in an edited form, KSM had stated that Al Qaeda had planned to blow up the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi. He did not say why it could not do so. Abu Zubaidah, referred to above, who is a Palestinian, was reported to have undergone a computer course in Pune in India before crossing over to Pakistan and joining Al Qaeda.
(3). Indian terrorist groups with links in Bangladesh
(a). The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). It is an ethnic terrorist group of some Assamese people, which has been fighting for an independent Assam. It has a capability for urban as well as rural terrorism. Whereas the SIMI and the IM have largely shifted from the use of hand-held weapons to the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the ULFA, like the indigenous Kashmiri terrorist organizations, uses hand-held weapons as well as IEDs for its operations. Targets the security forces, other Government personalities, and non-Assamese working and living in Assam. Targets the economy too with selective attacks on the oil storage and distribution facilities. It regularly indulges in the kidnapping of business executives for ransom. Ransom collection is an important source of revenue. In touch with the intelligence agencies of Bangladesh and Pakistan. Its leader Paresh Barua and some other important cadres operate from sanctuaries in Bangladesh. Its cadres are trained in Bangladesh in its own camps as well as in the camps of the HUJI (B). It is an interesting example of an ethnic terrorist organization, whose leaders and members are largely Hindus, but which is depending on the support of the intelligence agencies of Bangladesh and Pakistan and jihadi terrorist organizations such as the HUJI (B) and the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen. Because of its dependence on the Bangladesh intelligence and Bangladesh-based jihadi organizations for funds, logistics and training in Bangladesh territory, it avoids targeting the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam. It is the most well-trained and well-motivated terrorist organization in India’s North-East
(b). There were and there still are some other terrorist/insurgent groups with links in Bangladesh such as the so-called Naga Federal Government (NFG), the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), the Mizo National Front (MNF) and some organizations of Tripura and Manipur and an organization of some members of the Bodo tribal community of Assam.. The NFG and the MNF have made peace with the Government of India and have come overground. The others are active off and on.
(4). Bangladeshi terrorist groups with links in India:
(a). HUJI (B). Already covered above. After the LET, it is the second most active jihadi terrorist organization in India, with cells and members found in many parts of India even outside Assam. The statement issued by Al Qaeda in 1998 about the formation of the IIF contained the signature of a person, who was described as from Al Jihad of Bangladesh. It is generally believed that this is actually a reference to the HUJI (B).
(b). The Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (JUM): This organization, which carried out over 450 simultaneous explosions of low lethality all over Bangladesh on August 17,2005, has not come to notice for any major activity in Indian territory so far, but the Assam Police suspect that it has been trying to extend its activities to Assam through the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants despite its being in a state of disarray following the execution of some of its top leaders by the Bangladesh authorities in 2007 for involvement in terrorism.
(5) Indian terrorist groups with links in Sri Lanka:
(6). Sri Lankan terrorist groups with links in India:
(a). The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE): The LTTE had sanctuaries in Indian territory till May,1991. Till 1987, Prabhakaran, its leader, used to live in India, After the signing of the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 1987 followed by the induction of an Indian Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF) into the Tamil areas in the Eastern and Northern Provinces to disarm the LTTE, he and his followers had to leave Indian territory. After the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister, by the LTTE in Chennai in May,1991, the Govt. of India banned the LTTE and put a stop to its activities in Indian territory. Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman, his intelligence chief, are among the principal accused in the assassination case. The LTTE suffered a huge loss of sympathy among the Tamils of Tamil Nadu in India. However, in recent months, it has been trying to rehabilitate its image in Tamil Nadu with the help of a small number of die-hard supporters in Tamil Nadu. While there is no longer any overt activity by the LTTE in Tamil Nadu since 1991, it maintains clandestine contacts with some elements in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and uses them for the procurement and smuggling of items such as engines and other parts for boats, ball bearings of bicycles for use in IEDs, detonators for IEDs , medicines etc. The Police of Tamil Nadu has taken strong action against such elements helping the LTTE in its clandestine procurement. Despite this, sporadic acts of clandestine procurement and smuggling to the LTTE-held areas in Sri Lanka continue.
(6) Links between the Maoists of India and Nepal:
Before the Maoists of Nepal came overground in 2006, contested the elections to the Constituent Assembly held subsequently and recently assumed the leadership of a coalition Government, there were strong ideological links not only between the Maoists of the two countries, but also between the Maoists of Nepal and different Communist Parties of India. Many Maoist leaders of Nepal used to take shelter in India when they were under pressure by the Nepalese security forces. These ideological links continue. There were, however, no arms supply and training relationship between the two.
Cross Border Criminal Networks
India and Sri Lanka face no major problem of maritime piracy in their coastal areas. The main threat to Indian shipping from pirates is off the Somali coast from the pirates operating in those areas. There is piracy along the Bangladesh coast, but this largely consists of cases of theft from ships anchored in the Bangladeshi ports. It is alleged that the captains of ships often project such thefts in ports as acts of piracy in the high seas.
Illegal Trade in Small Arms
There used to be considerable smuggling of small arms and ammunition by individual and group smugglers across the Indo-Pakistan border in the Punjab and Rajasthan areas during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet troops and during the height of the Khalistani terrorism in Indian Punjab in the1980s and the 1990s. Practically all the smuggling was from Pakistan to India. The problem posed by such smuggling has come down after the erection of a barbed wire fencing along the Indo-Pakistan border in the Indian Punjab and parts of Rajasthan by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF). Smuggling on a smaller scale continues to take place across the desert in the Rajasthan sector and across the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan’s ISI uses smugglers for having explosives and other items reached to the jihadi terrorist groups operating in J&K and other parts of India. Smuggling through coastal ships and fishing boats is also not uncommon. The mafia gang headed by Pakistan-based Dawood Ibrahim, which orchestrated the serial blasts in Mumbai in March 1993, had large quantities of explosives, detonators and chemical timers and some small arms and ammunition such as AK-47 rifles with ammunition and hand-grenades smuggled into the coastal areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat in boats. These were landed at clandestine landing points with the complicity of some Customs staff and then secretly transported by road to Mumbai.
Trans-border smuggling is a major problem even now across the Indo-Bangladesh border. Active opposition from Bangladeshi para-military forces and Army in the form of firing has frustrated the efforts of the BSF to erect a border fencing in the Indian territory across Bangladesh.
There is considerable smuggling of narcotics across the land borders with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The narcotics smuggled into India across the Myanmar and Bangladesh borders come from the Golden Triangle. The narcotics smuggled from Pakistan originate from the Golden Crescent. The intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Bangladesh close their eyes to the narcotics smuggling in return for their agreeing to smuggle explosives and small arms for the jihadis in India. Americans have been complaining for some years that the chemicals required for refining opium into heroin are smuggled from India into Pakistan across the borders. Alleged complicity by law-enforcing elements in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh has thus come in the way of a 100 per cent effective action to stop the smuggling. There have been instances of smuggling of material required for IEDs by boats from India into the LTTE-controlled areas in Sri Lanka. The recently stepped-up efforts of the Tamil Nadu Police and the Indian Coast Guard to stop this has succeeded to some extent, but not completely as seen from sporadic acts of attempted smuggling.
(b) Smuggling by the LTTE: Next to the Palestinian terrorist groups, the LTTE has the most developed capability for the clandestine procurement of not only small arms and ammunition and explosives, but also more substantial items such as anti-aircraft guns and shells, artillery, surface-to-air missiles and even small aircraft from different parts of the world.
Initially, it used to smuggle these items from the Thai-Cambodian border and other sources in S.E.Asia. Subsequently, in 1993, it managed to get a consignment of arms and ammunition from Pakistan’s ISI, but the ship on which they were loaded at Karachi was tracked by the Indian Navy and sunk with the arms and ammunition in the Bay of Bengal. After the collapse of the communist regimes in East Europe in 1991, it started smuggling from Ukraine and the Czech Republic.
It was running a fleet of commercial ships flying the flags of other countries such as Panama. These were ostensibly used for legitimate commercial shipping, but when needed also for smuggling arms and ammunition.
In 1995, the LTTE agreed to transport a consignment of arms and ammunition given by the HUM (then known as the HUA) to the terrorist elements in Southern Philippines. In return, the HUM donated some anti-aircraft guns to the LTTE. In 2006, the US arrested some supporters of the LTTE for planning to procure some surface-to-air missiles.
The LTTE’s arms smuggling activities by sea have been affected by the post-2001 stationing of a multi-national naval task force in the Gulf area to prevent any smuggling and other activities by Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organizations. Despite the increased vigilance by Western countries, the LTTE managed to procure from the Czech Republic and smuggle into the Wanni area of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka two to five small aircraft for its so-called air force. The suspicion is that it got them ordered in the name of a flying club in South Africa and then had them transported in a dismantled condition to the Wanni region. There is also reason to suspect that the LTTE got its pilots trained in ground strike operations in South Africa with the help of some ex-White pilots of the South African Air Force. It manages to smuggle in fuel required for these aircraft. During the days of the anti-apartheid struggle of the African National Congress (ANC), the LTTE had developed a good networking with it. This continues to come in handy for the LTTE in its arms smuggling activities. Chandrika Kumaratunge, former Sri Lankan President, and the late Laxman Kadirgamar, former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, had visited South Africa to request the South African authorities to act effectively against its activities through South Africa. The response has been poor.
In recent months, the Sri Lankan Navy has claimed to have considerably disrupted the sea smuggling activities of the LTTE and destroyed many of its ships----either by acting on their own intelligence or with the help of the intelligence collected by the Indian agencies. Despite this, arms and aviation fuel smuggling by the LTTE continues, but on a reduced scale.
Links between Criminal Networks and Terrorist Groups
Taking advantage of the anger in some sections of the Indian Muslim community over the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh by some Hindus in December,1992, and the subsequent alleged excessive use of force by the Mumbai Police to quell riots by the local Muslims, the ISI organized serial explosions against major economic targets such as the Stock Exchange in Mumbai in March,1993, with the help of an Indian Muslim mafia group headed by Dawood Ibrahim, who was then living in Dubai, and some young Muslims recruited in Mumbai. With the help of Dawood Ibrahim, these recruits were taken to Pakistan for training in the use of explosives. The explosives and other materials required for the IEDs were smuggled into the coastal areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat with his help. The investigation into these explosions and the interrogation of the arrested persons brought out his leadership role in organizing the blasts. He shifted to Karachi and has been given a Pakistani passport under a different name. He has been in regular touch with the ISI and helping the LET and other jihadi terrorist organizations. The Pakistani media has been reporting about his presence and activities in Karachi. Despite this, the Government of Pakistan has been denying his presence in Pakistan and has taken no action on requests from the Govt. of India made directly and through the INTERPOL for his arrest and handing over.
On October 16, 2003, the US Department of Treasury announced that it was
designating him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 and that it would be requesting the UN to so list
him as well.
"This designation signals our commitment to identifying and attacking the financial ties between the criminal underworld and terrorism,”
stated Juan Zarate, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes. “We are calling on the international
community to stop the flow of dirty money that kills. For the Ibrahim syndicate, the business of terrorism forms part of their larger criminal
enterprise, which must be dismantled."
A press release of the US Department of Treasury said: "Dawood Ibrahim, an Indian crime lord, has found common cause with Al Qaida, sharing his
smuggling routes with the terror syndicate and funding attacks by Islamic extremists aimed at destabilizing the Indian government. He is
wanted in India for the 1993 Bombay Exchange bombings and is known to have financed the activities of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (Army of the
Righteous), a group designated by the United States in October 2001 and banned by the Pakistani Government -- who also froze their assets
-- in January 2002. "
A fact sheet attached to the press release said: "Ibrahim's syndicate is involved in large-scale shipments of narcotics in the UK and
Western Europe. The syndicate's smuggling routes from South Asia, the Middle East and Africa are shared with Osama Bin Laden and his
terrorist network. Successful routes established over recent years by Ibrahim's syndicate have been subsequently utilised by bin Laden. A
financial arrangement was reportedly brokered to facilitate the latter's usage of these routes. In the late 1990s, Ibrahim travelled in
Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban."
It added: "Ibrahim's syndicate has consistently aimed to destabilise the Indian Government through inciting riots, acts of terrorism and
civil disobedience. He is currently wanted by India for the March 12,1993, Bombay Exchange bombings, which killed hundreds of Indians
and injured over a thousand more."
It also said: "Information from as recent as Fall 2002, indicates that Ibrahim has financially supported Islamic militant groups working
against India, such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LET). For example, this information indicates that Ibrahim has been helping finance increasing
attacks in Gujarat by LET. "
Pakistan’s response even to the US notification has been negative. Two other Indian mafia personalities have since come to notice for their links and assistance to jihadi terrorist groups. The first is Aftab Ansari, who was suspected of involvement, in an attack by jihadi elements on the security guards outside the US Consulate in Kolkata in January,2002. The second is Riaz Bhatkal, a mafia figure from Karnataka, who is suspected by the police of helping the IM in some of its recent blasts.
Threats to sea lanes of communication from maritime piracy
Maritime counter-terrorism has received considerable attention in India, but till now the focus was naturally and mostly on maritime
counter-terrorism and security in the waters off Sri Lanka and in the Malacca Strait. There was inadequate attention to terrorist threats of a
strategic nature from the seas to the west of India---- whether from the Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Strait of Hormuz or the Mediterranean. The major threats to India's maritime security are from the seas to the West of India and not to the East. Ninety per cent of India's foreign trade in terms of volume and 77 per cent in terms of value and practically all its energy imports pass through the seas to the West of India. There are more Indian and foreign ships with Indian crew in the seas to the West of India than to the East.
After a recent increase in the incidents of piracy off the Somali coast and the hijacking of ships with Indian crew by the pirates, the Government of India has taken action to fill up the gaps in India's maritime security in the seas to the West of India. The Government of India announced on October 16, 2008, the
deployment with immediate effect of an Indian naval warship with helicopters and marine commandoes on board in the Gulf of Aden to carry out anti-piracy patrols on the route usually followed by Indian commercial vessels between Salalah ( Oman) and Aden (Yemen). A Government spokesperson said: " The presence of the Indian Navy warship in this area will be significant as the Gulf of Aden is a major strategic choke point in the Indian Ocean region and provides access to the Suez Canal through which a sizable portion of India's trade flows. This anti-piracy patrol will be carried out in co-ordination with the Directorate-General of Shipping , who will keep Indian flagship
vessels informed in case they want to travel in the Indian Ocean along with the Indian Navy ship. The presence of the Indian Navy in the
area will help to protect our seaborne trade and instil confidence in our seafaring community as well as function as a deterrent for pirates."
This statement and other clarifications by the Government spokespersons highlighted the following: (i)This is a permanent measure to
protect vessels with Indian flags and Indian crew carrying goods for India; (ii). It is not a one-shot measure triggered off by the hijacking of a
Japanese ship with Indian crew; (iii).The deployment of more ships for the anti-piracy patrol is not ruled out; (iv).The deployment is not a
prelude to intervention by the Indian ship to rescue the Indian crew.
Border protection challenges
Regional agreements to combat cross boarder threats
Any Other Information:
India and Sri Lanka have the best counter-terrorism co-operation in the South Asian region. This co-operation has been in the form of timely sharing of intelligence and provision of counter-terrorism training facilities and non-lethal, defensive equipment such as radars by India to Sri Lanka and firm action by the Tamil Nadu Police and the Indian Coast Guard against attempts by the LTTE for procurement and smuggling of material required for its terrorist operations. The two countries have a convergence of views on the threat to national and regional security that could arise from the sea and air capabilities of the LTTE. They also have shared perceptions of the dangers of copy-cat emulation of the LTTE’s modus operandi by other terrorist organizations in the region.
India also has excellent co-operation with the Bhutanese authorities in counter-terrorism. Bhutan had put an end to the activities of Bodo tribal militants from its territory.
Nepal has also been responsive to India’s concern over the use of its territory by the ISI and the jihadi groups from Pakistan and India. Nepal is one of the routes used by the ISI and the jihadi groups for their to and fro movement between India and Pakistan. Nepal is also a favoured route for money-laundering by criminal elements and for the dissemination of counterfeit Indian currency notes printed in Pakistan. Nepal is also an important base for the activities of the Dawood Ibrahim-led mafia group. India is keeping its fingers crossed as to whether the Maoist-led Government, which came to power in Kathmandu recently, would extend the same level of co-operation as its predecessors.
Co-operation from Pakistan and Bangladesh has been unsatisfactory. Since India and Pakistan became independent in 1947, Pakistan has never extended any mutual legal assistance to India in respect of any crime if the person wanted by India is a Muslim. In respect of terrorism, it has never extended any mutual legal assistance to India irrespective of the religion of the wanted person. Whenever the terrorist suspect wanted by India is an Indian national, it denies his presence in its territory. Whenever the terrorist suspect is a Pakistani national, it does not deny his presence in its territory, but rejects the evidence presented by the Indian Police. It has had no qualms over picking up informally nearly 200 Muslims---- Arabs as well as its own nationals--- and handing them over to the US without following the due process of law for being taken to the detention centres in Bagram or in the Guantanamo Bay. But it has never arrested a terrorist---Muslim or non-Muslim---wanted by India and handed him over to India. There are presently 20 terrorist suspects----- the accused in aircraft hijacking cases of the 1980s, the Mumbai blasts of March,1993, the attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi in December 2001 and others---- living in Pakistan. Islamabad has repeatedly avoided requests from India and the INTERPOL to have them arrested and handed over to India.
Despite the seeming improvement in the bilateral relations, Pakistan continues to use jihadi terrorist organizations as weapons against India for achieving its strategic objectives. Under pressure from the US, Pervez Musharraf banned the LET, the HUM and the JEM as terrorist organisations on January 15,2002, but they continue to operate against India openly from Pakistani territory either under their original names or under changed names.
The same is the case with Bangladesh.
Many mechanisms have been set up to improve counter-terrorism co-operation with Pakistan and Bangladesh such as:
(a). The periodic meetings of the Home Secretaries of India and Pakistan and India and Bangladesh to discuss trans-border security.
(b). The periodic meetings of the senior officials of the para-military forces of India and Pakistan and India and Bangladesh for the same purpose.
( c ). The periodic meetings of the Joint India-Pakistan Counter-Terrorism Mechanism set up by Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September,2006, to discuss co-operation in counter-terrorism. Its meetings are attended by senior officials of the intelligence agencies of the two countries and officials of other departments concerned with counter-terrorism.
Despite these mechanisms, there has been no improvement in counter-terrorism co-operation either with Pakistan or Bangladesh. As against this, counter-terrorism co-operation with Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal has been good even in the absence of formal mechanisms. This shows that if the desire and the intention to co-operate is not there, no formal mechanism can help.
B. Raman, Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also an Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com