INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR: PAPER NO.397
(Based on two extempore interventions made by the writer at an international conference on " Terrorism: Threat Or Exaggeration" organised by the "Sabado"magazine of Lisbon at Lisbon on May 29 and 30,2008. He also submitted for circulation a power point presentation on Terroist Groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India & China's Xinjiang, which is annexed)
After the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, a New York-based journalist had come to India to study how the Indian people had reacted to the March,1993, serial explosions in Mumbai. She rang me up at Chennai and asked me what was my first impression on visiting the spot. I told her: "The explosions did not bother Mumbai's street children. They were playing cricket unconcerned near the scenes of the explosion. There was no sign of any panic."
2. The December 13,2001, attack on the Indian Parliament was the first terrorist strike in front of TV cameras. The whole attack was transmitted live by the TV channels. Some months later, I had been invited to the US on a lecture tour. I had taken with me video recordings of the terrorist strike on the Parliament and of terrorist incidents in the West. I used to show recordings of the Parliament attack as well as of the incidents in the West. I would then ask the audience:" Do you notice any difference?" They did not notice any. I then pointed out that in the Western scenes, scared people were running away from the scene. In the visuals of the Parliament attack, people were running towards the scene. Many had climbed on to tree branches and were watching the exchange of fire between the Police and the terrorists as if they were watching a film being shot by Steven Spielberg.
3. After the Bali explosion in Indonesia in October,2002, a meeting on terrorism was held in Bangkok. I attended the meeting. A Thai researcher presented a paper on the impact of the explosion on the tourist economy of Thailand and other countries of S.E Asia. According to him, after the explosion, practically all Western tourists, except some French, ran away from S.E.Asia. There were large-scale cancellations of air and hotel bookings. But Indian tourists did not run away and not a single Indian group cancelled its travel plans. On the contrary, many more Indian groups visited Thailand by taking advantage of the huge discounts offered by the airlines and hotels. He felt that the Thai tourist economy might have faced serious trouble but for the Indian tourists, who were not nervous or panicky after the explosion. He recommended that in future Thailand should pay more attention to promoting tourism from India.
4. I am mentioning these incidents to underline that no terrorist group---jihadi or non-jihadi--- generally succeeds in scaring or intimidating the Indian people. One of the objectives of the terrorists is to scare and intimidate the people. If they refuse to be scared or intimidated, the terrorists fail to achieve their objective. This is what we call the Indian spirit. So long as this spirit is alive and strong, no terrorist group will strategically succeed in India. We saw it in Punjab. We are seeing it in Jammu & Kashmir. We will see it in the rest of India where we continue to have sporadic acts of jihadi terrorism and Maoist terrorism.
5. India has been facing terrorism of different kinds---ethnic, separatist, jihadi and left extremist--- almost since its independence in 1947. None of them has ever succeeded. Despite their periodic attacks, the country continues to progress at 8 per cent plus, foreign investments continue to flow, India has emerged as a major IT power and India's foreign exchange reserves keep going up. This is the best way of dealing with terrorism---not to let yourself be intimidated and not to let the terrorists affect political stability and economic progress.
6. India has the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. No Indian Muslim went to Afghanistan in the 1980s to join the jihad against the Soviet troops. No Indian Muslim has gone to Afghanistan to join the jihad against the US and other NATO troops. No Indian Muslim has gone to Iraq to fight against the US troops.There is no Indian Muslim in the Guantanamo Bay centre for detained Al Qaeda suspects in Cuba run by the US. In the report of the US National Commission, which enquired into the 9/11 terrorist strikes, there is only one reference to India---- a visit to India by Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM), who is alleged to have orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist strikes on behalf of Osama bin Laden. He later told a US military tribunal that Al Qaeda had wanted to blow up the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi. But it did not.
7. Why? He did not explain. I could guess why. Because it did not have any local support in the Indian Muslim community.Many Pakistani terrorist organisations, which have joined the Al Qaeda-led International Islamic Front (IIF) formed in 1998, are active in different parts of India. They have been responsible for many of the terrorist strikes outside Kashmir. These are the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). Some Indian Muslims have joined them ---in India as well as from the Indian Muslim community in the Gulf.
8. But Al Qaeda as an organisation has not yet been active in India. There have been only two confirmed instances of Muslims of Indian origin gravitating towards Al Qaeda or its ideology. Both were residents of the UK. From time to time --- after terrorist attacks--- claims of responsibility are made on behalf of a so-called Indian branch of Al Qaeda. Indian Muslims ---- particularly in Kashmir--- are themselves the first to refute such claims. Indian Muslims do not deny that some of them have joined Pakistani jihadi organisations, but they always insist that none has joined Al Qaeda.
9. Why are they keeping away from Al Qaeda till now? Because they feel uncomfortable with the fact that it is largely an Arab organisation. Indian Muslims may accept money from Arab organisations---particularly from Saudi Arabia--- but they do not feel comfortable with Arabs. Sometime ago, a religious cleric in Hyderbad in Andhra Pradesh advised Indian Muslim girls not to marry Arabs. He alleged that Indian Muslim girls, who married Arabs and migrated to the Gulf, were ill-treated there. For an Indian Muslim, the cultural solidarity with the other Indians is more important than religious solidarity with the Arabs. So long as this feeling of cultural solidarity remains strong, Al Qaeda may continue to face difficulty in making an impact on the Indian Muslim community.
10. At the same time, we are concerned over certain trends in the Indian Muslim community. What are they?First, some Indian Muslim youth joining pro-Al Qaeda Pakistani jihadi organisations and helping them in carrying out terrorist strikes in different parts of India. Second, the beginning of an attraction for Al Qaeda in small sections of the Indian Muslim community in the UK. Third, the Glasgow incident of June,2007, which was the first instance of an Indian Muslim attempting an attack of suicide terrorism. Fortunately, this virus has not so far spread to India, but we have to be careful.
11. We in India do not believe that a Muslim is born to be violent. We do not believe that the Muslims of the world constitute a monolithic community. We do not believe that if you know one Muslim, you know all Muslims. We do not believe that all Muslims behave alike. At the same time, we are worried by the emerging trend of some Muslim youth belonging to organisations such as the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) taking to terrorism in the name of jihad and projecting their so-called jihad as part of a global jihad.
12. In our counter-terrorism policies, we make a distinction between the jihadi terrorists and peaceful members of the Muslim community. We focus our counter-terrorism policies on the terrorists and not on the community. While enunciating counter-terrorism policies, our Governments carefully consider their impact on the Muslim community as a whole and take care not to drive more Muslims into the arms of the terrorists. This should explain the reluctance of the Government to give greater powers to the Police as demanded by them.
13. Indian counter-terrorism is based on the principle that except in the border areas, where we face the problem of cross-border terrorism, the police has to be the weapon of first resort against terrorism and the Army the weapon of last resort. We do believe that the difficulties faced by the US and other NATO countries in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries is due to their failure to make this distinction between a small group of jihadi terrorists and the large numbers of the community. It is also due to the militarisation of counter-terrorism or Americanisation of counter-terrorism. This over-militarisation or Americanisation of counter-terrorism has itself become another cause of aggravated terrorism. We have carefully avoided associating ourselves with such policies.
14. I attend every year a number of international seminars or conferences on terrorism attended by well-known Western terrorism experts. I notice that they constitute an inbred community of analysts--- quoting from each other's analysis and corroborating each other. "I cite you, you cite me; I invite you to my conferences, you invite me to yours". That is the way they operate. I rarely come across an instance of a Western analyst citing an analysis made in the Islamic world. They seem to be interested only in each other's analysis. They are not well-informed about the thinking in the Islamic world. If you want to make a meaningful analysis, you must be abreast of the analyses coming out of the Muslim world.
15.There are two aspects to counter-terrorism---- the professional and the ideological and psychological. The professional deals with matters such as capacity-building, prevention, investigation, promoting international co-operation on the ground etc. That is the easier part of counter-terrorism.
16. The difficult part is understanding the mindset behind terrorism and countering it ideologically and psychologically. We tend to focus on what we understand. We do not focus on what we don't understand. What we have not been able to understand till now is the mindset and how to deal with it.After the London blasts of July,2005, Mr.Tony Blair, the then British Prime Minister, emphasised the importance of paying more attention to the ideological and psychological aspects. So did Mr.Gordon Brown after taking over as the Prime Minister. But this subject hardly figures in conferences and seminars such as this.
17. More than the frequent acts of jihadi terrorism in India, what concerns me is the mindset of large sections of the Muslim community---- young or old, fundamentalist or liberal. This mindset refuses to accept that there is a thing called jihadi terrorism and that many terrorists of today are Muslims.Recently, a number of Muslim clerics and scholars of India have come out with statements strongly condemning terrorism. They have reiterated these statements after the Jaipur blasts of May 13,2008. We in India have rightly welcomed them.
18.Does their action mean there has been a change in their mindset? I am not convinced of that. I will concede that there has been the beginning of a change in the mindset the day they condemn not only terrorism, but also the perpetrators, even if they are Muslims. They don't till now.
19. I recently attended a debate on terrorism in India, which was also attended by a leading Indian Muslim cleric-cum-intellectual.The statements condemning terrorism were welcomed by the participants. He was asked to go one step further and condemn organisations such as Al Qaeda and the SIMI, which indulge in terrorism. He declined. He said: " We do not have any independent information to show they are terrorist organisations. All the information we have presently comes from American or European sources or from the Indian intelligence and police. We will consider the matter the day we have independent information." He was asked what, in his view, would constitute independent information. He replied: " It is up to you to collect independent information."
20. Intervening in a recent debate in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the activities of Al Qaeda from the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, Senator John Kerry made a similar point. He had recently visited Pakistan and met many political leaders. He said that while all of them readily and strongly condemned terrorism and reiterated their determination to co-operate with the US against terrorism, they avoided mentioning the names of Al Qaeda or the Taliban or any other organisation. They evaded any assurance that they would co-operate with the US against Al Qaeda or the Taliban.
21. That is the problem confronting all of us in the international community----the reluctance of Muslim leadership all over the world to condemn the perpetrators of terrorism if they happen to be Muslims. 'The Muslims can do no wrong. All the evils of the world are due to non-Muslims." That seems to be their belief. How to deal with this mindset? This is a question which needs to be discussed in depth by a small group of like-minded people.
22. Jihadi terrorism is undergoing a metamorphosis. Many of those, who are suspected of participating in the wave of suicide terrorism in Pakistan since July last, grew up to adulthood after 9/11. One of the suspects in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case is a minor. He must have been six or seven years old on 9/11. They do not look upon the old generation leaders such as Osama bin Laden or Ayman Al-Zawahiri with the same awe and reverence as the more grown-ups of Afghan vintage do. They believe in their own way of carrying on jihad. The old generation of jihadis in Pakistan hesitated to attack the Pakistan Army. They considered any attacks on the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence as a betrayal of Pakistan. The new generation of jihadis has no qualms over attacking officers of the Pakistan Armed Forces. If the interests of Pakistani Islam and global Islam clash, they are prepared to die for global Islam at the expense of Pakistani Islam. Sections of the Pakistani media reported last year that Pashtun mothers are playing a role in motivating one of their sons to volunteer for suicide terrorism for the cause of Islam.
23. Since the elected coalition Government headed by Mr.Yousef Raza Gilani assumed office in Islamabad on March 25,2008, there has been a dramatic drop in suicide terrorism in Pakistan---even in the tribal areas. Jihadi attacks on the Armed forces have declined. The Gilani Government attributes this to its departure from Pervez Musharraf's policy of uncritical support to American counter-terrorism policies and objective and to its action in restoring to the Police and the para-military their due role in counter-terrorism.
24. This may be true, but only to a small extent. The real reason is that in order to bring down suicide terrorism in Pakistani territory, it has made many concessions to the Pakistani Taliban, which would strengthen their capability for action against the NATO forces and the Afghan National Army in Afghanistan. It has already entered into a peace deal with the Taliban forces in the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) headed by Maulana Fazlullah and is negotiating a similar deal with Baitillah Mehsud, the Amir of the Pakistani Taliban,who is based in South Waziristan in the FATA, despite his suspected involvement in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The Government has been embarrassed by a statement made by Baitullah to Pakistani journalists that he and the Pakistani Taliban would continue to assist the Taliban in Afghanistan against the NATO forces. NATO spokesmen have stated that the peace deals and the concessions have resulted in an increase in infiltration of terrorists into Afghanistan from Pakistan.
25. India has been facing a similar danger of increased infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan as a result of the relaxation of the restrictions on the anti-India terrorist organisations. Moreover, after a lull of two years, there have again been reports of violations of cease-fire by the Pakistan Army along the Line of Control (LOC) in J&K. The Pakistani media has repeatedly reported that as part of the peace deals the Gilani Government has agreed to withdraw the Army troops from the FATA and replace them with para-military forces such as the Frontier Corps. There is a possibility that the coalition Government might create fresh tensions along the LOC in order to justify to the US its shifting of troops presently deployed in the FATA to the LOC area and thereby meet the demands of the Taliban for withdrawing regular Army troops ftrom the FATA.
26. Pakistan has the legitimate right to protect the lives of its citizens from the terrorists. Similarly, India has the legitimate right to protect the lives of its citizens from Pakistan-based terrorists. So too Afghanistan. The US and the NATO forces have a similar right to protect the lives of their citizens from Pakistan-based Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations and to prevent another 9/11 in the US homeland. The only way of achieving all these objectives is by destroying all terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory---whether directed against India or Afghanistan or the US and other NATO countries. Instead of doing this, the coalition Government is trying to reduce acts of terrorism in Pakistani territory by encouraging and assisting these terrorists to go and operate in Indian and Afghan territories and in Europe and the US. The international community should strongly oppose this. (2-6-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also the author of " A Terrorist State As a Fontline Ally" and "Intelligence---Past, Present & Future" published in 2001, " the Kaoboys of R&AW---Down Memory Lane" published on July 30,2007, and "Terrorism--- Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow" being released for sale on June 8,2008. All the four books have been published by Lancer Publishers of New Delhi. www.lancerpublishers.com. The writer's E-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org )
TERRORIST GROUPS IN PAKISTAN,AFGHANISTAN, INDIA & CHINA’S XINJIANG
PAKISTAN: AN OVERVIEW
1.There were 56 acts of suicide terrorism in Pakistan during 2007 as against only six in 2006. Of these, 44 were committed in the tribal belt---23 in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and 21 in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The remaining 12 were in non-tribal areas---nine in Punjab, two in Balochistan and one in Sindh.
2.There were 17 acts of suicide terrorism between January 1, 2008, and March 25, 2008, when the new elected coalition Government headed by Mr.Yousef Raza Gilani assumed office . Of these, 11 were in the tribal belt---seven in the NWFP and four in the FATA. The remaining six were in Punjab.
3.The number of fatalities--- combatants as well as non-combatants--- increased from 137 in 2006 to 636 in 2007. There have so far been 278 fatalities this year. Of these 266 were reported before the new Government took office.
4.There have been only 12 fatalities due to suicide terrorism since the new Government took office two months ago. During this period, there was no act of suicide terrorism in the non-tribal areas and only one in the tribal belt at Mardan in the NWFP on May 18,2008.
5.The steep increase in suicide terrorism in 2007 was due to the following reasons:
(a). Anger over the co-operation extended by Gen.Pervez Musharraf to the US in its fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban of Afghanistan.
(b). Anger over the raid by commandoes of the Pakistan Army into the Lal (red) Masjid in Islambad between July 10 and 13,2007, to free it from the control of pro-Al Qaeda extremists. Three hundred tribal children studying in the madrasas of the Masjid allegedly died during the raid.
6.The steep decrease in suicide terrorism since March 25,2008, is due to the various concessions made by the elected Government to a pro-Al Qaeda coalition of tribal extremist groups called the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP---meaning the Taliban Movement of Pakistan), of which the Amir is Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan in the FATA. He is the principal suspect in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto on December 27,2007. Among the various concessions made or being made are:
(a).Enforcement of the Sharia in the Malakand Division of the NWFP, including the Swat Valley.
(b). Financial assistance from the NWFP Government for the establishment of an Islamic University at Imamdheri, the headquarters of the Swat Valley unit of the TTP, which would be managed jointly by the NWFP Govt. and the Pakistani Taliban.
( c ). Regularisation of the illegal FM radio stations run from mosques and madrasas in the tribal belt, which are carrying on propaganda against the NATO forces in Afghanistan and President Hamid Karzai.
(d). Withdrawal of the economic blockade imposed by the Army in the FATA.
(e).Non-opposition to the release on bail of clerics and others arrested during the commando raid in the Lal Masjid.
(f).The Government has reportedly accepted the demand of Baitullah that the two madrasas---one for boys and the other for girls--- attached to the Lal Masjid should be allowed to function again without any hindrance.
(g).Tariq Azizuddin, Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan, who was kidnapped by suspected Afghan Taliban elements on February 11,2008, was released on May 17,2008. While the Gilani Government has been claiming that he was got released by the security forces during an operation and has denied any deal with the Taliban, spokesmen of the TTP have asserted that in return for the release of the Ambassador, the Gilani Government has released Maulvi Obaidullah, former Defence Minister of the Afghan Taliban, who was a close associate of Mulla Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Afghan Taliban, and 54 other members of the Afghan Taliban, who were in different jails in the NWFP and Balochistan.
7.The NWFP Government has already signed a peace deal with a component of the Pakistani Taliban in the Swat Valley of the NWFP and the Federal Government is negotiating a similar deal with Baitullah Mehsud. The Government has denied media reports that as part of these peace deals it has agreed to withdraw army troops from the tribal belt and make the Frontier Corps, a para-military unit, responsible for security in the area.
8.The various concessions made by the Government to the Taliban and the peace deals will have the effect of allowing the Taliban to operate with greater freedom against the US and other NATO forces and the Afghan Army from sanctuaries in the Pakistani tribal belt.
9.The proposed withdrawal of the Pakistani troops from the tribal areas, if confirmed, will have the effect of allowing Al Qaeda and its associates to operate with greater freedom from North Waziristan, where they are presently based.US officials, including Mr.John Negroponte, the Deputy Secretary of State, and Congressional leaders have openly expressed their concern over these developments, but this has had no effect on the Government.
10.Even while openly proclaiming its determination to co-operate with the US against terrorism, the Government has been making concessions to the Taliban in order to end suicide terrorism in Pakistan.
AFGHANISTAN: AN OVERVIEW
11.In terms of fatalities, 2007 was the bloodiest year for the coalition forces since Operation Enduring Freedom was launched on October 11,2001. Of the 819 fatalities suffered since then, 232---that is more than one-fourth---were in 2007. They suffered an average of 19 fatalities per month. This year, till now, it has been 70 fatalities---- an average of 14 per month.
12.From the point of view of suicide terrorism too, 2007 was the worst year.
13.According to the Pajhwok Afghan News agency, during 2007 there were 137 suicide attacks in Afghanistan resulting in 1730 casualties. Even though the number of suicide attacks was less as compared with 2006, the casualties were 1.5 times higher. There were 141 suicide attacks in 2006 with 1166 casualties.
14.The number of civilian casualties due to suicide terrorism was higher in 2007 than during 2006. Three hundred civilians were killed and 757 wounded in 2007. In the security forces,171 policemen were killed and 213 wounded, 37 Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel were killed and 50 wounded. Twelve foreign soldiers were killed and 54 wounded.
15.One hundred and forty suicide attackers killed themselves in these 137 suicide attacks.Three suicide terrorists killed themselves in one attack in the Nangarhar province.
16.Some of the suicide attacks were most bloody like the one at Baghlan in which 80 persons, including six Members of Parliament, were killed. Thirty policemen and many civilians were killed in a suicide attack across Kabul police headquarters in June 2007. In another suicide attack in the Baharistan locality of Kabul city, 27 ANA troops were killed.
17.Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, was quoted as saying by the agency that even though they had threatened far more suicide attacks in 2007, they changed their tactics and diverted their plan to ambushes: "We want to hurt the opposition.Instead of losing our colleagues, we use other tactics to inflict more loses to enemies"
18. The number of suicide attacks has come down from an average of 11 per month in 2007 to about three per month this year. This was because of winter. It is expected to go up again in the summer months.In 2006, the Taliban demonstrated an ability to wage conventional as well as unconventional warfare. In conventional warfare, its troops were able to engage in large-scale attacks on coalition positions. The second half of 2007 saw a decline in its ability to engage in such large-scale conventional attacks. It rarely deployed groups of more than 10 for its conventional attacks.
19.In an investigative report (April 18,2008), “Newsweek” stated as follows: “The Taliban claims that its shift from large-scale engagements to smaller hit-and-run operations is less a sign of weakness than a change in strategy to counter heavy casualties incurred last year. Insurgent forces may have lost up to 50 per cent of their deputy commanders in 2007. The U.S. military believes it captured or killed some 100 midlevel Taliban COs.”
20..The death of Mulla Dadullah, a very competent conventional commander, in a clash in May, 2007, seems to have impaired the Taliban's capability for conventional fighting. It has not yet been able to produce a commander with a similar capability.
21.However, its capability for guerilla tactics and terrorism remain unimpaired under the leadership of Serjuddin Haqqani. It continues to exhibit a high level of proficiency in the assembling and use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) for suicide as well as non-suicide missions.
22.The physical security set-up in Afghanistan continues to suffer from serious deficiencies. This has enabled the Taliban’s conventional as well as non-conventional units to operate outside their traditional strongholds in Eastern and Southern Afghanistan---even in Kabul. This became evident during the unsuccessful attack on President Karzai during a national parade on April 27,2008.
23.Unless the sanctuaries enjoyed by the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal belt are ended, Afghanistan and the NATO forces will continue to bleed without, however, the Taliban being able to re-assume control of the country. There is a bleeding stalemate in Afghanistan with a no win-no defeat situation for either the Taliban and Al Qaeda or the coalition forces.
INDIA: AN OVERVIEW
24.Jihadi terrorism in India started when elected civilian Governments were in power in Pakistan and continued under subsequent military rule too.
25.Jihadi terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir started in 1989 when Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister.
26.The first act of jihadi terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K took place with the serial explosions in Mumbai in March,1993, when Mr.Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister.
27.The infiltration of Wahabi pro-Al Qaeda Pakistani organisations of Afghan vintage such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) into Indian territory started in 1993 when Mr.Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister.
28.The Taliban was born in 1994 when Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister.
29.Osama bin Laden shifted from Khartoum to Jalalabad in Afghanistan in 1996 and formed Al Qaeda when Benazir was still the Prime Minister.
30.Bin Laden formed his International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People in 1998 when Mr.Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister.
31.From its sanctuaries in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda carried out the terrorist strikes in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in August,1998, when Mr.Nawaz Sharif was still the Prime Minister.
32.The Nawaz Sharif Government (1996 to 1999) avoided co-operating with the US and other members of the international community against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. If it had co-operated, 9/11 might have been prevented.
33.The pre-1999 Governments of Benazir Bhutto and Mr.Nawaz Sharif used the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan for sponsoring and using jihadi terrorism against India and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Army continued this policy with greater vigour after Musharraf seized power in October,1999.
34.The 9/11 terrorist strikes brought Musharraf under intense US pressure to co-operate with it against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
35.He co-operated against Al Qaeda, but avoided co-operating against the Taliban, which he wanted to preserve for use to re-establish Pakistan’s position in Afghanistan if and when the NATO forces were withdrawn.
36.The December,2001, terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament brought him under pressure to act against the anti-India terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory. He ostensibly banned them, but allowed them to operate under different names. He did not act against their terrorist infrastructure.
37.He relaxed the pressure against the terrorist organisations in 2003 and 2004, thereby enabling the Taliban to stage a come-back in Afghanistan from 2005.
38.In January, 2004, Musharraf assured Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, India’s then Prime Minister, when the latter visited Pakistan that he would not allow any territory under Pakistani control to be used for terrorism against India. Thereafter, he has been making a distinction between acts of terrorism in J&K, which he described as a freedom struggle, and terrorism in other parts of India, which he made a pretense of condemning. However, he ordered his Army to maintain a strict cease-fire along the Line of Control in J&K.
39.The relaxation of pressure enabled Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union, another Uzbek group, to set up new training camps and sanctuaries in North Waziristan from which the terrorists involved in the London blasts of July,2005, were trained and launched.
40..He again came under pressure from the West to act against the terrorists operating from Pakistani territory. He again made a pretense of curbing their activities.
41.When the Army was unable to control the activities of Al Qaeda and its supporters in the Pakistani tribal belt and sustained heavy casualties in the operations against them, he entered into peace deals with them initially in South Waziristan in 2005 and then in North Waziristan in 2006 in return for the promise of pro-Al Qaeda tribal leaders not to allow foreign terrorists to operate in their jurisdiction. They did not keep the promise. Al Qaeda and Taliban further strengthened their position in the FATA.
42.When the pro-Al Qaeda elements seized control of the Lal Masjid in the heart of Islamabad and started indulging in violent acts even against Chinese nationals in Pakistan, he came under pressure not only from the US, but also from China to act once again.
43.The Chinese pressure made him order the commando action in the Lal Masjid in July,2007. The anger over this led to the coming into being of the TTP and the wave of suicide terrorism.
44.Before the elections, the political parties attributed this wave to his co-operation with the US and the use of the Army in the FATA.
45.In its anxiety to put an end to suicide terrorism in Pakistani territory, the new Government has not only made many concessions to the Pakistani Taliban, but has also relaxed curbs on pro-Al Qaeda terrorist organisations such as the HUM, the HUJI and the LET, which operate against India from sanctuaries in Pakistan. They have once again stepped up their activities in J&K and outside. There have been reports of violations of the cease-fire along the LOC in Kashmir by the Pakistan Army after a lull of nearly two years.
46.There are reasons to suspect and fear that the Gilani Govt. may use these incidents staged by the Pakistan Army to justify the re-shifting of Pakistani troops from the FATA to the LOC in Kashmir on the ground that this was due to revival of tensions along the LOC and not to pressure from the pro-Al Qaeda terrorists.
47.Al Qaeda as an organisation does not operate in Indian territory, but four Pakistani organisations, which are members of Al Qaeda-led IIF, have been active in J&K and other parts of India. These are the HUM, the LET, the HUJI and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). In addition, the Bangladesh branch of the HUJI, known as HUJI (B), which is also a member of the IIF, has also been active.
48.The activities of these organisations in Indian territory are controlled by their leaders from Pakistan and/or Bangladesh. Bilal al-Hind, an Indian Muslim of East African origin, has been arrested and jailed in the UK on charges of helping Al Qaeda. Another Indian Muslim from Karnataka was involved in the attempted terrorist strike at the Glasgow airport in the UK in June last year. He tried to blow himself up in a car, but was prevented by the Police. He died subsequently of burns. He was motivated by anger over the US operations in Iraq. He did not belong to Al Qaeda, but shared its anti-US anger.
49.There has been no other confirmed instance of Indian Muslims co-operating with Al Qaeda. However, some Indian Muslims belonging to an Indian organisation called the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) have joined the LET, the HUJI and the HUJI (B) and have been involved in acts of terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K. Some Indian Muslims from the diaspora in the Gulf have also joined these organisations. The Glasgow incident was the first attempt by an Indian Muslim to indulge in suicide terrorism. All Kashmiri and other Indian Muslims involved in terrorism in India have kept away from suicide terrorism. There was no suicide terrorism by jihadis in Indian territory, including Kashmir, before 1999.
50.Since 1999, there have been about 56 acts of suicide or suicidal terrorism in Indian territory---mostly in Kashmir. In one instance, the perpetrator was suspected to be an Indian Muslim. In the remaining cases, the perpetrators had come from Pakistan.
51.Twenty terrorists---Khalistani and Jihadi--- wanted for their involvement in hijackings and other acts of terrorism in Indian territory are living in Pakistan. Dawood Ibrahim, an Indian mafia leader, closely involved with Al Qaeda and the LET, has also been living in Pakistan. The US declared him an international terrorist in October,2003. Just as Pakistan has been denying the presence of bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders in its territory, it has also been denying the presence of these terrorists wanted for trial in India in Pakistan.
52.In a recent interview, Mr.Gilani has made a distinction between militants and terrorists. According to him, not all militants are terrorists. While Pakistan would hold talks with militants, it would not hold talks with terrorists. It seems to be his view that while Al Qaeda is a terrorist organisation, the Taliban and the anti-India organisations are militants and not terrorists. This is a dangerous concept, which seeks to justify a reversion by the Govt. to the status quo ante as it prevailed before OP Enduring Freedom. This should be of concern to the international community as a whole and particularly to India, Afghanistan and the NATO countries.
XINJIANG IN CHINA: AN OVERVIEW
53.After a long interval of inactivity in the Xinjiang region of China, Uighur extremist elements have again been involved in two incidents.The first incident took place at Urumqi, the capital of the province, on January 27,2008. There was reportedly an exchange of fire between the police and some Uighur extremists when the police raided a hide-out of a suspected sleeper cell of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an associate of Al Qaeda with close links to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) or Group, another Uzbek group.
54.The Chinese authorities assessed this incident as an indicator of a revival of the ETIM's activities as a prelude to a possible terrorist strike to be staged just before or during the Beijing Olympics of August,2008.
55.The second incident was reported to have taken place on board a Chinese commercial plane flying from Urumqi to Beijing on March 7,2008. Security guards travelling on board the plane overpowered three suspected Uighur extremists, including a woman,who tried to create an incident. The police alleged that they had managed to take on board a soft drink can into which some gasoline had been injected. Further details are not available. (29-5-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com )