Monday, July 26, 2010


Even if the US wants to leave Afghanistan in a hurry, it won't be able to.Afghanistan is not Vietnam. Al Qaeda is not Vietcong.Once the US decided to quit Vietnam,. Vietcong was happy & didn't chase them. It focussed on developing Vietnam. Al Qaeda and its jihadi hordes will chase them and keep killing more.Al Qaeda is a good terrorist organisation.It is not a good insurgent organisation. It cannot fight a guerilla warfare on the ground.If the Americans want to leave Afghanistan and live in peace in their homeland, their troops should enter North Waziristan, destroy Al Qaeda to the last Arab and Salafi and then leave.In Vietnam, the US fought a wrong war.In Afghanistan, it is fighting a right war the wrong way, B.Raman



According to Wikipedia, a 22-year-old US Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, was arrested by the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command in May 2010. Manning was detained without charge in a military jail at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.

2. To quote the Wikipedia: "In early July, he was faced with two charges of misconduct: "transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorised software to a classified computer system" and "communicating, transmitting and delivering national defence information to an unauthorised source". The maximum jail sentence is 52 years. Lieutenant Colonel Eric Bloom has said that "as part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the next step in proceedings would be an Article 32 Hearing, which is similar to a grand jury. An investigating officer will be appointed, and that officer looks into all facts of the matter, does an investigation, and upon conclusion, the findings will be presented to a convening court martial authority. The division commander will consider based on what is in that, what the next steps are. Either there is enough evidence or not enough evidence to proceed to a court-martial ... A date has not yet been set. We haven't even identified the investigating officer. We're still in the early stages of this case".

3. It added: "Manning allegedly told journalist and former hacker Adrian Lamo via instant messenging that he had leaked the "Collateral Murder" video (of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike), in addition to a video of the Granai airstrike and around 260,000 diplomatic cables, to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. Lamo handed the instant messenger chat logs to U.S. investigators, who began searching for evidence to determine whether Manning's apparent statements to Lamo were true. The "Collateral Murder" video showed an attack by a U.S. helicopter crew on a group of men presumed to be insurgents. Two children were wounded, and several men were killed, including the father of the children and two men who were later identified as Reuters employees. Manning reportedly said that the diplomatic documents expose "almost criminal political back dealings" and that they explain "how the first world exploits the third, in detail". He said that he hoped the release of the videos and documents would lead to "worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms". Manning reportedly wrote, "everywhere there’s a U.S. post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed." However, Wikileaks said "allegations that we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect".

4.On June 17, 2010, Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst working for the Rand Corporation during the Vietnam war, who had similarly leaked on grounds of conscience a large number of Pentagon papers about the Vietnam war, was interviewed by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales on the Democracy Now! TV and Radio show regarding the parallels between his actions and those of Bradley Manning.Ellsberg said that he feared for Manning and another person by name Julian Assange, as he feared for himself after the initial publication of the Pentagon Papers. He called them "two new heroes of mine".

5. Though Wikileaks, the whistleblowers' web site, may not admit it, there are strong grounds for suspecting that Bradley Manning must have been the source of the nearly 90,000 classified documents, mainly relating to the war in Afghanistan, which were uploaded by Wikileaks on its web site on July 25. It had allegedly made many of them available in advance to the "New York Times", the "Guardian" of the UK and "Der Spiegal" of Germany.

6.Senator John Kerry, the Chairman of of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is close to President Barack Obama, has been quoted by the British Broadcasting Corporation as saying that the leak came at a "critical stage" for US policy in the region. He added: "However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America's policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan."

7.How long will the US cover up the misdeeds of Pakistan against India in order to protect American lives and interests? How long will India keep silent on the US cover-up of Pakistani misdeeds in the long-term interests of the developing strategic relations between India and the US? For an Indian, these are the two questions which assume even greater importance than in the past as a result of the leakage. The leaked documents confirm three facts which were already known---firstly, the role of Pakistan in training and arming the Taliban; secondly, the role of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Taliban in organising a car bomb explosion through a suicide bomber outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul on July 7,2008, and thirdly, the attempts of the ISI to use the Taliban to have the Hamid Karzai Government in Afghanistan destabilised. Fifty-eight persons, including India's Defence attache Brigadier R D Mehta and Counsellor Venkateswara Rao, were killed when the suicide bomber targeted the Embassy during the morning rush hour.

8.The leaked documents also show that the Taliban has shoulder-fired, heat-seeking missiles which it had been using against NATO planes and helicopters. During the 1980s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had trained the Afghan Mujahideen in the use of Stinger missiles against Soviet aircraft. It had issued a large stock of these missiles to the ISI for being given to the Afghan Mujahideen. The ISI issued some to the Mujahideen, gave some to Iran and one to North Korea for re-engineering purposes and kept some for use by the Pakistan Army against India. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan, the CIA asked the ISI to buy back the unused Stinger missiles from the Afghan Mujahideen and return them to the CIA. The ISI evaded doing so. On coming to office in January 1993, President Bill Clinton forced Mr.Nawaz Sharif, the then Pakistani Prime Minister, to sack Lt.Gen.Javed Nasir, the then Director-General of the ISI, and some other senior officers who had avoided returning the unused Stinger missiles. Till Mr.Nawaz sacked them. Mr.Clinton had placed Pakistan on a so-called list of suspected State-sponsors of terrorism. In 1994, when the Taliban was formed by the ISI, some of the unused Stinger missiles were given to it. The leaked documents only mention in passing that the Taliban has shoulder-fired missiles without mentioning all these details as to how the Stinger missiles reached the Taliban.

9. This is one of many such instances of the ISI training and arming the Taliban, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and other terrorist organisations for using them to advance its strategic agenda in Afghanistan and India. It has been brazenly doing this because of its confidence that the US would not take any punitive action against it and that the Indian leadership and bureaucracy would not have the courage to act against it----either on the diplomatic or military front or through appropriate covert actions. The ISI did have some fears when Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao were Prime Ministers, but thereafter it lost all fears because of a succession of soft Prime Ministers we have had.

10. Will the revelations about Pakistan and the ISI in the documents leaked to Wikileaks lead at long last to Pakistan and its ISI being subjected to punitive action. I have serious doubts. After some strong statements, the US will hush up the matter once again and the Govt. of India will avoid pressing the US to act against Pakistan. It is a great national shame. ( 26-7-10)

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

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I keep getting messages enquiring about my health for which I am grateful. Following is an update on my health:

Since November 11,2009, I am under hormonal treatment for metastasised cancer of prostate origin. It seems to have started about four or five years earlier from the prostate and from there spread to the urinary bladder, a nearby bone and a lymph-node. It was detected late since the first external symptom (bleeding) appeared only on September 30,2009. The cancer is such that it cannot be cured, but can be contained. Till now, it has been responding positively to the treatment to contain it and I have learnt to peacefully co-exist with it. I have not allowed it to affect my normal life. I continue to be as active---physically and mentally--- as I have always been.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010



A team of investigators from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Govt. of India had been to the US in the beginning of June to question David Coleman Headley, an American citizen of Pakistani origin, who is presently awaiting sentence by a US federal court in Chicago on charges of conspiracy to blow up the office of a Danish newspaper in Copenhagen, which had published cartoons of Prophet Mohammad, and helping the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in carrying out its terrorist strikes in Mumbai from November 26 to 29,2008. According to the USA's Federal Bureau of Investigation, he had visited India a number of times to collect operational data such as details of the targets, possible landing points for the LET boat etc for use in the planning of the strikes. Headley had pleaded guilty to these charges and made a plea bargain with the FBI under which he admitted the charges against him in return for an assurance that he would not be sentenced to death. The court is still to pronounce its judgement on his plea bargain.

2. The NIA reportedly interrogated Headley in the presence of his lawyer and the case officer of the FBI. During his interrogation by the NIA team, he reportedly stated that Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and Navy had assisted the LET in the planning and execution of its sea-borne raid on Mumbai. He also mentioned the names of some ISI officers who were involved.

3. Headley's admission to the NIA team called for three follow-up actions by the Govt. of India:

* Request the US to exercise pressure on Pakistan to act against the officers named by Headley and co-operate with India in the further investigation. One does not know whether this was done.
* Share the information with the Ministry of Interior of the Government of Pakistan and request for investigation and prosecution of the officers involved. It has been reported that this request was made by Mr.P.Chidambaram, our Home Minister, to Mr.Rehman Malik, the Pakistani Interior Minister, whom he met at Islamabad on June 25 and 26 during a conference of SAARC Home/Interior Ministers. The media was not told about it at that time.
* Share the information with the Governments of countries other than the US whose nationals were killed by the LET and request them to exercise pressure on Pakistan to act against the officers named by Headley. One understands that this action has not so far been taken by the Govt. of India at any level.

4. A few days before the departure of Mr.S.M.Krishna, our Minister For External Affairs, to Islamabad for his July 15 meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Mr.Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Mr.G.K.Pillai, our Home Secretary, is alleged to have told a correspondent of the "Indian Express", New Delhi, about the admission made by Headley regarding the involvement of the ISI "from the beginning till the end." His disclosure to the media reportedly vitiated the atmosphere during and after the meeting of the two Foreign Ministers and created avoidable embarrassment for Mr.Krishna, who has expressed his disapproval of the action of Mr.Pillai in two interviews to Indian media on July 21. His objection seems to be to Mr.Pillai's prematurely disclosing it to the media before the Foreign Ministers' meeting, instead of waiting till the meeting was over.

5. Mr.Pillai's action raises two issues. Firstly, the professional wisdom of his action in disclosing to the media sensitive details of the interrogation of a conspirator when the facts relating to the ISI involvement are still under investigation. Secondly, the procedural appropriateness of his action in disclosing Headley's admission to the media without examining the diplomatic implications of his action in consultation with the Foreign Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary.

6. Interrogations of sensitive suspects give rise to the question whether what they have stated should be disclosed to the media before follow-up enquiries into their disclosure have been completed. In August 1994, the MHA told the media details of the ISI involvement in the Mumbai blasts of March 1993 as disclosed to Indian interrogators by some members of the Memon family of Mumbai, who had allegedly played an active role in helping Dawood Ibrahim in carrying out the blasts. When Narasimha Rao, the then Prime Minister, read about it in the media, he was very unhappy. At an inter-departmental meeting at which I was present, Rao told S.B.Chavan, the then Home Minister: "Dawood Ibrahim and the ISI must be frantically trying to find out what the Memon family members are telling their interrogators. We have made their job easy and helped them by disclosing these details of the interrogation to the media."

7. By disclosing details of Headley's interrogation by the NIA, have we similarly unwittingly helped the ISI and the LET to cover up their tracks? This is a very important question, which does not appear to have been addressed.

8. The Home Secretary's disclosure also has diplomatic implications. Firstly, the US would be unhappy that the details have been disclosed to the media at a time when their court is still to pronounce judgement on the plea bargain. Secondly, since there was a danger of its vitiating the atmosphere during the Foreign Ministers' meeting, if the Home Secretary strongly felt that the media should be informed even before the meeting, he should have referred the matter to the collective wisdom of the Secretaries' Committee instead of acting on his own. If the Secretaries' Committee agreed that the media sould be informed, the follow-up action should have been taken by the Foreign Secretary.

9.Previously, national security problems used to arise due to lack of coordination at the level of intelligence and physical security agencies. In the Government of Dr.Manmohan Singh, such problems are arising due to lack of co-ordination at much higher levels such as those of the Home Secretary, the Foreign Secretary, the Defence Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary. This dos not bode well for our national security management.

10. This episode does not speak well of the sense of propriety and professional leadership of Mr.Krishna. At the joint press conference at Islamabad, Mr.Krishna failed to rebuke the Pakistani Foreign Minister when he compared the Home Secretary's disclosure to the media to the instigatory statements of the Amir of the LET. Mr.Krishna is now trying to cover up his confused and over-awed silence on grounds of good manners. This is ridiculous.

11. His publicly blaming the Home Secretary in two media interviews is totally in violation of the rules of ministerial etiquette under which a Minister should not pull up his senior officers in public.Any rebuke must be administered in private and not in public. Mr.Krishna's unwise action mightl affect the stature of the Home Secretary in the eyes of his own staff. The correct thing for Mr.Krishna would have been to convey his unhappiness to Mr.Chidambaram and let him decide how to deal with the matter. Moreover, by publicly expressing his disapproval of the action of the Home Secretary, Mr.Krishna has enabled his Pakistani counterpart to justify his raising the issue of the Home Secretary's disclosure to the media in the obnoxious manner he did. (22-7-10)

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

Tuesday, July 20, 2010



On December 21,1988,Pan Am Flight 103 flying from London to New York was destroyed by a bomb, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew members. Eleven residents of Lockerbie in southern Scotland were also killed as large sections of the plane fell in and around the town.

2.Joint investigation by the Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary of Scotland and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation( FBI) established after three years that the bombing was carried out by two officers of the Libyan Intelligence, who were identified as Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, who was the security chief of the Libyan Arab Airlines (LAA), and Lamin Khalifah Fhimah, a Libyan intelligence officer working under cover as the station manager of LAA in the Malta airport. The US demanded in the UN Security Council that the two Libyan intelligence officers should be handed over to the Scottish authorities for trial in a neutral venue. On Libya's refusal, the UN Security Council, at the instance of the US, imposed sanctions against Libya. Under sustained international pressure, the Libyan Government handed over the two Libyan intelligence officers to the Scottish Police on April 5,1999. They were tried by a neutral court in Netherlands.

3.On January 31, 2001, Megrahi was convicted of murder by a panel of three Scottish judges and sentenced to 27 years in prison, but Fhimah was acquitted. Megrahi's appeal against his conviction was rejected on March 14, 2002, and his application to the European Court of Human Rights was declared inadmissible in July 2003. On September 23, 2003, he petitioned to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) for his conviction to be reviewed. On June 28, 2007 the SCCRC referred the case to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh after it found he "may have suffered a miscarriage of justice". He was released from prison on compassionate grounds on August 20, 2009 . It was stated that he was suffering from an incurable ailment He was allowed to return to Libya.

4.On August 15, 2003, Libya's UN Ambassador, Mr. Ahmed Own, informed the UN Security Council that Libya formally accepted "responsibility for the actions of its officials" in relation to the Lockerbie bombing. The Libyan Government paid a compensation of US$8 million to each family which had suffered because of the death of its member or members in the bombing. A sum of US$2.5 million per family was deducted from the compensation payment to reimburse to the Governments concerned the expenditure incurred by them on the investigation and prosecution of the case. The UN and US sanctions against Libya were removed.

5. This is the first instance in the history of counter-terrorism of a State-sponsor of terrorism being held legally accountable for the involvement of its intelligence officers in an act of terrorism abroad targeting innocent civilians. The successful prosecution and the payment of compensation had a salutary effect on the Libyan Government and it stopped sponsoring acts of terrorism through its intelligence agencies to achieve its strategic objectives.

6. The successful and exemplary denouement of the case was made possible by the sustained pressure by the US bilaterally as well as through the UN Security Council, public support for the families of the victims, vigorous activism by the families which did not allow Libya to get away with its criminal act, international support for the US and thorough investigation by the Scottish Police and the FBI.

7.Between November 26 and 29,2008, ten terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), a Pakistani terrorist organisation, organised a sea-borne raid on two five-star hotels, a restaurant, a Jewish cultural centre, a railway station and a hospital, among other places, in Mumbai. They brutally mowed down many passengers in the railway station, held the inmates of the hotel hostages for three days, killed innocent customers in the restaurant and brutally tortured and killed the inmates of the Jewish centre, including a pregnant Jewish woman.

8. By the time they were neutralised by the Indian security forces after three days, they had killed 166 persons--- 123 Indian civilians, 25 foreign civilians and 18 members of the security forces. Of the 25 foreign civilians, six were Israelis, three each were Americans and Germans, two each were Canadians and Australians, and one each were British, Belgian, Italian, French, Mauritian, Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai and Japanese.

9. The investigation by the Indian investigators revealed the involvement of officers of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and Army in helping the LET in mounting the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Independently,the FBI had arrested in the first week of October, 2009, David Coleman Headley, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, because intercepts of his telephone conversations and E-mails with persons in Pakistan showed that he was in touch with the LET and Ilyas Kashmiri of the 313 Brigade, both associates of Al Qaeda, and was trying to help them in planning and executing a terrorist strike on a Danish newspaper, which had in 2005 published some cartoons of Prophet Mohammad.

10. His interrogation after his arrest by FBI officers for eight months also revealed that he had helped the LET in mounting the sea-borne terrorist raid on Mumbai. For this purpose, he had visited India a number of times for taking video photography of suitable targets, for studying those targets, for selecting suitable landing points for the LET boat and for storing data on the glibal positioning system subsequently used by the LET. It also came out that in addition to Ilyas Kashmiri, who is a retired officer of the US-trained Special Services Group (SSG) of the Pakistan Army, which is a special force unit, Headley was in touch with other serving and retired officers of the Pakistan Army.

11. In June,2010, the FBI allowed a team of investigators of India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) to interrogate Headley in US custody in the presence of his lawyer and FBI officers. According to the NIA investigators, Headley confessed during his interrogation that the ISI and the Pakistan Navy had played an active role in helping the LET in getting its terrorists trained and in mounting the attack.

12. Thus, the Indian investigators have two types of evidence of the involvement of the ISI and the Pakistani Army----

* Evidence collected by Indian investigators in India on their own. Pakistan and the US can dismiss this evidence as not credible and as probably obtained through questionable methods such as torture of the witnesses and suspects.
* Evidence collected by the NIA team during their interrogation of Headley in the US. It has a very high value and cannot be dismissed as not credible. He was questioned in US and not Indian custody. Hence, the question of using improper methods does not arise. He was questioned in the presence of his lawyer and FBI officers. Hence, any question of the NIA team fabricating the confession does not arise.

13. If US claims of co-operating with India in counter-terrorism are correct and if its protestations of its determination to fight against terrorism wherever it takes place and whoever is involved are to be believed, one would have expected the US to initiate against the Pakistani officers involved and the Pakisani State the same action as it initiated against the Libyan intelligence officers and the State of Libya. It fought against Libya legally and in the UN Security Council for 13 years in order to have the Libyan intelligence officers convicted and to force Libya to pay compensation to the families of the victims. It imposed its own sanctions against Libya and had other sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council.

14. In a typical example of US double standards in counter-terrorism, the US, which was in the forefront of the international campaign to hold Libya accountable for the actions of its intelligence officers, has pushed the evidence against the ISI and its officers under the carpet as it had repeatedly done in the past and has been trying to see that no harm comes to Pakistan.Libya was punished----politically and economically--- for sponsoring terrorism against the US. Pakistan has been repeatedly rewarded---politically and economically despite evidence of the role of its ISI and Army in the sponsorship of terrorism against India.

15. Pakistan is able to get away with its criminal acts and the US is able to get away with its double standards, because we have a Government, which hesitates to raise vigorously such issues to protect our nationals and to maintain our national honour. Inactions by the US are shocking. Inactions by our own Government are equally shocking:

* Did we take up the case before the UN Security Council? No.
* Did we bring the evidence collected by us to the notice of the anti-terrorism committee of the UN Security Council and demand a debate and follow-up action? No.
* Did we bring the confession of Headley to the notice of the UN Security Council? No.
* Did we register an offence against the ISI and other Pakistani Army officers named by Headley and take up our own investigation? No.
* Did we convene a conference of the officials of the countries whose nationals were killed by the LET, share the evidence against the ISI with them and request them that they too should raise this matter in appropriate fora? No.
* Did we help the familes of the victims in mounting a campaign for the payment of compensation by Pakistan? No.

16. I have been saying and writing for many years that we should follow a two-pronged policy towards Pakistan---"Talk, talk, hit, hit" . Talk, if useful. Hit, if necessary. We have a Government which only wants to talk and does not want to hit.

17. The role of our opposition parties has been equally dismal. They were only interested in exploiting the terrorist strikes during the election campaign last year and for embarrassing the Congress party now. Beyond that, they have hardly done anything to see that justice was done. (21-7-10)

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

Monday, July 19, 2010



"The Iranian authorities have been projecting the Jundallah as a surrogate of the US intelligence operating from sanctuaries in Pakistani territory. They have been alleging that the periodic terrorist strikes in Iranian Balochistan are being mounted from Pakistani territory. While they accuse the Pakistani authorities of inaction against the anti-Iranian Sunni elements operating from Pakistani territory, they have never accused the Baloch nationalist organisations of Pakistani Balochistan of backing the Jundallah. They have been suspecting the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), the anti-Shia organisation of Pakistan which is allied with Al Qaeda, to be training the suicide bombers of the Jundallah. Some of the statements attributed to the Jundallah are disseminated from London. This has created some suspicion in the minds of the Iranian authorities that the UK is also probably backing the Jundallah in its anti-Teheran activities. The capture of the Amir of the Jundallah is a major blow to this organisation. With the two brothers who were the moving spirit of this organisation now in the custody of the Iranian authorities, the organisation has definitely suffered a set-back at least temporarily. But the anti-Shia and anti-Teheran anger in Sunni Sistan-Balochistan is so intense and so widespread that it is only a question of time before a new leadership emerges. Ant-Shia organisations of Pakistan such as the LEJ would also see that the anti-Shia movement in the Sunni majority frontier areas of Iran is kept alive."

------- Extract from my article of February 24,2010, titled " Iranian Intelligence Captures Anti-Tehran Baloch Sunni Leader"available at


Iranian satisfaction over the arrest and execution of Abdolmalek Rigi, the Amir of the Iranian Jundallah, and his brother, Abdolhamid Rigi,who were in the forefront of the resistance movement in Iranian Balochistan known as Sistan Balochistan, has proved short-lived. The resistance movement was partly Sunni extremist directed against the Shias in Iranian Balochistan and partly Baloch nationalist directed against the members of the Iranian security forces deployed in the province.

2. Abdolhamid Rigi was reportedly arrested by the Pakistani authorities in 2008 and handed over to the Iranian authorities. Abdolmalek Rigi was captured by the Iranian intelligence towards the end of February last as he was travelling by air from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan. The plane was forced to land in an Iranian airport and he was taken into custody. It was reported that information about his plan to travel by this flight was passed on to the Iranian authorities by the Pakistani Government. After the capture of its Amir by the Iranian intelligence, the Jundallah announced that Muhammad Dhahir Baluch would act as the Amir in his place.

3.The Iranian authorities executed Abdolhamid Rigi in May last and Abdolmalek Rigi in June last. The two brothers were accused, inter alia, of being mercenaries of the US and Israeli intelligence. The Jundallah warned of retaliation against the Iranian and the Pakistani authorities. The retaliation came promptly---- first from the Lashksar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) in Pakistan. On the night of July 1,2010, over 40 worshippers were killed in twin suicide blasts in a highly venerated sufi shrine of Lahore popularly known as Data Darbar. While there has been no authentic claim of responsibility for these blasts, the needle of suspicion pointed to its probably being an act of reprisal against the Pakistan Government by the Jundallah of Iranian Balochistan and the anti-Shia and anti-Iran Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) of Pakistan in retaliation for the suspected collaboration of Pakistan with Iran in the arrest of Abdolmalek Rigi.

4. The retaliation against the Iranian authorities came on July 15, the birth anniversary of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, when two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the time of the prayers in the Grand Mosque of Zahedan, the capital of the Sistan Balochistan province. Twenty-seven Shia worshippers, many of them officers of the Revolutionary Guards, were killed. A suspect dressed as a woman was stopped by the security authorities at the entrance for personal search. The person blew himself up. As people rushed to the area to help those injured, a second bomber blew himself up.

5.The Jundallah has claimed responsibility for the suicide explosions and has named the suicide bombers as Abdolbaset Rigi and Mohammad Rigi, both reportedly related to Abdolmalek Rigi. In a message sent to al-Arabiyya TV, Jundallah said it carried out the attacks to avenge the hanging of Abdolmalek Rigi. The Governor of the province, Mr. Ali Mohammad Azad, has blamed foreign intelligence services for the terrorist attack. He said in a statement: “It is obvious that the intelligence services of certain states and arrogant powers are behind the twin blasts outside the Zahedan Grand Mosque…. Enemies outside Iranian borders are making every effort to undermine Iran's security.”

6.President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reported to have alleged at a Cabinet meeting on July 18 that US forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan were backing bombings such as the two suicide attacks and that the Pakistani Government was also accountable. ISNA, the State-owned news agency, quoted him as having told the Cabinet as follows: “If (US President Barack) Obama is unaware of actions of American forces, then we tell him that American forces based in Afghanistan and Pakistan back such actions. NATO and US forces back terrorists with equipment and funds to launch such attacks in Iran.Despite this support, the US President sends a message of sympathy.Islamabad must also be held accountable for such actions. We are friends of Pakistan and we are by its side, but at any rate the Government of that country should be accountable.” Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani told the Parliament the same day that the Pakistan Government must be answerable for the presence of evil people in its territory. The Chairman of Iran's Parliament National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Mr. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said on July 17 that Pakistan must be answerable for sheltering terrorists."Terrorism needs to be confronted more seriously.Given the fact that Pakistan is terrorists' shelter, Pakistani officials must be held accountable for the issue." Without naming Pakistan specifically, Mr.Ahmadreza Radan, Iran's deputy police chief, has issued a tough warning to “neighbors on the eastern borders” of Iran. He said: “The Islamic Republic considers it its right to deal with insurgents who disappear into the other side of the border.,”

7. From these statements and warnings, it is evident that the Iranian authorities suspect that the new leadership of the Jundallah was also operating from the Pakistani territory and that the two suicide bombers had come from Pakistani territory. They seem to suspect that the Jundallah continues to have its volunteers trained for suicide terrorism in Pakistani territory. In the past, they had accused the Jundallah of having links with Al Qaeda, without mentioning specifically the LEJ, which is an associate of Al Qaeda. It is likely that the LEJ continues to train the Jundallah in its camps in North Waziristan. The fact that the Jundallah suicide bombers, after training, are able to cross into Sistan Balochistan without being detected by the Iranian border guards speaks of some local support on both sides of the Pakistan-Iran border.Zahedan, with an estimated population of 5,80,000, is located near the border and is easily susceptible to suicide attacks and hit and run raids across the border from Pakistani territory. Iranian authorities periodically warn Islamabad they would undertake hot pursuit and cross-border raids, but avoid carrying out the threats lest it spoil their state-to-state relations with Pakistan and lead to more anti-Shia incidents in Pakistan. Sunni extremist organisations of Pakistan such as the Sipah-e-Sahaba and the LEJ tend to attack the Shias of Pakistan to express their anger against Iran. They look upon the Shias of Pakistan as the fifth columnists of Iran.

8. It is difficult to assess what support the Jundallah has inside Sistan Balochistan. However, it is evident from a study of its strikes so far that while it is in a position to indulge in sporadic acts of terrorism, it is not in a position to organise a sustained insurgency which could endanger the Iranian position in the province. ( 20-7-10)

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

Friday, July 16, 2010



Remember Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, who was the Foreign Minister of Pakistan under Yahya Khan? Remember his antics, crude exhibitionism and unparliamentary remarks about Indira Gandhi in the months before the Indo-Pakistan war of December 1971? Remember the way he used to conduct himself in the UN Security Council when it debated the growing tension between India and Pakistan? Remember Benazir Bhutto, his daughter, who was the then Prime Minister,conducting herself hysterically in public in 1989? Remember her going to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, stand before a crowd near the Line of Control, face Indian territory and shout hysterically "azadi,azadi"? Remember the unparliamentary remarks which she used to make about Narasimha Rao, our then Prime Minister?

2. Indira Gandhi and Narasimha Rao ignored with contempt the behaviour of Z.A.Bhutto and Benazir and continued doing what they thought was necessary in India' national interest. We should similarly ignore with contempt the behaviour of Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Pakistani Foreign Minister, and his unparliamentary remarks about Mr.S.M.Krishna, our Foreign Minister, while briefing Pakistani media personnel on July 16 about his talks with our Foreign Minister the previous day.

3. The Government of India, Mr.Krishna himself and Mrs.Nirupama Rao, our Foreign Secretary, need to be complimented for conducting themselves with great personal dignity befitting us as a responsible and mature nation with a mature political leadership in power and for refusing to let themselves be provoked and react in kind against Mr.Qureshi. One of the objectives of Mr.Qureshi was to create doubts in the minds of the Indian public about the credibility and professional competence of Mr.Krishna. Another was to create a crisis atmosphere in the hope of thereby making the West and the Islamic world exercise pressure on India. The Bharatiya Janata Party and some of its leaders and spokesmen are unwittingly walking into the Pakistani trap by their campaign against Mr.Krishna at a time when the political class should stand united behind him.

4. When Z.A.Bhutto and his daughter indulged in anti-India antics and exhibitionism there was no global TV. We had to read about them in the print media and wait for the visuals which arrived days later. There were no live transmissions, no live debates. Only we in India followed closely the antics and exhibitionism of Z.A.Bhutto and Benazir? Most of the rest of the world did not. The international community did not have an idea of the kind of Foreign Minister or Prime Minister Pakistan had.

5. Things are different today. Thanks to the global TV networks, the whole world had an opportunity of watching alive the antics and exhibitionism of Mr.Qureshi and the measured and cultured response of Mr.Krishna and Mrs.Nirupama Rao.It will redound to our credit and make the international community understand----if it has not already understood it--- the kind of Pakistani leadership and the kind of Pakistani Muslim mentality we have to contend with.

6. India's negotiating stance of "action against anti-India terrorism first, rest later" and the growing international understanding of India's stance after 26/11 have unsettled Pakistan. Mr.Qureshi's antics and exhibitionism did not reflect any embarrassment or nervousness over the reported admissions of David Coleman Headley, the head of the sleeper cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri in Chicago, to Indian interrogators about the role of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the command and control of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai. Such embarrassments are flea-bites for Pakistan and its ISI.

7. Qureshi's antics and exhibitionism reflected his anger and petulance over his failure to bully Mr.Krishna and the Government of India into changing their negotiating stance and accepting the Pakistani position of "talk on all or talk on nothing" ---just as the antics and exhibitionism of Z.A.Bhutto and Benazir reflected their anger and petulance due to their failure to bully Indira Gandhi and Narasimha Rao into accepting the Pakistani viewpoint. We should ignore the antics and exhibitionism of Qureshi and look ahead.

8. What now are the options before India? The BJP has demanded that we call off the talks with Pakistan. This will be an unintelligent option. A time could come when have to act on our own against the anti-Indian terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory----either through direct military or through covert action. We have to convince the international community that we tried all other options to make Pakistan see reason and that only when those options failed, we were forced to resort to military or covert action. There are any number of Governmental statements and doctrines in various countries regarding the circumstances under which covert action would be justified. The most important of these are a speech given by George Shultz, the US Secretary of State under the then President Ronald Reagan, and an introduction to a report on terrorism written by Mr.George Bush, the Vice-President of Reagan and Chairman of the presidential Task Force Against Terrorism. They said that covert action against a State-sponsor of terrorism would be justified WHEN ALL OTHER OPTIONS FAIL.

9. Negotiation is one of the options that has to be tried. You cannot go straightaway into the covert action mode without trying out the negotiation mode. Negotiations could have one of two outcomes. Either Pakistan sees reason and acts against anti-India terrorism thereby obviating the need for covert action or continues to avoid action thereby justifying our resort to covert action. It is, therefore, important that we continue with our negotiations with Pakistan in the hope of establishing normal relations while at the same time reviving and strengthening our covert action capability for likely use if all other options fail.

10. Should we continue to negotiate with Qureshi as if nothing has happened after his insulting behaviour towards our Foreign Minister? Will it not be a poor reflection on us as a nation and as a people and further encourage such behaviour by Pakistan? We should not. At the same time, we cannot refuse to negotiate so long as he is the Pakistani Foreign Minister. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani has the right to have whomever he wants as his Foreign Minister, whether we like him or not.

11. So, the only option available to us to keep the negotiations going while at the same time protecting our national dignity is by confining our future negotiations to the interactions between our Home Ministry and the Pakistani Interior Ministry. We should withdraw the invitation to Mr.Qureshi to visit New Delhi which was issued before he indulged in his antics and exhibitionism and instead invite Mr.Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, for continuing his talks with our Home Minister. ( 17-7-10)

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

Tuesday, July 13, 2010




Seventy-four persons, 60 of them reportedly Ugandan nationals, were killed and 70 others injured on July 11,2010, in two explosions suspected to have been carried out by Al-Shabaab, the Somali wing of Al Qaeda, at a local rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant at Kampala, the Ugandan capital. The explosions took place near large numbers of football enthusiasts watching on TV the final match of the World Cup football in South Africa between Spain and Holland.

2. Citing local officials, the British Broadcasting Corporation has stated that among the casualties were Ethiopian, Eritrean, Indian and Congolese nationals . It has not indicated how many Indian nationals were involved and whether there were fatlities among them.

3. In a statement issued from Mogadishu, the Somali capital, a spokesman of Al- Shabaab, who gave his name as Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage claimed that his organisation had carried out the two explosions. There were some doubts whether these were timed or suicide explosions , but an Ugandan official said that the head of a person believed to be a Somali was found at the site of one of the blasts, thereby indicating that at least one, if not both the blasts, was carried out by a suicide bomber.

4. The Al-Shabaab spokesman has been quoted by news agencies as saying as follows:"Al-Shabaab was behind the two bomb blasts in Uganda.We thank the mujahideen that carried out the attack. We are sending a message to Uganda and Burundi, if they do not take out their Amisom [African Union Mission in Somalia] troops from Somalia, blasts will continue and it will happen in Bujumbura, the Burundi capital, too." These were thus reprisal attacks by Al-Shabaab against Uganda for participating in the African contingent helping the Somali authorities in their operations against Al-Shabaab and other jihadi elements in Somalia.

5. The Amir of Al-Shabaab, Mohamed Abdi Godane, had warned in an audio message earlier this month that Uganda and Burundi would be targeted. The main wing of Al Qaeda based in North Waziristan in Pakistan, the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al-Shabaab based in Somalia have continued to maintain a capability for planning and carrying out reprisal acts of terrorism in different parts of the world despite US claims of having eliminated many senior leaders of Al Qaeda through its Drone (pilotless plane) strikes in North and South Waziristan.

6.The deaths in the Drone strikes of many Al Qaeda leaders such as its No.3 Sai’d al-Masri (al-Masri means the Egyptian) also known as Mustafa Abu al-Yazid in May,2010 and Saleh-al-Somali from Somalia on December 8,2009, have not weakened the capability of Al Qaeda to plan and mount terrorist strikes---some successfuly, some unsuccessfully. The successful ones have been in the Af-Pak area, Somalia and Uganda and the unsuccessful ones in the UK, the US and Norway.

7.In supplementary indictments filed recently by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, US, they have alleged that before his death Saleh al-Somali was involved along with Rashid Rauf, a Mirpuri from Birmingham, who was also killed in a Drone strike, and Adnan El-Shukrijumah, an absconding US national of Saudi origin,in organizing a conspiracy by Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi and others to bomb New York City subways last September.

8. Along with Saudis, Egyptians and Yemenis, the Somalis have been among the important components of Al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden had earlier used them for the terrorist strikes outside the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in August 1998,and in Mombasa in October 2002. The Somalis of Al-Shabaab have now operated successfully in Kampala. The Yemeni and Somali wing of Al Qaeda have exhibited a certain operational autonomy which enables them to mount terrorist strikes on their own without having to depend on the main wing of Al Qaeda in Pakistan. While Al-Shabaab has extended its operations to Africa, the AQAP has been trying to extend its reach to South-East Asia as indicated by the recent detentions of two Singapore nationals with suspected contacts with the AQAP.

9.This may please be read in continuation of my earlier article of December 4,2009, titled "The Somali Front of the Global Jihad" available at It is annexed for easy reference. (13-7-10)

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



Al Qaeda looks upon its continuing jihad against the so-called Crusaders --- thereby meaning essentially the US, Israel and their supporters--- as a global intifada waged on many fronts and through many means. In this global jihad, Afghanistan, Somalia and Algeria are seen as battle fronts, which will determine the ultimate outcome. Afghanistan is seen as the core of the battle, Somalia as its southern front and Algeria as the Western front.

2. In a message disseminated on December 20, 2006, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No.2 to Osama bin Laden in Al Qaeda, said: “Brothers in Islam and Jihad in Somalia: know that you are on the southern garrison of Islam, so don’t allow Islam to be attacked from your flank, and know that we are with you, and that the entire Muslim Ummah is with you. So don’t lose heart, or fall into despair, for you must dominate if you are true in faith. And know that you are fending off the same Crusade which is fighting your brothers in Islam in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. So be resolute, be patient and be optimistic, for by Allah beside whom there is no other God, even if your enemies possess thousands of tons of iron and explosives, in their chests lie the hearts of mice. So be severe against them like Muhammad was. "

3. To keep the jihad going in Somalia is one of its important objectives. For this purpose, it uses not only recruits from the impoverished local population, but also from the Somali diaspora in the West----including the US--- as well as jihad-hardened cadres sent from the battle fronts in the Af-Pak region. The Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) of Pakistan has had a long history of contacts with the Muslim population in Somalia and East African countries just as it has with the Muslim population of Chechnya and Dagestan. Though the TJ itself does not indulge in acts of terrorism, it plays an important role in facilitating the ideological motivation of the population on behalf of Al Qaeda.

4. In September 2009, Al Shabaab, meaning “The Lads”, an organization of Somali youths, was reported to have disseminated through Islamic web sites usually identified with Al Qaeda a 48-minute video documentary in which it proclaimed its allegiance to Osama bin Laden. It derives its name “The Lads” from the fact that it used to be the youth wing of a fundamentalist organization called the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which had established control over some parts of Somalia and was ultimately crushed by invading Ethiopian troops in 2006. While the elders of the UIC disappeared after being defeated by the better trained and better armed Ethiopian troops allegedly inspired and aided by the US, the Al Shabaab replaced the UIC as a born-again jihadi organization, which was determined to continue the jihad against the troops of the African Union, which had replaced the Ethiopian troops, and of the UN-backed local Government, which it viewed as apostate.

5. Though Somalis had participated in acts of suicide terrorism on behalf of Al Qaeda in other countries, suicide terrorism was unknown in Somalia itself till Al Shabaab made its appearance in 2006. Even though it proclaimed its loyalty to bin Laden only in September, 2009, it had carried out a number of acts of suicide terrorism against local Government targets as well as the peace-keeping troops of the African Union ever since the AU troops took over their peace-keeping responsibility in Somalia. Al Shabaab has been waging a two-front jihad---- against the AU troops and the local Government being protected by the AU troops. The first act of suicide terrorism took place on September 18, 2006. Since then, there have been 13 suicide attacks--- two in 2006, four in 2007, two in 2008 and five this year.

6. The Al Shabaab cadres, many of whom had allegedly served with the Afghan Mujahideen, the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the Af-Pak region, look upon their jihad as similar to the jihad waged by the Afghan Mujahideen against the Soviet troops and those of the Government of the then President Najibullah in the 1980s and the early 1990s.

7. In a serious attack of suicide terrorism, a male suicide bomber dressed as a woman managed to find his way into a graduation ceremony of medical students in a Mogadishu hotel on December 3, 2009, and blew himself up killing 19 persons, including three Ministers of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke of the UN-backed Government. Even though no organization has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, Al Shabaab is strongly suspected by the local authorities.

8. Though there is so far no evidence of any nexus between Al Shabaab and the Somali pirates, the dangers of money earned from piracy going to the coffers of Al Qaeda and the availability in Somalia of sea-faring people who could be used by Al Qaeda for future acts of maritime terrorism cannot be ignored.

9. A Reuters report carried on December 4, 2009, by the “Daily Times” of Lahore has quoted Bethuel Kiplagat, who used to be Kenya’s special envoy to the Somalia peace process from 2003 to 2005, as saying as follows: “Suicide bombings are a worrying trend not only for Somalia but also the region. There has been a rise in fundamentalism in Somalia coming from the Middle East and Pakistan. There’s a worry Al Qaeda may be looking at Somalia as a new sanctuary.”

10. On March 16, 2009, Mohamed Mohamed of the BBC’s Somali section, reported as follows: “As well as alleged links to al-Qaeda it is said to have Arabs, Asians, other Africans and - America's FBI believes - Westerners among its ranks. These foreigners are said to be involved in training Al Sabaab recruits in various aspects of guerrilla warfare, including suicide bombings and booby traps.”

11. On February 29, 2008, the then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice designated Al Shabaab as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

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

Thursday, July 8, 2010




A message of Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's No. 2, broadcast by Al Jazeera on May 21, 2003, had called for reprisal attacks against the US and some of its allies for occupying Iraq.

2.The message, inter alia, said: "O Muslims, take matters firmly against the embassies of America, England, Australia, and Norway and their interests, companies, and employees. Burn the ground under their feet, as they should not enjoy your protection, safety, or security. Expel those criminals out of your countries. Do not allow the Americans, the British, the Australians, the Norwegians, and the other crusaders who killed your brothers in Iraq to live in your countries. Wreak havoc on them. "

3.While the calls for attacks on the US, the UK and Australia were not a surprise, the call for reprisals against Norway was, since Norway was not one of the allies of the US in Iraq. It was not clear why Zawahiri included Norway in the list. There was some speculation that he might have mistaken Norway for Denmark, which had a role in Iraq.

4. Islamic anger against Denmark for the publication of some cartoons of Prophet Mohammad in a Danish newspaper in 2005 extended to Norway too because some Norwegian newspapers had allegedly reproduced the cartoons. The protest demonstrations in West Asia against the cartoons were directed at some Norwegian diplomatic missions too, but there were no publicly aired threats of a terrorist attack against Norway in connection with the publication of the cartoons.

5. The terrorist threats uttered by Al Qaeda and other jihadi organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) of Pakistan were against Denmark and not Norway. Available details of the US investigation into the activities of LET operative David Coleman Headley, a US citizen of Pakistani origin living in Chicago, indicated preparations during 2009 for a terrorist strike against the Danish newspaper which had published the cartoons jointly by the LET and the so-called 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri of Pakistan based in North Waziristan. Norway did not figure in the details of the plot as indicated in the various court affidavits filed against Headley by the USA's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

6. The Islamic Jihad Union or Group (IJU), an Uzbek group based in North Waziristan and closely allied to Al Qaeda, has some followers in Germany among persons of Turkish origin as well as white German converts to Islam. Some arrests were made in Germany in August-September 2007 in connection with investigations into the activities of the IJU and its suspected plots for terrorist strikes in Germany against German as well as American targets. There were no reports of the arrest of any Uzbek in Germany in this connection. The IJU makes its recruitment from amongst Uzbeks, Uighurs and other Central Asians. In the past, most of its recruits came from the Af-Pak and the Central Asian regions. There were no reports of any recruitment by it from amongst the Uighurs and Uzbeks living in West Europe.

7. The Norwegian police announced on July 8,2010, the arrest of three men suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda on charges of preparing terrorist attacks. One of them is a Norwegian citizen of Uighur origin. The other two are permanent residents in Norway of Uzbek and Iraqi-Kurdish origin. Two of them (the Uzbek and the Uighur) are reported to have been arrested in Norway and the third (Iraqi-Kurd with a permanent residence permit of Norway) in Germany. The Norwegian police had been keeping them under surveillance for investigation for about a year. The arrests appear to have been made even though the investigation has not yet been completed because of the leakage of the news about the investigation against them to the media. They apparently decided to arrest them before the media came out with the news.

8.Media reports indicate that the arrested persons were suspected of involvement in plots for terrorist strikes in Norway and of having links with some terrorist suspects under investigation in the US and the UK. The involvement of an Uzbek and an Uighur in this plot could indicate a possible Chinese target too. There is a small, but active Uighur community in Norway, with links to the anti-Chinese World Uighur Congress (WUC) based in Munich. The Uighurs had held a demonstration against the Chinese in Oslo last year to protest against anti-Uighur violence by the Hans in Urumqi in July last .

9.Members of the Uighur and Uzbek communities in West Europe may not normally get involved in attacking Western targets. The kind of anti-Western anger one finds in the Arabs and the Pakistanis one does not find in the Uzbeks and the Uighurs living in the West, but the Uzbeks of the IJU do nurse a strong anger against the West. It is not clear whether the reported plots in Norway were the work of Al Qaeda or its associates such as the IJU, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan or the Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan. It is also not clear whether the targeting of Norway had anything to do with its role in Afghanistan as a member of the NATO forces fighting against the Taliban. Were the three arrested persons already members of any of these organisations or were they merely self-radicalised Muslims looking for sponsors?(8-7-10)

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

Wednesday, July 7, 2010




In his message of February 12, 2007, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No.2 to Osama bin Laden, has spoken of a global Jihadi Intifada. Has he spoken of any special areas of focus for this Intifada?

Whenever he talks of a global jihad or now of a global Jihadi Intifada, Zawahiri makes it clear that this has to cover all lands in the world, which rightfully belong to Islam. After saying so, he specifies certain areas, which he thinks should receive special attention first. Of these, he gives the topmost priority to Afghanistan and Iraq. He says the future of Islam and of the global Intifada itself will be decided in those countries. If they can defeat the Americans there, the jihadis' victory in the rest of the lands will be assured. After mentioning these two countries, he mentions certain other areas specifically. He believes that the victory of the jihadis in these areas would also be crucial for the ultimate victory of Islam. These areas are Palestine, including Gaza, the Lebanon, Somalia, Algeria and Chechnya in Russia. He describes Somalia as the Southern garrison of Islam and Algeria as its Western garrison.

What does he mean by Jihadi Intifada?

A kind of struggle in which the role of motivated individual Muslims will become more important than that of organisations so that the weakening or collapse of an organisation does not result in a collapse of the Intifada. He wants the Intifada to acquire a momentum of its own as a result of the sacrifices of individual Muslims...... The importance of a central command and control in keeping the Intifada going is down-played. The motivation of individual Muslims is more important than any centralised command and control. He also projects the Intifada as a mix of military and non-military struggles. He says in his message of December 20, 2006: "We must bear arms. And if we are unable to bear them, then we must support those who carry them. This support comes in many forms and guises, so we must exploit all Dawah, student and union activities to back the Jihadi resistance....... The Muslim Ummah must exploit all methods of popular protest, like demonstrations, sit-ins, strikes, refusing to pay taxes, preventing cooperation with the security forces, refusing to provide the Crusaders with fuel, hitting traders who supply the Crusader forces, boycotting Crusader and Jewish products, and other ways of popular protest."

----- From my article of February 14,2007, titled JIHADI INTIFADA: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS available at


What we are witnessing in certain areas of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) is the beginning of an intifada of Zawahiri's conception as propounded by him in his messages of February 12,2007,and earlier addressed to the Muslims of the world. One does not know whether Al Qaeda has had any role in the current violence in J&K, but its idea that the time had come to transform the jihad characterised by acts of terrorism into an intifada on a global scale characterised by leaderless street violence and the technique of a mix of military and non-military struggles has had some impact on the thinking and behaviour of some sections of the Kashmiri youth.

2. We are confronted with a situation marked by leaders without followers and followers without leaders. The traditional political leaders of J&K have no influence over the agitating youth. The agitating youth have no identifiable leaders to whom an approach can be made by the Government for bringing down the violence. Whatever be the extent of the Pakistani role in instigating the violence, it has acquired a momentum of its own unrelated to Pakistan. Islamabad has been exploiting the violence, but does not seem to be the originator of it.

3. The root cause is the growing perception among some sections of the youth that the security forces have been insensitive in performing their counter-insurgency duties and have been adopting objectionable methods ( e.g alleged false encounters) and using disproportionate force against the people. The current street violence has had no strategic political objective relating to the future political status of J&K. It is the result of an outburst of anger against the security forces. It does not have a strategic direction as yet, but may acquire one if it continues without the anger of the participating youth being pacified by the Government.

4. The anger of the youth might have been pacified initially if the Governments at Srinagar and New Delhi had shown some understanding of the anger and initiated measures to pacify it such as enquiries into allegations of excesses by the security forces, paying greater attention to complaints of violations of the human rights of the people and better ways of dealing with street protestors without using firearms. The succes of the last general elections in which nearly two-thirds of the voters participated and the perception that the ground situation was coming under control created a feeling of over-confidence in the Government at the centre, which slowed down the efforts to find a political soplution to the demands of the people and showed an increased insensitivity towards the anger of sections of the youth against the security forces.

5. The current movement started due to some anger against the security forces. Perceptions of political indifference to that anger has led to the anger turning against the political leadership. We find ourselves caught in a vicious circle. The more the publicly expressed anger against the security forces, the more the force used against the agitators and the more the force used against the agitators, the more the anger against the security forces.

6. When there was a decline in violence and we should have been taking advantage of it to deal with strategic issues relating to the future political set-up, we did not do so. Now, when the immediate objectiove should be to reduce the anger of the moment due to the grievances against the security forces, we are talking of long-term political issues. Better methods of street control to avoid the use of firearms, prompt and satisfactory attention to the complaints of the people regarding excessive use of force and violations of human rights, greater interactions between the Government and the agitating youth, greater control over our rhetoric to avoid demonisation of the agitators and attempts to remove the impression that the Government tends to bat for the errant elements in the security forces and not for the people are some of the immediate steps required. The use of the Army against the street agitators would be unwise unless the situation turms desperate leaving no other option. ( 8-7-10)

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




“The Hindu” of July 7,2010, has carried an article by its terrorism analyst Praveen Swami titled “Pakistan’s Competing Jihadists.” The article refers to a message purported to have been issued before his death (confirmed by Al Qaeda) in a US Drone strike in May last by Sai’d al-Masri (al-Masri means the Egyptian) also known as Mustafa Abu al-Yazid. He was reputedly the No.3 in Al Qaeda and was in charge of operations in Afghanistan.

2.According to Shri Swami, an English translation of this message was made available to him “by the Washington DC based Middle East Media Research Institute”. This Institute is popularly known as MEMRI. It is alleged to have close links with the Israeli Military Intelligence and the Likud Party.

3. Wikipedia comments as follows on MEMRI: “The Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI for short, is a Middle Eastern press monitoring organization. Its headquarters is located in Washington, DC, with branch offices in Jerusalem, Berlin, London, Rome, Shanghai, Baghdad, and Tokyo. MEMRI was co-founded in 1998 by Yigal Carmon, a former colonel in Israeli military intelligence, and another Israeli Meyrav Wurmser. It provides a free source of English language translations of material published in Arabic and Persian script, and publishes its analyses and in-depth reports on its website - although it also offers specialized content for a fee. The organization's translations are regularly quoted by major international newspapers, and its work has generated strong criticism and praise. Some critics have accused MEMRI of selectively choosing for translation and dissemination the most extreme views from Arabic and Persian media, which portray the Arab and Muslim world in a negative light, while ignoring moderate views that are often found in the same media outlets. Other critics charge that while MEMRI does sometimes translate pro-US or pro-democracy voices in the regional media, it systematically leaves out intelligent criticism of Western-style democracy, US and Israeli policy and secularism. MEMRI's current mission statement states the organization "explores the Middle East through the region's media. MEMRI bridges the language gap which exists between the West and the Middle East, providing timely translations of Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu-Pashtun media, as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends in the Middle East." Until 2001, its Mission Statement stated that the institute also emphasizes "the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel." MEMRI's goals and emphasis have evolved over the years; it originally translated articles in both Arabic and Hebrew. Concerning this change in their ‘mission statement,’ Political Research Associates (PRA), which studies the US political right, notes that it occurred three weeks after the September 11 attacks, and considers MEMRI "was previously more forthcoming about its political orientation in its self-description and in staff profiles on its website." PRA considers that “MEMRI's slogan, ‘Bridging the Language Gap Between the Middle East and the West,’ does not convey the institute's stridently pro-Israel and anti-Arab political bias.” It further notes, that MEMRI's founders, Wurmser and Carmon, “are both hardline pro-Israel ideologues aligned with Israel's Likud party.”

4. So far as one knows, the message of al-Masri disseminated by MEMRI has not yet been authenticated by any official Western agency or non-governmental organization studying messages purported to have been disseminated by Al Qaeda, its leaders and as-Sahab, the propaganda wing of Al Qaeda, but one is subject to correction.

5. In its intro to Shri Swami’s article, “The Hindu” says: “ For the first time, the al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for an attack in India.” “The Hindu’s” reference is to the explosion in the German bakery in Pune on February 13 last. Mr.Swami himself writes in his article as follows: “ For the first time, though, al-Masri referred to the Pakistan-based jihadist Muhammad Ilyas Kashmiri as an official part of the Al Qaeda--- and made public his role in an attack on India.”

6.According to Mr.Swami, the message as supplied by MEMRI says as follows: “ I bring you the good tidings that last February’s India operation was against a Jewish locale in the West of the Indian capital in the area of the German bakeries--- a fact that the enemy tried to hide---- and close to 20 Jews were killed in the operation, a majority of them from the so-called statelet, Israel. The person who carried out this operation was a heroic soldier from the “Soldiers of the Sacrifice Brigade”, which is one of the brigades of Qaedat al-Jihad ( the al-Qaeda’s formal name) in Kashmir under the command of commander Ilyas Kashmiri, may Allah preserve him.”

7. Commenting on the claim made in the message. Mr.Swami says: “ From the text, it is clear that al-Masri had little knowledge of the bombing of the German Bakery in Pune. Pune is not to the west of New Delhi; it is not Jewish-owned; and no Israelis were killed there. There would thus be no reason to take al-Masri’s claims seriously--- if it weren’t for the testimony of Pakistani-American jihadist David Headley.”

8. al-Masri was born in Egypt on December 17, 1955. Along with Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s No.2,he was a founding member of the Islamic Jihad of Egypt, which was alleged to have been involved in the assassination of then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. He was arrested by the Egyptian authorities along with Zawahiri. They managed to escape and reach Afghanistan in 1988 and join Osama bin Laden. When bin Laden went to the Sudan in 1991 after his passport was reportedly cancelled by the Saudi authorities, al-Masri joined him there and was appointed by bin Laden as an accountant of a business company started by him in the Sudan. In 1996, under US pressure, the Sudanese authorities asked bin Laden to leave the Sudan. He went to Afghanistan accompanied by al-Masri. Zawahiri joined them there. The US National Commission, which enquired into the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US homeland, described him as the Chief Financial Manager of Al Qaeda. In May 2007, bin Laden was reported to have designated him as in charge of Al Qaeda’s operations in Afghanistan. In that capacity, he was responsible for co-ordination of operations with the Afghan Taliban.

9. In February 2009, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) had received a message purported to be from Mustafa Abu-al Yazid, warning of more Mumbai-style attacks. The message, whose authenticity could not be established, sought to create an impression as if the 28/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai were carried out by Al Qaeda.

10.I had commented as follows on that mesaage : “ His warnings of more Mumbai-style attacks should be factored into our security arrangements and that means, strengthening physical security not only for possible Indian targets, but also for possible foreign targets such as those of Israel and the US. A rule of prudence is don’t ignore a threat unless and until it is proved to be false. The message needs careful analysis in co-operation with Al Qaeda experts in the US. The message suspiciously serves the Pakistani agenda of projecting the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai as executed by an international jihadi group based in Europe and inspired by Al Qaeda. There are suspicious elements in the message. Why was it disseminated through the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and not initially through Al Jazeera? Why has it not yet appeared in the web sites associated with Al Qaeda? Why there was no reference to the Mumbai attack in the one message of Osama bin Laden and two of his No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri disseminated by Al Qaeda since the beginning of this year? Why the message has not been disseminated through As Sahab, the official propaganda organ of Al Qaeda.”

11. Subsequently, in April,2009, another message purporting to be from al-Masri circulated through the Internet. It read as follows: “. “We send a short and succinct message to the Indian Government. The Mujahideen will never allow you to invade the Muslims and their lands in Pakistan. If you beguile yourselves into doing this, know well that you will pay a very heavy price, which you will regret much. We will call upon our whole Muslim nation, its Mujahideen and its martyrdom squads against you. We will strike your interests and your economic lifelines wherever they may be until you are demolished and bankrupt as America is being demolished and going bankrupt today. The Islamic nation which produced the audacious and heroic martyrs of Bombay, who struck you in the midst of your homes and humiliated you, is able to produce thousands more like them. You cannot be more powerful or have more ability than the Soviet Union which was destroyed on the rocks of the Afghanistan mountains nor Americans whose nose we rubbed in the dirt of Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.”

12. This message added to the suspicion that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence might be behind the dissemination of these messages in order to draw suspicion away from the LET for the terrorist strikes of 26/11 in Mumbai. After the Pune Bakery attack, Syed Saleem Shahzad , the Karachi correspondent of “Asia Times Online”, received an E-mail message purporting to be from Ilyas Kashmiri threatening terrorist strikes in India during the World Cup Hockey League and IPL cricket matches as well as during the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. In his dispatch to the Asia Times on this, Mr.Shahzad reported as follows: “ Asia Times Online has received a message from top guerrilla commander Ilyas Kashmiri, whose 313 Brigade is an operational arm of al-Qaeda. The message arrived on Monday morning (Feb.15), shortly after the deadly weekend bombing of the German Bakery in the western Indian city of Pune. The message does not specifically claim responsibility for the bombing, but implies the Brigade's involvement.”

13. Even after the July,2006, explosions in the Mumbai suburban trains, a person, who gave his name as Abu al Hadeed, had rung up the office of the Current News Service (CNS) in Srinagar claiming responsibility in the name of what he described as Al Qaeda of J&K. However, indigenous Kashmiri organisations ridiculed the claim and said that there was no such organisation in the State.

14.On June 8, 2007, the same news agency is reported to have received a statement in Urdu recorded in a CD in the name of one Abu Abdal Rehman al-Ansari, described as the Amir of Al Qaeda fil Hind (Al Qaeda in India). The statement was read out by a masked gunman, who gave his name as Abu Ibrahim al-Asim before a camera. Whereas the 2006 statement was in the name of Al Qaeda of J&K, the statement of June 8, 2007, was in the name of Al Qaeda of India. Both the statements had referred to al-Ansari as the Amir of Al Qaeda. The June 8 statement pledged to wage jihad not only on India, but also against all infidels, apostates and hypocrites and against "enemies masqueradng as friends" . It criticised both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference and the Pakistan-based United Jihad Council headed by Syed Salahuddin of the Hizbul Mujahideen.

15. There are two types of messages purporting to be from Al Qaeda relating to India. The first are video or audio messages of Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri relating to the global jihad and the global intifada in which there are references to India, including Kashmir. These have been authenticated by Western intelligence agencies on the basis of voice recognition. They are in the form of general criticism of India or general threats and not specific.

16. The second are messages claiming responsibility on behalf of Al Qaeda for specific acts of terrorism in India such as the Mumbai suburban train explosions of July 2006, the Mumbai terrorist strikes of 26/11 and the Pune German bakery explosion and warning of future acts of terrorism against global sports events in India. These are messages circulated through the Internet or through phone calls by persons whose voices could not be identified. There is no way of establishing the authenticity of these messages. We must take them seriously for further investigation and strengthening physical security. At the same time, we should take care not to walk into any trap of the ISI to divert suspicion away from the LET and other Pakistani jihadi organizations and from the ISI for serious acts of terrorism in Indian territory by creating an impression that those were carried out by Al Qaeda.

17. It is quite possible that there was an active role of Al Qaeda in acts of terrorism in Indian territory, including Jammu & Kashmir. It has been particularly keen to attack Jewish targets in India, including the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who had orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, had admitted to have once visited India and had told US interrogators of Al Qaeda’s intention for an attack on the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi. But it is doubtful whether Al Qaeda is as yet in a position to organize a major strike in Indian territory on its own without the collaboration of the LET and other Pakistani organizations. We should not walk into any ISI trap for creating an impression that Al Qaeda has supplanted the ISI’s surrogates such as the LET. ( 7-7-10)

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

Tuesday, July 6, 2010




While the main wing of Al Qaeda based in Pakistan’s tribal areas continues to draw its recruits, volunteers and supporters from the Arabic-speaking residents of West Asia and North Africa, with little command of the English language, its branch based in Yemen known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been drawing its adherents not only from the Arabic-speaking population of the region, but also from the community of Muslims in the English-speaking world who feel more comfortable with English than with Arabic.

2. its recently started English web journal called “Inspire” is directed to the Muslims of the English-speaking world. It will serve the dual purpose of acting as the propaganda journal of AQAP and on line training facility for enabling self-radicalised jihadis in the English-speaking world to acquire expertise in the use of weapons and explosives and techniques of waging a jihad without having to visit the training camps of AQAP in Yemen.

3. The difficulties hitherto faced by self-radicalised Muslims of the English-speaking world due to their poor command of the Arabic language are sought to be removed through ideological and technical manuals and instructions in the English language.

4. The idea of propaganda, ideological indoctrination, motivation and self-acquired expertise through the medium of the English language seems to have been inspired by Anwar al- Awlaki, the ideological mentor of the AQAP, who is of US-origin and reportedly feels as comfortable with the English language as he does with Arabic unlike Osama bin Laden, his No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri and other Al Qaeda leaders based in Pakistan and Yemen who feel more comfortable with Arabic than with English. Their poor command of English comes in the way of their direct communications with their followers in the English-speaking world.

5.Under the guidance of Awlaki, the AQAP is seeking to capitalize on the interest of self-radicalised elements in the English-speaking world to take to jihad. An example of such interest has come from Singapore where the local security authorities are reported to have detained for two years under the Internal Security Act a 20-year-old Singaporean Muhammad Fadil Abdul Hamid, who has been described by Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as a full-time national serviceman in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).He was actually detained on April 4,2010, but his detention has been officially revealed only now.

6.News agency reports giving the official account of his detention have given the following details of the case: Muhammad Fadil, who was a student in a local polytechnic before joining the SAF, had been surfing the Internet for jihadist propaganda material. It is not known whether he continued his Internet search for jihadi material even after joining the SAF. Most probably, he did. It is possible his interest in jihadi material had not come to notice before he joined the SAF. Otherwise, if it had come to notice even then, he might not have been taken into the SAF on a full-time basis.

7.According to the news agency accounts, he got radicalized through the Internet, convinced himself of his religious obligation as a Muslim to join other radicalized Muslims for an armed jihad and established online contact with Awlaki and expressed his wish to join him in his jihad. He was also reported to have contacted through the Internet an Al Qaeda recruiter whose identity has not been indicated by the Singapore authorities. He collected material on bomb-making through his Internet search and produced and posted a video justifying suicide bombing.

8.According to Singapore’s MHA, as reported by the news agencies, Muhammad Fadil did not undertake nor did he have any plans to undertake jihad-related activities in Singapore. He intended to pursue such activities in places like Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq.

9.In response to media queries, Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) has stated that Muhammad Fadil was a trainee undergoing section leader training in the Pasir Laba Camp at the time of his arrest. He attended but did not complete his polytechnic course prior to his enlistment for national service in September 2009.

10.According to the MHA, two other Singaporeans have been placed under Restriction Orders (RO) for two years from June 23, 2010. One of them is 44-year-old Muhammad Anwar Jailani, who has been described as an unaccredited religious teacher. He had distributed to his students, contacts and the general public numerous copies of CDs containing audio recordings of Anwar al-Awlaki's lectures, which called on Muslims to undertake militant jihad against non-Muslims and other "enemies" of Islam. The other is 27-year-old Muhammad Thahir Shaik Dawood. He runs a small business and is one of Muhammad Anwar's students who became radicalised mainly through his influence. Muhammad Thahir had allegedly travelled to Yemen to enrol in an educational institution run by an associate of Osama bin Laden. He also sought out Anwar al-Awlaki and other radicals with a view to participating in armed jihad overseas if the opportunity presented itself. While still in Yemen, he began to have second thoughts about the wisdom of undertaking an armed jihad, gave up his idea and returned to Singapore.

11.There are some loose-ends in the official account as given by the Singapore authorities. Some questions remain unanswered. Was Muhammad Fadil connected to these two individuals? When and how Muhammad Anwar developed interest in Awlaki? Was it also through the Internet or whether Awlaki’s men have been visiting Singapore? Did the authorities come to know of Muhammad Fadil’s self-radicalisation and interest in Awlaki independently even before Muhammad Thahir returned to Singapore and was questioned by the authorities or did Thahir tell them about Fadil during his questioning.

12.The case speaks well of the alertness of the Singapore intelligence and security authorities and their ability to detect radicalizing trends before they assume threatening proportions. At the same time, it should be a matter of concern that despite the prosperity of the Muslim community of Singapore and the interest taken by the authorities in promoting their welfare, there are elements which are amenable to extra-territorial indoctrination and inclined to take to jihad. Despite the confidence of the local authorities that Fadil wanted to wage jihad abroad and not in Singapore, one should not lose sight of attempts being made by the AQAP to recruit Muslims who can travel freely across the Western world and use them for acts of terrorism against the West similar to its attempts to blow up an American plane over Detroit in the US on Christmas Day by using a Nigerian student studying in London with a valid visa for the US.

13.Since 2001, Al Qaeda has shown an interest in organizing an act of terrorism in Singapore against a US ship touching at the local port similar to the attack on USS Cole at Aden in October 2000. Self-radicalised volunteers like Fadil would come in handy for such operations. Self-radicalised elements in the Singapore Muslim community may not have any grievance against the Singapore Government and may not let themselves be used by Al Qaeda against Singaporean targets, but they could be brain-washed by Al Qaeda to undertake operations against US or other Western targets in Singapore territory. ( 6-7-10)

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

Sunday, July 4, 2010




An unidentified Barelvi group of Pakistan has disseminated the following through the Internet after the twin suicide explosions in the Data Darbar sufi shrine of Lahore on the evening of July 1,2010, resulting in the death of 42 worshippers, the majority of them reportedly followers of the tolerant Barelvi sect which believes in Sufism : "Extremist Deobandis of the Sipah-e-Sahaba have once again attacked the Data Di Nagri (Data’s city), Lahore. This time their target was the sacred shrine of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh Ali Hajveri, a Persian Sufi and scholar during the 11th century who significantly contributed to the spreading of Islam in South Asia. According to puritanical beliefs of extremist Deobandis and Wahhabis of the Sipah-e-Sahaba and Taliban, ordinary Sunni Muslims of the Barelvi belief are considered as polytheists (mushrik) because of their devotion to a peace loving Sufi (mystic) tradition of Islam. Therefore, narrow minded supporters of the Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba consider Barelvi / Sufi Muslims as grave worshippers and inferior Muslims. In the past, the Taliban / Sipah-e-Sahaba alliance have attacked a number of shrines in various parts of Pakistan, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA (Federally-Administered Tribal Areas). In March 2009, the Taliban / Sipah-e-Sahaba militants detonated the shrine of Rehman Baba, a 17th Century Sufi poet of the Pashtun language. In March 2010, terrorists of Sipah-e-Sahaba attacked Eid Milad-un-Nabi processions in Faisalabad and D.I. Khan killing at least seven people. Only last week, in June 2010, the Deobandi terrorists of the Taliban / Sipah-e-Sahaba attacked and blew up the shrine of Mian Umar Baba in the jurisdiction of Chamkani police station."

2.The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has strongly denied any responsibility for the attack on the Sufi shrine which has caused considerable anger among the common people of Pakistan. In the past, anger over terrorist attacks used to be largely confined to the urban elite. For the first time, there is now widespread anger among large sections of the common people in Pakistan. In view of this, no organisation in Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the suicide blasts. On the contrary, the TTP and the various jihadi organisations of Punjab, which are often referred to as the Punjabi Taliban, have taken care to deny responsibility.

3. Among the organisations which have maintained a silence are the Sunni extremist Sipah-e-Sahaba (SES) and its off-shoot the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, both of which closely collaborate with the TTP, the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda and have hide-outs in South and North Waziristan. It is generally believed by Pakistani police officers that Qari Hussain Mehsud, who runs the suicide bomber training school of the TTP, started his career as a jihadi in the SES and now trains the volunteers for suicide missions belonging to the LEJ too in addition to training those of the TTP. The TTP projects the so-called martyrs of the LEJ, who die in suicide missions or in encounters with the security forces, as its own “martyrs”.

4.Qari Mohammad Zafar, described as the head of the LEJ was reported to have been killed by a US drone air strike in North Waziristan on February 24 last. He was reportedly succeeded by one Mufti Abuzar Khanjari.Zafar was wanted by US and Pakistani authorities over a March 2006 attack near the US consulate in Karachi shortly before the visit of the then US President, Mr.George Bush to Pakistan from India.The US had offered a $5m (£3.3m) reward for information leading to his arrest or capture. It was reported that he had been given shelter in South Waziristan by the TTP.

5. Even though the US authorities did not issue a statement authenticating the reports of his death in a Drone attack, a statement attributed to the TTP on this subject was disseminated in the tribal areas of Pakistan in March. The statement described him as a “martyr” of the TTP without mentioning his LEJ origin and threatened that the TTP "will soon take revenge for his killing from the Government of Pakistan anywhere in the country." The warning added: "The Government of Pakistan is responsible for the killing (of militant commanders) in Drone strikes and the arrest of Afghan Taliban leaders Mullah Baradar, Mullah Kabir, Mullah Abdul Salam, ( Iran Jundullah chief) Abdul Malik Rigi and Afia Siddiqi, a Pakistani doctor now in the custody of the US."

6. Despite the TTP’s denial of responsibility for the attacks on the Sufi shrine, reliable Barelvi sources are convinced that the LEJ carried out the recent mass casualty attacks in Lahore on Ahmedia worshippers as well as on the followers of the Sufi saint in Data Darbar and that the LEJ must have carried out the attacks with the prior knowledge and approval of the TTP.

7. There are two Deobandi-Wahabi terrorist combines operating in Pakistan---the first consisting largely of Pashtuns belonging to the TTP and the so-called Ghazi force made up of surviving ex-students and teachers of the two madrasas attached to the Lal Masjid in Islamabad which was raided by the Special Services Group (SSG) of the Pakistan Army in July 2007 and the second consisting largely of Punjabi recruits belonging to the SES, the LEJ, the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri of HUJI origin, who are referred to as the Punjabi Taliban.

8.The leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of Mr.Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister, are not prepared to admit the presence and activities of the second combine in Punjab. In the past, many leaders of the PML (N) have had contacts with the SES and the LEJ and had taken the help of their cadres during election campaigns. They also hesitate to come out strongly against the two Wahabi-Deobandi combines in order to placate Saudi princes and charity organizations, which have been the main sources of funding for the Punjabi Taliban. The result has been a lack of effective action against the hide-outs of the jihadi organizations in Punjab---particularly in Southern Punjab---- by the Punjab Police.

9. After the suicide blasts of July 1, there has been a slanging match between Mr.Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Interior Minister,of Mr.Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), who accuses the Punjabi Taliban of being responsible for the terrorism in Punjab and Mr.Shabaz Sharif, the brother of Mr.Nawaz, who is the Chief Minister of Punjab. Mr.Shabaz denies that there is any Punjabi Taliban operating from sanctuaries in southern Punjab and accuses Mr.Malik of not co-operating with the Punjab Police and of withholding intelligence from the Punjab Government.

10. The Army has maintained a studied silence on this subject and has refrained from involvement in operations in Southern Punjab---particularly against the SES and the LEJ. There have been instances in the past of deserters from the Army and para-military forces joining the TTP, the SSP and the LEJ, but there have been no confirmed instances of the Deobandi-Wahabi vs Barelvi and the Deobandi-Wahabi vs Shias viruses affecting serving personnel of the Armed Forces. The Army wants to keep the serving soldiers immunized against these sectarian viruses. It fears that its active involvement in operations against sectarian terrorists could damage the unity of the armed forces.

11. This may please be read in continuation of my earlier article of June 1,2010, titled “Bleeding Lahore” at .

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

Thursday, July 1, 2010



The death of 40 worshippers in twin suicide blasts in a highly venerated sufi shrine of Lahore popularly known as Data Darbar on the night of July 1,2010 has outraged many Pakistanis, who have started wondering whether their Government has lost control over terrorists of its own creation, whether Pakistan is imploding due to religious hatred and violence. Annexed are some of the comments taken from the web site of an organisation called All Things Pakistan ( ).

2.Thursday is the congregation day in the shrine when the maximum number of worshippers gather at night (jumaraat). The shrine is considered sacred not only by all Muslims----Shias, Sunnis and Ahmadias--- but also by Hindus . In fact, before Pakistan was born in 1947 a large number of Hindus from all over India used to visit the shrine.

3.The shrine was, in fact, electrified by a Hindu landlord living near the shrine in gratitude for the recovery of his sons from a severe attack of flu. Doctors had given up hopes for their recovery. The landlord believed that it was the saint in whose honour the shrine had been built, who came to his house at night and touched his sons who were in their deathbed. They recovered the next day.

4.Data Darbar is one of the oldest Muslim shrines in the subcontinent. It houses the remains of a Sufi saint, Abul Hassan Ali Hajvery. He was of Persian origin and was born in the 11th century in Ghazni, Afghanistan. From there he migrated to Iraq and spent the last years of his life in Lahore where he died and is buried.

5.No organisation has so far claimed responsibility for the suicide blasts, but the needle of suspicion points to its probably being an act of reprisal against the Pakistan Government by the Jundullah of Iranian Balochistan and the anti-Shia and anti-Iran Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) of Pakistan in retaliation for the suspected collaboration of Pakistan with Iran in the arrest of Abdolmalek Rigi , the Amir of the Jundullah, who was captured by the Iranian intelligence as he was flying to Kyrgyzstan from Dubai and executed last month after a short trial.

6.The "Dawn" of Karachi has reported as follows on the suicide blasts:

"In the first terrorist attack of its kind in the Punjab capital, two alleged suicide bombers blew themselves up at the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine on Thursday night, killing at least 40 people and injuring 170 others. The first explosion took place in the basement reserved for ablution and the second in front of the shrine’s main building where a large number of people from across the province gather for worship on Thursdays.

" At first, police announced that some crackers had exploded near the shrine. The two bombers entered the shrine and exploded themselves three minutes apart. Surveillance cameras, walkthrough gates and metal detectors turned out to be ineffective. Around 100 volunteers and several policemen were present in and around the shrine, searching visitors thoroughly.

"Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Chaudhry Shafiq Ahmad told Dawn that two suicide attacks had been carried out and investigators had found the bombers’ skulls and limbs. He said ball-bearings and other material used in the blasts had also been collected. Lahore Commissioner Khusro Pervaiz Bakhtiar told journalists at the spot that the bombers had blown themselves up during a large congregation. In reply to a question about involvement of a foreign hand in the attack, he said the strike was a horrible conspiracy but “our own people become instruments in the hands of others”.

" The official said an investigation had been launched about the breach in security measures. According to witnesses, the explosions were so powerful that a large number of people fell down and several of them were injured in a stampede. The shrine’s administration announced seconds after the first blast that a generator had exploded in the basement and they might continue their activities. The bomb disposal squad estimated that 10-15kgs of explosives had been used in each suicide jacket.

" Ambulances of Rescue 1122 and the Edhi Foundation took the bodies and injured people to hospitals. According to a devotee, two gates on the north and south side of the shrine, which usually remain closed, were open on Thursday. He suspected that the bombers had entered through those gates. Scores of enraged people gathered outside the shrine and protested against terror attacks. They also damaged public and private property. There were reports that a cracker was exploded before the suicide blasts to create a panic.

"Police evacuated Data Darbar to collect evidence and carry out rescue work. All commercial and residential buildings adjoining the shrine were also searched for suspects. Following the blasts, an extensive crackdown was launched across the city and several people were detained for interrogation. A suspect was also taken into custody near the Darbar. Rumours of terror attacks on other shrines in the city panicked devotees and police also launched a search operation there. Security was beefed up in and around all shrines and religious places." (2-7-10)

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



"That Lahore’s single most iconic and revered location has been attacked - and on a jumaraat, which many consider to be sacred - reeks with symbolism and speaks volumes about the depth of hatred that these murderers have for all things Pakistan. Yes, I take this personally. Just as I have taken every murder of innocent Pakistanis anywhere in Pakistan, personally. Anyone who loves Lahore cannot hear of this and not have a shiver go down the spine; as it went mine. But that shiver is now a nearly daily occurrence. Whatever the symbolism of Data Sahib may be, it is paled by the outrage at the murder - yet again - of innocent people: the begunah, the masoom!

I would like to find the words to express that outrage, to express what Data Darbar means to so many, to describe the pain that pounds me once again as it has each time these murderers have hit Pakistanis anywhere. I would like to do that but - quite literally - my hands are trembling, my eyes have swelled up, and that shiver up my spine has gripped my entire body. Maybe later I will find the words to say what I need to say, but right now I ponder only on the darkness that resides in the hearts of the men who commit these acts, those who plan them, and those who choose to justify them.

Eidee Man says:
July 1st, 2010 10:49 pm

It is often said that nations are not destroyed by outsiders; they implode. If the fact that this attack happened on a religious gathering doesn’t cause a national outrage against the terrorist groups, then I really don’t see how our society can survive.

ATP Administrator says:
July 1st, 2010 10:43 pm

Some comments from the ATP Facebook Page:

- “How inhuman these cursed Taliban are. They kill Muslims everywhere they find us.”
- “That was not done by Talibans, Its for Sure Blackwaters, American backed terrorist organization, and this bloody Govt. of Zardari is allied with it.
Can’t you ever think all these events happen within Lahore, so neatly, that non of our so called ISI, CIA or Punjab police can even trace their back. Talibans can never be so organised and so trained….
No one get captured, because these people are safely transported into Lahore by Federal Govt. and they most probably reside in Balawal house or Governor house Lahore…
Google Sirilankan team attack in Lahore you would get some pretty fine articles stating that attackers went all the way till Bilawal house In model town Lahore and then disappeared….. If your president can kill his wife for money, then who are ordinary people not to be killed for the sake of money……”
- “i dnt agre wid u all that was a revnge by the qadiani.s………”
- “[above comments] an excellent example of “Parha Likha Jahil”.”
- “it is done by Pakistani talibans which are created by CIA and RAW to give a bad name to Afghani talibans.. Pakistani talibans have nothing to do with Islam.. they are non religious people who are working for CIA and RAW and our poor puppet government is doing nothing about it.. people are dying due to poverty and inflation and our government is still fighting to gain power over judiciary..
Long live PAK Army and Intelligence.. and Long Live Pakistan”

- “For Sure it was not done by Qadiani, they were already under greaf…”
- “being muslim is a distant thing, wahabis and taliban are not even human. The extremist version of sunni islam has gotten out of hand and we need to start making amends straight away. wahabism is zaleelism. it will drag us down into oblivion.”
- “There is but only ONE solution to all the violence in Pakistan - declare it a secular state, ban all the religious parties (political or non-political), ban all the public display of any religion .. and change the education to secular thoughts .. otherwise be prepared to live in 7th century”
- “”Taliban can never be so organised or trained”..Doesnt take much organisation to use children as bombs..All you need is a good deal of brainwashing which the taliban and taliban loving madrassas r extremely good at. There might be a hidden hand but taliban is not an innocent lot. We should learn to recognize the enemy within us…”
- “They say never happened in 800 years ,,, and i am sure its a foreign hand in it ,, dumbo security”
- “and the typical rhetoric goes on - CIA, RAW, Musad, Hindu Jewish lobby, Zardari, Qadiani .. as many fingers as many directions .. cant you all open your eyes and see it is the militant religious zealots who are doing all this .. and the only way to delete the word “Islamic republic” from Pakistan and start to live in the 21st century”
- “My blood boils at all the idiots and traitors who come to defend the Taliban who are the enemies of Pakistan. ALll the people who are defending the Taliban and giving stupid conspiracy theories, how many Pakistanis do you want to kill? Why do you hate Muslims? I say anyone defending the Taliban and these killers or trying to distract attention by stupid theories about foreign hands etc., they are all traitors and enemies of Pakistan themselves because they are supporting the killers of Pakistan.

Muhammad Usman Ghani says:
July 1st, 2010 10:15 pm

The event makes one speechless but more speechless I get over the conspiracy theorists comments we will face over this issue in days to come.

Praful Shah says:
July 1st, 2010 10:02 pm

Looking the photos, reading the news makes me angry as well as sad. These monsters were created and nurtured to kill Indians, especially Hindus. These were Pakistan army’s additional wing with blessing from Mr. Nawaz Sharif & Mrs. Bhutto. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.
Sadly, neither Pakistanis politicians nor Pakistani army (ISI) does not give a damn. If they stop sheltering these sobs, the war will be over in very short time.
What scares me most if they attack US as they did in 2001, I do not think US and The West will take lightly. It is matter of time they will have access to Pakistani Nukes. Than what?
God only can help. ( 2-7-10)