Sunday, August 29, 2010




Under an operation code-named "Project Samosa", the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced on August 26,2010, the arrests of three alleged jihadi extremists--- all of them socially well-placed professionals. One of them is a doctor, the second is an x-ray technician in an Ottawa hospital and the third had studied electrical engineering

2. The police claimed that their arrests had thwarted possible terrorist attacks around Ottawa and against Canadian troops in Afghanistan. From the details given by the RCMP, it was evident that the arrested persons, who were under surveillance for about a year, were discussing and planning a conspiracy to indulge in terrorist attacks and had acquired some materials towards this objective, but were far away from being in a position to carry out these attacks. There was no apprehension of imminent terrorist attacks, but the evidence of the conspiracy in progress was strong enough to warrant the arrests before the conspiracy neared fruition.

3. Amongst the material recovered during the investigation were more than 50 circuit boards police believe were intended to remotely trigger detonators for improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and videos, drawings, instruction books and electronic components for IEDs. According to Canadian media reports, the conspiracy was initially detected by the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), which then alerted the RCMP.

4.Mr.Raymond Boisvert, an Assistant Director in the CSIS, told a press conference: “There are certain individuals in Canada who have adopted an ideology inspired by international terrorist groups who promote heinous violence to achieve their goals. This case reiterates the serious nature of this threat, which can result in tragic consequences if left unchecked.” The police did not say whether the group had any links to Al-Qaeda, but the available details indicated a link to the Af-Pak region.

5. Two of the suspects ----- Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, 30, and Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, both of Ottawa, were arrested on August 25. The third, 28-year-old Khurram Syed Sher, was arrested in London, Ontario, the next day. All the three are Canadian citizens. Three non-Canadians, not located in Canada, were also allegedly part of the conspiracy ---- James Lara, Rizgar Alizadeh and Zakaria Mamosta, but they have not been arrested so far. The three arrested Canadians are to be charged with terrorism under the Criminal Code, including conspiring with the three non-Canadians mentioned above and other “persons unknown,” who have been at one time or another located in Canada, Iran, Afghanistan, Dubai and Pakistan, to facilitate “terrorist activity” between February 2008 and August 24.

6. Hiva Alizadeh , who studied electrical engineering, faces a separate charge of making or having an explosive substance in his possession with the intent to endanger life or cause serious damage. According to the police, he is a member of a group with links to the conflict in Afghanistan, and had received training in building and detonating IEDs. Mr.Boisvert said in his briefing that the CSIS is still enquiring to find out whether the three arrested Canadians were self-motivated, made-through-the-internet jihadis or whether they had been subject to external motivation.

7. Sher is a doctor who graduated from the McGill University medical school in 2005. According to the police, he had visited Pakistan in 2006 to participate in quake relief work. He had also participated in a TV reality show on a Canadian TV channel. In 2007, he and some other doctors had written to Mr.Stockwell Day, Minister for Public Safety, protesting against the treatment meted out to three Muslims arrested on security grounds.

8.Misbahuddin Ahmed, the x-ray technician in an Ottawa hospital, has been described by some media reports as of Indian origin who had grown up in Canada. It is not known to which part of India he belonged and when he migrated to Canada. According to the newspaper the "Ottawa Citizen", he had taken several weeks off from work about 16 months ago. He didn't say where he was going.When he returned to work, he was sporting a full beard. The "Citizen" has reported that Misbahuddin Ahmed and Sher used to play in an Islamic charity hockey tournament in Montreal that raised money for an organisation called the RS Foundation, which claimed to be engaged in humanitarian work in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

9. The RS Foundation, which actively raised funds in Canada for quake relief in Pakistan in 2005 and is presently collecting funds for flood relief in Pakistan, was founded by one Shujaat Wasty who is also an active member of an organisation called the South Asian Research Center (CERAS) and the United Muslims Students' Association (UMSA).

10.The Wikipedia says as follows: "The Muslim Students' Association, or Muslim Student Union, of the U.S. and Canada, also known as MSA National, is a religious organization dedicated to establishing and maintaining Islamic societies on college campuses in Canada and the United States. It serves to provide coordination and support for affiliated MSA chapters in colleges across North America. Established in 1963, the organization now has chapters in colleges across the continent, and is the precursor of the Islamic Society of North America and several other Islamic organizations.....The first MSA National chapter was formed in 1963 at the campus of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) by international students. The initial leadership came from Arabic-speaking members, with the Muslim Brotherhood help to establish the group. A Saudi Arabian charity, the Muslim World League, provided early funding for the group. Early goals for the movement included the promotion of "a self-definition [that] involves initially and fundamentally [an] Islamic identity" of its members, as well as an appropriate Islamic lifestyle while they were in the US.....Today, the organization is present in various forms on several campuses across the United States and Canada. In contrast to early membership, members are now frequently American-born Muslims....."

11.It adds: "Journalist Deborah Scroggins, in exploring how suspected al-Qaeda member Aafia Siddiqui became an Islamist extremist, wrote for Vogue that if Siddiqui "was drawn into terrorism, it may have been through the contacts and friendships she made in the early 1990s working for MIT's Muslim Students Association. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's oldest and biggest Islamist movement, established the first MSAs in the country... and the movement's ideology continued to influence the MSA long after that. At MIT, several of the MSA's most active members had fallen under the spell of Abdullah Azzam, a Muslim Brother who was Osama bin Laden's mentor.... [Azzam] had established the Al Kifah Refugee Center to function as its worldwide recruiting post, propaganda office, and fund-raising center for the mujahideen fighting in Afghanistan... It would become the nucleus of the al-Qaeda organization."Rutgers MSA co-founder Ramzi Yousef, a cousin of Siddiqui's second husband, was convicted for helping perpetrate the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.Anwar al-Awlaki, accused of being an al-Qaeda member and who declared jihad against America in 2010, was President of the MSA at Colorado State University, from which he graduated in 1994. Ali Asad Chandia, who was president of the MSA at Montgomery College from 1998 to 1999, was convicted of providing material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization, and assisting the Virginia Jihad Network, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The University of California Irvine Muslim Student Union is an affiliated chapter of MSA National, which was suspended for the 2010-2011 school year for organizing a conspiracy to disrupt Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren from speaking at a university sponsored event." ( My comment: al-Awlaki is now with Al Qaeda in Yemen)

12. Some sources allege that Wasty was known for his anti-Jewish views and used to describe the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US as a Jewish conspiracy. ( 29-8-10)

( 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, August 24, 2010



The following comments of President Benigno Aquino, the Manila Police Commander and some non-governmental security experts on the way the Manila Police handled the hostage-taking crisis on August 23,2010, have been extracted from despatches of the Agence France Press (AFP) :

* President Aquino: The tragedy highlighted many flaws in the ability of Philippine security forces to handle hostage situations. "There are a lot of things (that) resulted in a tragedy. Obviously we should be improving." One of the problems was the way the crisis played out through the media, with the gunman being allowed to speak on radio and watch events live on the bus's television, giving him insights into police actions. Waiting more than 10 hours before storming the bus was the right course of action, because police believed until that point they could convince the gunman to stand down.
* Mr.Leocadio Santiago, Manila Police Commander: "We saw some obvious shortcomings in terms of capability and tactics used, or the procedure employed and we are now going to investigate this."
* Mr.John Harrison, Assistant Professor and homeland security analyst at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore:"The fact that there was essentially live video was mistake number one." There should have been a media blackout to deny the hijacker feedback on what was going on around him. Instead, he was able to follow events -- including frenzied speculation by serving and former police chiefs appearing on Philippine networks -- via the bus' internal TV.
* Mr.Dennis Wong Sing Wing, an Associate Professor of applied social studies at the City University in Hong Kong:The police operation was "really shocking" to watch as it unfolded live on TV. "I am very angry about their unprofessional performance.They are indirectly responsible for the deaths of the Hong Kong people." The policemen assigned to end the hostage-taking appeared to lack modern weapons and communication equipment, and as a result were hesitant to attack the gunman, who was armed with an M-16 assault rifle. The Police failed to calm the hostage-taker down and hear him out.
* An unnamed retired Philippine military official who wrote a counter-terrorism manual and now runs a security consultancy:The police had enough expertise and equipment to deal with such an incident, but they were not put to use. "We have everything, except the execution was poorly done." He was critical of the stop-go negotiations and "tentative" assault launched after gunshots rang out from inside the bus, adding that the police should have disabled the TV monitor early on."Contact (by negotiators) should have been constant. It's the talking that does a lot.When you order an assault, it has to be an assault. There is no such thing as a tentative assault.If 10 policemen have to die, they have to die in that assault." Many of the policemen on the scene, some of them seen crouching without any body armour behind patrol cars, did not appear to be fully trained Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel. "They just put helmets on certain people."
* Trial judge Jaime Santiago, a former SWAT officer:The police failed to impose crowd control in the hostage site and panicked after hearing gunshots from the bus. "They should have put a tactical force, SWAT snipers and an assault team on standby during the negotiation so that if the hostage-taker started harming people, they would act."
* Mr.Lionel de Souza, a former officer of Singapore's Criminal Investigation Department, recalled a similar hijacking of a bus in Singapore.
"I think that was in 1978 in Seng Poh Road in Tiong Bahru. The police were chasing some robbers and they jumped onto an SBS bus which was (carrying) passengers. (The robbers) sort of held them hostage. At that time, hostage negotiation was not well known. Nevertheless, the retired assistant commissioner - Tan Kah Wan - I think he did a good job. There was no loss of lives but there was the arrest of the hostage takers." In the Manila hostage tragedy, one image that left many doubting was the action of armed police who had crept up around the bus."They started smashing the windows with the sledgehammer, trying to wrench open the door with a rope. That by itself is a provocation to the criminal, and because he is already agitated, adding more pressure to his already troubled mind would entail him to sort of do things that a person with a proper frame of mind would not do. He may be a decorated police officer, he may know the law, but these tensions were building within him." Negotiations could have gone on longer as it was important to wear down the hijacker in such a crisis. Singapore is well-poised to handle a similar crisis, with hostage negotiators being well-trained. (24-8-10)

( 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, August 23, 2010

MUNICH--1972; MUMBAI--26/11 AND MANILA--23/8


The facts of the tragedy in Manila on August 23,2010, which led to the death of eight tourists from Hong Kong due to the irrational behaviour of a dismissed Manila police officer as reported by the Agence France Presse (AFP) are as follows: Eight Hong Kong tourists were killed when police stormed a bus that had been commandeered 12 hours earlier by a disgraced ex-police officer demanding he get his job back. Seven other Hong Kong tourists were injured. One of them is still in a critical condition more than 12 hours after the bloody rescue attempt while the others sustained only slight injuries.The ordeal began when the suspect, armed with an M-16 assault rifle and dressed in combat pants, hijacked the bus with 25 people aboard in Manila's tourist district. He later freed seven Hong Kong tourists and two Filipinos. But negotiations broke down after nightfall when the gunman, former senior police inspector Rolando Mendoza, began shooting and commandos were forced to storm the bus, firing dozens of bullets of their own into the vehicle. The Filipino driver escaped just before the shooting.

2. The incident was telecast live by many TV channels of the world. We were thus able to see what was happening.Certain important points about the incident need to be underlined:

* First, it was not an act of terrorism. It was a criminal act committed by a recently dismissed police officer who had been rendered irrational by the dismissal. He was acting alone.
* Second, his grievances were purely personal. He just wanted his job back.
* Third, he took his victims hostage in a bus which was halted in the middle of the road.He was in a position to see all that was happening around the bus through the bus windows. As a result, the advantage of stealth in operational planning and execution was denied to the police. A similar thing happened during the Munich massacre of 1972 by some Palestinian terrorists and during the 26/11 terrorist strike in Mumbai. In Munich and Mumbai, the live telecasting of the security movements by TV channels enabled the hostage-takers to see what the police and other security agencies were doing. In Manila, his location inside a bus enabled the hostage-taker to see what was happening around him. The most important requisite in an operation against hostage-taking is operational stealth. This requirement was denied to the police and other security agencies in Munich, Mumbai and Manila by circumstances beyond their control.As a result, all these three incidents resulted in tragedies of various proportions.
* Four, the fact that the hostage-taker was writing out his demands on pieces of paper and pasting them on the windows for the police outside to read indicates that the communication set of the bus driver with his control station or the mobile hand-sets of the police and the hostage-taker were not being used throghout the incident. It is not known why. When the negotiators communicate with a hostage-taker orally it has a better impact than when they communicate with written notes. Persuasion is possible. It was reported that the brother of the hostage-taker and other relatives did try to persuade him----unsuccessfully--- to surrender. One does not know how they did so--- orally throgh mobile handsets or in writing,.
* Five, it has been reported that as a result of the negotiations, the hostage-taker did release nine passengers because of their age and health. This might have enabled the police to make a forcible entry into the bus by taking advantage of the opening of the door to allow these persons come out. Why they could not use this opportunity? It is not clear.
* Six, the bus was so air tight that the police had difficulty in making an opening through a sledge-hammer. After plane hijackings started, aircraft are so designed as to enable forcible and stealth entry by the special intervention forces. Buses are not so designed.The police have no way of making a forcible entry except by breaking the glasses in the full view of the hostage-taker.
* Seven, the police apparently prolonged the negotiations till nighfall hoping this would make some stealth movement possible. But, unforunately, the bus under the control of the hostage-taker was in a brightly-lit area of Manila and the police had not got the electricity to that area switched off before launching their attack on the bus.
* Eight, a basic principle in dealing with hostage-taking situations is, do not concede the demand of the hostage-taker. This could create more such incidents. In this case, some flexibility in the adherence to this principle was called for. The police could have tactically conceded the demand of the hostage-taker by agreeing to reinstate him and then sacked him again after he had released the passengers. A rigid adherence to the principle was unwise. Why the police did not consider this alternative?

3. The Filipino authorities would be making a detailed enquiry into the deficiencies, if any, in the handling of the situation and drawing lessons for the future. To prevent such incidents during the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, the Government of India should immediately send a joint team consisting of senior officers of the Intelligence Bureau, the Research & Analysis Wing, the National Security Guards and the Delhi Police to Manila for detailed discussions with their Filipino counterparts so that the lessons drawn by them could be incorporated into the security planning for the Delhi games. One can envisage two kinds of situations:

* Firstly, hijacking a normal bus or vehicle used by the public. It will be difficult to make anti-hijacking changes in them.
* Secondly, hijacking of buses used by the participants in the Games. Would it be possible at this late stage to provide them with remote control mrchanism for opening the doors from outside?

4. The Chinese authorities, who would be organising the Asian Games in November,2010, should also draw appropriate lessons and incorporate them in their security planning. We should also have an exchange of notes with the Chinese security agencies on how to prevent such incidents during the Commonwealth and Asian Games. (24-8-10)

( 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: )




According to Garowe Online, a Somali news web site, some members of Al-Shabaab, the Somali associate of Al Qaeda, were killed during an accidental explosion on August 20,2010, in a house in the Hawl-Wadaag district of Mogadishu, where members of Al-Shabaab were preparing two explosive-laden vehicles for use as car bombs. The news web site claimed that the house belonged to Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansoor, the deputy leader of Al-Shabaab.It was not clear whether he was present in the house at the time of the explosion and, if so, what happened to him. It did not give details of those killed except to say that there were both foreigners and Somalis.

2. Citing “security sources”, the local Ministry of Information and Radio Mogadishu reported on August 21 that at least 10 persons were killed in the accidental explosion-----three Pakistanis, two Indians, one Afghan, one Algerian, and two Somalis including a cleric who was in charge of praying for suicide bombers before they were dispatched. They did not indicate the nationality of the 10th person.Nor did they identify the Indians and Pakistanis killed or say as to how the security sources established that they were Indians and Pakistanis. Al- Shabaab has not so far admitted that the killed persons belonged to it. The local authorities claim to have established that the cleric killed in the explosion was Awais Abu Yusuf, a local Imam.

3.The Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) of Pakistan has been quite active in Somalia since the early 1990s. Despite a local ban on its activities, persons recruited by it in Pakistan have been visiting Somalia for religious preaching. The Somali authorities suspected that the TJ was in touch with local Wahabi/fundamentalist elements and that Pakistani jihadi organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul—Mujahideen (HUM) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) were active in the local Muslim community under the cover of TJ volunteers. Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the JEM, had spent some months in Somalia in the 1990s when he was a member of the HUM. Al-Shabaab is believed to have a small component of Pakistani volunteers.

4. No Indian Muslim component of the organization had come to notice in the past. Till 2003, there were about 200 Bohra Muslims from India working in Somalia in the business of textiles dyeing. Many of them have since re-settled in Mombasa in Kenya. They had not come to notice for any association with extremist elements. If it is established that Al-Shabaab has a component of Indian origin, its members are likely to have been recruited either from the Indian Muslim diaspora in East Africa or the UK. In the past, there were instances of individual Indian Muslims from the diaspora in the UK either gravitating towards Al Qaeda or its associates or being influenced by its ideology. So far, there has been no confirmed instance of India-based Muslims joining Al Qaeda or pro-Al Qaeda organizations such as Al-Shabaab.

5. Indian intelligence and investigative agencies should seek more information from the local authorities in Mogadishu. This may please be read in continuation of my article dated July 13,2010, titled "KAMPALA BLASTS: Indian Casualties?" at and article of December 4,2009, titled "The Somali Front of the Global Jihad" available at (23-8-10)

( 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, August 20, 2010




It has been difficult to estimate the damage suffered by Al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the various Punjabi terrorist organizations as a result of the floods in Pakistan. They must have suffered damages because many of their training camps were located in areas which are under water. North Waziristan, where the bases of Al Qaeda, the TTP, the Haqqani network, the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) are located is one of the affected areas in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

2.One could see that the Afghan Taliban, which operates from the Quetta area of Balochistan, has not been much affected. It has maintained its operations in Afghanistan even after the deluge. The operational difficulties of the NATO forces in Afghanistan could increase because the destruction of many roads and bridges could slow down the movement of logistic supplies to the NATO forces from the Karachi port.

3.The fact that even in the midst of the floods, the Pakistan Army has maintained a high level of air activity against the TTP in the Orakzai and Khurram Agencies of the FATA in retaliation for attacks by the TTP indicates that the terrorists continue to be active in these two agencies despite the floods. According to the Associated Press of Pakistan ( August 20 ), at least seven terrorists were killed and seven others injured when the security forces retaliated after an attack on a security checkpost in the Tapoo area of the Orakzai Agency in which one officer of the security forces was killed and another injured. The Army carried out an air strike on the hideouts of terrorists in the Wasti Kurram and Chinarak areas of the Kurram Agency. The floods have not affected the operations of the Drones (pilotless strike planes) of the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency. The success rate could, however, come down since the floods are likely to affect the movements of human agents and their ability to communicate with their handling officers.

4.The Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) have also joined the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) in the collection of funds for flood relief and in organizing relief. They have extended their fund collection activities to all big cities, including Karachi. Taking note of international concerns over the activities of these organizations, which are all banned in the US and under decisions of the anti-terrorism monitoring committee of the UN Security Council, Mr.Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister, has ostensibly ordered the police and the security agencies to stop their activities, but his orders are not being complied with. Some of the large flow of funds for flood relief from Wahabi charity organisations in Saudi Arabia could go to these organisations and, ultimately, through them to Al Qaeda.

5.As a result of the surge in the popularity of the JUD and the LET because of their undoubtedly energetic work in the flood-affected areas, the outcome of the trial against the seven members of the LET for their participation in the conspiracy to carry out the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai has become uncertain. The sympathy of not only the public, but also sections of the judiciary will be with these organizations.

6.Will the preoccupation of these organizations with flood relief work come in the way of their operations in India? Unlikely. The similar preoccupation of these organizations with quake relief work in 2005 and the severe fatalities and damages suffered by the JUD and the LET as a result of the quake in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and by the JEM in the Manshera area of Khyber Pakhtunkwa did not affect their ability to plan and carry out terrorist strikes in India as was seen by the suburban train explosions in Mumbai in July 2006.

7.The floods have not dampened the wave of inter-ethnic and Shia-Sunni sectarian violence that has been intermittently sweeping across Karachi since the beginning of this year. On August 19, an Awami National Party (ANP) office bearer, Ubaidullah Yousufzai, was gunned down along with a colleague near the Quaid-e-Azam International Airport. In the subsequent clashes between Mohajirs of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Pashtuns of the ANP, 11 people were shot dead and 16 others injured. Many trucks were set on fire, including some belonging to companies engaged by the NATO to move logistic supplies to the NATO forces in Afghanistan from the Karachi port.

8.Non-Governmental organizations have been active in flood relief --- even in Khyber Pakhtunkwa--- as they were in quake relief in 2005. These organizations come under two categories---- organizations with a religious background and those with a secular background. Some Christian organizations are already active such as the World Vision and the Church World Service. Many western Christian organizations, which participated in quake relief work in Haiti, had employed media managers to publicise their contribution. In Pakistan, attempts are being made to project their assistance to the flood victims as “Christian assistance”. This is unwise and could be suicidal. Their activities are likely to be misinterpreted as an attempt to exploit the human tragedy for their conversion work. Recently, there was a massacre of about 10 Western humanitarian workers in Afghanistan by the Afghan Taliban which falsely projected them as missionaries trying to convert Afghan Muslims to Christianity.

9.There is palpable concern among Western secular organizations engaged in flood relief regarding the security of their volunteers. This is reflected from the queries I have been getting for my assessment of the likely risks to their volunteers in Pakistan.

10.According to the Reuters news agency, the TTP has urged the Pakistan Government to reject Western aid for victims of the floods, saying it would only be siphoned off by corrupt officials. Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban have not yet reacted to the floods and to the flow of Western assistance. The concentration of the US aid efforts in the Swat Valley of Khyber Pakhtunkwa could cause concern to these organizations. (21-8-10)

( 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, August 17, 2010



"According to local Police sources, the TTP ( Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan) leadership also suspects Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the Amir of the Pakistan branch of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), who had reportedly ingratiated himself with Baitullah (Mehsud) and was collaborating with him. Last week, the Islamabad Police reported that he was found to be undergoing treatment in an Islamabad hospital for an injury suspected to have been sustained in a Drone attack and has been taken into custody. This is the fifth or sixth time Qari Saifullah has been taken into custody for questioning. Previously, he was detained for questioning in connection with a coup plot against Benazir Bhutto in 1995, the two attempts to murder Pervez Musharraf in December,2003, the attack on Benazir Bhutto in Karachi in October, 2007, and the murder of the Surgeon General of the Pakistan Army early last year. Every time he managed to come out unscathed.

"The HUJI was not banned by Musharraf as a terrorist organisation either in his notification of January 2002 or in his notification of November, 2003. No action has been taken against it by the present Government either. While the US has declared the Bangladesh branch of the HUJI as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation, it has not made a similar declaration against the HUJI of Pakistan. It has not declared Saifullah as a terrorist, No action has been taken by the US to move for the declaration of the HUJI of Pakistan as a terrorist organisation by the anti-terrorism committee of the UN Security Council. All actions taken so far either by the US or the committee of the UNSC, which generally acts at the US initiative, have been against the Bangladesh branch. It is suspected that the US and Pakistani intelligence agencies have been going out of their way to protect the HUJI of Pakistan and Saifullah. Is he a double agent working for the ISI against the TTP and for the TTP against the Pakistan Army? That is the question which is reported to be troubling the new leadership of the TTP."

-----------Extract from my article of August 23,2009, titled "The Mobile Jihadi & The Double Jihadi" at


On January 14, 2010, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) filed before Judge Harry D.Leinenweber of the Northern District Court of Eastern Illinois Division a charge-sheet (indictment) relating to the role of David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in the Mumbai terrorist strikes of 26/11 of 2008 and in a planned terrorist attack on the office of a Danish newspaper in Denmark, which had published cartoons of the Holy Prophet in 2005.

2. The charge sheet projected the Mumbai attacks as a joint operation of the LET and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) involving, among others, four members of the LET and Major (retd) Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed alias Pasha, who acted as an intermediary between Headley and Rana on the one side and the Waziristan-based Ilyas Kashmiri, the head of the 313 Brigade of the HUJI on the other.

3.The charge-sheet also referred to a “Person A”, a resident of Pakistan", "who participated in planning and funding attacks carried out by the LET." It did not describe him as a member of the LET. By going through the charge-sheet, one could infer that Person A was most probably Major (retd) Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed alias Pasha. It was he who allegedly gave US $ 25,000 to Headley in July 2006 for his expenses in India, another sum of US $ 2000 in Indian rupees in September 2007 and a third amount of US $ 1500 in Indian rupees in June 2008.

4.While no Pakistani resident was cited as a co-accused in connection with the Mumbai attacks, Ilyas Kashmiri and Major Abdur Rehman were cited as co-accused in connection with the planned terrorist attack on the Danish newspaper office. The FBI had thus reserved to itself the option of demanding that Pakistan should arrest and extradite them to the US for trial. According to the charge-sheet, the Denmark attack was also envisaged as a joint LET-HUJI (313 Brigade) operation, but the LET withdrew from it in March 2009 following the action taken against some of its members by the Pakistani authorities in connection with the Mumbai attacks. Thereafter, it was planned as a purely HUJI attack.

5.Earlier in February 2009, when Headley met Ilyas Kashmiri in Waziristan along with Maj.Abdur Rehman, Ilyas Kashmiri informed him that he would arrange the manpower for the Denmark attack and that the participation of the LET was not necessary.( Please see my article of January 15,2010, at )

6.In the third week of April,2010, the "Dawn" of Karachi reported that five American Muslims ---- Umar Farooq, Waqar Hussain, Rami Zamzam,Ahmed Abdullah Mini and Amman Hassan Yammer---- who had been detained in Sargodha in the Punjab province in December 2009 on a charge of trying to establish contact with Al Qaeda had contacts with the HUJI and Saifullah. Pakistani police officers were quoted as saying that they had actually been recruited by Saifullah through the Internet.They have since been convicted and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.

7.While there had been instances since 2003 of the LET trying to set up sleeper cells in the US, this was the first time that the HUJI had come to notice for trying to set up a cell in the US. Concerned by this, the US authorities, who had till then refrained from declaring the HUJI as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation, moved to have it so declared.

8.On May 18,2010, Mrs.Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, issued two determinations ( Public Notices 7101 and 7102) declaring the HUJI as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation under section 219 of the
Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended. These two determinations had the following effect: Firstly, the HUJI was declared as an FTO because it "committed or poses a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism that threaten the security of US nationals or the national security, foreign policy or economy of the US." Secondly, action was initiated in co-ordination with the US Department of Treasury to have the HUJI and its leading office-bearers declared as specially-designated global terrorists to make them ineligible for US visas and to facilitate the seizure of any assets they may have in US territory. Thirdly, action was initiated for similar declarations by the anti-terrorism committee of the UN Security Council under UNSC Resolution No.1373 passed immediately after the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US homeland.

9.On April 27, 2006, the US State Department had isssued Executive Order 13224 designating the Jammat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the front organisation of the LET, as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation and blocking property and interests in property, of the JUD and another linked organzation, Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq, that are in the United States or the under the control of U.S. persons. Earlier, in December 2001, the US had designated the LET as a terrorist organisation, but its attempt to persuade the monitoring committee of the UN Security Council to similarly designate the LET could not succeed till May 2, 2005. During this period, Pakistan was a member of the monitoring committee, which monitors the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution No.1373 against terrorism. All members of the UN Security Council are members of this monitoring committee, which acts on the basis of consensus.Only after Pakistan completed its term as a temporary member of the UNSC in March 2005 was action initiated against the LET by the committee of the UNSC. But, even after Pakistan completed its term in the UNSC in March 2005, no action could be taken against the JUD by the UNSC Committee because of China's support to the Pakistani stand that the JUD was a humanitarian organisation, that had nothing to do with the LET. Only after the Mumbai terrorist strikes of 26/11 did China, with the prior clearance of Pakistan , lift its objection to the declaration of the JUD too as a terrorist organisation, but the Government of Pakistan has not yet declared the JUD as a terrorist organisation under its national laws.

10. But in the case of the HUJI, there was no opposition from China in the UN anti-terrorism committee to its being designated as a terrorist organisation. Either China did not oppose it on its own or refrained from opposing it after consulting Pakistan. As a result, things moved fast after Mrs.Clinton's two determinations of May 18,2010.

11.On August 6,2010, the State Department issued the following press release: "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has designated Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. These actions were taken in consultation with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Justice. In tandem with the HUJI designations, the Secretary of the Treasury also designated HUJI leader Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri under E.O. 13224 on August 6. These actions will give U.S. law enforcement additional tools needed to restrict the flow of resources to both HUJI and Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri. In addition, on August 6, the United Nations took similar actions against Harakat-ul Jihad Islami and Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri. These actions require all UN member states to implement an asset freeze, travel ban, and arms embargo against this group and individual. Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, said that “the joint State and Treasury Department actions taken today, in conjunction with the United Nation’s listing, illustrates the international community’s resolve to counter the threat posed by HUJI and its leader Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri.” Ambassador Benjamin further noted that “the linkages between HUJI and al-Qa’ida are clear, and today’s designations convey the operational relationship between these organizations.”

12.A separate press releasae of the US Department of Treasury issued the same day said:"Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri is at the core of HUJI's efforts to plan and carry out attacks against U.S. forces and our allies. He is responsible for creating a cadre of militants to act on behalf of HUJI and al-Qaida," said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey. "In acting together, the United States and United Nations are today taking another important step in combating the threat that al-Qa'ida and its affiliated organizations pose to innocent people around the world." Since 2001, Kashmiri has led HUJI training camps that specialized in terrorist operations, military tactics, and cross-border operations, including a militant training center in Miram Shah, North Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. In January 2009,( My comment: should read 2010) a federal grand jury in the Northern District of Illinois indicted Kashmiri for terrorism-related offenses in connection with a terrorist attack against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in Denmark."

13. There are two significant omissions in the action against the HUJI announced by the State Department and the Department of Treasury on August 6. Firstly, there is no reference to the joint role of the HUJI (313 Brigade) in the Mumbai terrorist strikes of 26/11. This role had been mentioned by the FBI in its indictment papers of January 2010 against Headley. Why this omission? Does the FBI now feel that Ilyas and his 313 Brigade were not involved in 26/11 and that it was purely an LET operation? Secondly, the US has refrained from having Saifullah declared as a global terrorist. Why so? This omission of action against Saifullah could strengthen speculation that like Headley he too was probably a double agent of the US intelligence, who had been helping the US in the collection of intelligence about the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

14. It remains to be seen whether the US would now exercise pressure on Pakistan to have the HUJI declared as a terrorist organisation under its national laws. ( 17-8-10)

( 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: )

Saturday, August 7, 2010

DETROIT---DECEMBER 25,2009, NEW YORK---MAY 1,2010 & HORMUZ---JULY 28,2010



Forensic experts of the United Arab Emirates are reported to have concluded that the "M Star", a fully-loaded Japanese oil tanker sailing home from Abu Dhabi through the Strait of Hormuz, which suffered easily-repaired damages in an incident of unknown origin on the night of July 28,2010, had been the target of a terrorist attack which failed to cause severe damages.

2. A local news agency, citing Coast Guard sources, has reported as follows: "An examination carried out by specialised teams had confirmed that the tanker had been the subject of a terrorist attack.UAE explosives experts who collected and examined samples found a dent on the starboard side above the water line and remains of home-made explosives on the hull. Probably the tanker had encountered a terrorist attack from a boat loaded with explosives."

3.US and Japanese officials, who are making their own investigation, have not yet come out with their finding. However, the suspicion of the UAE experts that a boat loaded with explosives had probably been involved in the attack corroborates a claim made on August 3 on behalf of a group called the Abdullah Azzam Brigades that it was responsible for the attack. The group posted a statement and a photo on an Islamist ( Al Faloja) website known to be used by pro-Al Qaeda terrorists. The statement said as follows: “Last Wednesday (July 28), after midnight, the martyrdom-seeking hero Ayyub al-Taishan blew himself up in the Japanese tanker M.Star in the Strait of Hormuz between the United Arab Emirates and Oman.” The photo posted on the web site was of the alleged suicide bomber (al- Taishan) dressed in an Arab-style white robe and cap, pointing at a picture of a supertanker on a videoscreen. The group claimed the attack was meant to be a blow to the global economy and the oil market and that those who have offered other explanations for the incident are trying to cover up the incident.

4.In 2005, a group with a similar name had claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack at the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh and for two unsuccessful rocket firings against two US warships in Jordan’s Aqaba port. The authenticity of the claims could not be established. It is not clear so far whether there is a separate pro-Al Qaeda organisation by that name or whether terrorists carrying out opportunistic attacks assume that name in homage to Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian of Jordanian origin who was among the first of the Arab volunteers to have gone to Pakistan to join the jihad of the 1980s against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. Many consider him to have been a mentor of Osama bin Laden.He used to live in Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber-Pakhtunkwa province of Pakistan, where he was killed under mysterious circumstances. He has many admirers in the Pashtun community in the Af-Pak region. When the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as the Pakistani Taliban is known, claimed responsibility for the attack on the Pearl Continental Hotel of Peshawar on June 9,2009, it claimed that the suicide attack was carried out by its Abdullah Azzam Shaheed Brigade or AASB.

5. The "News" of Pakistan reported as follows on June 11,2009:

"KOHAT: An unknown al-Qaeda-linked group, Abdullah Azzam Shaheed Brigade, claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s (June 9,2009) bombing at the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar, in which 17 people were killed and around 60 were injured.

"A spokesman of the organisation, Amir Muawiya, phoned reporters in Kohat city Wednesday (June 10,2009) to claim responsibility for the attack and threaten more such bombings. He said the bombing was in retaliation to the operations by the Pakistani armed forces at the behest of the US in Swat and rest of Malakand region and also in the tribal areas of Darra Adamkhel and Orakzai Agency. He claimed that important people including foreigners were killed when the hotel was car-bombed.

"Amir Muawiya is a Pakistani Taliban commander operating in the semi-tribal area of Darra Adamkhel, located between Peshawar and Kohat. His group, led by Commander Tariq Afridi, is affiliated to the Baitullah Mahsud-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

"According to Amir Muawiya, until now different groups used to claim responsibility for bomb attacks but now the central shura, or council, of Taliban and also al-Qaeda had decided that only the Abdullah Azzam Shaheed Brigade would in future do so and others would keep quiet.

"When asked about evidence that his group indeed had carried out the suicide bombing at the Pearl Continental Hotel, Peshawar, the spokesman said his group would be willing to explode a small bomb outside the BBC office in Islamabad to prove the group’s power and capability.

"The spokesman also claimed responsibility for some other recent terrorist attacks in Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar. He said his group had carried out the attack on the Police Training Academy, Manawan, Lahore, the bombing of the Nato transport terminals on the Ring Road in Peshawar and other assaults.

"By naming the group as Abdullah Azzam Shaheed Brigade, its founders apparently wanted to honour the late Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian from Jordan who was among the first Arab nationals who volunteered to join the Afghan jihad against the forces of the then Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He gave up his teaching job at the Islamic University in Islamabad and shifted to Peshawar to facilitate the Arab nationals who had been motivated by him to fight in Afghanistan.

"Abdullah Azzam is also credited with convincing Osama bin Laden, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, Sheikh Omar Abdur Rahman and others to come to Peshawar and take part in the Afghan war against the Soviet forces and Afghan communists. He was killed along with his two young sons in a bomb explosion in Peshawar in the late 1980s and all of them were buried at the Jalozai camp for Afghan refugees some 30 kilometres from Peshawar.

"Amir Muawiya did not explain the kind of links the Abdullah Azzam Shaheed Brigade had with al-Qaeda or the identity of the leader of the group. He also did not say as to how many Arab nationals were members of this group. It was not possible to confirm the claims of this largely unfamiliar group." ( End of the "News" report)

6. Did the terrorist or terrorists, who carried out the attack on the Pearl Continental Hotel and now on the Japanese tanker, come from the same organisation, namely, the TTP or were they co-ordinated by the same command and control, namely that of Al Qaeda----either from Pakistan's North Waziristan or Yemen? That is a question, which needs looking into.

7. The modus operandi of launching a suicide attack with a boat filled with explosives used against the Japanese tanker resembles the MO used earlier by Al Qaeda for attacks on US naval ship USS Cole in Aden in October 2000 and a French tanker Limberg off Aden in October 2002.An Al Qaeda suicide bomber rammed the American destroyer Cole in the port of Aden, killing 17 American sailors. Limburg, was attacked in a similar manner on October 6,2002, a few miles off the coast of Aden, and one Bulgarian crewman was killed.

8.The French tanker, carrying crude oil from Iran to Malaysia, was in the Gulf of Aden off Yemen to pick up more oil. It was sailing under charter for the Malaysian oil company Petronas. An explosives-filled dinghy rammed the starboard side of the tanker and detonated. The vessel caught fire and oil leaked into the Gulf of Aden. Local forensic experts found traces of TNT on the tanker. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. A statement attributed to bin Laden in jihadi web sites said: " By exploding the oil tanker in Yemen, the holy warriors hit the umbilical cord and lifeline of the crusader community, reminding the enemy of the heavy cost of blood and the gravity of losses they will pay as a price for their continued aggression on our community and looting of our wealth."

9. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was suspected to have been responsible for the attack. He was earlier suspected in the attack on USS Cole too.On February 3, 2006, Fawaz Yahya al-Rabeiee, who had been sentenced to death for the Limburg attack, and 22 other suspected or convicted Al Qaeda members escaped from jail in Yemen. Jamal al-Badawi, who organised the USS Cole bombing, was also among the escapees.Thirteen of the 23 escapees had been convicted for their role in the Cole and Limburg bombings. On October 1, 2006, al-Rabeiee and Mohammed Daylami were shot dead by Yemeni security forces in the capital Sanaa where they were hiding after escaping. One of the escapees was arrested. There was no information regarding the whereabouts of the remaining 20 escapees. There is a possibility that some of the escapees might have played a role in the attack on the Japanese tanker.

10. The attempt to blow up an American plane over Detroit on December 25,2009, the failed attempt to cause an explosion in Times Square in New York on May 1,2010, and the failed attack on the Japanese tanker have one common feature---- all the three were well-planned and well-strategised attacks that failed due to poor execution by the terrorists deputed and not due to the vigilance of the intelligence and security agencies. If the attacks had succeeded, the consequences might have been severe.

11. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was involved in the Detroit attempt. The TTP in the New York attempt. Who was involved in the Hormuz attempt? (8-8-10)

( 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, August 6, 2010



Some curious and intriguing aspects of the recent allegations of our investigating agencies against some Hindus of involvement in acts of terrorism against Muslims need to be highlighted.

2. The first relates to the incendiary explosion in the Samjauta Express. The second relates to the explosions in the Mecca Masjid of Hyderabad. The "Hindu" of July 31,2010, reported as follows: " The National Investigation Agency's probe into the Samjauta Express blasts will cover links with the explosions in Malegaon, Ajmer Sharif and the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, Home Minister P.Chidambaram said here on Friday ( July 30).... Asked about Hindutva organisations being suspects in the Samjauta and other three blasts, he declined to speculate."If we could do that, why would we hand it over to the NIA? Since the Haryana Police has not been able to crack the case, with their consent, the case has been handed over to the NIA."..... The CPI (M) has opposed separate investigations and called for a co-ordinated probe. It also alleged that three persons arrested for the Ajmer Sharif dargah blast (2007) were linked to the Abhinav Bharat organisation, which is said to be behind the Malegaon blast (2008). Their involvement is also suspected in the Mecca Masjid blast (2007) as the SIM card found in Ajmer belonged to the same batch used to trigger the Hyderabad blast."

3.In a press note issued on July 1, 2009, the US Department of Treasury gave the personal particulars of four persons--- a Pashtun born in Afghanistan, two Punjabis and a fourth person of unclear ethnicity originating from Karachi----associated with the Lashkare-Toiba (LET), who were designated by the Department under Executive Order 13224 “as providing direct support to Al Qaeda and the LET and as facilitating terrorist attacks, including the July 2006 train bombing in Mumbai.”

4. One Arif Qasmani of Karachi was specifically named by the Department as involed in the Mumbai suburban train blasts of July, 2006, and in the Samjautha Express blast of February, 2007. It said of him as follows: "Arif Qasmani is the chief coordinator for Lashkar-e Tayyiba's (LET) dealings with outside organizations and has provided significant support for LET terrorist operations. Qasmani has worked with LET to facilitate terrorist attacks, including the July 2006 train bombing in Mumbai, India, and the February 2007 Samjota Express bombing in Panipat, India. Qasmani conducted fundraising activities on behalf of LET in 2005 and utilized money that he received from Dawood Ibrahim, an Indian crime figure and terrorist supporter, to facilitate the July 2006 train bombing in Mumbai, India. Since 2001, Arif Qasmani has also provided financial and other support and services to al Qaida, including facilitating the movement of al Qaida leaders and personnel in and out of Afghanistan, the return of foreign fighters to their respective countries, and the provision of supplies and weapons. In return for Qasmani's support, al Qaida provided Qasmani with operatives to support the July 2006 train bombing in Mumbai, India, and the February 2007 Samjota Express bombing in Panipat, India. In 2005, Qasmani provided Taliban leaders with a safe haven and a means to smuggle personnel, equipment, and weapons into Afghanistan." ( )

5.Allegations have been made in India that some Hindus, who were arrested for their suspected involvement in the Ajmer Sharif blast, are also suspected of involvement in the Mecca Masjid blast of Hyderabad. On August 6,2010, the US State Department made public notifications designating the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) of Pakistan as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation and Ilyas Kashmiri belonging to it as an international terrorist. Similar action has been taken on US advice by the anti-terrorism sanctions committee of the UN Security Council the same day.

6. Reporting on these notifications, Mr.Peter Fowler, an American journalist, says as follows: "HUJI has carried out a number of terrorist attacks. In March 2006, HUJI was responsible for the suicide bombing of the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, which killed four people and injured 48 others. HUJI is also responsible for terrorist attacks in India including the May 2007 Hyderabad mosque attack, which killed 16 and injured 40, and the March 2007 Varanasi attack, which killed 25 and injured 100." ( )

7. Thus, according to American investigators the LET and Al Qaeda were responsible for the Samjauta Express blast and the HUJI for the Mecca Masjid blast.If the American investigators, who have better sources in Pakistan, are correct, how can our investigators claim that some arrested Hindus were responsible for these incidents? Justice and fairplay demand a thorough investigation into the two different versions that have emerged from Indian and American investigators. While the American investigators have blamed the LET, Al Qaeda and the HUJI, Indian investigators have blamed the Abhinav Bharat. Both cannot be correct. ( 7-8-2010)

( 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 enormous publicity, which the LET (Lashkar-e-Toiba) got for its sea-borne attack in Mumbai (on 26/11,2008), demonstrated the propaganda value of sea-borne attacks, where the surprise element is more. It is to be expected that not only Al Qaeda, but also other Al Qaeda allied elements such as those of the Jemmah Islamiyah and the Yemeni and Somali members of Al Qaeda might once again be tempted to think in terms of acts of maritime terrorism to prove that their capabilities are intact.”

----------- From my article of March 5,2010, titled “Fresh Fears of Maritime Terrorism “ at

There was a maritime incident of unexplained origin involving a Japanese supertanker named “M.Star” near the Strait of Hormuz on July 28,2010. The M Star, which is owned by the Mitsui OSK Lines, was on its way to the port of Chiba, near Tokyo. One crew member was slightly injured. But the tanker, which was loaded with 270,204 tonnes of oil, was able to continue under its own power to a port in the United Arab Emirates, where investigations were being conducted. News agency reports quoted Japanese officials as saying that an explosion had occurred in the rear starboard area of the ship, and that it was possible that the damage had been caused by an attack from outside. According to the Reuters news agency, the incident left the hull caved in on one side, blew off a lifeboat and smashed windows and doors.

2. However, Mr. Ataollah Sadr, Managing Director of the Iranian Navigation and Ports Organization, was quoted by the semi-official Mehr news agency of Iran as ruling out the possibility of a terrorist attack. He said: "Due to the presence of some inflammable steams and gases on the oil tankers, the possibility of a blast cannot be ruled out. Based on the dialogues and messages heard from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC), there has been news about a quake occurrence. The captains of the ships which were in the area have not ruled out the possibility of an earthquake. Now, the flame has been contained in the tanker and it is moving towards one of the ports in the littoral states of the Persian Gulf. Till now no comprehensive information has been received about the incident. We will announce the details upon receiving the authentic news."

3.Mr.Ali Akbar Saffai, the head of the marine department of Iran's southern province of Hormozgan, said that the incident took place in "Oman's trivial waters," rejecting earlier reports that the incident had occurred in the Strait of Hormuz. According to him, the explosion occurred when the ship was sailing in Oman waters in the western part of the strait.

4.The Chinese Xinhua news agency quoted Mr.Kenji Yoshimura of the Mitsui OSK Lines, as saying that the explosion did not lead to an oil leakage. According to him, the tanker was heading toward Japan after loading crude oil in the port of Das Island in Abu Dhabi when the blast took place.

5. Till August 3,2010, the incident was treated by analysts as probably an accident of unexplained origin and not as a terrorist attack. However, on August 3, a group calling itself the Abdullah Azzam Brigades posted a statement and a photo on an Islamist ( Al Faloja) website known to be used by pro-Al Qaeda terrorists. The statement said as follows: “Last Wednesday, after midnight, the martyrdom-seeking hero Ayyub al-Taishan blew himself up in the Japanese tanker M.Star in the Strait of Hormuz between the United Arab Emirates and Oman.”

6. The photo posted on the web site was of the alleged suicide bomber (al- Taishan) dressed in an Arab-style white robe and cap, pointing at a picture of a supertanker on a videoscreen. The group claimed the attack was meant to be a blow to the global economy and the oil market and that those who have offered other explanations for the incident are trying to cover up the incident.

7. It would be difficult to comment on the veracity of the claim made in the message till the damage suffered by the supertanker had been examined by experts. If it was an act of suicide terrorism as claimed, the suicide terrorist might have come in a boast filled with explosives and rammed against the tanker. Examination of the point of impact would indicate whether there had been ramming and whether explosives had been used.It is not clear why the organization waited for six days after the incident before it made the claim.

8. In 2005, an organization calling itself the Abdullah Azzam Brigades had claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack at the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh and for two unsuccessful rocket firings against two US warships in Jordan’s Aqaba port. The authenticity of the claims could not be established. It was presumed that a group of Egyptian terrorists must be operating under this name. This group had not come to notice earlier for having a capability for an act of maritime terrorism involving the ramming of a suicide boat against a ship or a tanker, but its unsuccessful firing of rockets against the two US ships in 2005 showed a capability for rocket attacks from a distance. But the organisation which claims to have attacked the Japanese tanker has projected it as an act of suicide terrorism. This would rule out the use of rockets.

9.Presuming that it was a planned attack on the tanker, one has to keep in view the possibility that pro-Al Qaeda terrorists from its branches in Yemen or Somalia might have been involved. It is going to be difficult to establish this. There is no reason to believe that the Japanese were specifically targeted. The perpetrators wanted to attack a tanker and the Japanese tanker came their way. Dangers of sporadic or opportunistic acts of maritime terrorism persist. (6-8-10)

(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: )

Thursday, August 5, 2010



The Organising Committee of the 2008 Olympics at Beijing did their country proud by the exemplary manner in which they organized it. The preparations were completed ahead of time, the security arrangements were impeccable and the Olympics were conducted with clock-like precision. The entire international sports-loving community applauded the Chinese for the brilliant way they organized it. The Chinese wanted to prove that not only China can do it, but also Asia can do it.

2. The Chinese will be hosting the 16th Asian Games at Guangzhou and Dongwuan from November 11 to 27. As usual, their preparations are ahead of time. On July 27, they held a massive security drill in these two cities to fine-tune the physical security arrangements and to test the reflexes of their security personnel who will be responsible for ensuring the security of the Games. They are confident of showing the world once again that China can do it and Asia can do it.

3. India is to host the 19th C’Wealth Games in New Delhi from October 3 to 14. Can we be proud of the way the Organising Committee headed by Shri Suresh Kalmadi has been going about it? Far from it. There have been increasing chaos and confusion with serious allegations flying around---of behind-the-schedule preparations, unsatisfactory construction of the required infrastructure, financial mismanagement and even corruption. In the midst of all these allegations and complaints, neither the Government of India nor the Organising Committee has had the time to pay close attention to the physical security aspects, which would demand a high-level of co-ordination from now onwards---- co-ordination at the international level for intelligence collection and sharing and at the national level for follow-up action.

4.Since 9/11, this will be the second most threatened international sports event. The first was the Olympics of 2003 at Athens. The Organising Committee of the Athens Olympics and the local Government sought and received the co-operation of the intelligence and security agencies of the NATO countries, including the US. The Beijing Olympics did not face such serious threats. Yet, the Organising Committee and the Government of China made security arrangements on the same scale as were made at Athens--- in fact, even more.

5. The forthcoming New Delhi C’Wealth Games will be taking place in the sub-continent where all the jihadi terrorist organizations of the world, including Al Qaeda, have an active presence and are looking for the possibility of an opportunistic act of terrorism of a spectacular nature. This is the first time since 9/11 that they will have an opportunity in their home terrain for a spectacular attack on an international event which would get them publicity the like of which they could not have hoped for. The 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri, based in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, has already held out the threat of an attack on the Games.

6. If we had been able to complete the infrastructure in time, we would have been able to plan better the required security arrangements and benefited from the advice of others. With the preparations still haphazard, the difficulties faced by our security agencies are bound to increase.

7. There are three serious issues involved in the run-up to the Games---- growing suspicions of financial mismanagement and corruption, behind-the-schedule preparations and the difficulties which would consequently be faced in making the security arrangements. The national and international credibility of Shri Kalmadi has been dented by the allegations and the daily focus of the TV channels on these allegations. How can he and the Organising Committee pay the required attention to completing the arrangements in time and co-ordinating with the Government agencies the physical security arrangements when they have been constrained to spend their time in countering these daily allegations?

8. Instead of continuing to dither, the Government should immediately step in and replace Shri Kalmadi and the Organising Committee. The new Organising Committee should be given the task of completing the preparations in time and making a success of the Games. It should not be burdened with countering the allegations of financial mismanagement and corruption. A separate committee should be set up to deal with these allegations.

9. This may please be read in continuation of my earlier article of February 17, 2010, titled “Post-Pune Blast Developments---Attempt to Intimidate Foreign Sports Teams” at and article of February 19, 2010, titled “Making a Success of Sports Events Will Contribute to Defeat of Terrorism” at (6-8-2010)

( 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, August 4, 2010



“The increasing virulence of the Mohajir-Pashtun and Punjabi Sunni-Mohajir Shia animosities is once again making Karachi a bleeding city . Since the beginning of this year, over 50 persons are reported to have died in Mohajir-Pashtun clashes and about a hundred Shias have been killed in attacks on Shia religious gatherings by Sunni extremists. If the increasing violence in Karachi is not controlled in time, it will further damage an already weak Pakistani economy, pave the way for the ingress of the Taliban into the city and create additional problems for maintaining the logistic supplies to the NATO troops in Afghanistan. Law and order has to be maintained in Karachi and the efforts of the TTP ( Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan) to gain a foothold there thwarted. Despite the deteriorating situation in Karachi, one has the impression that neither the federal Government of President Asif Ali Zardari nor the Pakistan Army nor the US-led NATO forces is paying serious attention to the important task of restoring law and order in Karachi. One sees a disturbing policy of drift which could prove dangerous. The importance of Karachi for the success of the US "war" against the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda has hardly been given any prominence in the discussions in Washington DC on Af-Pak policy options.”

----From my article of Feb 7,2010, titled “Karachi & Af-Pak Policy Options” at

At least 63 people were killed and more than 150 injured during two days of violence in Karachi following the assassination of Raza Haider, a member of the Sindh Provincial Assembly belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), on the evening of August 2,2010. He was a respected leader of the Shia community of Karachi.

2. Initial suspicions and allegations by the MQM that he had been assassinated by the Awami National Party (ANP), a Pashtun-dominated political party with which the MQM has serious animosities despite the two supporting the ruling coalition in Islamabad and Karachi led to widespread retaliatory attacks by the followers of the MQM on the Pashtuns living in Karachi. This predominantly Mohajir ( Muslim refugees from India) city has more Pashtuns than Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa Province ( previously known as the North-West Frontier Province). Speaking in the Senate, the upper House of the Parliament, on August 3, Mr.Haji Adeel, a member of the ANP, said that on the first day of the violence as many as 38 Pashtuns from Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa and Balochistan living in Karachi had been killed and another 130 injured. Hotels and kiosks and over 30 vehicles belonging to Pashtuns were gutted.

3. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah said at Sukkur on August 3 that the assassination of Raza Haider was not an incident of targeted killing but an act of terrorism. He reassured the Mohajirs that the ANP had nothing to do with the assassination. He claimed that a banned religious outfit was responsible for the assassination. He did not name it, but it was believed that he was referring to the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ). The Karachi police have also detained a number of suspected members of the LEJ for interrogation.

4. Mr.Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister, has accused the anti-Shia Sipah-e-Sahaba, the parent unit of the LEJ, and the TTP of being responsible for the assassination of Haider. According to him, they killed him in order to drive a wedge between the ANP and the MQM. Independent police sources also suspect that Haider was assassinated by the LEJ and that the ANP had nothing to do with it. The fact that the MQM members went on a rampage against the Pashtun community underlines the continuing fragility of the relations between the Mohajirs and the Pashtuns in Karachi.

5. Even though the Sipah-e-Sahaba and the LEJ have killed more than a hundred prominent members of the Shia community in Karachi, many of them refugees from India, neither the Federal nor the provincial Government has been able to put a stop to the activities of these anti-Shia organizations. The LEJ repeatedly targets the Shias of Karachi because they are highly educated and affluent and constitute the intellectual elite of the Shia community of Pakistan whereas the Shias of Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Khurram largely come from the land-owning and peasant communities. It kills the latter because of their devotion to their sect and the Shias of Karachi because of their intellectual attainments. (5-8-10)

( 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, August 3, 2010



( To be read in continuation of my earlier article of July 8,2010, titled "The Shadows in J & K " available at )

We are facing an Intifada of the Palestinian model in J & K for the first time. It is a spontaneous outburst of anger by sections of the youth over what they allege is the disproportionate use of force by the police and the CRPF ( Central Reserve Police Force).They have not raised----not yet---issues regarding the future of J&K.Pakistan is now exploiting the anger of the youth for raising the issue of the future of the State once again, but it did no create that anger.

2.Initially, we might have been able to reduce the anger if we had ordered enquiries into the allegations regarding disproportionate force and false encounters. We hesitated to order enquiries probably because of fears that the CRPF's morale might be affected. We then vaguely promised enquiries, but never carried out the promise after a lull set in.

3.The lull is now broken. The spontaneous anger is showing signs of becoming organised anger. There are fund collections in Pakistan to keep the anger sustained. Since the international community looks upon J&K as a disputed territory and understands Pakistan's interest in it, it will not exercise pressure on Pakistan in the way it did after 26/11. The UN Secretary-General has already issued a disquieting statement on the situation in the State.

4.A new generation of youth, who were not even born or who were just toddlers when the first phase of the insurgency broke out in 1989, is now in the forefront. The 1989 vintage of youth believed in the use of terrorism, involving attacks on soft targets and indiscriminate killing of civilians and driving out the Hindus. There is a new generation of youth activists which believes in street violence directed against the security forces without targeting civilians and which has seen to it that the on-going agitation does not affect the Hindus participating in the Amarnath Yatra. We are seeing a new insurgency in J&K similar to the one in Gaza.

5.When the first insurgency started in 1989, we did not have private TV channels to give a voice and photo-ops to the insurgents. The present insurgency is taking place at a time when private news channels have mushroomed and are focussing on the anger of the youth. It is a vicious circle. The security forces cannot tolerate street violence. Their legitimate use of force to protect lives and property is resulting in increasing fatalities---most of them unavoidable.

6.There have been some fatalities which are unclear. On August 3, one youth died during clashes between the security forces and the agitators. According to the security forces, he was trampled to death by the fleeing agitators. According to the agitators, he was beaten to death by the security forces. The failure of the Administration to explain such incidents in a satisfactory manner, is adding to the anger.

7.We must avoid demonisation of the youth who are participating in the agitation against the security forces. We must mobilise law-abiding youth to win over the law-breaking youth. All political parties---- in J & K as well as in New Delhi--- must activate their youth wings and give them this task.

8.The Government should actively interact with media editors---particularly those of the TV news channels-- and convince them of the need for anger-mitigating balance in their coverage---- spot reports and studio debates.Retired senior officers invited by the TV channels to comment should avoid adding to the anger of the youth by demonising them and avoid giving the impression that even in retirement they continue to bat for the security forces without consideration of its likely impact on the anger of the youth.

9.We rightly consider J & K to be an integral part of India. It will remain so only through conviction and persuasion and not through use of force. Repeated use of force against our own citizens may be tactically unavoidable and justified, but strategically counter-productive. We must be ruthless in our actions against the Pakistani infiltrators, but more nuanced and balanced in dealing with our co-citizens. ( 4-8-2010)

( 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: )