Saturday, January 31, 2009



In a desperate attempt to secure a pause in the fighting in the Vanni area of Northern Sri Lanka in order to be able to regroup, the LiberationTigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been emulating the tactics of human shields or human buffers used by the Hizbollah in the Lebanon in2006 and by the Hamas in Gaza recently to slow down the Israeli military strikes.

2. While refusing to let the civilians in the areas still controlled by it to move to the safe zones proclaimed by the Sri Lankan Governmentunder the pretext that the civilians cannot be forced to move against their will unless there is an internationally-guaranteed ceasefire, it hasactivated the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in the West and Australia to demonstrate in large numbers in the streets to highlight the plight ofthe civilians. It has mobilised the support of foreign human rights organisations on this issue. Impressive demonstrations were held by largenumbers of Sri Lankan Tamils in different Western cities on January 31,2009.

3. At the same time, pro-LTTE web sites have been highlighting the protests launched by some political parties and by some sections ofstudents and lawyers in Tamil Nadu against the alleged violations of the human rights of the Sri Lankan Tamils and their calls for Indianintervention in support of the Sri Lankan Tamils. They have been trying to project as if the protest campaign in Tamil Nadu has beengathering momentum.

4. Some of the pro-LTTE web sites in the Tamil language have been carrying inflammatory articles projecting India as the villain forallegedly providing military assistance to Sri Lanka in its counter-terrorism campaign against the LTTE. They indirectly admit that duringthe last two years the LTTE has suffered a series of set-backs and attribute these set-backs to the assistance allegedly given by India tothe Sri Lankan Army.

5. One such article calls upon the members of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora abroad to hold continuous demonstrations outside Indian diplomaticmissions in protest against India's role in Sri Lanka. The pro-LTTE web sites have been directing their criticism against the Government of India as well as the Congress (I), which is projected as the "Sonia Congress". Some of the criticism is personally directed at Mrs.SoniaGandhi.

6. They have been accusing the Congress (I) of taking vengeance on the Sri Lankan Tamil community for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhiin 1991. (1-2-2009)

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



These are comments sent by me on a draft paper prepared by a US think-tank----B.Raman

a). India has terrorism of various hues----separatist, ethnic, ideological (Maoist), and jihadi (indigenous as well as originating from Pakistan and Bangladesh). Till 2007, only the jihadi terrorists originating from the Pakistan-Afghanistan region had shown a worrisome interest in using the Internet for operational purposes---- such as propaganda, communications,motivation, training, data-mining and disruption. The interest of other terrorist groups in the Internet remained confined to propaganda and psy-war and communications. They did not show any interest in the use of the Internet for disruptionn purposes..

(b). Jihadi terrorists operating in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, including Al Qaeda, have been exhibiting an increasing mastery of the use of the Internet for propaganda, communications, motivation, recruitment and training, but one has not seen any confirmed instance of their using or attempting to use the Internet for disruption purposes.

(c).Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan has a large reservoir of IT-savvy anti-Western Muslims. India has a reservoir, but it cannot as yet be described as large. So too, the Pakistani and Indian Muslim diaspora in the West. Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations are focussing on them for the recruitment of their future IT warriors. The Indian Mujahideen has come to notice for recruiting at least three , but they were used for primitive purposes such as sending claims of responsibility without being traced back.

(d). Indian Muslims are technically less qualified than the rest of the population, but better educated and qualified than the Muslims in most of the Islamic world. They have the same access to IT education as a person of any other religion and the same job opportunity. As Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations start looking for recruits with a capability for disruption, they are likely to depend increasingly on the IT-savvy Muslims of India and the Indian and Pakistani Muslim diaspopra in the West.

(e). How to disrupt their efforts at such recruitment? That is a question, which would the need the attention of the intelligence agencies of India and the West.

(f). All Islamic fundamentalist organisations----including the Taliban---- have realised the importance of IT.The curricula of most madrasas exclude physical sciences, western philosophy, logic, etc, but include training in the use of computers, which are seen as an asset for waging a jihad. In the 1990s, I had contributed to the quarterly journal of the United Service Institution of India, based in New Delhi,two articles on likely future threats from "microchip moles" and the computer as a "weapon of mass disruption." These threats have not yet materialised, but it is only a question of time before they do. A weapon of mass destruction requires qualified manpower, financial resources and a place to test away from the attention of the intelligence agencies. A weapon of mass disruption requires only qualified manpower and limited financial resources. This is a weapon which can be launched from anywhere. In most cases, the intelligence agencies will become aware of one's capability in the field only after one has used it and not before.

(g). State-spnsored cyber war, that is, the use of lone wolf cyber warriors by States for achieving their intelligence-collection and disruption objectives, is a threat, which is already staring us in the face. Deniability is strong in the case of state-sponsored cyber warriors. Protective technology has to keep ahead of technology, which lends itself to disruptive uses. Is it doing so? (1-2-09)

Friday, January 30, 2009



In the wake of the visit of our Foreign Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, to Colombo for talks with the Sri Lankan President, Mr.Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Tamilnet, the web site in the English language associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), has disseminated on January 30,2009, an article attributed to "a political analyst in Vanni", which has accused "the present Indian Establishment run by Sonia Congress of waging its own proxy war in the island of Sri Lanka, concurrent to Colombo's war against Tamil Nationalism."

2. The article, which evidently represents the views of the LTTE leadership, warns the "Indian Establishment" as follows: "In its frustration arising from its incapability of achieving anything positive, India is not only heading for maintaining perpetual trouble in Sri Lanka, but also is inviting turmoil to a part of its own country." It also says: "The net result of the Indian game, without enjoying any popular support from any quarter concerned, can only be autocratic and will prove to be devastating to the entire island. Repercussions arising from resentment, coupled with re-emergence of a dormant LTTE, will only see a raging political inferno and bloodbath. This time the war is not going to be confined to the island of Sri Lanka, but will be fought involving Tamil Nadu too."

3. It further says: "It ( the Indian Establishment) also doesn’t want to see Tamil nationalism or an independent Tamil nation state in the island, but it is accountable to the people of Tamil Nadu. Public opinion is important to continue the ‘dynasty’ in the throne of Delhi. Above all it has to maintain ‘checks and balances’ with Colombo. What it is desperately attempting now is re-organization of its own quislings among Eezham Tamils with promises of arranging political solution, aiming to replace LTTE leadership. But the important qualification to become a quisling, as specified by the Indian recruiting agents, is to drop the Tamil national aspiration. Soon one may find a set of propped up leaders, camouflaged initiatives in the diaspora and international conferences in New Delhi. But, for everything, the war has to be over soon at least with the semblance of conclusiveness. If it doesn’t end soon, indications are there that the Indian establishment may even physically try a hand at it, as time is running out for it with elections around the corner in April.Already there are reports of the physical presence of Indian soldiers in the war front and recent Indian supplies of tanks and aircraft to Colombo’s arsenal. Whatever India may do to Sri Lanka to win the war against Tamils, it is never going to get the reward of popular support to any of its aims from the Sinhala masses. The popularity of the ruling Indian Establishment is at its lowest ebb in Tamil Nadu. Its name has become repulsive to Eezham Tamils. Having all these discredits on its side, what really India can achieve in bringing out an acceptable political solution is anybody’s guess. The present Indian Establishment is simply incapable of doing anything constructively new, other than destroying Tamil safeguards."

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

Thursday, January 29, 2009



"An organisation headed by a leader, who understands only terrorism, is unlikely to rehabilitate itself in the eyes of the internationalcommunity. Prabakaran is a liability for the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Tamils in the post-9/11 world. The time has come for the LTTE leadersand the Sri Lankan Tamils---including their overseas diaspora--- to do an introspection on their future course of action. If they have topreserve the gains made by thousands of their cadres since 1983, they have to find a new leadership. Prabakaran is no longer the man ofthe future. He is passe. He has become a liability for the Tamil cause. The sooner the Sri Lankan Tamils realise it, the better for them."

---------- Extract from my article of January 22,2007, titled LTTE AVOIDS BATTLE OF ATTRITION IN THE EAST available at

The reports regarding the desperate plight of about 1,50,000 Sri Lankan Tamils caught up between an advancing Sri Lankan Army and aretreating Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Wanni area of northern Sri Lanka are confusing.

2. Many have reportedly died and many, including many children, have been injured in the exchange of artillery fire between the two sides.In a situation like this, it is impossible to establish whose artillery killed whom. All one can say is that innocent civilians are paying a heavyprice for the heavy exchange of artillery.

3. The Sri Lankan Army is disinclined to agree to a ceasefire to let the civilians be evacuated by the International Committee of the RedCross (ICRC) lest the LTTE take advantage of it to regroup. The LTTE is disinclined to let the civilians move to the safety zones set up by theGovernment lest this facilitate the advance of the Army.

4. The international community, including the Government of India, are unable to effectively bring pressure on both sides to help out thecivilians. The Sri Lankan Army has estimated that it is only a few weeks away from totally eliminating the capability of the LTTE forconventional fighting and it is determined to achieve that objective even at the risk of some collateral damage to the civilians. The LTTE isafraid that if it lets the civilians go, it will have a face-to-face confrontation with the Army in which it is unlikely to do well.

5. Prabakaran, who is believed to be still commanding the retreating LTTE fighters, does not seem to realise that the chances of the LTTEstaging a spectacular come-back as it did in the 1990s and recaptured Kilinochchi and Mulaithivu are remote. The loss of control overterritory in the Northern Province is not so devastaing for him as the loss of control over the Tamil population in the Eastern Province. In thepast, many of the conventional fighters of the LTTE came from the Eastern Province and many of the terrorists from the Northern Province.It is no longer possible for him to get new recruits from the Eastern Province. The recent fighting in the North has indicated that the LTTE'sshortages in arm and ammunition and explosives are much more serious than originally estimated. With the rapidly decreasing possibility offinding replacement of human and material resources, his chances of staging a come-back conventionally are much less than what theywere in the 1990s.

6. The terrorist wing of the LTTE also seems to be facing severe problems due to a shortage of explosive material, a drop in volunteers forsuicide terrorism and the lack of time and space in the midst of a furious conventional war to motivate and train new volunteers and mountoperations.

7. The use of the civilians to avert an impending final defeat on the ground should be condemned by all the political parties in Tamil Nadu,by the Government of India and the international community. Prabakaran has been living in a world of illusions just as Hitler was in the final days of the defeat of the Nazi Army before he and his mistress committed suicide in a Berlin bunker to avoid being captured by theadvancing Soviet Army. Till he decided to kill himself, Hitler was fondly hoping that a reversal of fortunes was still possible.So too,Prabakaran seems to be having a fond hope that he and his men can stage a come-back even at this stage.

8. It is time for the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora to assert itself and call upon the LTTE cadres to overthrow Prabakaran and other leaders,arrest them, hand them over to the Sri Lankan authorities and proclaim a unilateral ceasefire. It is time for the diaspora to come to termswith the reality and act before more civilians are killed.If they fail to do so and continue to encourage Prabakaran in his irrational illusions,history will judge them harshly. ( 29-1-09)

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

Thursday, January 22, 2009



The counter-terrorism strategy of President Barack Obama will be different from that followed by his predecessor George Bush. The initial emphasis will be on removing the distortions which had crept into the strategy under Bush in the hope that this would create some goodwill for the US in the Islamic world and using the goodwill thus hopefully generated for enlisting the support of the Muslims in the campaign against Al Qaeda.

2. These distortions were in the form of ethically questionable deviations from the traditional US counter-terrorism practices. Examples of such deviations: Treating the terrorist suspects as prisoners of war and keeping them in an army-controlled detention centre in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and subjecting them to trial by a military tribunal instead of by normal courts; renditions, which are nothing but avoiding the due process of the law by taking the suspects for interrogation to co-operating third countries over which the US judiciary will not have any jurisdiction; and tolerance of practices bordering on torture during the interrogation.

3. By issuing an order on the very first day in office suspending the trial before the military tribunal for 120 days, Obama has made clear his determination to do away with these deviations and make US counter-terrorism practices once again acceptable to the civil society as a whole---- in the US itself as well as in the rest of the world.

4. Dick Cheney, Bush's Vice-President, and some professionals of the US intelligence community had convinced Bush that without such deviations it would be difficult to prevail over a dreaded terrorist organisation such as Al Qaeda. Obama, who does not buy such arguments, expects that there would be opposition from these professionals to his attempts to do away with these deviations. That is why he has chosen for the post of the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Leon Panetta , who is not an intelligence professional, but who is believed to agree with Obama that such deviations have done more harm than good to the fight against Al Qaeda and hence need to be abolished. A professional as the head of the CIA might have dragged his feet in implementing the ideas of Obama. In some instances in the past too, when there were allegations of unethical practices by the CIA, US Presidents had brought outsiders to head it to put an end to such practices.

5. Implementing Obama’s ideas with regard to the Guantanamo Bay detention centre is not going to be easy. Only a small number of the nearly 300 detenus there have specific cases going against them. There should be no problem in transferring their cases to normal courts and shifting them to jails in the US. But, the majority of the inmates of the detention centre are preventive detenus, who are suspected to be associated with Al Qaeda, but against whom there is not sufficient evidence for prosecution. What to do with them since it may not be possible to transfer them to jails in the US? If they are handed over to the countries to which they belong and if those countries release them, they might once again join Al Qaeda with renewed anger against the US for keeping them in the detention centre. Some of the detenus----such as the around 15 Uighurs---- are from countries such as China, which might execute them. Winding up the detention centre without adding to the strength of Al Qaeda and without creating new groups of anger against the US is going to be a tricky task.

6. Will the abolition of such practices help Obama in winning the support of the Muslims for the campaign against Al Qaeda? Doubtful. The anger of the Muslims against the US is not only due to such practices, but also due to the indiscriminate use of air strikes in counter-terrorism operations in Iraq as well as in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region. These air strikes have allegedly been causing a large number of civilian casualties. In the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, the Bush Administration was constrained to increase the number of air strikes by unmanned Predator aircraft of the CIA on suspected Al Qaeda hide-outs because of the unwillingness or inability or both of the Pakistan Army to act on the ground against these hide-outs.

7. Under the Bush Administration, the number of such air strikes increased dramatically from 10 in 2006 and 2007 combined to over 30 in 2008. Only eight of these strikes were successful in killing Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives. Over 22 strikes proved to have been based on incorrect intelligence and resulted in many civilian casualties. The accuracy rate of the US intelligence is not more than one-third of the reports disseminated.

8. Obama, who was critical of the deviations in the treatment of detained terrorist suspects, was not critical of the use of air strikes. In fact, he has promised a more robust and proactive campaign against Al Qaeda than was, according to him, followed under Bush in order to wipe out the surviving leaders of Al Qaeda operating from sanctuaries in the Pakistani territory. Rules of engagement authorizing air and ground strikes against Al Qada hide-outs in the Pakistani territory are favoured not only by the CIA, but also by the US Armed Forces. Thus, Obama cannot but continue the policy of stepped-up air strikes followed by Bush. His ability to do so without adding to the civilian casualties will depend on an improvement in the quality of the intelligence flow. Will the posting of an outsider and a non-professional as the chief of the CIA help in improving the quality of intelligence? If it does not, the goodwill which Obama might earn by abolishing the deviations might be wiped out by the anger over continuing civilian casualties due to inaccurate intelligence.

9. Obama’s objective is to delink Iraq from the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, divert more forces to Afghanistan and concentrate on the fight against them. His ability to divert forces from Iraq to Afghanistan would depend on the present low level of activity by Al Qaeda in Iraq continuing, thereby enabling the US to thin out its presence in Iraq. The low level of activity of Al Qaeda in Iraq is partly due to the parting of the ways between it and the secular Iraqi resistance fighters and the crushing of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia by the Saudi authorities. Wahabised Saudis constituted a large component of Al Qaeda in Iraq. A decrease in the flow of Saudis has contributed to the weakening of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

10. Will Al Qaeda consider it to be in the interest of the global jihad being waged by it to let the US shift many of its troops to Afghanistan for crushing the Taliban or will it try to step up its activities in the Sunni areas of Iraq in order to frustrate the plans of Obama to shift troops to Afghanistan? To be able to do so, it will need a fresh flow of Arab volunteers. The widespread anger in the Arab world over the Israeli military strikes in Gaza, the perceived US support for Israel in the UN Security Council and the alleged silence of Obama on the issue could help Al Qaeda in its recruitment of new volunteers for keeping the fighting going in Iraq. If it happens, Obama may not be able to delink Iraq from the ongoing war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

11. Al Qaeda and its Arab supporters do not view Obama as a man of change. They see him as no different from Bush and other American leaders so far as support for Israel is concerned. They do not expect any dramatic change in the US attitude towards Israel under him. If they have to hurt Israel, they have to hurt the US. So they think and so they will try to do.

12. How successful will Obama’s counter-terrorism strategy will be will depend not only on how Obama views the war against Al Qaeda. It will also depend on how Al Qaeda views its jihad against the US. Despite the weakening of its position in Iraq and despite its inability to organize any major terrorist strike outside Pakistan and Algeria since the London and Bali blasts of 2005, Al Qaeda does not think it is losing its global jihad against the US and Israel.

13. It may not have had any spectacular gain on the ground since 2005, but it has convinced itself that the economic difficulties faced by the US are only partly due to the mismanagement of the economy by the Bush Administration. In its view----as seen from its recent messages---- the global jihad as waged under its leadership has also contributed to the economic difficulties of the US by forcing it to spend more and more on the war against it. It thinks it is in the interest of the global jihad to force the US to spend more and more thereby aggravating its economic difficulties. For that, the US will have to be kept preoccupied in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. It has been trying to take advantage of the Arab anger over the Israeli military strikes in Gaza to step up its recruitment and increase its activities in Iraq.

14. The weakest point of the still-evolving counter-terrorism strategy of Obama---- as it was with the strategy of Bush---- is its inability to think of a coherent and compelling response to Pakistan’s complicity, if not collusion, with Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the various other pro-Al Qaeda jihadi terrorist groups operating from Pakistani territory. The present Government of President Asif Ali Zirdari---like its predecessor Government of Pervez Musharraf--- is skillfully exploiting the US fears of a jihadi deluge without Pakistan’s co-operation for following a policy of seeming co-operation with the US and covert complicity with the terrorists. Like Bush, Obama too seems reluctant to confront Pakistan with punitive action if it fails to co-operate. Unless and until Pakistan knows that it will suffer if it does not change its present devious policy, things are not going to change. (22-1-09)

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


(From the "Daily Times" of Lahore, dated January 21,2009)

Violence claims 7,997 lives in 2008

Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies report says highest number of terrorist attacks in NWFP, followed by Balochistan and Tribal AreasDaily Times Monitor

ISLAMABAD: At least 7,997 people were killed and 9,670 injured in 2,148 incidents of violence in Pakistan during 2008, according to a Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) annual report made available to Daily Times on Tuesday.The incidents include terrorist attacks, clashes between security forces and militants, military operations, political violence, inter-tribe sectarian clashes and border clashes.

The highest number of terrorist attacks was reported from NWFP (1,009), followed by Balochistan (682) and the Tribal Areas (385), the report said. It said 35 attacks took place in Punjab, 25 in Sindh, seven in Islamabad, four in Azad Kashmir and one in the Northern Areas.

More than 3,182 people were killed and 2,267 injured in operational attacks, 655 killed and 557 injured in clashes between security forces and militants, 162 killed and 419 injured in political violence, 1,336 killed and 1,662 injured in inter-tribe sectarian clashes, and 395 killed and 207 injured in border clashes.

More than 95 clashes between security forces and militants, 88 incidents of political violence, 191 incidents of inter-tribe sectarian clashes and 55 incidents of border clashes took place during the last year. At least 2,267 people were killed and 4,558 injured in at least 2,148 terrorists attacks reported in 2008.

At least 967 people were killed and 2,108 others injured in 63 suicide attacks in the country during the last year. The NWFP faced 32 suicide attacks in which 389 people were killed and 688 injured, Punjab was second with 10 suicide attacks that claimed more than 201 lives and injured 508. Sixteen suicide attacks were reported in FATA due to which 263 people died and 497 were injured.More than 112 people were killed and 321 injured in four suicide attacks in Islamabad while one suicide attack was reported in Balochistan in which two people were killed and 22 others injured.

The report said 381 rocket attacks, 46 incidents of beheading, 112 remote controlled bomb attacks, 110 landmine explosions, 451 incidents of shooting and 373 blasts by improvised explosives were recorded during 2008.

At least 4,113 suspected terrorists including 30 from Al Qaeda, 3,759 affiliated with Taliban and other such groups, and 354 Baloch insurgents were arrested during the year. According to te PIPS report, at least 907 people were killed and 1,543 injured in 675 incidents of violence during 2006, and 3,448 people were killed and 5,353 injured in 1,535 incidents during 2007.

“A comparison of the security situation in 2008 with 2005 indicates a 746% increase in terrorist attacks,” the report said.“Terrorist groups affiliated with Al Qaeda and Taliban are using sophisticated techniques employed by insurgents in Iraq,” it said. “Such a progression could be traced in three major terrorist attacks in Pakistan in 2008” – the attack on the Danish embassy and the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and the FIA headquarters in Lahore.


( From "The News" of January 21,2009)

Amid rising TTP gains, Army adopts new strategy

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

By Amir Mir

LAHORE: As the situation in Swat continues to be a major concern, a Pakistan Army spokesman has revealed a new strategy to establish the government’s writ and to contain the rising influence of the Taliban militants in the valley — once considered a haven for tourists in the country.

An ISPR spokesman told The News the military has recently begun to implement the new strategy, which would focus more on consolidating and securing the main supply routes and urban and rural centres by putting more boots on the ground. “The Army presently has four brigades in Swat, including one from Rawalpindi overseen by a General Officer Commanding. We have recently made some adjustments and to begin with, the security forces are gearing up to secure Mingora and its outer-parameters,” he added.

According to the spokesman at the Swat Media Centre (SMC), no credible figures were available about the civilian casualties in the military operation so far. However, he said since Oct 2007, around 15,000 military and paramilitary troops had killed 784 militants in Swat, while the number of troops martyred during the same period stood at 189.“Of the security forces people killed in the operation, 80 belonged to the Army, 61 were policemen, 35 staffers of the Frontier Constabulary while the remaining seven belonged to the Frontier Corps.”

The spokesman said the militants in Swat had carried out 165 bomb attacks against the security forces since 2007, which included 17 suicide and 148 remote-controlled attacks.The spokesman added since the start of the military operation in the valley, the militants have destroyed 20 bridges, besides setting ablaze 165 girls schools, 80 video shops and 22 barber shops. He conceded up to a third of Swat’s 1.5 million people have left the area since the launch of the ‘Operation Rah-i-Haq.

Asked to comment on the media reports that the Swat valley has fallen to the fighters and the military operation has failed to produce the desired results, the ISPR spokesman said the Pakistan Army troops were fully capable of swiftly evicting and killing miscreants but they were giving peace a chance to avoid civilian casualties in the wake of requests from the provincial government as well as the local elders in touch with the rebels.

He referred to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s Jan 19, 2009 statement on the floor of the National Assembly, saying: “The use of force or military action is not the only solution to everything and we will have to adopt a political strategy to deal with the situation in Swat.”

The spokesman said the military operation in Swat was still ongoing, the troops were still deployed in the valley and only some pockets have fallen to the militants. It is, therefore, wrong to say that the militants have taken control of the Swat district”, he added.

Despite claims of the spokesman, 15 months after the launching of the military operation in the lush-green valley to dismantle the militants’ network of Maulana Fazlullah, a major part of the mountainous region seems to have fallen to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The major tourist attraction apparently lives under the Fazlullah’s brand of Shariah.Not too long ago, the idyllic valley, with its rolling hills, gushing streams and vistas, was described as Pakistan’s Switzerland.

But ever since the beginning of the military operation in 2007, the security situation has gone from bad to worse, converting this paradise on earth into a valley of death and destruction.Around 10,000 TTP militants have been pitted against 15,000 Army troops since Oct 22, 2007, when the operation was officially launched.

Leading the charge against the Pakistan Army is Maulana Fazlullah, also known as Mullah Radio for the illegal FM radio channel he operates. Through his FM broadcasts, still operational despite being banned by the NWFP government, the firebrand keeps inspiring his followers to implement Shariah, fight the Army and establish his authority in the area.

Military authorities have repeatedly alleged that Fazlullah, who has thousands of armed supporters ready to challenge the security forces on his command, has close links with the Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives. The cleric has already become a household name in Swat, as his Shaheen Commando Force is destroying and occupying government buildings, blowing up police stations, bridges, basic health units and hotels and burning girls’ schools.

Extending the sphere of their activities aimed at enforcing Shariah, Fazlullah’s acolytes have directed local prayer leaders only to focus on the attributes of Jihad in their Friday sermons. They have also banned female education in Swat, besides asking parents of grown-up girls to marry them to militants. He had issued an edict in Dec 2008 to close hundreds of schools by Jan 15.

While following in the footsteps of the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the militants led by Fazlullah were also pursuing an agenda of rigid religious beliefs, based on a violent Jihadi doctrine. Barbers in Swat and adjoining districts have been ordered not to shave beards and shops selling CDs and music cassettes asked to close down. In some places, just a handful of militants control a village since they rule by fear — beheading government sympathisers, blowing up bridges and asking women to wear all-encompassing burqas.

Similarly, the Army is manning several police stations in Swat because the police force there had been decimated by desertions and killings. The gravity of the law and order situation can be gauged from the fact that one of the busiest squares in Mingora has been renamed by the shopkeepers as ‘Khooni Chowk’ because every morning, as they come to shops, they would find four or five dead bodies hung over the poles or trees.

Hundreds of Army jawans as well as civilians have been killed in the ongoing military operation, as a result of suicide attacks and roadside bombings. Under these circumstances, the state writ has shrunk from Swat’s 5,337 square kilometres to the limits of its regional Mingora headquarters, which is a city of just 36 square kilometres.

Some recent media reports say nearly 800 policemen, half of the total sanctioned strength of police in Swat, have either deserted or proceeded on long leave on one pretext or the other. Therefore, the private army raised by Fazlullah literally rules the roost in most parts of the valley, which is witnessing a dominance of the Wahabi doctrine as most of his supporters belong to the Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi.

The Wahabi followers of Fazlullah are making a state within a state in Swat, having already established their own administration on the pattern of the Saudi monarchs, besides creating a private army, equipped with the latest weapons and controlled by the militant leader’s trusted and loyal commanders. Besides establishing a parallel judicial system across the valley dealing with the cases of different nature, Fazlullah has also established a Baitul Maal, for which his commanders collect Ushr.

Contributing further to the already grim situation is the growing negative public perception about the military operation, which they believe has killed more civilians than militants. While no credible data is available about the civilian casualties in the military operation, the Police Data Centre in Swat estimates the figure ran into hundreds.

The rise of Maulana Fazlullah, the man ruling Swat, has been like a roller-coaster ride. Fazlullah, a resident of the Imam Dheri area, was born to Biladar Khan, a Pakhtun of Babakarkhel clan of the Yousufzai tribe of the district. Biladar Khan was highly inspired by the TNSM and thus became one of the right-hand men of Maulana Sufi Mohammad.

Finding himself even more devoted to the enforcement of Shariah, the motto of the Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM), he sent his son, the then Fazal Hayat, now Fazlullah, to his Madrassa at Qambar in Dir district. This long and equally close association between Sufi and Fazal eventually turned into matrimonial relationship when the young son of Biladar became the son-in-law of the TNSM chief.

After Sufi Mohammad (who had actually formed the TNSM in 1992 after leaving the Jamaat-e-Islami) was awarded life imprisonment in 2002 by an anti-terrorism court on charges of inciting youngsters to illegally cross the Pak-Afghan border to wage a Jihad against the US-led Allied Forces in Afghanistan, Fazlullah made his native village Imam Dheri as TNSM headquarter and got it shifted from Qambar in Dir.

Generally referred to as the Pakistani Taliban, primarily to distinguish itself from the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Omar, the TNSM (Movement for Enforcement of Islamic Laws) is a militant Wahabi organisation which has fast emerged in the Malakand division and in the Bajaur Agency as a private army to reckon with.

As far as the TNSM organisational structure is concerned, Fazlullah is assisted by two Shuras, or councils. One is the Ulema Shura with several Swati clerics who advise him on religious policies of the group. Another Shura, which is also called the executive body, is the highest policy-making organ of the TNSM, which has a large number of ex-servicemen, including retired commissioned officers, as its members.

Always wearing black turbans, the followers of Fazlullah are also called Black Turbans. He has never had his photograph taken, believing Islam forbids taking pictures of human beings lest it becomes the first step to idol worship.

The essence of his agenda is in the motto: “Shariah ya Shahadat (Islamic laws or martyrdom)”.During the July 2007 Lal Masjid operation against the fanatic Ghazi brothers, Fazlullah came into action against the government forces to avenge the military action. A large number of people armed with rifles, Kalashnikovs and small arms started gathering at his Madrassa as he announced it was time to go to war. His announcement that thousands of militants were ready to avenge the attack was followed by a series of suicide assaults on the security forces.

As many students belonging to the Red Mosque-linked seminaries were from this area, the Army action generated a wave of sympathy for Fazlullah’s cause. Most of the anti-government rallies and demonstrations against the Lal Masjid operation were held in this region.Soon after the Lal Masjid operation, Fazlullah decided to join hands with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, led by Commander Baitullah Mehsud, in a bid to provide an umbrella to all insurgent movements operating in several tribal agencies and settled areas of the NWFP.

Since then, Fazlullah and his followers are toeing Baitullah’s line, whether they are issuing a decree, signing a peace deal with the government or scrapping the same. Therefore, it appears by all accounts that the Fazlullah-led militants are working in the same mould as the fire-spewing clerics of Lal Masjid did: to make Swat hostage to its rigid vision of militant Islam. And remember, the valley is hardly 160 kilometres from Islamabad.

Monday, January 19, 2009




There has been considerable anger and indignation in India over the attempt of David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, who visitedIndia last week, to rationalise the terrorist attack in Mumbai from November 26 to 29,2008, by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LEt) of Pakistan bylinking the attack to the Kashmir issue. None of the indigenous Kashmiri organisations has linked the Mumbai attack to Kashmir.YetMiliband sought to provide a legitimacy to the LET's terrorist attack by linking it to Kashmir, disregarding the fact that the attack, as seenfrom the brutal murder of nine Jewish persons and 12 nationals of Western countries, which have contributed forces to the NATO contingentin Afghanistan, was part of the global jihadi agenda unrelated to either Kashmir or the grievances of the Indian Muslims.

2. The shocking attempt by Miliband to play down the murders of 138 Indians and 25 foreign nationals committed by the Pakistani terroristsof the LET should not have come as a surprise to those aware of the historic links of the British intelligence with the Mirpuri migrants fromPakistani-Occupied Kashmir (POK) in the UK and their important role during elections in certain constituencies which traditionally returnLabour candidates to the House of Commons with the support of the Mirpuri vote bank.

3. In this connection, I am reproducing below extracts from my article of 6-5-07 titled HOME-GROWN JIHADIS (JUNDULLAH) IN UK & US available at


"After Pakistan and Afghanistan, the UK has been traditionally for many years the largest sanctuary to foreign terrorists and extremists.Everybody, who is somebody in the world of terrorism, has found a rear base in the UK--- the Khalistanis in the past, the Liberation Tigers ofTamil Eelam (LTTE), the Mirpuris from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), the Chechens, the Al Muhajiroun, the Hizbut Tehrir etc. Havingallowed such a medley of terrorists and extremists to operate unchecked from their territory for so long, the British intelligence just doesnot have a correct estimate of how many sleeper cells are operating from their country and of which organisations.

"Since persons of Pakistani origin have been playing an increasingly active role in promoting the activities of Al Qaeda, it is necessary toanalyse the nature of migration from Pakistan to the UK and the US. Muslims from Pakistan constitute the single largest Muslim migrantgroup from the sub-continent in both the UK and the US---followed by Indian and Bangladeshi Muslims. There are estimated to be about700,000 Muslims of Pakistani origin in the UK. No estimate is available in respect of the US.

"The largest migrant group from Pakistan in the UK are Punjabi-speaking Muslims----from Pakistani Punjab as well as Pakistan-OccupiedKashmir (POK). The migrants from the POK are called Mirpuris. They are not ethnic Kashmiris, but Punjabi-speaking migrants from thePakistani Punjab, whose families had settled down in the Mirpur area of the POK for generations. They were essentially small farmers andlandless labourers, who lost their livelihood as a result of the construction of the Mangla dam. They, therefore, migrated to West Europe---thelargest number to the UK and a smaller number to France, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. Many of them preferred to go to the UKbecause it already had a large Punjabi-speaking community from Pakistani Punjab. The initial Mirpuri migrants, who hardly spoke English,felt themselves comfortable in a Punjabi-speaking environment.

" As the number of Muslims of Pakistani origin in the UK increased, mosques came up to cater to their religious needs. Till 1977, thesemosques were headed by clerics from the more tolerant Barelvi Sunni sect. When Gen.Zia-ul-Haq, a devout Deobandi, captured power inPakistan in 1977, he embarked on a policy of marginalising the influence of Barelvi clerics not only in Pakistan, but also in Europe andincreasing the influence of the rabid Deobandis. He inducted Deobandis into the Education Department as Arab teachers and into the ArmedForces to cater to the religious needs of the military personnel. He encouraged and helped the Deobandis to take over the mosques inPakistan and in the UK by replacing the Barelvis. With the induction of an increasing number of Deobandis started the process of theArabisation/Wahabisation of the Muslims in Pakistan and of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK.

"The intelligence agencies of the US and the UK went along with Zia's policy of Arabising/Wahabising the Muslims of Pakistan because thiscontributed to an increase in the flow of jihadi terrorists to fight against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. Till 1983, the members of thePakistani diaspora in the UK were considered a largely law-abiding people. The first signs of the radicalisation of the diaspora appeared in1983 when a group of jihadi terrorists kidnapped Ravi Mhatre, an Indian diplomat posted in the Indian Assistant High Commission inBirmingham, and demanded the release of Maqbool Butt, the leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), who was thenawaiting execution in the Tihar jail in Delhi following his conviction on charges of murder. When the Government of India rejected theirdemand, the terrorists killed Mhatre and threw his dead body into one of the streets. This kidnapping and murder was allegedlyorchestrated by Amanullah Khan, a Gilgiti from Pakistan. He was assisted by some Mirpuris of the Pakistani diaspora. The British wereunco-operative with India in the investigation of this case and declined to hand over those involved in the kidnapping and murder to India forinvestigation and prosecution. By closing their eyes to the terrorist activities of the Mirpuris from their territory, they encouraged the furtherradicalisation of the diaspora.

" Just as the radicalisation of the Muslims of Pakistan suited the US-UK agenda in Afghanistan, the radicalisation of the diaspora in the UK,particularly the Mirpuris, suited their agenda for balkanising Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Many Pakistanis from the UK went to the trainingcamps of the Harkat-ul-Ansar (HUA---now called the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in Pakistan and got themselvestrained with the knowledge and complicity of the British. They then went to Bosnia and Kosovo to wage a jihad against the Serbs with armsand ammunition and explosives allegedly supplied by the Iranian intelligence with the tacit consent of the Clinton Administration and paidfor by the Saudi intelligence. As the Pakistani Prime Minister between 1993 and 1996, Mrs. Benazir Bhutto had visited these jihadis from thePakistani diaspora in the UK who were waging a jihad against the Serbs in Bosnia. After waging their jihad against the Serbs, these jihadisfrom the UK moved to Pakistan to join the HUA and the LET and participate in the jihad against India.

"The most notable example of the home-grown jihadis of the diaspora in the UK, who waged a jihad in Bosnia at the instance of the Britishand American intelligence and then turned against them, is Omar Sheikh. From Bosnia, he came to India to wage a jihad and was arrestedby the Indian security forces. He was released by the then Indian Government headed by Mr. A.B.Vajpayee, in December,1999, following thehijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar by a group of HUM terrorists from Pakistan. After his release, he went to Pakistan andorchestrated the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl. The second notable example is Rashid Rauf, a Mirpuri, who went to Pakistan fromthe UK to join the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) after marrying a relative of Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the JEM. He was allegedlyinvolved in the plot detected by the London Police in August last year (2006) to blow up a number of US-bound planes. This plot was hatchedby some members of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK. ( My comment: Rashid Rauf was recently killed in a US Predator (unmanned plane)strike on an Al Qaeda hide-out in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas )

"The Mirpuris in the Pakistani diaspora in the UK were in the forefront of those supporting jihadi terrorism against India in Jammu andKashmir and other parts of India since 1993, when the Pakistani jihadi organisations of Afghan vintage were infiltrated into India byPakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). They collected and sent funds to the jihadi terrorists in India. Many of them underwent training inthe camps of the LET, the HUM, the JEM and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) in Pakistan and assisted them in their jihadi operations. TheBritish intelligence was aware of members of the Pakistani diaspora going to Pakistan for training, but closed its eyes to it since it thoughtthat they were going to wage a jihad against the Indians in J&K.

"A careful examination of the details relating to the various jihadi terrorism-related cases in the UK would reveal that the MI 5 wasintercepting the telephone conversations of these Mirpuris and other Punjabi Muslims with their friends and relatives in which they spoke oftheir going to Pakistan for jihadi training. It did not take any action against them because it thought that they were going to wage a jihadonly against the Indians and hence did not pose a threat to the British. The MI 5 intercepted the telephone conversation of even one of theperpetrators of the London blasts of July 2005, about his going to Pakistan for jihadi training. It did not act on it thinking he intended towage a jihad against the Indians. Only after the London blasts of July, 2005, did the MI 5 realise with a rude shock that this Mirpuri was talking not of going to India to wage a jihad against the Indians, but to London to wage a jihad against the British.

"There is a sheepish, but indirect admission of this in the statement issued by the MI 5 rebutting criticism of its perceived failure to preventthe London blasts. It says: "RUMOUR: In February 2004, the Security Service recorded Khan's (Mohammed Siddique Khan) wish to fight andhim saying goodbye to his family - a clear indication that he intended a suicide mission. REALITY: The Security Service did recordconversations involving an individual identified after 7 July as Khan. From the context of the recorded conversation it is probable that Khanwas talking about going to fight with militia groups in the Pakistan border areas. He was not talking about acts of terrorism in the UK."

" Today, innocent British civilians are paying for the sins of commission and omission of their authorities since jihadi terrorism broke out inIndian territory in 1989. It would be very difficult for the MI 5 to have an accurate idea of the number of trained Pakistani jihadis already intheir midst. Reliable Police sources in Pakistan say that there are at least about 200 trained, potential suicide bombers in the Pakistanidiaspora in the UK waiting for an opportunity to strike. These trained potential suicide bombers also provide a recruitment reservoir forfuture operations of Al Qaeda in the US homeland.

"The position in the Pakistani diaspora in the US is somewhat different. The initial wave of migrants to the US from Pakistan consistedlargely of Urdu-speaking Mohajirs from Sindh, who originally went to Pakistan from India. The influence of the more tolerant Barelvi sect onthem is still very strong. The extremist Deobandi/Wahabi ideology has not yet made the same impact on them as it has on thePunjabi-speaking Pakistani diaspora in the UK. Moreover, there has hardly been any migration of the Mirpuris from the POK into the US.Most of the Kashmiri migration into the US has been of ethnic Kashmiris----either the Hindu Pandits, who were driven out of the Valley by thejihadi terrorists after 1989, or sufi Muslims from the Valley. The Muslims from the valley, who had migrated to the US from J&K, are politicallyactive against India, but they have so far kept away from the Deobandis and Wahabis.

"Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the migration of Punjabi-speaking Muslims from Pakistan into the US. There has beengrowing Deobandi/Wahabi influence on them. It is these elements that Al Qaeda has been targeting for recruitment. A saving grace is thatthe US intelligence has a better awareness than the British of the dangers that could arise from its population of Pakistani origin and hasbeen keeping a tight watch on them. The British are paying a heavy price for their negligence till now."

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

Saturday, January 17, 2009




There have been two audio messages disseminated by Al Qaeda calling for an armed jihad against Israel in support of the people of Gaza intheir fight against the Israelis. The call is for support to the people of Gaza and not to the Hamas with which Al Qaeda does not feelcomfortable.

2. The first message by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No.2 to Osama bin Laden, was issued on January 6,2009, and the second by bin Ladenhimself on January 14,2009. The first by Zawahiri is direct with virulent attacks not only on Israel, but also on Muslim rulers considered asapostate by Al Qaeda such as those of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen etc. In the past messages of Zawahiri, the name of Gen. (retd) PervezMusharraf of Pakistan used to figure among the alleged apostates, but the latest message of Zawahiri contains no reference to the presentrulers of Pakistan after the exit of Musharraf.

3.The message of bin Laden is less aggressive than that of Zawahiri and avoids references to individual leaders of the Islamic world. Whilethe message of Zawahiri criticises President-elect Barack Obama by name for his silence on the Israeli military strikes in Gaza, bin Laden'smessage does not criticise him by name. Its criticism is directed more at the outgoing Bush Administration than at the incoming ObamaAdministration.

4. bin Laden's message tries to project the Israeli military strikes in Gaza as intended to achieve the Israeli objectives before Bush laysdown office. Reading between the lines, one could see that bin Laden is saying that Israeli fears that the next Administration may not beable to back Israel in the same way as the Bush Administration did because of its expected preoccupation with the worsening economiccrisis in the US should account for the Israeli desire to achieve its aims in Gaza before Bush leaves office.

5. Both Zawahiri and bin Laden have told the Muslims of the world that holding anti-Israeli demonstrations alone would not be sufficient.They want the Muslims to wage a determined armed jihad against Israel in retaliation against its military strikes in Gaza. bin Laden talks ofthe need for jihad by individual Muslims as well as for collective jihad by the community as a whole.

6. Interestingly, bin Laden's message avoids any references to the ground situation in Iraq or Afghanistan. He refers to the defeat of theSoviet troops in Afghanistan by the jihadis in the 1980s and projects the current economic crisis in the US and the rest of the Western worldas the outcome of the determined jihad waged by the Muslims against them. In proof of his claim that the jihad has started having an impacton the West, he does not cite the results achieved by the jihadis in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, he refers to the severity of the economicmelt-down and cites remarks of Joseph Biden, the US Vice-President-elect, Alan Greenspan, former head of the US Federal Reserve, andother Western leaders.

7. The fact that he is constrained to quote from Western leaders to convince the Muslims that the jihadis are winning shows that there isapparent skepticism in sections of the Ummah whether the jihad is really benefiting the Muslims.He quotes from Western statements in anattempt to remove this skepticism.

8. The message of bin Laden does not speak of a man with the same elan as bin Laden, the author of the past messages. His unusual appealto rich Muslims for contributions to help the peope of Gaza speaks of a possible decline in the flow of funds for the global jihad.

9. The two messages do not contain references----direct or indirect--- to the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 26 to 29,2008. bin Laden'smessage has a reference in passing to the allegedly oppressed people of Kashmir. Apart from that it has no reference to India or itsMuslims. Zawahiri's message contains an appeal to the Muslims of a number of countries, including Pakistan, to wage a jihad against Israel,but his appeal is not addressed to the Muslims of India.

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2009



Despite differences over strategies and tactics in the fight against global jihadi terrorism, there is a convergence of views between theoutgoing administration of President George Bush and the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama as to what should bethe ultimate objective of the US war against global terrorism.

2. They are both agreed that the ultimate objective should be to prevent another 9/11 in the US homeland by Al Qaeda and an act ofcatastrophic terrorism involving either the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) material or devastating attacks on the criticalinfrastructure.

3. In their view, of all the terrorist organisations operating from the Pakistani territory, only Al Qaeda has the capability for launching another9/11 in the US homeland and for organising an act of catastrophic terrorism. Hence, the first priority of the Bush administration was to thewar against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, its ideological ally. This priority will continue under Obama too. During the election campaign,Obama's criticism of the policies of Bush was not because of the focus on the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, but because of what helooked upon as the inadequacy of that focus as illustrated by the perceived failure of the Bush administration to have Osama bin Laden andhis No.2 Ayman Al-Zawahiri killed or captured and the sanctuaries of Al Qaeda in the Pakistani tribal belt destroyed.

4. He attributed the inadequacy of that focus and the failure of the Bush Administration to destroy or even seriously weaken Al Qaeda towhat he looked upon as the unnecessary US involvement in Iraq, which took resources and attention away from the war against Al Qaeda inthe Pakistan-Afghanistan region. According to him, the real threat to the US homeland comes from the Pakistan-Afghanistan region and notfrom Iraq and hence there should have been no diversion of the attention and resources from there. He said during the election campaign:"We are fighting on the wrong battlefield. The terrorists who attacked us and who continue to plot against us are resurgent in the hillsbetween Afghanistan and Pakistan. They should have been our focus then. They must be our focus now.” In a speech at the Wilson Centre inWashington DC on August 1,2007, he said: “When I am President, we will wage the war that has to be won…The first step must be getting offthe wrong battlefield in Iraq, and taking the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

5.Anoher point on which there has been a convegence between the views of the two is over th importance of Pakistan in the war againstglobal terrorism. Both feel that the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban cannot be won without th co-operation of Pakistan, which,essentially means the Pakistani Army. Obama said during the campaign: "Success in Afghanistan requires action in Pakistan. While Pakistanhas made some contributions by bringing some al Qaeda operatives to justice, the Pakistani government has not done nearly enough to limitextremist activity in the country and to help stabilize Afghanistan. I have supported aid to Pakistan in the Senate and ... I would continuesubstantial military aid if Pakistan takes action to root out the terrorists." He also said when Pervez Musharraf was still the President: “If wehave actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will. I firmly believe that if we know thewhereabouts of bin Laden and his deputies and we have exhausted all other options, we must take them out.”

6. His proclaimed determination to act unilaterally against high-value targets of Al Qaeda in Pakistani territory is no different from the policypursued by the Bush Administration in the last year of its presidency. Unmanned Predator aircraft of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)carried out over 30 strikes on suspected hide-outs of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistani territory during 2008 as against 10 in 2006 and2007. These strikes were carried out despite protests by the Pakistan Government and Army and resulted in the deaths of eight middle-levelArab operatives of Al Qaeda and Rashid Rauf, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, who was related by marriage to Maulana Masood Azhar, theAmir of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM).

7. Even if Obama wants the CIA to further step up its Predator attacks, their effectiveness would depend on a further improvement in theflow of human and technical intelligence. Obama has avoided specific pronouncements on his willingness to order land-based strikes on thesanctuaries of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistani territory. Under the Bush administration, the US special forces did try a land-basedstrike in South Waziristan in September,2008, which was not successful. It did not launch any more land-based strikes following a furore inPakistan. While the Asif Ali Zardari Government is avoiding any action to resist the Predator strikes despite its open condemnation of them,there seems to be a fear in Washington that if the US continues to undertake land-based strikes, public pressure could force the PakistanGovernment and the Army to resist them resulting in an undesirable confrontation between the armies of the two countries.

8. Obama is likely to face the same dilemma as Bush faced. The sporadic successes of the Predator strikes alone will not be able toeffectively destroy the terrorist infrastructure of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistani territory. To be effective, land-based strikes wouldalso be necessary. However, the political consequences of repeated land-based strikes would be unpredictable. There is alreadyconsiderable anger in the tribal belt against the Pakisan army for co-operating----even half-heartedly--- with the US in its war against AlQaeda and the Taliban. How to make up for this unsatisfactory co-operation by the Pakistan Army by stepping up unilateral US covertactions in the Pakistani territory without adding to the public anger against the Zardari Government? That is a question to which theadvisers of Bush were not able to come up with a satisfactory answer. Even the advisers of Obama do not seem to have an answer to this sofar.

9. A recommendation of Gen.David Petraeus, the Commander of the US Central Command, to induct another 30,000 US troops intoAfghanistan in the coming months to counter the activities of the Taliban has already been approved by Bush. This decision has the supportof Obama. But, more troops alone to step up the operations against the Afghan Taliban in Afghan territory would not serve the purposeunless accompanied by action to choke the supplies of men and material from the sanctuaries of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Pakistaniterritory and the flow of funds from the once again flourishing heroin trade in Afghanistan.

10. No terrorist organisation in Pakistan can exist without State complicity if not sponsorship, sanctuaries and funds. Not only Al Qaeda andthe Taliban, but also the largely Punjabi terrorist organisations of Pakistan operating against India in Indian territory enjoy these threeessential elements of survival in Pakistan.A ground reality not realised in Washington DC is that all the jihadi terrorist organisations basedin Pakistan make available to each other the use of their hide-outs, sanctuaries and training centres. One recently saw the instance ofRashid Rauf of the JEM being killed in a Predator strike on an Al Qaeda hide-out. There have been reports in the Pakistan media of twoPunjabi terrorists belonging to what they have described as the Punjabi Taliban being killed in a Predator attack on an Al Qaeda vehicle inSouth Waziristan on January 1,2009. The Predator strike targeted and killed Osama al-Kini alias Fahid Mohammad Ally Masalam, describedas responsible for Al Qaeda operations in Pakistan including the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on September 21,2008, and hisNo. 2 Sheik Ahmed Salim Swedan. Both were Kenyan nationals. In addition to the two of them, the Predator strike also reportedly killed twomembers of the JEM, who were also in the same vehicle. One would recall that in March,2002, Abu Zubaidah, the Palestinian member of AlQaeda, was caught in a hide-out of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in Faislabad in Pakistani Punjab.

11. From such instances, it should be clear that one cannot make a distinction between sanctuaries of Al Qaeda, those of the Taliban andthose of the anti-India organisations. All sanctuaries have to be attacked and destroyed irrespective of to which organisation theybelonged. The Bush Administration was not prepared to follow such a clear-cut policy and tried to make an operational distinction betweenanti-US terrorism and anti-Indian terrorism. Pakistan fully exploited this ambivalence.

12. From the various statements of Obama and his advisers, there is not much reason for India to hope that this ambivalence woulddisappear under him. The double standards vis--vis anti-US and anti-India terrorism, which have been the defining characteristics of UScounter-terrorism policies since 1981, will continue to come to the rescue of Pakistan. It would be futile for India to expect any majorchange under Obama. We should deal with the terrorism against our nationals and interests emanating from Pakistani territory in our ownway, through our own means and on our own terms. So far as India's fight against terrorism is concerned, the advent of Obama as the nextPresident of the US is not going to make any major difference.

13. At the same time, even if he succeeds in damaging if not destroying the capabilities of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, India will have somebeneficial fall-out, but it will not be the end of Pakistani use of terrorism against India. We should wish him well and help him in whateverway we can professionally without accepting any political interference by the US in matters such as Jammu & Kashmir and India's presencein Afghanistan. We should not accept any US overlordship in the region under the pretext of a regional approach to the problem ofterrorism.(15-1-09)

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2009




In an audio message, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No.2 to Osama bin Laden in Al Qaeda, has strongly criticised the Israeli military strikes againstthe jihadi terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas in Gaza and President-elect Barack Obama for his silence on the Israeli strikes in Gaza.

2. He has told the Muslims of the world that just holding protest demonstrations against the Israeli strikes in Gaza would not be enough andcalled for attacks on Israeli interests all over the world.

3. He has said in his message: " My message is to Muslims everywhere. I say to them. This is Obama, whom the American machinery of liesattempted to portray before the world as the deliverer, who would change the policy of the US. He is killing your brothers and sisters in Gazawithout any mercy or compassion. I say to the enraged Muslim masses that set out to protest all over the Islamic world that thesedemonstrations will surely be not enough to confront their bombs--- but our Islamic rage should turn into effective and active actions thatwill shake the corners of the Zionist-Christian alliance with the help of Allah and His strength. O Muslims everywhere, give your response tothe call of Almighty Allah and perform the duty of individual jihad....O Muslims everywhere, fight against the Zionist-Christian campaign andstrike its interests wherever you encounter them."

4. While the message is addressed to Muslims all over the world, it mentions by name the Muslims of North Africa, Somalia,Egypt, SaudiArabia, Syria, Yemen,Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Chechnya in Russia.

5. Even though the appeal does not specifically mention the Muslims of India, it would be advisable to strengthen physical security forIsraeli nationals, interests and diplomatic and consular missions in India keeping in view the attack on Israeli nationals and other Jewishpersons by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Pakistani terrorist organisation, during its terrorist strike in Mumbai from November 26 to29,2008. In his confession before the US military tribunal in the Guantanamo Bay, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who is alleged to haveorchestrated the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, had reportedly stated that Al Qaeda had wanted to attack the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi.

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




(This is an elaboration of some points made extempore by me in continuation of my paper on terrorism at the Regional Outlook 2009 Forumof the Institute of South-East Asian Studies, Singapore, on January 7,2009. The paper is available at )

"Terrorists are increasingly technology-savvy, but not technology-slavish. They do not hesitate to revert to old technologies and oldinstruments of destruction if they find that security agencies, in their preoccupation with countering the use of new technologies and newinstruments by the terrorists, relax their vigilance against the possible re-use of old technologies and old instruments by them."
--------Extract from my article dated 17-2-2000 titled TERRORISM: THE TECHNOLOGICAL IMPERATIVE available at

In the terrorist attack by 10 Pakistani terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) at Mumbai from November 26 to 29, 2008, there were 163fatalities. Five of these fatalities were caused by explosives and the remaining 158 by hand-held weapons (assault rifles andhand-grenades).

2. There had been commando-style attacks with hand-held weapons by terrorists in the Indian territory even in the past---in Punjab by theKhalistani terrorists in the 1980s and the early 1990s, in Jammu & Kashmir by the Kashmiri and Pakistani terrorists since 1989 and inother parts of the country by the jihadi terrorists from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well as by the Maoists from Central India. However,attacks with hand-held weapons by the jihadi terrorists in the Indian territory outside J&K were mainly against armed static guards of thesecurity forces outside imporant establishments. Examples: The attack on the Indian Parliament House at New Delhi in December,2001, theattack on the police guards outside the US Consulate in Kolkata in January,2002, the attack on the guards outside an important Hindutemple at Ahmedabad in September 2002, the attack on a training centre of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)at Rampur in UttarPradesh in the early morning hours of January 1,2008 etc.

3. For attacks on unguarded soft targets in public places, the jihadi terrorists had mostly preferred timed or remotly-controlled improvisedexplosive devices (IEDs). After the Rampur attack, jihadi terrorists from a group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen (IM) had carried outattacks on soft targets in Jaipur (May), Bangalore (July), Ahmedabad (July) and Delhi ( September). All these involved timed IEDs. There wasone minor attack with a rifle by a terrorist of the LET on the participants in a conference of scientists at Bangalore in December,2005, killingone participant. The terrorist managed to escape to Pakistan.

4. The Mumbai attack of November 26 to 29,2008, was the first act of mass casualty terrorism by the jihadi terrorists against innocentcivilians using hand-held weapons. The previous two acts of mass casualty terrorism with fatalities of more than 150 were carried out withtimed IEDs ----- in March 1993 and in July 2006, both in Mumbai.

5. The increasing use of IEDs by the terrorists since 9/11 had led to strict anti-explosive checks even by private establishments such ashotels, company offices etc. The killing with IEDs tends to be indiscriminate with no way of pre-determining who should be killed.Moreover,the publicity earned from IED attacks tends to be of short duration--- hardly of one or two hours. As was seen during the attack on theParliament House, the visual impact of TV-transmitted images of attacks with hand-held weapons as they are taking place tends to be moredramatic. In an attack with hand-held weapons, the terrorists can pre-determine whom they want to die and kill with precision.

6. In Mumbai, 72 people were killed in the terrorist attacks in two hotels and in the Nariman House where a Jewish religious-cum-culturalcentre is located and 86 innocent civilians in public places such as the main railway terminus through which an estimated 2.8 millionpassengers pass daily, a hospital, a cafe etc. The attacks in the public places by two terrorists on the move lasted less than an hour, butcaused more fatalities. The static armed confrontation in the hotels and the Nariman House lasted about 60 hours, but caused lessfatalities. In terms of publicity, the static armed confrontation got the terrorists more publicity than the attacks by the two terrorists on themove in public places. By the time TV , radio and other media crew came to know what was happenuing in the public places and rushed there, the attacks were already over. There was hardly any live coverage. The only live visuals were from the closed circuit TV camerasinstalled at the railway station. In the hotels and the Nariman House, the media crew were able to provide a live coverage of almost theentire confrontation.

7. Within a few hours of the start of the confrontation, the security staff of the hotels reportedly switched off the cable transmissions to therooms. The terrorists were, therefore, not in a position to watch on the TV what was happening outside, but their mobile communicationsenabled them to get updates on the deployments of the security forces outside from their controllers in Pakistan who, like the rest of theworld, were able to watch on their TV what was happening outside. This could have been prevented only by jamming all mobile telephones.Such jamming could have proved to be counter-productive. It would have prevented the terrorists from getting guidance and updates fromtheir controllers in Pakistan. At the same time, it might have prevented the security agencies from assessing the mood and intentions of theterrorists and could have come in the way of any communications with the terrorists if the security agencies wanted to keep them engagedin a conversation till they were ready to raid.

8. The Mumbai attack poses the following questions for examination by all the security agencies of the world:

Presently, the security set-ups of private establishments have security gadgets such as door-frame metal detectors, anti-explosive devices, closed-circuit TV etc, but they do not have armed guards. It would not be possible for the police to provide armed guards to all private establishments. How to strengthen the physical security of vulnerable private establishments and protect them from forced intrusions by terrorists wielding hand-held weapons?

What kind of media control will be necessary and feasible in situations of the type witnessed in Mumbai? This question had also figured after the Black September terrorist attack on Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics of 1972. Since then, the position has become more complex and difficult due to the mushrooming of private TV channels and private FM radio stations.

How to ensure that mobile telephones do not unwittingly become a facilitator of on-going terrorist strikes without creating operational handicaps for the security agencies? The Israelis, who have taken military action against the Hamas in Gaza, have severely curtailed media access to Gaza. The Hamas has sought to overcome this by having visuals of the fighting transmitted to foreign TV channels through mobiles. Copy-cats of this are likely in future.

9. The LET terrorists, who attacked Mumbai, had a three-point agenda:

An anti-Indian agenda to create fears in the minds of foreign businessmen about the security of life and property in India and in the minds of the Indian public about the competence of the Indian security agencies to protect them.
An anti-Israeli and an anti-Jewish agenda whose objectives coincided with those of Al Qaeda.

An anti-US agenda and an anti-NATO agenda, whose objectives coincided with those of Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban. Of the 25 foreigners killed, nine were either Israelis or Jewish persons, 12 were from countries which have contributed troops to the NATO force in Afghanistan and four were from other countries. Nationals of European countries, which are not participating in the war against terrorism in Afghasnistan, were not targeted.

10. All these agendas coincide with the agenda of the global jihad as waged by the International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad Against theCrusaders and the Jewish People formed by Al Qaeda in 1998. From 1998 till April 2006, Osama bin Laden projected the global jihad asdirected against the Crusaders (Christians) and the Jewish people. In an audio message disseminated by him in April,2006, after the visit ofPresident George Bush to India, he expanded the objectives of the global jihad and projected it as directed against the Crusaders, theJewish People and the Hindus. The Mumbai attack targeted these three proclaimed adversaries of the IIF, of which the LET is a member.

11. Since 2003, there have been indications that following a weakening of the command and control of Al Qaeda because of the US militaryoperations in Afghanistan, the LET had started playing the role of a standby co-ordinator of the IIF on behalf of Al Qaeda. The Mumbaiattack brought out the increased capabilities of the LET for the planning and execution of simultaneous commando-style attacks againstmultiple targets. The LET now poses a serious threat not only to India as it was doing in the past, but to other countries as well. It is a newand major threat to international peace and security which has to be fought by the united efforts of the international community.

12. The last point I want to highlight is about the role of Pakistan. Since the terrorist attack lasted 60 hours and the lives of the nationals ofmany countries were in danger, the intelligence agencies of India, Israel, the US and the UK ----and possibly of other countries too---- weremonitoring through technical means the conversations of the terrorists holed up in the two hotels and in the Jewish centre with each otherand with their controllers in Pakistan. Thus, a substantial volume of independent technical intelligence exists--- collected by the intelligenceagencies of these countries independently of each other.

13. All this independent evidence clearly shows that the terrorist attack was mounted by the LET from the Pakistani territory with the helpof 10 Pakistanis specially recruited and trained for this operation in training camps in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and then in Karachi. Onthe basis of the evidence gathered by the Indian investigators and shared by the intelligence agencies of other countries with India, theGovernment of India has demanded three things from Pakistan: firstly, the arrest and handing over to India for interrogation and prosecutionof the Pakistan-based ring leaders of the conspiracy as named by Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only surviving perpetrator, who was caught by theMumbai police; secondly, the arrest and handing over to India of 20 other accused in terrorism related cases pending before Indian courtswho have been given shelter in Pakistan; and thirdly, the dismantling of the Pakistan-based terrorist infrastructure of the LET.

14. As other Pakistani Governments had done in the past, the present Government headed by President Asif Ali Zardari too has refused toextend mutual legal assistance to India as required by the conventions followed by the Interpol and by the UN Security Council ResolutionNo.1373 adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly after the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US. It first even denied that the terroristcaptured by the Mumbai Police is a Pakistani national despite Kasab's father identifying him as his son in an interview to the "Dawn", theprestigious daily of Karachi. Under mounting pressure from the US, it has now reluctantly admitted that he is a Pakistani national, butcontinues to question the credibility of the evidence collected by India. It has made clear that there is no question of handing over anyPakistani national to India for trial .

15. Since Pakistan became independent in 1947, it has never handed over to India any Muslim----Pakistani or Indian--- who had committed anoffence in Indian territory----whether the offence is terrorism or theft or robbery or rape or child sex or narcotics smuggling or any otheroffence. The attitude of non-cooperation adopted by the present Government should not, therefore, be a matter of surprise.

16. The international community should not allow Pakistan to get away with its brazen defiance of all international conventions relating to action against terrorists. If it manages to do so due to the reluctance of the international community to act against Pakistan, this won'tbode well for the success of the war against terrorism. (13-1-09)

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

Sunday, January 11, 2009



Forty-five days after the Mumbai terrorist strike of November 26 to 29,2008, India has failed to convince large sections of the internationalcommunity that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had orchestrated the terrorist strike in Mumbai by 10 terrorists of theLashkar-e-Toiba (LET). That is my conclusion after interactions with a wide spectrum of foreign counter-terrorism experts----governmental aswell as non-governmental.

2. The experts of the various countries whose nationals died at the hands of the terrorists are convinced on the basis of their ownsubstantial independent technical intelligence that the terrorist attack was carried out by 10 Pakistani nationals belonging to the LET, whocame to Mumbai by boat from Karachi for carrying out the strike. They are also convinced on the basis of the voluminous evidence in theirarchives about the privileged relationship between the ISI and the LET. But they claim not to have seen any conclusive evidence so far toshow that the ISI----or at least its present leadership---- had orchestrated the Mumbai terrorist attack. A question, which they pose, which islogical and compelling, is whether the terrorists would have killed nationals of the US, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Canada and Australiaif they had been deputed by the ISI to indulge in the carnage.

3. Some of these experts, who were earlier convinced of the ISI hand behind the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul in the first week ofJuly, 2008, when Lt.Gen.Nadeem Taj, the present Corps Commander at Gujranwala, was the ISI Director-General, are prepared to allow forthe possibility that Lt.Gen.Taj, before he was removed from the ISI on September 30,2008, allegedly under US pressure by Gen.PervezAshfaq Kayani, Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), might have also planned the Mumbai attack by the LET and got its cadres chosenfor the attack trained. In this connection, it is significant that Ajmal Amir, the Pakistani in the custody of the Mumbai Police, had reportedlystated during his interrogation that the attack was planned for September 26, but was postponed. These experts point out that Taj was stillthe DG of the ISI on September 26.

4. The Americans had allegedly got Taj removed because of their conviction that his was the brain behind the Kabul attack and that Taj,who has a reputation of being rabidly anti-Indian and anti-US, had leaked out some information shared by the Americans with him to theTaliban. It was generally presumed till now on the basis of some past reports in sections of the Pakistani media about Taj being related toGen.(retd) Pervez Musharraf that he must be a Mohajir, but some Western experts claim that he is actually a Punjabi-speaking Kashmiri. Ifthis is so, in its history the ISI had been headed by Punjabi-speaking Kashmiris twice. The earlier Kashmiri DG of the ISI was Lt.Gen.(retd)Javed Nasir, who headed the ISI during Nawaz Sharif's first tenure as the Prime Minister (1990-93). The Mumbai blasts of March,1993,were orchestrated by him. He was removed by Sharif from the ISI under US pressure because of his perceived non-cooperation in the USattempts to buy back the unused Stinger missiles from the Afghan Mujahideen. It was during his tenure that the Bill Clinton Administrationhad declared Pakistan as a suspected State-sponsor of terrorism. This designation was removed after six months after Sharif had removedfrom the ISI Nasir and some other officers disliked by the US.

5. While thus some American experts have an open mind on the possibility of the involvement of Taj in the Mumbai carnage, they areprepared to give the benefit of doubt to Lt.Gen.Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who has been the DG of the ISI since September 30,2008. He enjoys agood reputation in the West as a balanced person, who would not indulge in this type of operation, particularly when it is partly directedagainst Western nationals and Jewish civilians.

6. Every country, whose nationals died during the terrorist attack, has been making a detailed analysis of why its nationals were targetedand killed. For example, in addition to the Israelis and the nationals of the countries mentioned above, the terrorists also killed the nationalsof three countries in South-East Asia. One of them was a Chinese woman from Singapore. According to one version that one heard inSingapore, the terrorists forced her to ring up her Foreign Office in Singapore and request it to urge the Government of India not to send thesecurity forces into the hotels. According to the version prevalent in Singapore, when the Singapore Foreign Office refused to intercede inthis matter, the terrorists shot her dead. Why did they do so? What is the reason for their apparent anger against Singapore? This is aquestion, which kept propping up.

7. Apart from the way the attack was planned and executed, the most significant aspect of the attack was the targeting of foreignnationals----particularly the cream of the foreign business community who frequent these hotels. It was because of this that the technicalintelligence agencies of the Western countries diverted all their capabilities to cover the conversations between the terrorists and theirhandlers in Pakistan. It is said that the US moved one of its communication satellites over Mumbai during the 60 hours that the drama lastedin order to cover these conversations.

8. After the drama was over and the National Security Guards (NSGs) had rescued the surviving hostages, the Western countries had alltheir surviving nationals quietly flown to Europe where they were thoroughly debriefed by special teams from their intelligence agencies. Itis said that the French even sent a special plane for evacuating the French and other Western survivors from Mumbai to Paris. Westernexperts are surprised that neither the Mumbai Police nor the central intelligence agencies showed interest in detaining the survivingforeign hostages in India in order to debrief them thoroughly. If they had done so, the details collected by them would have formed animportant part of the dossier prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs and disseminated to foreign Governments. It is said that such details,which could have been obtained by debriefing the foreign survivors, hardly figure in the dossier.

9. According to foreign experts, the Mumbai Police and the central intelligence agencies were so excited by the capture alive of one of thePakistani perpetrators that they seem to have devoted all their attention to interrogating him and getting as many details as possible, whichcould help them to fix Pakistan. They complain that other important aspects which might have helped them in reconstructing the terroristattack, drawing the right lessons from it and preventing a repetition of similar attacks in future have not received much attention.

10. Pakistan's argument that the Government of India has been trying to divert attention from the colossal failure of its counter-terrorismmachinery in Mumbai by focussing on the alleged involvement of the ISI has started having some takers abroad due to the unprofessionalmanner in which the sequel to the terrorist strike has been handled by the Govt.of India. It is important to hold Pakistan accountable for using terrorism against India through concrete evidence. At the same time, it is equally important to identify the deficiencioes in ourcounter-terrorism machinery and act quickly to remove them. This is not being done.

11. The Mumbai carnage has caused great concern in the Western countries for two reasons. Firstly, the jihadi terrorists in India, who had inthe past showed an increasing preference for explosives over hand-held weapons, have gone back to hand-held weapons for attackingprivate establishments such as hotels, which have anti-explosive checks, but no armed guards to foil an attack with hand-held weapons. Ofthe 163 fatalities in Mumbai, only five were reportedly caused by explosives. The remaining 158 were caused by hand-held weapons (assaultrifles and hand-grenades). This trend of the jihadi terrorists going back to hand-held weapons was first noticed in the Anbar province of Iraqafter 1993 when Al Qaeda killed a number of Americans and others with hand-held weapons. It was noticed in Pakistan in 2007. When thejihadis failed to kill Benazir Bhutto with an explosive device at Karachi in October,2007, they used a mix of a hand-held weapon and anexplosive to successfuly kill her at Rawalpindi on December 27,2007. This trend was noticed in Afghanistan in 2008. While there wasreportedly an one-third increase in the use of explosive devices in Afghanistan, there was a simultaneous increase in the use of hand-heldweapons for precision killings. This trend has now spread to the Indian territory outside Jammu & Kashmir.

12. Secondly, many Western experts feel that there was an Al Qaeda hand in the planning and execution of the Mumbai attack and that suchprecision planning and execution would not have been possible without the involvement of some local Muslims. While Indian experts havebeen able to quantify reasonably well the threat which they would continue to face in J&K, they have not been able to quantify in a similar manner the threat from sections of the Indian Muslim youth outside J&K because of a fear in political circles that such an exercise forquantification might have an adverse effect on the Muslim votes in the forthcoming parliamentary elections..

13. US Congressional committees and professional counter-terrorism organisations in the West are already examining the details of theMumbai carnage in order to draw lessons for themselves and to prevent a Mumbai-style attack in their country. Surprisingly, such anexercise is hardly to be seen in India. All the debate till now has been on what are the options against Pakistan. There has hardly been anypublic debate on what are the options against the terrorists in order to prevent another major attack. ( 12-1-09)

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



(Following are some more questions from its readers forwarded to me by "India Today", the weekly published from New Delhi, and my answers to them. These are available at its web site at

Question No.1: Do you see any difference between the RAW and the Mossad?

A:MOSSAD is an intelligence collection as well as an action-oriented agency. The ISI of Pakistan is somewhat like the MOSSAD. From 1968 till 1997, the R&AW too used to be like the MOSSAD. In 1997, as an unilateral gesture to Pakistan, Inder Gujral ordered that the R&AW's Covert Action division should be wound up. Many senior officers represented to Gujral that if he wanted to show a gesture to Pakistan, he could suspend its covert operations for a while and see whether Pakistan reciprocates. If it did not, they could be resumed. They strongly advised him against winding up the division. They pointed out that it took about 29 years to develop the division. If it was just wound up and if a future Prime Minister wanted to re-start it, it would take him at least two or three years. He was adamant and refused to re-consider his decision. When A.B.Vajpayee became the Prime Minister in 1998, the R&AW officers were hoping that he would approve the re-starting of the division. But, surprisingly, he took the same line as Gujral and believed that a unilateral gesture to Pakistan was necessary, He declined to reverse the decision of Gujral. Since 1997, the R&AW is therefore a purely intelligence-collection agency like the MI6, the British external intelligence agency. When Ariel Sharon was the Israeli Prime Minister, the charter of the MOSSAD was revised to give the highest priority to the collection of terrorism-related intelligence. About two-thirds of MOSSAD's budget goes towards the collection of terrorism-related intelligence and only one-third towards the collection of political, economic and military intelligence about Israel's adversary States such as Iran and Syria. It is estimated that only about 25 per cent of the R&AW's budget goes towards the collection of terrorism-related intelligence. The remaining 75 per cent is spent on political, economic and military intelligence about India's neighbours and State adversaries.

QUESTION NO.2: How can we fight with terrorism when we have so many MPs with criminal background?

A: You are right. The number of political leaders with a criminal background or with contacts with the mafia world is quite high in India as compared to other democracies. During the investigation into the Mumbai blasts of March,1993, which were orchestrated by Dawood Ibrahim, it came out that sometimes Dawood's men, during their visits to Delhi, used to stay in the servants’ quarters of a senior Minister in the Cabinet of Narasimha Rao. On one occasion, when the servants’ quarters were not available, the Personal Assistant of the Minister had put up a member of Dawood's gang in the guest house of a public sector company. This was brought to the notice of Narasimha Rao. One does not know how many political leaders have contacts with terrorists and give them shelter. When some of our own political leaders give shelter to mafia gangsters and terrorists, our protests to Pakistan over its giving shelter do not carry conviction. No Prime Minister has tackled this issue seriously.

Question No.3: Why did the NSG commandoes take so much time to kill only four terrorists in the Taj hotel in Mumbai?

A.There were about 600 persons staying in the Taj Hotel or eating in the restaurants there at the time the terrorists forced their way in and took them hostages. Only 31 of them died either as a result of the terrorists' action or in the exchange of fire between the terrorists and the NSG. In the Oberoi/Trident hotels there were about 400 people, of whom 32 died. Thus out of the about 1000 people in the two hotels, including the staff, 63 died and the remaining over 900 either managed to escape on their own or were rescued by the NSG. This is a creditable record. A special intervention force such as the NSG requires time to study the maps of the hotels, collect intelligence about the number of terrorists, their weapons, mood etc before they intervene. Some Western analysts criticised the NSG for being too slow. On the other hand, some Israeli analysts criticised them for being over-hasty. They felt that the NSG should have tried to buy time by engaging in a telephone conversation with the terrorists in an attempt to tire them out. The Israelis themselves on their own through intermediaries tried to engage the two terrorists in the Jewish centre in the Nariman House engaged in a telephone conversation. Unfortunately, the mobile telephone of the terrorists ran short of power and the conversation was cut off. I will not criticise the NSG for taking 60 hours. The most objective assessment of the performance of the NSG and the Police has come from Ami Pedazhur, a Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and the author of the forthcoming book "The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism," in an article contributed by him to the "New York Times " ( December 19,2008). Mr.Pedazhur wrote : "It is clear that the Indian security forces made some mistakes. However, mistakes are inherent in such crises. At the same time, given the complex nature of the attacks, it seems likely the death toll could have been much higher. After the initial confusion, the Indians seem to have done a thorough job of gathering intelligence and carefully planning their counterattacks. The execution itself was careful and thorough."

Question No.4: Why don't we empower the RAW to covertly sabotage the very structure of the ISI and render it powerless, thereby destroying the engine of the whole terror mechanism.

A.As an independent country, Pakistan has every right to have its own intelligence agency, We cannot question the right of Pakistan to have the ISI and give it a covert action capability. We should not target the ISI as an institution and its officers. We should target the covert action capabilities of the ISI and make them ineffective. Similarly, we should target the terrorist organisations and their leaders used by the ISI against us. We have not been doing this. Hence our problems.

Question No.5: Shouldn't our armed forces report directly to the President of the country instead of the political leaders sitting in the govt offices?

A.In our understandable anxiety to teach Pakistan a lesson for using terrorism against India, we should not let India become another Pakistan.The Prime Minister as the leader of the party directly elected by the people should have the political primacy over the Armed Forces and the security agencies which should obey his orders. For ceremonial purposes and for purposes of protocol, the indirectly elected President, in his capacity as the head of state, has a very limited role, but his role vis-a-vis the Armed Forces and the security agencies is not like the role of the President of the US, who is elected by an electoral college directly elected by the people. The relationship of the armed forces with the head of State and the head of Government as laid down by the founding fathers of the Indian Republic has served us well. We should not tinker with it.