Monday, May 31, 2010



The dilemma posed by Pakistan to US policy-makers and opinion-moulders is reflected in an editorial titled “Dealing With Pakistan” published by the “New York Times” of May 28,2010. Its text is annexed.

2. Terrorists are the main foreign exchange earners of Pakistan. The more the terrorists operating from its soil, the more the aid from the West to deal with them. The more the aid from the West, the more the terrorists on its soil.

3. The Pakistani leaders----military and political--- feel that as the main source of threat to the security of the US and other countries of the West, the terrorists on its soil have brought for it a strategic importance and attention which it would not have otherwise secured.

4. When Pakistan was born in 1947, it had a two-commodity economy--- cotton and cotton-based textiles and leather goods. It continues to have a two-commodity economy. It has not been able to diversify it. In the past, what it earned from the export of these two commodities was sufficient to keep it going and to meet its imports bill. Today, it is not.

5. Today, it needs a substantial extra source of income to be able to meet its imports bill and service its external debt. In the absence of any significant economic development, it is dependent on assistance from the West---mainly from the US--- to keep the economy and the State going and to avoid bankruptcy.

6. During the cold war, its willingness to let its territory be used by the US for its campaign against the erstwhile USSR brought it the required aid flow from the US. The end of the cold war saw its importance in the eyes of the US decline. This was accompanied by a decrease in cash flow.

7. Pakistan’s value as the surrogate of the West in its campaign against the USSR was replaced by the spectre of its becoming the main source of threat to the security of the US and other Western countries from the terrorists operating from its soil. The cash flow was resumed and it kept increasing----this time not for assisting the US in fighting against the USSR, but for its supposedly collaborating with the US in its efforts to contain and neutralize terrorism originating from its soil.

8.A two-pronged policy of collaboration became its new strategic weapon---- seeming collaboration with the US against the terrorists in return for the cash flow and collaboration with the terrorists against the US for keeping the US fears of a terrorist attack on the US homeland alive and for preventing any threat to its own security from the terrorists.

9. If terrorism emanating from the Pakistani soil dries up, its importance in the eyes of the US will again decline just as it happened when the threat from the USSR ended. It is in its interest to keep terrorism alive so that the fears of the US remained alive and money continued to flow from the US for keeping the terrorists under control.

10.The US finds itself in a thankless situation. The more the aid it gives to Pakistan to deal with the terrorists, the more the incentive for Pakistan to keep the terrorists alive and active to keep alive the fears of the US. If it reduces its aid to Pakistan, there is a danger of Pakistan not doing even what it is doing now to deal with the terrorists.

11.The only way the US can get out of this vicious circle is by taking in its own hands the responsibility for destroying the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory instead of depending on Pakistan for this.

12. This policy has many risks:

• An increase in anti-Americanism in Pakistan and a consequent rise in the flow of volunteers to the terrorist organizations.
• An increase in the influence of Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan.
• A spell of political instability in Pakistan with a further weakening of the mainstream political elements.
• The emergence of another Afghanistan, which cannot be easily brought under control.

13. One way of avoiding a risky direct role by the US will be by assisting elements in Pakistan such as the Balochs, the Sindhis and the Mohajirs, which have been unhappy over the state of affairs in the country and over the increase in the activities of the fundamentalists and other Talibanised jihadis, to achieve their political objectives ---- whether those objectives are independence or autonomy.

14. Terrorism is unlikely to end in Pakistan as it is constituted today. A Pakistan reduced to its fundamentalist Punjabi core surrounded by non-fundamentalist liberal Islamic states of different ethnic origin may not be able to exploit the terrorist weapon in the same way as the present-day Pakistan has been doing.

15. Pakistan of the 1971 vintage is becoming an increasing threat to the homeland security of many nations of the world----in the West as well as the East, in the Ummah as well as in the non-Islamic world. One has to work for a reduced Pakistan to make this threat manageable and ultimately eliminate it. ( 31-5-10)

( 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: )


Dealing With Pakistan
Published: May 28, 2010

Nine years after the 9/11 attacks, the United States is still trying to figure out how to manage relations with Pakistan — and what mix of inducements and public and private pressures will persuade Islamabad to fully commit to the fight against extremists.

The Obama administration is working hard to cultivate top Pakistani officials. There are regular high-level visits. In March, a senior Pakistani delegation visited Washington for a strategic dialogue with the Americans that seems to be building trust and cooperation across a range of government agencies.

An April visit to Islamabad by the president’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones, and Leon Panetta, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was a reminder of the limits of American power. They warned officials of severe consequences if an attack on American soil is traced back to Pakistan. Given Pakistan’s proximity to Afghanistan, its nuclear arsenal and the fragility of its government, it is not clear how much punishment Washington would ever mete out.

Pakistan has its own horrifying reminders that the fight against terrorism is not just America’s fight. On Friday, gunmen and suicide bombers stormed two mosques in Lahore, killing at least 80 worshipers.

Pakistan’s Army has mounted big offensives against Pakistani Taliban factions in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan. It has hesitated in North Waziristan where Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in the failed Times Square bombing, reportedly received support and training. Intelligence-sharing has improved, but there is a lot more to be done as the Shahzad case showed.

So why isn’t Pakistan doing all it needs to?

Part of that is the strategic game. Islamabad has long used extremist groups in its never-ending competition with India. Part is a lack of military capability and part political cowardice. While some of Pakistan’s top leaders may “get it,” the public definitely does not.

The United States still does not have a good enough strategy for winning over Pakistan’s people, who are fed a relentless diet of anti-American propaganda.

As The Times reported on Wednesday, the United States is often blamed for everything from water shortages to trying to destroy the Pakistani state. The Obama administration came in determined to change that narrative. When he was in the Senate, Joseph Biden, now the vice president, worked with Richard Lugar on a $7.5 billion, five-year aid package that would prove American concern for the Pakistani people (not just the military) by investing in schools, hospitals and power projects.

Congress approved the first $1.5 billion for 2010, but the State Department is still figuring out how to spend it. The projects need to move as quickly as possible. And Pakistani leaders who demand more help, but then cynically disparage the aid, need to change their narrative.

The State Department also needs to move faster to implement its public diplomacy plan for Pakistan. Officials need to think hard about how to make sure Pakistanis know that aid is coming from the United States — like the $51 million for upgrading three thermal power plants announced by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in October. It is a delicate issue, but the “made in America” label has to be affixed.

The State Department has committed to spend $107 million over two years to help Pakistanis better understand the United States. Plans include bringing 2,500 Pakistani academics and others on exchange visits and expanding after-school English classes in Pakistan. There also are proposals to bring more American academics to Pakistan and to reopen cultural centers. They should move ahead. An initiative to make more American officials available to speak directly to Pakistanis has shown promise.

Changing Pakistani attitudes about the United States will take generations. The Shahzad case is one more reminder that there is no time to lose.

Sunday, May 30, 2010




A day before the start of the Indo-US Strategic Dialogue at Washington DC and three days before President Barack Obama’s appearance at a reception to be hosted for the Indian delegation by Mrs.Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, one more charade in Indo-US cooperation will be enacted with the departure of a four-member team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of the Government of India for Chicago to interrogate David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) on his secret visits to India at the instance of the LET to collect operational information that would facilitate one more terrorist strike by the LET in India----this time directed mainly at Israeli and other Jewish targets.

2. On May 1,2010, Faisal Shahzad, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, tried unsuccessfully to cause an explosion in the Times Square of New York. He was identified and arrested on May 3 as he was trying to flee to Pakistan. Within a week, the US made the Pakistani authorities detain for questioning over 15 persons in Karachi, Islamabad and other places in this connection and US officials including Gen.James Jones, the US National Security Adviser, Mr.Leon Panetta, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) flew to Pakistan thereafter to insist on follow-up action by the Pakistani agencies and to warn the Pakistani leaders of the consequences of their non-cooperation.

3. One admired the seriousness and the sense of urgency shown by US officials for protecting American lives. If the protestations of President Barack Obama and his officials of friendship for India and their repeated assurances of the high priority attached by him to the US relations with India were sincere and honest, one would have expected from them a similar seriousness and sense of urgency in protecting Indian lives by facilitating immediate access to Headley for Indian investigators.

4. The immediate follow-up which they insisted upon from Pakistan to protect American lives, they did not concede to India to protect Indian lives. Headley was arrested by them in the beginning of October, 2009. It has taken them eight months to grant access to the Indian investigators. Even the access which they have now agreed to give after a delay of eight months is a limited one. During this delay of eight months, the LET would have been able to cover up its trail in India, withdraw from India those of its cadres whose identities were known to Headley and reorganize and relocate its sleeper cells.

5. The Indian investigators, it has been reported, will be allowed to question Headley in the presence of his lawyer and an official of the FBI. Do you call this interrogation? What is interrogation? It is not just questioning a person and typing out his replies. It is much more than that. It is a psychological process by which you make the suspect contradict himself by confronting him with evidence which you have been able to collect independently. Ultimately, he realizes the game is up and comes out with the truth.

6.With Headley’s lawyer and the FBI officer sitting there all the time, will the Indian investigators be able to do it? No. Headley will just give proforma replies to the Indian questions and these replies would have been rehearsed with his lawyer and got approved by him. Of what use, his proforma replies? Will we be able to prosecute him in India? If we decide to do so, will the US extradite him to India?

7.The departure of the Indian team to the US just before the Strategic Dialogue and the appearance of Mr.Obama at the State Department to talk to the Indian delegation is meant to prevent this issue from casting a shadow on the dialogue.

8.Do you remember what we were told after the so-called State visit of our Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, to Washington DC in November last? We were told of a counter-terrorism initiative which the two countries have embarked upon. We were told of the personal interest taken by Mr.Obama in the Headley case. We were told of his instructions to the FBI chief, Mr.Robert Mueller, to visit India and reassure his Indian counterparts of the FBI’s readiness to co-operate with India in this matter. Subsequently, the US Ambassador to India, Mr.Timothy Roemer, has been repeatedly telling Indian officials and people that the US was working “day and night” to meet the Indian request for access to Headley.

9. The outcome: A delay of eight months in giving us access and that too a limited access which reduces the entire exercise to a charade.

10. Should India have agreed to go along with this charade? Should the Manmohan Singh Government have literally colluded with the Obama Administration in playing a fraud on the Indian people by creating an illusion of Mr.Obama’s cooperation when the US has not been co-operating with India as it expects others to co-operate with it?

11. It would have been more in keeping with our national self-respect and dignity for the Manmohan Singh Government to have politely withdrawn its request to the US for access to Headley because of the lack of sincerity on the part of the Obama Administration and its belated action, which has reduced the utility of any interrogation by Indian investigators. ( 30-5-10)

( 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, May 29, 2010




Eighty persons were killed and over 120 others injured in two acts of terrorism directed against Ahmadi worshippers in two mosques belonging to their community in Lahore on May 28,2010. Among those killed were former sessions judge Ameer Ahmad Sheikh, the Amir of the Ahmadia community in Lahore Ejazul Haq, and Major General (retd) Nasir Ahmad.

2.Though the Ahmadis had been subjected in the past to persecution and atrocities by the Sunni extremists, these were the most brutal acts of terrorism directed against them since Pakistan was born in 1947. There had been worse acts of terrorism directed against the Shias, who are in a much larger number and much more influential politically and economically in the Pakistani society, but the Ahmadis, who are a marginalized community with no political or economic power, had been spared such acts of terrorism till now.

3. The two commando-style terrorist attacks were staged at the time of Friday prayers in the two Ahmadi mosques located in the Garhi Shahu and Model Town areas of Lahore. Since the Ahmadis are treated as non-Muslims in Pakistan because they do not recognize Prophet Mohammad as the only Prophet of Islam, their places of worship are not recognized as mosques.

4.These attacks have, therefore, been described by the Pakistani officials and media as attacks on places of worship and not mosques. The Ahmadis, who regard themselves as Muslims despite their reverence for the founder of their community as another Prophet, look upon their places of worship as mosques no different from other mosques. Thus, the two incidents were two more instances of brutal attacks by Sunni extremists on another group of Muslims worshipping in mosques. However, in Pakistan, to describe the Ahmadis as Muslims and their places of worship as mosques would be considered blasphemous. There are five million Ahmadis in Pakistan’s total population of about 180 million.

5. Seven heavily armed terrorists throwing hand-grenades into the packed gathering of worshippers and opening fire with assault rifles forced their way into the Garhi Shahu mosque. Two terrorists raided the Model Town mosque. While the worshippers in the Model Town mosque beat back the raiding terrorists before the police intervened, the worshippers in the Garhi Shahu mosque were kept hostage for nearly three hours by the terrorists before they were rescued by the security forces.

6. The security forces are reported to have captured two of the nine terrorists involved in the two attacks. Three allegedly blew themselves up and the remaining four were killed in the exchange of fire. According to the “Daily Times” of Lahore, the attackers also fired shots and hurled a hand grenade at a nearby mosque of Ahl-e-Hadees, adjacent to the City Law College.

7. A TV channel quoted the Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah as saying that one of the captured terrorists belonged to Rahim Yar Khan district and used to be a student of a madrassa in Karachi and that the other terrorist captured is a Pashtun.

8. On March 8, a suicide bomber had rammed his car packed with explosives into a Federal Investigation Agency building in Lahore, killing 11 people. On March 12, two suicide bombers had attacked Pakistani Army vehicles in a military cantonment in the city, killing more than 50 people. There were no major terrorist incidents in Lahore in April.

9. A statement disseminated from London through the Internet on behalf of the international Ahmadiya community said: “The attacks are the culmination of years of un-policed persecution of the Ahmadiya Muslim Jamaat, which is a minority sect in Pakistan. In 1974 legislation was passed that declared Ahmadis to be ‘non-Muslim’ and in 1984 further legislation was passed in which the practice of the faith was outlawed. At regular intervals since then Ahmadis have been attacked but today’s attack is the most cruel and barbaric. All Ahmadis, who are based in 195 countries, are peace loving and tolerant people and yet they are continually targeted by extremist factions. During his Friday Sermon at 1pm today (May 28) the Head of the Ahmadiya Muslim Jamaat,His Holiness Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, said: “Today two of our mosques in Lahore were attacked by extremists. At the moment we do not have full details of what has happened. It is clear though that a number of our Ahmadis have been killed and many others have been injured. These people had merely come to the mosques to offer their Friday prayers and yet became victims of a heinous terrorist attack. May God grant patience to the bereaved and elevate the status of those who have been martyred.”

10. A report disseminated from Lahore by the Associated Press said: “Ahmadis are reviled as heretics by mainstream Muslims for their belief that their sect’s founder was a savior foretold by the Quran, Islam’s holy book. The group has experienced years of state-sanctioned discrimination and occasional attacks by radical Sunni Muslims in Pakistan, but never before in such a large and coordinated fashion.” The AP report further said that before the attacks the suspect from Rahim Yar Khan had stayed at a center belonging to the Tableeghi Jamaat.

11.Geo TV reported that the Punjab province branch of the Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility, but the authenticity of the claim is yet to be established.

12.On April 17, 2010, “Dawn” of Karachi had reported an increase in kidnappings for ransom and murderous attacks on members of the Ahmadiya community in the industrial town of Faislabad in the Punjab. A member of the local Ahmadiya community had alleged that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) headed by Prof.Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, which is the political wing of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), was responsible for these incidents and that the local police were not taking action against those involved. Faislabad is a stronghjold of the LET. Abu Zubaidah of Al Qaeda, now held in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, was captured in 2002 from the house of an LET activist in Faislabad. The Ahmadis have been alleging that the JUD and some members of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) of Mr.Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister, have been acting in tandem in attacking the members of the community in Punjab. In this connection, they have named Syed Saqlain Shah, a member of the National Assembly, his uncle Syed Iqbal Shah, a former member of the Punjab Provincial Assembly, and Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, senior Vice-President of PML (N).

13. The LET, which is close to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), never indulges in acts of terrorism in Pakistani territory. It is doubtful whether it would have carried out the terrorist attacks on the Ahmadis despite its past acts of atrocities and intimidation against them. A strong suspect is the Sunni extremist Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), which has been involved in acts of terrorism in Pakistani territory for many years. Like the LET, it too is close to Al Qaeda and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

14. Two other suspects are the Jaish-e-Mohammad, whose leader Maulana Masood Azhar, had served for some years in the LEJ, and an organization mysteriously calling itself the Asian Tigers with no allusions to Islam or the Holy Koran, which looks upon the Ahmadis as American agents. The Asian Tigers were allegedly responsible for the recent kidnapping and execution of Sq.Leader Khalid Khawaja, a retired officer of the Pakistan Air Force, who had served for some years in the ISI. After his retirement, he used to hobnob with a number of jihadi terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, the TTP, the JEM, the LET and the LEJ, and had come under suspicion in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist in the beginning of 2002. The Asian Tigers had accused him of being an agent of the US and the Ahmadis. Not much is known about its origin and background. It is possible that the LET or Ilyas Kashmiri’s 313 Brigade also operate under the name Asian Tigers in order to avoid attracting the suspicion of the ISI and the US. (29-5-10)

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

Sunday, May 23, 2010




As part of the investigation into the attempt by Faisal Shahzad, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, to cause an incendiary car bomb explosion in the Times Square of New York on May 1,2010, the Pakistani authorities are reported to have detained a fresh group of six persons for interrogation.

2. Immediately after the May 1 attempt, they had detained some persons in Karachi----one of them allegedly belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). It was reported at that time that the JEM member had taken Shahzad to Peshawar and from there to a camp of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North Waziristan. The investigation into the role of those detained at Karachi seems to have reached a dead-end.

3. They have now detained a fresh group of six. This group differs from the earlier group in some respects. Firstly, the earlier group members were mainly from Karachi, whereas five of the six in the new group are residents of Islamabad. Secondly, there were no indications of any links of the members of the previous group with the US. At least some members of the latest group from Islamabad are reported to be returnees from the US who had spent some years in the US----either as students or as workers and then returned to Pakistan to take up local jobs. They had reportedly known Fasil Shahzad when they were in the US. Thirdly, while those detained earlier came from middle or lower middle class families with histories of contacts with jihadi organizations such as the JEM and the madrasas in Karachi controlled by them, those of the Islamabad group seem to belong to upper middle class or affluent families with no previous history of links to jihadi organizations. It is not clear whether they had any links with the Lal Masjid of Islamabad which was raided by Pakistan Special Services Group commandoes in July,2007, during which a large number of students of the two madrasas attached to the Masjid were killed. Many of those killed were Pashtuns from the tribal belt and it was the Pashtun anger over their death which led to the formation of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its taking up arms against the Pakistani Army.

4. And fourthly, while those detained from Karachi earlier have reportedly denied having had anything to do with the May 1 attempt, at least two of those detained in Islamabad are reported to have admitted having known Shahzad and helped him. They have allegedly admitted having helped Shahzad as part of their jihad against infidels. Were they members of the TTP? No evidence so far to prove this, but they knew how to make contacts with the TTP in North Waziristan.

5. It has been reported that some of those arrested in Islamabad have admitted the following: Having helped Shahzad to contact the TTP in North Waziristan; financially helping him though it is not clear whether they helped him meet his expenses in Pakistan or whether they funded his May 1 attempt; having contacted him over phone when they found that he had not fled the US after the failed attempt and urged him to flee the US before he was caught by the local authorities. It is still intriguing why he did not flee immediately and spent 48 hours in the US after having made the attempt.

6. Available particulars of those picked up in the latest round of arrests are given below:

* The owner of a large computer shop in Islamabad, who allegedly rang up Shahzad in the US after the attempt and urged him to flee. He apparently knew that it was Shahzad, who had made the attempt.
* A post-graduate in business administration from the US who worked for a cell phone company in Islamabad.
* Salman Ashraf Khan, a son of Rana Ashraf Khan, who was running a catering company in Islamabad which had links with the US Embassy, after having worked for the Pakistan International Airlines for about 20 years. After reportedly studying in Houston, Texas, Salman had returned to Pakistan and was helping his father in running the catering company. It is alleged that Salman had given some money to Shahzad.
* Shoaib Mughal,a computer dealer of Islamabad, who has allegedly admitted having helped Shahzad in contacting the TTP.
* Shahid. Full name not known. Had studied in the US and had known Shahzad in the US. Financially helped Shahzad in Pakistan.
* A cousin of Salman.

7.It remains to be seen whether the Pakistani authorities are able to take the investigation to its logical conclusion or the investigation reaches a dead-end as it happened in the case of the earlier arrests in Karachi, about which nobody talks now. ( 23-5-10)

( 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, May 22, 2010



During four days of demonstrations in different cities of Pakistan over what many Muslims regard as a blasphemous contest on sketches of Prophet Mohammad sought to be organised by one of the users of Facebook----his controversial page which sparked the anger in Pakistan has since been removed by Facebook---- religious parties and jihadi organisations associated with Al Qaeda and the Talibans have directed the anger against the US and Sweden because of the alleged caricatures of the Holy Prophet by a Swedish and an American national. It is alleged that it was their caricatures which inspired the person who called for blasphemous contest on Facebook.

2. During the demonstrations, slogans were shouted against the US and Sweden, US and Swedish flags were burnt and calls were issued by religious clerics for the death of the Swedish and American cartoonists. A ruling by the Lahore High Court calling for blocking the site of Facebook also added to the anger of pro-Al Qaeda elements because it sought to project the US as partly responsible for the perceived insult to the Prophet. It claimed that Facebook operates from the US and is subject to US laws and regulations. The US had, therefore, a responsibility to act against it.

3. The ruling, which was delivered by Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry said: " As per laws of commerce and business, Facebook is governed by legal jurisdiction of the United States of America and this global social networking has deliberately or recklessly been responsible for hurting feelings and causing discomfort to the majority of Muslim population of Pakistan. Facebook has deliberately or recklessly not taken effective measures for preventing, stopping or blocking blasphemous contest to which it has complete and autonomous authority and a built-in mechanism to block such profane misbehaviour or misconduct. These mechanisms have either been deliberately or recklessly not administered for preventing, stopping or blocking this blasphemous content taking place on Facebook. The announcement of this very blasphemous contest has caused an immense furor and enraged millions of majority Muslims of Pakistan and around the globe, who attach an immense sanctity to the holy status granted to prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad .”

4.Al Qaeda and its associates including the so-called Punjabi Taliban organisations such as the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front organisation of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), which were already exploiting the anger against the US over the Drone (pilotless plane) strikes in the tribal belt, have now been exploiting the anger against Facebook for adding to the anti-US feelings in the Pakistani religious circles.

5. Fears of acts of street violence after the Friday prayers on May 21 did not prove correct. There were angry demonstrations outside many mosques and madrasas and the flags of the US and Sweden were burnt, but beyond that there were no other incidents. Al Qaeda has not yet come out with a statement on the issue, but some clerics known to be close to Al Qaeda have called for deaths to the American and Swedish cartoonists, who have allegedly emulated the Danish cartoonist who in 2005 drew up cartoons of the Holy Prophet in a Danish paper.

6. There has been no reaction so far in Pakistan to the alleged publication of a cartoon of the Holy Prophet by a South African journal. The cartoon shows the Holy Prophet as lamenting that Muslims have no sense of humour. This cartoon has already caused protests in South Africa. Since many Muslims in South Africa are of sub-continental origin, reactions in the Indian sub-continent could happen.

7.While Pakistani newspapers have refrained from playing up photographs of the anti-Facebook demonstrations in Pakistan, some have carried photographs purporting to show protest demonstrations by some Muslims in Mumbai after the Friday prayers. Attention has been drawn to the fact that the Government of India was the first to act against Salman Rushdie's book “Satanic Verses" in the 1980s. The insinuation seems to be that while India acted against “Satanic Verses”, it has not against Facebook. We should not allow this to make us act against Facebook. Anyhow, since Facebook has already removed the controversial page, the issue should be treated as closed. Mischievous elements in Pakistan are trying to keep it alive to serve their anti-US agenda. Unless this controversy dies down, it has considerable scope for mischief which could overflow from Pakistan and give a fresh impetus to organizations such as the LET. There is a need to closely monitor the goings-on in Pakistan on this issue. ( 23-5-10)

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



The Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front organization of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), and other Pakistani jihadi organizations associated with Al Qaeda and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been organizing protest demonstrations in different cities of Pakistan to condemn an attempt by an user of “Facebook” to organise an "Everyone Draw Mohammed Day" competition to promote "freedom of expression". His attempt was allegedly inspired by an American woman cartoonist.

2. According to the Agence France Presse (AFP),Molly Norris, the American cartoonist whose work inspired the controversial page, condemned the Facebook spin-off and apologised to Muslims. She allegedly drew a cartoon in April to protest against the cancellation of an episode of popular show "South Park". Norris satirically proposed May 20 as an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." An "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" page quickly turned up on Facebook, but Norris, writing on her website, said she had nothing to do with it. "The vitriol this 'day' has brought out of people who only want to draw obscene images, is offensive to Muslims who did nothing to endanger our right to expression in the first place," she said. "I apologise to people of Muslim faith and ask that this 'day' be called off," she said

3.The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has banned access to Facebook, YouTube and more than 450 links to "derogatory" Internet material in view of what it called "growing sacrilegious content". Sweden said it has closed its embassy in Islamabad for more than two weeks due to the security situation. An Al Qaeda front organisation has reportedly offered US $ 100,000 to anyone who kills Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has angered many Muslims by drawing what they regard a highly blasphemous caricature of the Prophet.

4.In view of the interest taken by the LET and other Al Qaeda associates to exploit this issue to whip up anger in Pakistan, one has to be watchful to the possibility of LET elements in India including members of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) indulging in similar provocative acts in India. It is an emotional issue which can be easily exploited to create similar anger in sections of the Indian Muislim community.

5. In this connection, reference is invited to my earlier article of April 3,2010, titled “Was Jihad Jane A Recruit of LET?” annexed below for easy reference. (22-5-10)

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


WAS JIHAD JANE A RECRUIT OF LASHKAR-E-TOIBA? International Terrorism Monitor- Paper N0. 638

By B.Raman

The case of Colleen La Rose also known as Jihad Jane and Fatima La Rose, who was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) a fortnight after the arrest of David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in October,2009, and indicted on March 4,2010, on a charge of involvement in a conspiracy to kill a Swedish cartoonist who had drawn a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in his paper, has not received in India the attention it deserves.

2. Colleen La Rose, a 46-year-old blonde from the Philadelphia area, where Headley used to live for some years before shifting to Chicago, had a troubled personal life. She was a volunteer for jihad who was recruited by an unidentified person in South Asia through the Internet and given the task of killing the Swedish cartoonist, just as Ilyas Kashmiri initially tasked Headley through the Internet to kill the Danish cartoonist, who had published cartoons of the Prophet in a Danish paper in 2005. Headley subsequently met Ilyas in North Waziristan. There is so far no indication that Jihad Jane had met her South Asian recruit to whom she got engaged without ever having met him.

3. Whoever initially recruited Headley and Jihad Jane seems to have done so for two reasons. Firstly, both of them had typical physical features of a White American. They did not look like Muslims and could , therefore, easily evade profiling. Headley looked a typical White despite his Pakistani origin. Jihad Jane is a typical White with no mixed blood. Secondly, both of them are US nationals with valid US passports with which they could travel easily without facing difficulties in obtaining visas and in going through immigration controls.

4. Both of them had been given double tasks. Headley was given the tasks of facilitating the operations of the LET in India and attacking the office of the Danish paper in Copenhagen with the help of sleeper cells in Europe to which Ilyas had given introduction. Headley had played an active role in helping the LET in carrying out the terrorist strikes in Mumbai between November 26 and 29,2008.Jihad Jane had the dual task of killing the Swedish cartoonist with the help of Ireland-based contacts in Europe and organising acts of terrorism in South Asia. In the evidence against her, the reference is to South Asia and not specifically to India.

5. The FBI has revealed the nationalities of her seven accomplices who were picked up in Ireland, but not their identifying particulars.Of the seven arrested in Ireland two are Algerians, two Libyans, a Palestinian, a Croatian, and an American woman married to one of the two arrested Algerians. The FBI documents available so far do not say anything about her South Asian fiancee. They are silent even about his nationality. He has been described as a man who claimed that he knew how to work with bombs and explosives.

6.In June 2008, Jihad Jane had posted a comment on YouTube saying she was “desperate to do something somehow to help” suffering Muslims. According to the FBI indictment, she appears to have been contacted by the jihadis thereafter. The indictment charges that she received a direct order to kill a Swedish resident. She traveled to Sweden and tracked the target with the intent of carrying out the murder. The FBI identified the target as cartoonist Lars Vilks.In an e-mail message to a co-conspirator, she wrote that she would pursue her mission “till I achieve it or die trying,” according to the indictment.The indictment accuses her of agreeing, in March 2009, to marry a co-conspirator from a South Asian country who was trying to obtain residency in Europe.He allegedly urged her to go to Sweden, find the Swedish man "and kill him". The indictment claims she tried to raise money over the internet, lure others to her cause, and lied to FBI investigators.

7. According to US media reports, she is also linked to an online organization -- where she was a subscriber, again using the name Jihad Jane. The site is run by an American Muslim, who had made the following posting after she was indicted: "Sisters -- please consider sending her [LaRose] a message of support and hope and let's remind her she isn't alone. It's likely she's the only Muslimah there. As always, use discretion when writing, don't ask pointed questions, and of course don't say anything that could create problems for her or yourselves."

8.She has been accused not only of conspiring to murder the cartoonist, but also of allegedly trying to recruit women with Western passports to marry fellow violent jihadists and of raising money for terrorist causes.

9.The US Department of Justice has issued the following statement regarding her indictment:

"The indictment charges that LaRose (an American citizen born in 1963 who resides in Montgomery County, Pa.) and five unindicted co-conspirators (located in South Asia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the United States) recruited men on the Internet to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe, and recruited women on the Internet who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad.

"The indictment further charges that LaRose and her unindicted co-conspirators used the Internet to establish relationships with one another and to communicate regarding their plans, which included martyring themselves, soliciting funds for terrorists, soliciting passports and avoiding travel restrictions (through the collection of passports and through marriage) in order to wage violent jihad. The indictment further charges that LaRose stole another individual’s U.S. passport and transferred or attempted to transfer it in an effort to facilitate an act of international terrorism.

"In addition, according to the indictment, LaRose received a direct order to kill a citizen and resident of Sweden, and to do so in a way that would frighten "the whole Kufar [non-believer] world." The indictment further charges that LaRose agreed to carry out her murder assignment, and that she and her co-conspirators discussed that her appearance and American citizenship would help her blend in while carrying out her plans. According to the indictment, LaRose traveled to Europe and tracked the intended target online in an effort to complete her task."

10.Available details regading the indictment do not identify the South Asian "with knowledge of bombs and explosives" with whom she fell in love through the Internet and who recruited her for acts of terrorism in Sweden and South Asia, but the available particulars of the modus operandi of recruiting and using non-Muslim looking Whites for terrorist strikes point the needle of suspicion at the LET.

11.This may please be read in continuation of my earlier article of January 28,2010, titled "Female Headleys in Al Qaeda?" at

Sunday, May 16, 2010




In a controversial decision, which should be of concern to India’s national security managers, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives has accepted a request from the US Government to re-settle in Maldivian territory two terrorism suspects from the Guantanamo Bay military detention centre in Cuba. Talks in this regard have been going on with the US authorities since December last.

2.Under a policy initiated by the administration of President Barack Obama after it assumed office in January,2009, it is pledged to close down the military detention centre after transferring to normal judicial custody for trial in US territory according to the normal laws of the land those against whom there is evidence to justify a trial and transferring others against whom there is no such evidence either to the countries to which they belonged before they were arrested post-9/11 or to other countries which are prepared to accept them.

3. The implementation of this policy has slowed down due to the following reasons:

• Opposition to bringing Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, to New York for trial.
• Some of the suspects from Afghanistan and Yemen, who were released and re-settled in their country because there was no evidence against them to warrant a trial, took to terrorism after their release due to their anger against their alleged ill-treatment in the detention centre by the US. There is a danger that many others, who were arrested by the US authorities on mere suspicion without any evidence of their involvement in terrorism might similarly take to terrorism after their release due to their anger against the US. Yemenis, Pakistanis and Afghans constitute a bulk of such suspects in the detention centre.
• Difficulty in finding countries which would accept those whom the US did not want to send to their home country such as the Uighur suspects. China has been demanding that the Uighurs should be handed over to it for trial. Human rights organizations have been opposing this due to fears that they might be sentenced to death and executed by the Chinese authorities. While willing host- countries have been found to re-settle some of the Uighurs, others are without a willing host-country and hence continue to be at Guantanamo Bay.

4. Neither the Maldives nor the US have revealed the nationalities of the two suspects, who are to be transferred to the Maldives for re-settlement from Guantanamo Bay. Among the suspects detained at the centre in Cuba was a Maldivian national Ibrahim Fauzee who was picked up in Karachi in May 2002 and transferred to the Guantanamo Bay detention centre because he was living with an Al Qaeda suspect. He contended that he was not aware that the person with whom he was staying in Karachi had links with Al Qaeda. No evidence of involvement in terrorism could be found against him and he was reportedly released in 2005. His present whereabouts are not known. Nor is it known whether he is one of the two suspects to be accepted by the Maldives.

5. Since the Government of President Nasheed has been developing close relations with China, it is doubtful whether he would accept Uighurs since that could make Beijing unhappy. India should have legitimate cause for worry if under US pressure and offer of money, the Maldivian Government re-settles in its territory Pakistani or Afghan or Yemeni suspects. There is a strong possibility that these suspects, in their anger against the US, would take to terrorism from Maldivian territory where the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) has already set up a presence. The LET has been recruiting Maldivian nationals and allegedly training them in its camps in Pakistan and giving them exposure to the jihad in the Af-Pak region.

6. The Maldives, which has many uninhabited islands, could attract Pakistani and Al Qaeda terrorists interested in sea-borne terrorist attacks similar to Mumbai 26/11. This would seriously add to India’s counter-terrorism concerns. It is doubtful whether the National Security Service (NSS) of the Maldives would be able to keep these suspects under effective surveillance and prevent them from taking to reprisal terrorism. The presence of these suspects in Maldivian territory would pose a threat not only to India and Sri Lanka, but also to the internal security of the Maldives itself.

7. If the two suspects being accepted by the Maldives are local nationals, India has no grounds for protesting. But if they are non-Maldivians, India has every reason to protest and request the Male Government not to accept them.

8. It is not clear whether the Maldivian Government kept India in the picture about its talks with the US on these suspects. If it had, India should have immediately advised it against accepting them. If it had not, it is a matter for surprise that President Nasheed kept India in the dark about a matter which could affect India’s national security.

9. The opposition members in the Maldives have strongly criticized the decision of President Nasheed on national security grounds. The National Security Committee of the Parliament is to discuss the matter on May 19. ( 17-5-10)

( 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: )




Is a copy-cat act of terrorism similar to the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai possible in Indonesia? That is a question that needs examination following the disclosures made by the Indonesian authorities about the intentions of a recently neutralised group of terrorists close to Al Qaeda and based in Aceh to organize such strikes in August,2010.

2. This group with an estimated strength of about 80 and led by Dulmatin, formerly of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), believed in targeted killings through hand-held weapons of non-Muslim foreigners and Muslims declared apostates for collaborating with non-Muslims to achieve an Islamic rule in Indonesia and other areas with a Muslim majority instead of indulging in indiscriminate killings of non-Muslims and Muslims alike with explosives like the JI and its splinter group headed by Noordin Top were doing. The sleeper cells of this new group were detected by the Indonesian authorities in February last and in operations lasting over three months, the Indonesian authorities have killed 13 members of the group including Dulmatin and arrested 58 others.

3. On the basis of the interrogation of the arrested persons, the Indonesian Police announced on May 14,2010, that they had foiled a plot by them to kill President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and foreigners in an attack during the independence day celebration on August 17, 2010. Bambang Hendarso Danuri, the national police chief, told a press conference: "They planned to target the Indonesian President (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono), state officials and foreign guests attending the ceremony.” He said that the planned attack was inspired by the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai carried out by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) of Pakistan. He added: “They planned to launch a series of assassinations in Java and Jakarta with their specific target foreigners, especially Americans, and the Indonesian President." They also planned to lay siege to hotels, "copying what had occurred in Mumbai." If the attack had succeeded, the militants would have "declared Indonesia as an Islamic state". According to the police chief, one of the arrested suspects was to collect firearms and a grenade launcher from an Islamist stronghold on Mindano, the main island in the southern Philippines, to be used in the planned attack.

4. While the splinter group from the JI led by Dulmatin might have wanted to emulate the LET and organize multi-target commando style swarm attacks with a mix of modus operandi involving the use of hand-held weapons and explosives, it is doubtful whether it had the capability to organize such attacks without proper training and the required weapons. The LET succeeded because it had a well-trained group at its disposal and enjoyed the sponsorship and training assistance of serving and retired officers of Pakistan’s Army and Inter-Services Intelligence.

5. While it is easy for a terrorist group to organize indiscriminate killings of civilians with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Commando-style swarm attacks require proper training similar to the training given to the special forces of the Army. They require not only suitable weapons, but also modern communication sets to facilitate co-ordinated attacks.

6. There is no evidence to show that the Dulmatin group had the required capability, weaponry and other equipment. Moreover, whereas many members of the pre-2004 vintage of the JI had the benefit of training and jihadi inoculation in the Af-Pak region, there is no reason to believe that the post-2004 crop of South-East Asian, including Indonesian, jihadis---whether belonging to the JI or other groups---- have had similar training and jihadi inoculation outside the S-E-Asian region----either in the Af-Pak area or in Yemen.

7. The Dulmatin group was essentially a collection of indigenous elements, indigenously motivated, trained and armed with no benefit of sponsorship and assistance of the intelligence agency of any other country----either in the region or outside. While the security forces of the region should guard themselves against the dangers of 26/11 style terrorist attacks, the possibility of such attacks is still low to medium. ( 16-5-10)

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

Friday, May 14, 2010




Quoting local political sources in Jammu & Kashmir, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported in its web site on May 14,2010, that terrorists ( it calls them as always militants) have regrouped in Pakistan-Occupied KasHmir (POK).

2.It quoted Mr.Arif Shahid, Secretary-General of the All Parties National Alliance (APNA), as saying as follows: " Jihadi activities have been restarted during the last few weeks.Most of the activities are concentrated in the Neelum Valley along the Line of Control.Militants were based there in large numbers and have set up camps in the area. The men are not locals - they have long hair and beards. Most do not speak the local language."

3.The BBC added that local citizens in the Neelum Valley told it much the same thing. It quoted a local resident as saying: "We are scared.The armed men are moving around the area and are trying to cross the border. We can make out from their appearances and languages they are not from any part of Kashmir."

4.Mr Shahid said that he believed that the militants were planning to sabotage the ongoing Pakistan-India peace negotiations. He added: "They have set up camps in the region and many are crossing the border.This is the start of another proxy war."

5.According to the BBC, Mr.Shahid's comments were corroborated by Shaukat Maqbool Bhat, head of the anti-Indian Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Front (JKNLF).Bhat told the BBC: "The fighters are there and they are regularly crossing into India.The local people are very scared - they believe the [militant] crossings are going to restart artillery exchanges between the Pakistani and Indian armies."

6. An ominous part of the BBC report is the claim that the people who are re-grouping in the POK do not seem to be locals and speak a different language. Generally, Pakistani terrorists trained and infiltrated into J&K from the POK speak either one of the Kashmiri dialects or Punjabi. The local residents can identify both. The fact that the BBC's sources have not been able to identify the language spoken by the people re-grouping in the POK would indicate that these persons could be Pashtuns recruited either by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or one of the Punjabi Taliban organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri, which used to be a wing of the HUJI, the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) or the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM).

7. Pakistan's political and military leadership, its intelligence agencies, its judiciary and civil society do not admit that there is terrorism in J&K. They always project what is happening in J&K as a freedom struggle. They justify the activities of these organisations in J&K on the ground that J&K is Pakistani territory where they have a right to act in solidarity with the Kashmiris.The Government of Pervez Musharraf as well as the present Government headed by Prime Minister Yousefv Raza Gilani make a clear distinction between the so-called freedom struggle in J&K and acts of terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K.

8. They regard whatever assurances they had given since January 2004 regarding not supporting terrorism as applicable only to Indian territory outside J&K. They also feel that while the US and other Western countries would be against any Pakistani-sponsored terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K, they would not react strongly against renewed acts of violence in J&K, which they regard as a disputed territory.

9. The TTP and the Punjabi Taliban organisations criticise the Pakistani Government on two grounds----- firstly, its implied support to the US Drone (pilotless planes) strikes in South and North Waziristan and, secondly, its alleged restrictions on the activities of the Pakistani terrorist organisations not only in Indian territory outside J&K, but also even in J&K.

10.The Pakistan Government is not in a position to stop the Drone strikes. Moreover, the Pakistan Army looks upon the Drone strikes as necessary for the success of its own ground operations against the TTP. However, to soften the TTP it would not hesitate to give it and its Punjabi associates a free hand in J&K. An increase in acts of terrorism in J&K, with the participation of not only Pakistani Punjabis, but also the Pashtuns of the Taliban, is a risk to be guarded against in the months and weeks to come. ( 15-5-10)

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

Monday, May 10, 2010



The US is faced with diminishing options in its efforts to neutralise Al Qaeda, the Talibans and other terrorist organisations operating from North Waziristan in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Any successful terrorist strike in the US Homeland would most probably originate from this area----whether it be one involving conventional modus operandi or one involving the use of weapons of mass destruction material.

2. So long as the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory----- particularly in North Waziristan which has been and which will continue to be the launching pad of strikes directed at the US---- is not neutralised once and for all, the US cannot be free of the fear of the terrorists succeeding one day.

3. The present US operations in North Waziristan are focussed on the neutralisation of senior and middle level leaders of Al Qaeda and other organisations operating from sanctuaries in this area. The Drone (pilotless plane) strikes on their hide-outs and vehicular movements have not been without success, but most of those killed were easily replaceable.

4. But eliminating the leaders alone will not be adequate. It is equally necessary to destroy their infrastructure. The damage suffered by the terrorist infrastructure from the Drone strikes has been insignificant. The ground-based infrastructure can be destroyed only through ground operations---- classical or covert--- and Cruise missile strikes. Predator strikes from Drones will not destroy infrastructure.

5. Ground-based operations---- whether of the hit and run variety or the hit and stay kind--- would need the involvement of ground troops of the US or Pakistan or both. Involvement of US troops in ground-based operations, whether alone or in tandem with Pakistani troops, could prove messy and counter-productive. The Pakistani Army is reluctant to undertake any operations in this area because of its dependence on the non-Al Qaeda groups based in this area such as the Haqqani network, the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri, the Punjabi Taliban groups etc for advancing its own strategic agenda against India and Afghanistan.

6. Having followed since 9/11 a policy of incentives for action and nothing but incentives with no disincentives for inaction,the US finds itself helpless to counter Pakistani inaction. Its policy is inhibited by the fear that any punitive action against Pakistan might end even the inadequate co-operation that it has presently been getting from Pakistan.

7. If the US is not able to use its ground forces and is reluctant to force Pakistan to use its forces through appropriate disincentives if it does not do so, it has only one alternative left----encourage the Afghan Army and special forces to undertake covert actions in North Waziristan directed against the infrastructure. This is an option worth exploring even if the chances for success appear low at present. The Afghan elements to be used for covert actions should be appropriately trained and equipped.

8. Cruise missile attacks can be more effective against infrastructure than Predator strikes from Drones if those are sustained and without respite. The civilian casualties may go up, but the risk has to be faced in the absence of other alternatives. The Cruise missile attacks of 1998 against Al Qaeda's training infrastructure were ineffective because it was an one-shot affair. To be effective, they have to be sustained.

9. Instead of continuing to depend only on Drone strikes, the US should adopt a three-pronged strategy of a sustained campaign involving the use of Drones, Cruise missiles and the Afghan covert action forces. ( 10-5-10)

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

Saturday, May 8, 2010




The Agence France Presse (AFP) has quoted Mrs.Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, as warning Pakistan in a recorded TV interview for the CBS Channel to be telecast on May 9,2010, that it would face " very severe consequences" if a terror plot like the failed Times Square bombing of May 1 was traced to that country. She said:"We've made it very clear that if -- heaven-forbid-- an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences." However, she added: "We've gotten more cooperation and it's been a real sea change in the commitment we've seen from the Pakistan Government.We want more. We expect more."

2. Her warning has received greater attention in India than in Pakistan. The lack of an impact in Pakistan could be attributed to two reasons. Firstly, a careful reading of her remarks shows that her so-called warning is not with reference to the failed attempt by Faisal Shahzad, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, on May 1,2010, to cause an incendiary car bomb explosion in the Times Square of New York, but with reference to any future attack that might be successful. What she meant was that if there was a successful attack in future and the investigation traced it back to Pakistan, it would face severe consequences. Secondly, comments emanating from White House spokesmen, Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, and Gen.David Petraeus, the head of the US Central Command, after the May 1 attempt show continued appreciation of the operations mounted by the Pakistan Army against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the Swat Valley of the Khyber-Pakhtunkwa province and in South Waziristan and seek to project the Pakistani co-operation against terrorism in positive colours. Mrs.Clinton also projected it in positive colours, but added a warning as to what could happen in future. The White House and the Pentagon have refrained from uttering any such warning.

3. This has been interpreted by the Pakistani authorities as indicating that Islamabad continues to enjoy the support of the White House and the Pentagon despite the unsuccussful attempt by Faisal. The Pakistani reaction to the identification of Faisal as the perpetrator of the attempt has been typical. Firstly,to assure all co-operation to the US in the investigation of the case. Secondly, to round up about about 20 persons in Karachi, Peshawar and other places, including four alleged members of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). Thirdly, to point out that Faisal is an American and not a Pakistani citizen and hence causes for his radicalisation are to be found in the US and not in Pakistan. And fourthly, to start releasing those arrested one after the other on grounds of lack of evidence. The ultimate outcome of the investigation at the Pakistan end is zero.

4.Cases detected in the US during the last two years or so show a trend which should be of concern to the US. Individual Muslims resident in the US, most of them of Pakistani origin, have been going to Pakistan in small groups to assist the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban in their operations in the Af-Pak territory. Their original intention when they left the US for Pakistan was not to indulge in acts of terrorism in the US Homeland. They wanted to attack US nationals and interests in the Af-Pak region.Al Qaeda, the myriad Talibans in Pakistan and Punjabi terrorist organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the JEM and the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri with whom they came into contact in Pakistani territory, played them back into the US.

5. What, in effect, these organisations told the American Muslims was: "We can handle the jihad in the Af-Pak region. You will better serve the cause of Islam by going back to the US and starting a jihad in the US Homeland. We will give you the necessary training for this." This has come out very clearly in the testimonies in the US case against Najibullah Zazi, a US resident of Afghan origin, and two others, who had been motivated by Al Qaeda and the JEM to mount an attack in the New York subway system similar to the Madrid bombing of March 2004 and the London bombing of July,2005.

6. Al Qaeda, the Talibans and their associates have been trying to turn these US Muslims going to Pakistan in the hope of fighting in the Af-Pak region into surrogarte jihadis who will fight for them in the US Homeland. US officials and non-Governmental analysts have been playing down the threats of the TTP to indulge in reprisal attacks in the US Homeland on the ground that the TTP has no known presence in the US and does not have such a long reach. The TTP and others are not trying to create a presence for themselves in US territory, but are trying to manipulate American Muslims going to Pakistan to wage a jihad to go back to the US and wage a hihad in the US Homeland instead,

7.The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Police in different US cities have till now succeeded in thwarting the attempts of these surrogate jihadis. Luck has also favoured them. But so long as more and more surrogate jihadis keep coming back to the US after having been motivated and trained in the training camps in Pakistani territory, there will always be a danger of one or more planned attacks being successful.

8. This danger will continue to confront the US so long as the jihadi infrastructure in Pakistani territory continues. The US has to act pre-emptively against the jihadi infrastructure instead of acting only if there is a successful terrorist strike in the US Homeland launched from Pakistan. All US warnings and admonitions have no effect on the Pakistani authorities because of their conviction that the importance of Pakistan for US policies in Afghanistan would protect Pakistan from any reprisals by the US and that anyhow, whatever the State Department might think and say, the Pentagon would oppose any action against Pakistan.

9. This conviction in the minds of the Pakistani leaders has to be removed and the Pakistani Army made to act against all jihadi infrastrcture whether directed against India, the US or anyone else and wherever it is located--- whether in North Waziristan, the Khyber-Pakhtunkwa province, Punjab, Sindh or Balochistan. Unless this is done now, more and more surrogate jihadis will keep going back to the US to start a jihad in the US Homeland. There is a need for a clear-cut enunciation of the US policy articulated by President Barack Obama himself. (9-5-10)

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

Friday, May 7, 2010



Najibullah Zazi , a 25-year-old Afghan citizen with permanent resident status in the US, was arrested by the USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in September 2009 on a charge of belonging to an Al Qaeda motivated and trained cell, which was allegedly planning suicide bombings in the New York City subway system. He pleaded guilty along with one of two other co-conspirators. The third co-conspirator did not plead guilty. The case is reserved for judgement in June.

2.According to the prosecution, the three had planned to attack the subway system at the instance of Saleh al-Somali, Al-Qaeda's head of external operations, and Rashid Rauf, who was described by the prosecution as an Al-Qaeda operative. Rashid Rauf, who was reportedly killed in a US Drone (pilotless plane) strike in North Waziristan in November,2008, belonged to the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) of Pakistan and was related by marriage to Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the JEM.

3. Zarein Ahmedzay, a 25-year-old former New York taxi driver, one of the three co-conspirators, who pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, claimed the three had bought ingredients to make explosives similar to those used in the July 7 2005 bombings in London which killed 52 people on three tube trains and a bus. Ahmedzay told the court that he travelled to Pakistan with Najibullah Zazi and Adis Medunjanin in the summer of 2008. They went to a training camp in North Waziristan and volunteered to join the Taliban and fight the US forces in Afghanistan, but were told they would be "more useful if we returned to New York City... to conduct operations."Asked by the judge what kind of operations, he said: "Suicide-bombing operations.” Zazi told the court:"During the training, al Qaeda leaders asked us to return to the United States and conduct a martyrdom operation. We agreed to this plan." It was reported on April 13,2010, that a fourth suspect in the case----not yet named as a co-conspirator---had been arrested in Pakistan and that the US authorities were trying to get him to the US for interrogation.

4.Rashid Rauf, who motivated them, was from a Mirpuri family of Birmingham. The Mirpuris are the Punjabi-speaking residents of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). He disappeared from the UK in 2002 after the British Police suspected him in connection with the murder of one of his relatives in Birmingham. On August 9, 2006, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) claimed to have picked him up from a house in Bhawalpur, southern Punjab, which he had bought after coming to Pakistan in 2002. The Pakistani authorities claimed that he was in close touch with Al Qaeda and that it was his arrest that gave them an inkling regarding the imminence of the plot of a group of jihadi extremists based in the UK to blow up a number of US-bound planes. The discovery of the conspiracy and the arrest of many UK-based suspects of Pakistani origin were then announced by the British Police.

5.Despite his alleged involvement in the August 2006 plot to blow up a number of US-bound planes with liquid explosives, the Pakistani authorities avoided handing him over to the British Police for interrogation. The Government of Pakistan told a court on October 30, 2006, that Rashid Rauf had been detained under the Security of Pakistan Act. A Rawalpindi Anti-Terrorism Judge, Justice Safdar Hussain Malik, passed orders on November 21, 2006, approving his judicial custody in the Adiala jail. This ruled out his early transfer to the British Police for interrogation. He escaped from custody under mysterious circumstances on December, 16,2007, while being taken back to jail from the court. Many alleged that the ISI had allowed him to escape to avoid pressure from the British Police to hand him over for interrogation.

6. Quoting an unnamed senior Pakistani security official, an Islamabad datelined report of the Agence France Press (AFP) stated as follows on November 22, 2008: "The alleged mastermind of a 2006 transatlantic airplane bombing plot was killed in a US missile attack in northwest Pakistan early Saturday (November 15, 2008) .The transatlantic bombing plot alleged mastermind Rashid Rauf was killed along with an Egyptian Al-Qaeda operative in the US missile strike in North Waziristan early Saturday," a senior security official told AFP. The Al-Qaeda operative killed in the strike was identified as Abu Zubair al-Misri, the official added. He and the Egyptian Al-Qaeda operative were killed along with at least two other militants in a US drone attack on the house of a local tribesman in the village of Alikhel, part of a district known as a stronghold for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, officials said. The missile strike came days after another US drone attack which killed six rebels, including an Arab Al-Qaeda operative. That attack prompted Taliban militants based in the rugged tribal territory bordering Afghanistan to warn of reprisal attacks across Pakistan if there were more strikes by the US. "

7.According to the “Daily Telegraph”,Rauf had been suspected of involvement in almost every significant terrorist plot in Britain since his escape to Pakistan in 2002, including the explosions of July 7, 2005 in London, the failed attacks of July 21, 2005 in London and the plot to blow up airliners over the Atlantic.He was also behind an alleged plan to attack shopping centres in Manchester during Easter 2008.

8.Maulana Masood Azhar used to be a leader of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), a founding member of Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front For Jihad against the Crusaders and the Jewish People formed in 1998. Its then Amir, Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, was a signatory of bin Laden’s first fatwa calling for attacks against the US. Azhar had fought as a member of bin Laden’s group in Somalia in the early 1990s. In 1994, he entered India and was arrested by the Police and kept in custody in Jammu & Kashmir. He was one of those released by the Government of India in December,1999, to secure the release of the passengers of a plane of the Indian Airlines hijacked by the HUM to Kandahar to demand the release of Azhar and others. After his return to Pakistan from Kandahar, Azhar developed differences with Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, left the HUM and formed his own organization in January 2000 called the JEM. bin Laden failed in his efforts to patch up the differences between the two. He then switched his support from the HUM to the JEM.

9. The JEM was very active in J&K and was suspected of involvement in the attempted attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi on December 13,2001. Unlike the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), which never indulges in an act of terrorism in Pakistani territory and against Pakistani targets, the JEM has been involved in acts of terrorism in Pakistani territory. It was suspected of involvement, along with Al Qaeda, in the two unsuccessful attempts to kill Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi in December,2003.It supported the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in its operations against the Pakistan Army in the Swat Valley and then in South Waziristan. It is now believed to have its training camps in North Waziristan along with those of Ilyas Kashmiri of the 313 Brigade.

10. Since Rashid Rauf joined it in 2002, the JEM has been training members of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK. The Zazi’s case was the first indication that it may be training jihadi volunteers from the US too. As part of the investigation into the attempted incendiary attack in Times Square of New York by Faisal Shahzad, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, on May 1,2010, four suspected members of the JEM in Pakistan are reported to have been detained by the Pakistani authorities. Among those detained is one Muhammed Rehan, a suspected associate of Shahzad who allegedly has links to the JEM. According to a senior Pakistani official, Rehan made possible a meeting between Shahzad and at least one senior Taliban official. He alleged that Rehan drove Shahzad on July 7, 2009, to Peshawar. They also went to the Waziristan region, where they met with one or more senior Taliban leaders.

11. The suspected involvement of the JEM in the training of Faisal, if proved correct, would indicate, in the wake of its involvement in the motivation and training of the Zazi cell, a possible link between the members of the Zazi cell and Faisal. It would also indicate the possibility that like Zazi, Faisal was not acting alone. The JEM is becoming as worrisome as the LET as a surrogate of Al Qaeda using angry elements in the Pakistani diaspora for acts of terrorism not only in the UK as it had done in the past, but also in the US now. ( 7-5-10)

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

Wednesday, May 5, 2010



Q. There has been some criticism in the US media of the handling of the case relating to the attempt to cause an incendiary explosion in Times Square, New York, on the evening of May 1,2010, by Faisal Shahzad, a US citizen of Pakistani origin. To what extent is the criticism justified?

A.The intervention and forensic procedures worked very well from the moment a T-shirt vendor alerted a policeman that smoke was coming out of the Nissan Pathfinder vehicle. The people in the area were evacuated in an orderly manner. The area was sealed. The explosives expert of the NY Police defused the explosive device in the car. The forensic experts, who took over at this stage, did a quick job in establishing that the car had recently changed ownership, tracing the previous owner and with her help establishing Faisal Shahzad as the present owner. There was a slip-up in the follow-up thereafter. A police surveillance team, which was tailing Faisal, lost him. The Emirates Airlines at the JFK airport failed to notice that there was an alert from the US authorities to all airlines issued on the forenoon of May 3 not to let Faisal board any flight. However, the US Customs noticed his name in the passenger manifest sent to them after all passengers had boarded, the doors of the aircraft had closed and it had started moving away from the departure gate. They brought the aircraft back and the police arrested Faisal. Thus, the only slip-up by US officials was in missing him during the surveillance. Such slip-ups do occur during surveillance unless it was a bumper-to-bumper surveillance, which would be meaningless.

Q. Why did the police keep him under surveillance instead of arresting him immediately after he was identified?

A. They probably wanted to identify his associates, if he had any.

Q.Why did Faisal stay on in the US for 48 hours instead of fleeing immediately after parking the car with the incendiary device in Times Square?

A. It is intriguing why he did not flee immediately. Mir Aimal Kansi, the Pakistani who killed two CIA officers in Washington DC in January 1993, and Ramzi Yousef, another Pakistani, who was involved in the attempt to blow up the World Trade Centre in NY in February,1993, flew out of the US immediately after committing the crime. Faisal stayed on for 48 hours. If he had gone to the airport after leaving the vehicle in Times Square and left the US, he would have escaped for the time being. He did not do so. Instead, he went back to Connecticut, his city of residence, by train and tried to flee only after coming to know that the police had identified him. He appears to have been not a very well trained jihadi. He left a trail everywhere. He entered into e-Mail correspondence with the previous owner of the vehicle. He gave her the number of his disposable mobile telephone. He left in the Nissan vehicle a key bunch containing the key of his apartment and of another car which he owned. He lingered on in the US for 48 hours after making the attempt to cause an incendiary attack.This dos not speak highly of his security consciousness.

Q. Was he a self-motivated or an externally-motivated jihadi?

A. He appears to have been a self-motivated jihadi----a volunteer for jihad and not a recruit. This is apparent from the preparations made by him for leaving the US once for all. He had stopped making the mortgage payments on an apartment which he had bought with a bank loan, taken his wife and two children to Pakistan and left them there and left his job as a financial analyst with a local company.

Q. What does the incident speak of the quality of his motivation?

A. Not very high. He was angry against the US, but not angry enough to volunteer for an act of suicide terrorism. He was attached to his wife and children. He wanted to commit an act of terrorism against the US. At the same time, he did not want to "martyr" himself. He wanted to live. Being an educated person, he did not apparently believe in the jihadi brain-washing stuff that suicide bombers will go direct to heaven where many virgins would be waiting for them. Whoever trained him could not succeed in converting him into a do or die jihadi. He was totally different from the three Pakistani suicide bombers, who carried out the suicide bombings in Lndon in July 2005. They had been trained by Al Qaeda, which had made a good job of the training by converting them into highly-motivated suicide bombers.

Q. Why did the incendiary device fail?

A. It was noticed promptly by a vendor. The Police intervened promptly. The connections were loose. The detonation took a longer time to take place than it does normally. This gave the police time to defuse it. The alertness of the vendor, the professionalism of the police and luck contributed to the failure.

Q. It has been reported by some sections of the US media that the fertiliser which Faisal had used was a harmless type which would not have caused an explosion?

A. Ever since the jihadi terrorists started using nitrogenous fertilisers as an explosive material, the authorities in Western countries have been persuading fertiliser manufacturers to change the chemical composition of the fertiliser produced by them to ensure that they cannot be used as an explosive material. Most of the fertilisers now being sold in the West do not explode. Faisal and his trainers were probably not aware of this. He bought a fertiliser without knowing it would not explode.

Q. It has been reported that the car owner who sold the Nissan to Faisal did not know his name. She gave a physical description of him. After that, the police showed her some pics. One of them was of Faisal and she identified him as the person who bought her car. How did the police zero in on him so fast?

A. This is an intriguing aspect of the case. This creates a suspicion in one's mind that the FBI knew Faisal before in some connection. He was probably not a stranger to them. I would not be surprised if like David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) Faisal had also been in touch with the FBI.

Q. Was Faisal acting alone or did he have accomplices?

A. It has been reported that he has been claiming that he acted alone. His accomplices were probably in Pakistan and not in the US. It would seem that almost all the phone calls made by him in the days before the attempt were to numbers in Pakistan and not to numbers in the US.

Q. He is reported to have admitted that he received training in bomb-making in the Waziristan area of Pakistan. Who might have trained him?

A. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the incident, but the quality of the training given to him appears rather low, but the TTP's training is of high quality like the training imparted by Al Qaeda to the London suicide bombers.

Q.The Pakistani jihadis of the diaspora in the UK seem to have had more successes in carrying out acts of terrorism than those of the US? How to explain it?

A.Most of the migration from Pakistan to the UK took place from the uneducated or ill-educated rural milieu-----landless workers, poor peasants, manual workers and others.Even though they were the more moderate Barelvis when they migrated, many of them have become fierce Deobandis/Wahabis. Their motivation is strong and they are easily impressed by the brain-washing of the Pakistani Mullas.Most of the migration to the US came from the big cities and medium and small towns. They have remained Barelvis even after migrating to the US. The Deobandi-Barelvi impact on the Pakistani diaspora in the US is still weak. Fundamentalist Mullas do not have the same influence on the Pakistani diaspora in the US as they have in the UK.

Q. What is the ethnic background of Faisal?

A. Some Pakistani sources have described him as a Kashmiri from Nowshera. Others have described him as a Pashtun. It is interesting to note that when news of his arrest by the FBI broke in the Khyber-Pakhtunkwa (Old NWFP) province, many described it as a US conspiracy against the Pashtuns.

Q. What is the lesson for the US from this episode?

A. The importance of action against the jihadi infrastructure in Pakistan----consisting of extremist madrasas and the training camps of various jihadi organisations whether located in the tribal belt or Punjab or elsewhere. The equal importance of action against terrorist sanctuaries. Pervez Musharraf took millions of dollars of governmental and non-governmental funds from the US promising to stop the use of the madrasas as jihad factories, but did nothing. The present Government has been taking billions of dollars and military equipment from the US without any action against the jihadi infrastructure in Pakistani territory. The Pakistani rulers---whether civilian or military---- have learnt the art of making an ass of the US by promising to act against terrorism from Pakistani territory without doing anything. The second lesson is that jihadi terrorists---whether Arabs or Pakistanis or others---- are determined to have another successful act of terrorism in the US homeland. They have been unlucky twice, but they will continue trying.

Q.Any other interesting aspect of the case?

A. It has been reported that some of the messages pertaining to reprisal attacks against the US purporting to be from the TTP were uploaded from Connecticut? Who did so? Faisal himself or somebody else? ( 6-5-10)

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

Tuesday, May 4, 2010



A US citizen of Pakistani origin, who still retains his Pakistani citizenship after having acquired US citizenship, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at the JFK airport of New York on the evening of May 3,2010, in connection with their investigation into the attempted incendiary attack in the Times Square of New York on the evening of May 1,2010. He had boarded a Dubai-bound flight of the Emirate Airlines after having passed through security and immigration controls. The doors of the aircraft had been closed and it had started moving away from the departure gates when the FBI ordered it to come back to the departure gates and took him into custody. He was to be produced before a local court on May 4.

2. The FBI has taken over the responsibility for the investigation of the case from the New York Police, thereby indicating that the authorities suspected that the attempted incendiary attack could have links with international terrorism. The name of the arrested suspect has been given by sections of the US media as Shahzad Faisal , but Mr.Eric Holder, the US Attorney-General, gave his name as Faisal Shahzad.

3. He is stated to be 30 years old and has been described by some reports as an information technology expert. It is not known whether he is a Pashtun, but some reports say he is married to a lady from Peshawar, the capital of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, who had studied in the UK before migrating to the US. It is not known when Faisal Shahzad migrated to the US, but he was naturalized as a US citizen on April 17 2009. He traveled to Dubai in June 2009, and returned to Connecticut, his city of residence, in April 2010.During this period, he is believed to have spent about five months in Pakistan. It is not known where he spent the remaining period.

4. The breakthrough in the investigation came after the police established that the Nissan Pathfinder vehicle which was used for the failed incendiary attack had been bought by a Hispanic or Middle-Eastern looking man from a woman of Connecticut three weeks ago for US $ 1800 paid in cash. The police had established her as the original owner of the car with the help of the identification number. The suspect had erased the number from the dashboard, but not from the engine. She had advertised for the sale of the car in one of the Internet sites for the sale/purchase of used cars.

5. She did not recall the name of the purchaser, but identified Faisal as the buyer from his picture shown to her by the FBI. It is not clear how the FBI zeroed in on him. There are two possibilities: Either he was already under watch by the FBI or he was one of the Pakistani-origin residents of Connecticut who had recently returned after a longish visit to Pakistan and hence appeared in the database of the FBI, which keeps track of residents of Pakistani origin spending a long period in Pakistan.

6.It is not clear why the FBI immediately did not flash his name to the airport security in all airports. The fact that he was able to pass through the security and immigration controls at the JFK airport and board the aircraft shows that at the time he passed through the controls they had no adverse information about him. Luckily, after he had boarded the aircraft, the authorities realized he was on board the aircraft and brought it back to arrest him.

7. The investigating authorities do not know as yet whether he was a lone wolf terrorist or whether he had accomplices. They seem to be conducting their investigation on the presumption that there could be accomplices. The FBI has till now identified him only as the person who had purchased the Nissan Pathfinder vehicle and not as the person who drove the vehicle to the Times Square and left it there with the timed incendiary device inside. They are enquiring whether it was he who left the vehicle or someone else.

8. The claim made by Qari Hussain Mehsud of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) regarding responsibility for the attempt is now being taken a little more seriously by the FBI because the message making the claim had been recorded before the incident. The FBI is also taking seriously a separate message of Hakimullah Mehsud, the Amir of the TTP, warning of reprisal strikes in the US, which had also been recorded before May 1.

9.Both the TTP and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) have been angry against the US over its Drone strikes in North and South Waziristan. The TTP has been angry because of the death of Baitullah Mehsud, its then Amir, following a Drone strike in August last, and the subsequent injury to Hakimullah in another strike in January,2010. The IJU is angry because of the alleged death of its leader Najmiddin Jalolov in a Drone strike.

10. According to some speculation, the Nissan vehicle was parked near the offices of Viacom Inc., which owns the theatre Comedy Central. It reportedly recently staged an episode of the animated show "South Park", which was strongly criticized by a group called the Muslim Revolution for allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammad. Was this also a possible motive? It is not yet clear. ( 4-5-10)

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

Monday, May 3, 2010




While the New York Police are still to reach any conclusion regarding the responsibility for the attempted incendiary attack in the Times Square of New York on the evening of May 1,2010, tribal sources in Pakistan suspect that it was a joint attempt by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), also known as the Islamic Jihad Group.

2. The TTP has already claimed responsibility for the attempt through a message purporting to be from Qari Hussian Mehsud, the head of the suicide terrorism training wing of the TTP, disseminated through the Internet on May 2, but its claim has not been taken seriously by the US investigating authorities till now.The IJU, which has remained silent so far, is a splinter group of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). It projects itself as a global jihadi group and not as an etnic Uzbeck group and has in its ranks recruits from Germany, including White converts to Islam, and the US, including some Pakistanis born of mixed marriages like David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. In the past it had come to notice for planning terrorist attacks against German and US targets in Germany, which did not, however, materialise.

3.While the US authorities are looking into all angles----including the possibility of the involvement of non-Muslim irrational elements in the US---- the possibility that jihadi elements of either local or extrernal origin might have been invloved started receiving some attention on May 3. While their skepticism about the claim of the TTP is understandable, it will be unwise to reject it without proper verification. (4-5-10)

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


( Article written for “Mumbai Mirror” at their request)


A terrorist caught alive is not deniable. One can deny oral, documentary and technical intelligence as fabricated, but one cannot deny someone caught in flesh and blood.

By catching Ajmal Kasab alive and in flesh and blood, the Mumbai Police made certain that neither the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) nor Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, the LET’s handler, will be able to deny convincingly the LET’s involvement in the 26/11 terrorist strike in Mumbai. He is the living proof of the involvement of the LET.

And the journalist, who photographed him moving around with his accomplice in the railway terminus killing people with his gun, recorded undeniably his role in the perpetration of the dastardly crime.

If Kasab’s capture and his interrogation proved the involvement of the LET in the terrorist strike, the photographs proved his involvement in killing dozens of innocent civilians.

His interrogation enabled the police not only to re-construct the entire conspiracy mounted by the LET and its handlers in Pakistan, but also identify the conspirators based in Pakistan headed by Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the LET.

The monitoring of the telephone conversations between the perpetrators in Mumbai and their handlers in Pakistan produced a wealth of technical evidence about the role played by the Pakistan-based conspirators in the orchestration of the terrorist strike. But without the corroborating details provided by Kasab, it might not have been possible to identify them by name and force Pakistan to arrest them.

If Kasab had not been caught alive and interrogated, Pakistan might have rejected the intercepted telephone conversations as unlinkable to specific individuals. It is Kasab’s interrogation that provided the link between the recorded voices and the persons to whom those voices belonged. Kasab knew those persons and recognized their voices.

The reconstruction of the crime and the identification of the Pakistan-based conspirators by the Mumbai Police with the help of Kasab forced Pakistan to arrest and prosecute the persons identified by Kasab.

A group of 10 fedayeen (suicidal attackers) from Pakistan had mounted the attack. The instructions to them by the LET were not to get caught alive. Nine of them died during the execution of their attack. If Kasab had also died, the Mumbai police might still be struggling to successfully investigate the case.

There was total confusion in Pakistan when they heard that Kasab had been caught alive thereby depriving them of the protection of deniability. Even then, they tried to deny their involvement by claiming that Kasab was not Pakistani. But after some journalists in Pakistan traced the family of Kasab in his home village in Pakistani Punjab and interviewed them, even this fig leaf of a deniability was not available to them. They had to admit that the terrorist strike had been mounted from Pakistan by the LET.

The interrogation of Kasab provided the police and the intelligence agencies with a lot of information as to when and how the terrorist strike was planned, who were the people recruited, where were they trained, what kind of training they received, who were the people involved in training them, what instructions were given to them before they left Karachi for Mumbai etc.

Such details would have enabled the investigating and intelligence agencies to strengthen their data base on the LET and to understand better how it functions.

But Kasab was only a foot jihadi----trained to carry out a terrorist strike and die in the process. He was not from the leadership core of the LET. His knowledge was confined to details of the terrorist strike of 26/11. He had no knowledge of the future plans of the LET and of its sleeper cells in India, including the identities of the Indian Mujahideen members in India helping the LET.

While he was helpful in the investigation and reconstruction of the terrorist attack of 26/11, he was of no use in detecting and neutralizing the sleeper cells of the LET and the Indian Mujahideen. His utility in anticipating and thwarting the LET’s future strikes will be almost nil.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi)