Thursday, September 30, 2010



Mr.Leon Panetta, the Director of the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), arrived in Islamabad on September 29,2010, for talks with Lt.Gen.Shuja Pasha, the Director-General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). He was also scheduled to meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani and Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff ( COAS).

2. Ever since he took over as the head of the CIA last year, Mr.Panetta had been periodically visiting Pakistan for talks with Pakistani leaders and officials on action against Al Qaeda, the Afghan and Pakistani Talibans and other affiliates of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistani territory. He has also been utilizing these visits for discussing with his own officers based in the Af-Pak area the operations of the Drones (pilotless planes), which are co-ordinated by the CIA.

3. His latest visit is, therefore, not a matter for surprise. However, it has assumed more than the usual significance because of indicators that the Jalaluddin Haqqani network, which has been the bete noire of the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan, has been operating increasingly from new sanctuaries in the Kurram Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). This area, which has seen some bloody fighting between the Shias and the Sunnis during the last two years, has not been the focus of the intensified Drone strikes, which have been confined to North Waziristan ( an estimated 64 strikes this year) and South Waziristan (an estimated six).

4.Because of the sensitive Shia-Sunni angle in the Kurram Agency, the US has till now left the responsibility for action against the Taliban sanctuaries in the Agency to the Pakistan Army, which has been claiming to have mounted ground and air strikes against them. Despite the Pakistani claims, there has been no reduction in cross-border raids into Afghanistan by well-trained elements of the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani network, from sanctuaries in the Kurram Agency.

5. It is dissatisfaction with the operations which the Pakistan Army claims to have launched in the Agency which has resulted in the decision of the NATO forces in Afghanistan to exercise the right of hot pursuit against the Taliban and Haqqani network elements fleeing back into the Kurram Agency after ambushing/attacking the NATO forces in Afghanistan. This hot pursuit is being exercised in helicopters and not through ground operations. In one such hot pursuit this week, a Pakistani checkpost came under fire from a NATO helicopter resulting in the alleged death of three Pakistani security personnel.

6. According to well-informed Pakistani sources, one of the purposes of the latest visit of the CIA chief is to remonstrate with the ISI and Pakistani Army officials over their failure to act against the sanctuaries in the Kurram Agency and caution them that continued inaction or inadequate action by the Pakistan army could force the US to extend its Drone strikes to the Kurram Agency.

7.According to the same sources, the US continues to be unhappy with the Pakistani inaction in North Waziristan and inadequate action in South Waziristan. The stepped-up Drone strikes have disrupted the functioning of Al Qaeda from North Waziristan, but have not had much of an impact on the operations of the so-called 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), another Uzbek group, which has been drawing followers from persons of Turkish origin, including Kurds, living in Germany.

8. Ever since the publication of some cartoons of the Prophet by a Danish paper in 2005, Al Qaeda and its associates based in Pakistan’s tribal belt have been exploring ways of mounting terrorist attacks in reprisal against Western targets in Europe. Ilyas Kashmiri has been playing an important role in this regard. Evidence of his role in looking for opportunistic attacks on behalf of Al Qaeda in Europe came from the interrogation of David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), who was arrested by the FBI in October last year.

9. His interrogation brought out that he had helped the LET in preparing the groundwork for the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai and was similarly helping Ilyas Kashmiri in preparing the groundwork for terrorist strikes in Denmark. In fact, Ilyas Kashmiri was reported to have told Headley that he controlled operational assets in Europe whom Headley could use without having to depend on the LET for the European operations.

10.A Press release issued on January 14,2010, by the Public Affairs Division of the US Justice Department had said as follows: “Headley allegedly traveled in January 2009, from Chicago to Copenhagen, Denmark, to conduct surveillance of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper offices in Copenhagen and Aarhus and to videotape the surrounding areas In late January 2009, Headley traveled to Pakistan and met separately to discuss the planning with Abdur Rehman and Lashkar Member A. In February 2009, Abdur Rehman allegedly took Headley to meet with Kashmiri in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. During the meeting, Kashmiri allegedly indicated that he had reviewed the surveillance videos made by Headley and suggested using a truck bomb in the operation. Kashmiri further indicated that he could provide manpower for the operation and that Lashkar’s participation was not necessary, the indictment alleges. Subsequently, in March 2009, Lashkar Member A advised Headley that Lashkar put the newspaper attack on hold because of pressure in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, according to the charges. In May 2009, Headley and Abdur Rehman met again with Kashmiri in Waziristan and Kashmiri allegedly directed Headley to meet with his European contacts who could provide Headley with money, weapons, and manpower for the newspaper attack. In late July and early August 2009, Headley traveled from Chicago to various places in Europe, including Copenhagen, attempting to obtain assistance from Kashmiri’s contacts and, while there, made approximately 13 additional surveillance videos, according to the charges.” ( My comment: Abdur Rehman is a retired Major of the Pakistan Army, who was acting as a cut-out between Headley and Ilyas Kashmiri)

11.The Islamic Jihad Union or Group (IJU), an Uzbek group based in North Waziristan and closely allied to Al Qaeda, has some followers in Germany among persons of Turkish origin as well as white German converts to Islam. Some arrests were made in Germany in August-September 2007 in connection with investigations into the activities of the IJU and its suspected plots for terrorist strikes in Germany against German as well as American targets.

12. The Norwegian police announced on July 8,2010, the arrest of three men suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda on charges of preparing terrorist attacks. One of them is a Norwegian citizen of Uighur origin. The other two are permanent residents in Norway of Uzbek and Iraqi-Kurdish origin. Two of them (the Uzbek and the Uighur) are reported to have been arrested in Norway and the third (Iraqi-Kurd with a permanent residence permit of Norway) in Germany. The Norwegian police had been keeping them under surveillance for investigation for about a year. The arrests appear to have been made even though the investigation was incomplete because of the leakage of the news about the investigation against them to the media. They apparently decided to arrest them before the media came out with the news. Media reports indicated that the arrested persons were suspected of involvement in plots for terrorist strikes in Norway and of having links with some terrorist suspects under investigation in the US and the UK.

13. The latest reports emanating from the US and the UK about the alleged plans of Al Qaeda to mount Mumbai-style terrorist strikes in the UK, France and Germany have come in the wake of these developments relating to the use of Headley by Ilyas and the arrests in Norway and Germany. The same sources as mentioned above say that the US feels that the ISI has been dragging its feet in taking action against Ilyas and his contacts in the Pakistan Army. Sections of the Pakistani media have been alleging since 2008 that Ilyas had served for some time as a commando in the Special Services Group of the Pakistan Army before drifting into the world of terrorism. He, therefore, enjoys protection from the ISI. Like the Haqqanis father and son, Ilyas is another valued operational asset of the ISI, which uses the Haqqanis in Afghanistan and Ilyas against India.

14. Growing indicators of the role which Ilyas has been playing as facilitator for the Euopean operations of Al Qaeda and its Uzbek associates have made the US step up pressure on the ISI for neutralizing Ilyas and his 313 Brigade. The sources say that this is another important reason for the visit of the CIA chief to Pakistan.

15. This may please be read in continuation of my earlier articles cited below:
(a). Article of September 18,2010, titled HAQQANI NETWORK IN PARACHINAR at
(b).Article of July 9,2010, titled “Al Qaeda In Norway” at

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010




The use of motor-bikes for committing acts of terrorism, including suicide terrorism, is a modus-operandi that was first seen in Pakistan in the 1980s. This MO involves two terrorists sitting on a motor-bike approaching their target and the one in the pillion seat either firing at the target with a gun or throwing a hand-grenade and then getting away through small lanes where police patrol cars may not be able to enter. Targeted firing from a moving motor-bike is not easy. It requires some training and practice.

2. This MO was frequently used in Karachi in the 1980s and the early 1990s by the then Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) and its rival called the MQM (Haquiqi) against each other. It was also used by the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) to kill their Shia targets. The SSP and the LEJ continue to use this MO in addition to other MO. The Pakistani authorities have tried to deal with this by banning pillion-seat riding in some of their cities.

3.The MO varies depending on whether it is an act of non-suicide terrorism or suicide terrorism. For acts of non-suicide terrorism, two persons are used, with the person sitting at the back opening fire on the target. For acts of suicide terrorism, only one person will do. He will activate an explosive device while crossing the target.

4. The Haqqani network in Afghanistan has reportedly been using this MO.According to the “Guardian” of UK, one of the documents of 2007 recently leaked through Wikileaks claims that the Pakistani intelligence had given some motor-bikes to the Haqqani network for use in acts of terrorism.

5. From the Af-Pak region, this MO spread to Southern Thailand and Yemen. In Southern Thailand, Muslim separatists have been using this for killing government officials, security forces personnel and Muslims co-operating with the Government. In Yemen, this MO was used by Al Qaeda to kill public servants.

6. Benjamin Joffe-Walt of “The Media Line”, which disseminates news about the Middle East, had reported recently as follows: “Authorities in Yemen’s Abyan Governorate, a growing stronghold for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have banned motorcycles from cities in the region. “Using motorbikes in terrorist operations to assassinate intelligence officers and security personnel have been massively mounted over the past nine months in the province,” a Yemeni Interior Ministry official told the Xinhua news agency. The news, first reported in the pan-Arab London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, follows a series of recent assassinations by Al Qaeda militants throughout Abyan and will affect some 5,000 two-wheeled vehicles, according to local media. Militants on motorcycles have killed at least 30 Yemeni soldiers, intelligence officers and security personnel over the last three months alone, using the bikes to make a quick escape.”

7. The report added: “Motorcycles are typically used by terrorists and insurgents to deliver weapons directly if it is a suicide attack or to make a quick getaway,” Dr Theodore Karasik, director for Research and Development at the Institute for Near East Gulf Military Analysis told The Media Line. “The banning of motorcycles is indicative of how the government, with help from US officers, is trying to cut down on the movements of Al Qaeda members and tribal members who support them.”

8. It said further: “Brig Gen (Ret) Musa Qallab, the former programme manager of Gulf Defence Issues at the Gulf Research Centre, said motorcycles are the ideal tool for a terrorist attack. “They are easy to rent, easy to buy and easy to use,” he told The Media Line. “So many people drive motorcycles so it’s easy to hide, easy to cheat and more importantly very easy to escape from the scene through narrow passages. It’s very hard to stop them in a crowded area full of traffic.” Dr Stephen Steinbeiser, resident director of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies in Sanaa, said the move showed that the government was taking the threat seriously. “Motorcycles and scooters are easy to manoeuvre and to get around roadblocks, so I’m surprised they didn’t think of this earlier,” he told The Media Line. “I don’t think its a sign of desperation, I see it as a sign that the government is taking this seriously, doing anything it can to protect themselves, and is taking practical and creative ways to change the way they do business and tackle a rising threat.”

9.Two as yet unidentified assailants, allegedly belonging to the Indian Mujahideen (IM), used this MO near the Jamma Masjid in Delhi on September 19, and injured two Taiwanese tourists and got away. If it is established that they are from the IM, it is the first time it has used this MO. The use of motor-bikes by the IM could enable it to target the buses carrying the participants in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. Pillion-riding needs to be banned at least in the core areas where the venues and the Games village are located till the Games are over and the participants leave India.

10. Indian intelligence and security officials should not fight shy of consulting their US counterparts on how they counter this MO. ( 22-9-10)

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

Monday, September 20, 2010



A major sports event that will be watched by million of persons provides theater for terrorist organizations. It is to be expected that many terrorist organizations would be tempted to explore the possibility of organizing terrorist strikes during the forthcoming Commonwealth Games (CWG) in New Delhi from October 3.

2. Organizations such as the Indian Mujahideen (IM), the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and others would have an anti-Indian motive. Others such as Al Qaeda, the Talibans and other affiliates of Al Qaeda would have an anti-West motive. Though the US and Germany are not participants, the UK, Canada and Australia are. They have incurred the anger of these organizations because of their role in the fighting against Al Qaeda brand terrorism and the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and would be tempting targets. Any nervousness in these countries about the state of physical security before and during the Games is natural and should be understood and appreciated by the Indian authorities.

3. What will give confidence to them is our seriousness in threat assessments, thoroughness in physical security and competence in investigation of threats. If they get an impression that we are trying to play down threats and cover up incidents which indicate security inadequacies, their confidence in us will be damaged. Keeping this in view, one has to deplore the seeming attempts of the Delhi Police to play down the seriousness of the incident of September 19,2010, in Delhi in which two Taiwanese tourists were injured by two assailants on a motor-bike. Instead of treating it as a possible terrorist incident which could have implications for physical security before and during the CWG unless and until proved otherwise, the Delhi Police have started projecting it as an ordinary criminal incident with no implications for the CWG even before any progress had been made in the investigation. This is totally unwise.

4. It is said that those in charge of physical security are fully prepared against possible acts of catastrophic or mass casualty terrorism involving weapons of great lethality, but they seem to be ill-organised to deal with small acts of terrorism where the objective is not mass casualties or catastrophic damages, but psychological consequences creating nervousness and panic. The attack on the Taiwanese tourists on September 19 has to be treated as one such incident with a psychological objective and not a catastrophic one.

5.The objective of any anti-India terrorist group targeting the CWG would be two-fold. Firstly, to embarrass the Government of India and its security agencies by disrupting the games through panic and loss of faith in the ability of the security agencies to protect the foreigners. Secondly, to highlight that the security conditions for major sports events in India are as bad as they are in Pakistan.

6. Pakistan has gone through a humiliating experience following the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team last year. The anti-India, Pakistan-aided terrorists would want to make India go through a similar humiliating experience.

7. To achieve these objectives, the terrorists do not have to organise spectacular acts of mass casualty terrorism like 9/11 in the US or 26/11 in Mumbai. A series of small incidents with limited casualties, which show the Indian security agencies in a poor light and erode the confidence of foreigners in their ability to ensure effective security, would be adequate for this purpose. If they are able to repeat small acts similar to the one staged on September 19 it would have a ripple effect on the morale of the participating teams and other foreigners. It is, therefore, important to ensure that there would be no repetition of such acts.

8. The Government should immediately hold a brain-storming session of the security agencies and senior Police officers of all States to discuss what further steps to prevent a repetition need to be taken. Examples of such steps are a ban on pillion riding and repeated appeals to the public to report cases of theft of motor vehicles and follow-up action to trace those vehicles. All hotels and guest houses should be advised to keep the police informed of all suspicious-seeming persons staying in their establishments. The police should prepare a list of suspicious indicators and circulate it to them.

9.Any comprehensive security plan for an event like the CWG has to have three components covering the core area, the peripheral areas and measures to prevent diversionary attacks such as the hijacking of planes to divert the attention of the authorities. The Munich Olympics of 1972 saw a penetration of the core area (the games village).The Atlanta Olympics in the US in 1996 saw an explosion when the games were in progress in a park in a peripheral area. The Beijing Olympics of 2008 were preceded by diversionary attacks in Chinese-controlled Xinjiang, Yunnan and Shanghai.

10. The Delhi incident of September 19 show inadequacies in the peripheral areas. The manpower available to the Delhi Police would have to remain focused on the core area. They would need additional manpower for the peripheral areas from other States. They have to be drawn from the adjoining States and deployed immediately so that they become familiar with the topography.

11. Measures to prevent diversionary attacks have to be in place all over India. Steps to prevent an act of aviation terrorism should receive high priority. All the States should be in a high state of alert with effective co-ordination.

12. One can be certain that our intelligence and security agencies would have prepared comprehensive plans covering all these components. They would have been under constant pressure from their counterparts in the participating countries to do so. These plans need to be constantly revisited to identify and remove deficiencies.

13. We should not hesitate to seek the co-operation of Pakistan to detect and pre-empt any conspiracies hatched in the Af-Pak area to disrupt the CWG. We should not stand on false prestige or prejudices against Pakistan and avoid seeking the co-operation of Pakistan. It is not too late to invite Mr.Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, for a discussion on this subject. ( 21-9-10)

( 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 statement purporting to be from the Indian Mujahideen (IM) disseminated by E-mail on September 19,2010, is shown as having been signed by one Al Arbi the same day. It refers to certain anti-Muslim incidents which allegedly took place in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on the day of Eid (September 11). It also refers to the day when the total number of people allegedly killed by the security forces in Jammu & Kashmir crossed 100 ( September 17). This would indicate that this message must have been drafted between September 17 and 19.

2. The statement is in good English with very few grammar or typing mistakes. It has been drafted by one well-versed in the Holy Koran. Many of the religious allusions have been taken from some past messages of Osama bin Laden, but bin Laden has not been mentioned anywhere by name. The last para of the message has been borrowed almost word for word from a message against Gen.Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani Army issued by bin Laden in September 2007 calling for the wrath of Allah on them for the raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July,2007. It reads: "O,Allah,deface them, break their backs and heads, split them up and destroy their unity; O, Allah, afflict them with the loss of their near and dear ones as they have afflicted us with the loss of our near and dear ones;O, Allah, we seek refuge in You from their evilness and we place You at their throats; O,Allah, make their plotting their destruction; O,Allah, suffice for us against them with whatever You wish; O,Allah, destroy them for they cannot escape You; O, Allah, count them, kill them and leave not even one of them. " There are only two minor changes. bin Laden had not said "deface them". He had also not said "and heads". One does not know wherefrom bin Laden had originally taken his curse against Musharraf and the Pakistani Army. bin Laden's curse against them has been converted by the IM into a curse against the Indian people and officials. I had referred to bin Laden's message of September 2007 in my book "Terrorism---Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow--Page 234.

3. The statement does not directly claim responsibility on behalf of the IM for the attack in Delhi on September 19 in which two Taiwanese tourists were injured. However, it indirectly hints at its responsibility by saying: "In the name of Allah we dedicate this attack of retribution...."

4. In its reference to the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, it says: "On the one hand Muslim blood is flowing like water, while on the other hand you are preparing for the festival of games. This is surely not a Child's play. Mind you this is the initiative from the Lions of Allah and we warn you to host the Commonwealth Games if you have a grain of salt. We know that the preparations for the Games are at its peak. Beware we too are preparing in full swing for a Great Surprise. The participants will be solely responsible for the outcome as our bands of Mujahideens love death more than you love life."

5. It has highlighted in red ink the following words: "Our bands of Mujahideen love death more than you love life." This could be a hint or threat that it is planning to commit an act of suicide or suicidal terrorism. The IM has not so far indulged in either.

6. While over 75 per cent of the statement is about alleged atrocities against Muslims in Jammu & Kashmir, there are also condemnatory references to the death of two IM suspects during a raid by the Delhi police on September 19,2008, to the arrests of some alleged members of the IM by the Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra Police in connection with the Pune Bakery blast of February 13 last and some alleged anti-Muslim incidents in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on Eid day. While the IM has threatened to launch a campaign of reprisals in solidarity with the Muslims of Kashmir, its initial attacks could be in Delhi, Mumbai and Ratlam. ( 20-9-10)

( 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, September 19, 2010



Two Taiwanese tourists are reported to have been injured outside the Jama Masjid in New Delhi on September 19,2010, when they were attacked with a hand-held gun by two unidentified persons on a motor-cycle.

2. The British Broadcasting Corporation has quoted an eye-witness as stating as follows: "The two terrorists came on a motorcycle and the man riding pillion first fired randomly at the mosque and then fired in the air and at the people, and then he fired on the bus in which the tourists had come.After emptying his gun, the terrorist replaced the magazine and began firing again."

3. The assailants then got away.It has been reported that the assailants dropped their gun on the road before fleeing.

4.A news channel is reported to have received an E-mail purporting to be from the Indian Mujahideen (IM) claiming responsibility for the attack. The mail had reportedly been sent from the address .The word al-arbi had figured in the E-mail sent by the IM on July 26,2008, after the terrorist attacks in Ahmedabad.

5. The attack on the Taiwanese tourists took place on the second anniversary of an incident in which two suspects of the IM were killed in an exchange of fire during a raid by the Delhi police at a hide-out of the IM. A Police Inspector too died as a result of injuries sustained during the exchange of fire.

6. The E-mail received by the news channel tried to portray the shooting incident of September 19,2010, as in memory of the two IM suspects killed during the police raid of September 19,2008.

7. While the authenticity of the E-Mail is still to be established, some of these details would lend credence to the possibility of some still absconding members of the IM having been involved in the incident. However, the past incidents organised by the IM involved the use of improvised explosive devices (IED) against soft targets and not hand-held weapons. In the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, the LET had used explosives as well as hand-held weapons.

8. The modus operandi (MO) of two assailants approaching a target on a motor-cycle, with the man in the pillion seat opening fire is often followed by the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) of Pakistan and by jihadi terrorists in Southern Thailand. Some Khalistani terrorists in Punjab had used this MO in the 1980s. In Pakistan, there is a ban on pillion riding because of the use of this MO by the LEJ.

9. The LEJ is close to Ilyas Kashmiri of the so-called 313 Brigade based in North Waziristan in Pakistan, who had issued a threat earlier this year to disrupt the CWG (Commonwealth Games). According to the media, the E-mail warned the Government not to hold the Games and added: "We know the preparations are on in full swing. Be prepared, we are preparing a shocking event and those participating in the games will hold themselves responsible for the consequences."

10. The incident and the E-mail message should not be dismissed lightly until the assailants are arrested and interrogated. One should avoid over-confidence regarding the security arrangements and minutely re-visit the security drill to identify and remove any deficiencies. While there is no need for any panic, any casual approach to the incident would be unwise. ( 19-9-10)

( 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: )



On Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 11:18 AM, Dr. S. Chandrasekharan wrote:

Hello Raman,
Just wanted to share a few things with you.

For the last month and a half there is a sudden spurt in the number of hits. On some days, the figure goes beyond 20,000and on other days above 6to 7 thousand.

There had been an increasing attention of the Chinese- Our index page was hacked a few days ago and I managed to repair it myself.

I am looking for some technical hand to assist me in times of emergencies like these. I ahve not been successful so far.

The spurt I am told is patly due to the use by the civil service exam candidates using our site as a resource base! Most of the increase now is from India itslef!

The Pioneer regularly publishes your papers sometimes with a different heading. Have you given them the permission?

Many thanks to you and all the credit goes to you. I wish I have your stamina and the dedication.


Thanks. Gratifying. Many people re-produce my articles in India & abroad. I don't object since I write to educate. Regards. Raman

Saturday, September 18, 2010




According to the Ahlul Bayt News Agency of Iran, 25 Shias have been killed and 80 others injured In the Parachinar area in the Kurram Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan during the last two weeks following attacks by members of the Haqqani network of the Afghan Taliban on the Kheyvas village in the Shaluzan Mountains. It claimed that the Shias put up a fierce resistance to the attack and managed to kill 10 members of the Taliban, including two commanders of the Haqqani network. The news agency has alleged that the Pakistani Army, instead of helping the Shias beat back the Taliban attack, bombed the Shia positions from the air in order to help the Taliban. All shops in the area remained closed on September 18,2010, to protest against the Pakistan Government's failure to protect the Shias of the Kurram Agency from repeated attacks by the Taliban. The news agency said: " The Kurram Agency has been virtually cut off from the rest of Pakistan for the past two years due to intense clashes between Shiite and Talibani rebels."

2. On September 18,the "News" of Pakistan reported as follows: " Clashes triggered by a dispute over the ownership of a water channel between two rival groups a month ago came to an end on Friday ( September 17) after a peace Jirga convened by the political administration succeeded in effecting a ceasefire, official sources said. The sources said the clashes had erupted between the Mangal and Turi Bangash tribes over the ownership of a watercourse in Shalozan and Khewas areas near the Pak-Afghan border. The incessant fighting left 102 people dead and over 150 injured. The fighting took a sectarian colour as the Mangal tribe belongs to the Sunni sect while Turi and Bangash are Shias. Fresh clashes erupted on Thursday (September 16) and continued on Friday (September 17), leaving 48 persons dead and 71 others wounded. Four villages — Aqal Shah Killay, Sarang Killay, Qabli and Khewas Killay — were also torched amid the exchange of heavy fire. The rival groups also took several people hostage. Alarmed by the situation, the political administration of Kurram Agency called a peace Jirga comprising Shia and Sunni elders that brought the hostilities to an end. “The Jirga was called at a checkpost on the boundary of Sadda and Kurram. The members of the peace Jirga and political administration representatives held talks with the members of the Mangal and Turi Bangash tribes. The Jirga persuaded the rival groups to agree to a ceasefire,” said Political Agent Syed Musaddiq Shah while talking to The News by telephone. He said that it was agreed to hold regular sessions of the Jirga to ensure durable peace in the area and forestall such incidents in future."

3.The Iranian news agency and the "News" are apparently referring to the same series of clashes, but the estimate of fatalities given by the "News" is much higher than that given by the Iranian agency. However, the fatalities mentioned by the Iranian agency are only of Shias, whereas those mentioned by "News" seem to include the fatalities incurred by the Shias as well as the Sunnis. If the figures given by the "News" are to be believed, the Shias seemed to have inficted more casualties on the Sunnis than vice versa. It also needs to be noted that while the Iranian news agency talks of the involvement of the Haqqani network in the clashes, with the support of the Pakistan Army, the "News" makes no reference to it.

4.In a report published on September 16, the "Dawn" of Karachi refers to the presence of the Haqqani network in the Kurram Agency, but claims that the network is actually trying to bring about a reconciliation between the Shias and the Sunnis of the area. The "Dawn" reported as follows: “A Taliban faction fighting US forces in Afghanistan is trying to end a tribal dispute which has resulted in severe clashes in Kurram Agency. According to sources, Taliban of the Jalaluddin Haqqani group are in contact with elders of rival tribes and talks between the Haqqani group and elders from Upper and Lower Kurram were held before Eidul Fitr. “Two trustworthy people of Jalaluddin Haqqani took part in the talks,” they said, adding that the next round of talks was expected soon. They said elders of Turi and Bangash tribes had said that they would attend further talks only if nine people kidnapped after an attack on two vehicles in Lower Kurram in July were freed and safety of passengers travelling between Parachinar and Peshawar was guaranteed. “These measures are necessary to build confidence among the tribes and prepare the ground for future talks,” an elder said. He said the Taliban had told them that they wanted reconciliation among the tribes and had approached all groups to start negotiations."

5. The "Dawn" report added: "The sources said the Taliban had been in contact with local tribes for some time but the talks had not produced any result so far. The first round of talks was held in Balishkhel village in March last year and was attended also by Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. Another team of Taliban visited the area in September last year. According to the sources, a relative of a former governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and his local business partner facilitated the talks which ended without achieving anything. It may be mentioned, Nato officials and the Afghan government made similar efforts and invited elders of various tribes to Paktia province of Afghanistan in May last year to urge them to resolve their disputes. Violent clashes have been taking place in the Kurram valley since November 2007 and thousands of people have been killed or injured and hundreds of families have been displaced. The area is cut off from the rest of the country and local people travel on the Thall-Parachinar road in convoys protected by security personnel. "

6. The "Dawn" further said: "The government brokered a peace deal and an agreement to end violence was signed in Murree in October 2008, but there has been no let-up in violence in the valley. Insiders said the aim behind Taliban’s reconciliation efforts was to secure the strategic region and turn it into a safe route to Afghanistan. Kurram valley borders Afghanistan from three sides, Paktia on its west, Nangarhar on the north and Khost on the south. When militant groups signed peace deals with the government in South and North Waziristan, some armed groups tried to use Kurram for their activities in Afghanistan. Under the agreements, the militant groups operating in Waziristan were required not to infiltrate into Afghanistan. Tension flared in the area when Baitullah Mehsud, the slain chief of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, deputed Hakimullah as ‘commander’ for Kurram, Khyber and Orakzai agencies in 2008 and tribal people in Kurram opposed TTP’s activities. Local tribes blamed Taliban for violence and insecurity in their area. According to the sources, Taliban have told the elders that tension in Kurram has had an adverse effect on the ‘Jihad’ in Afghanistan and that they are interested in ending disputes among local groups. But several tribes are sceptical about the initiative and suspect that the Taliban are interested only in securing a safe passage for their cross-border movement. “Taliban are yet to show their cards, but we have already conveyed to the negotiators that people in Kurram are against the presence of outsiders in their area,” a source said. “

7. Apparently unconnected with the developments in the Kurram Agency, the "Dawn" also reported on September 16 a steep increase in US Drone (pilotless planes) strikes against the Haqqani network. It said: "“Apparently frustrated over Pakistan military’s inaction against the Haqqani network, the United States has this month unleashed a relentless wave of drone attacks in North Waziristan, hoping to downgrade the operational capabilities of the group it considers to be the most lethal militant outfit in Afghanistan. Since Sept 2, there have been 13 strikes by unmanned Predator drones in North Waziristan — the highest number in a month since the US began using them to hit targets in Pakistan in 2004. The number of drone attacks this year has already crossed 70 — the highest figure for a year. According to military sources, an operation in North Waziristan got delayed because the army was preoccupied with fighting militancy in other tribal areas and flood relief. This window was fully exploited by the group to intensify its activities, defence analysts believe.“The Americans want to check that freedom of space available to the Haqqanis through intensified drone attacks,” a source said.”

8.The “Dawn” added: “There are few takers for the Pakistani explanation in the US and many describe the delay as tactical. Besides, Pakistan had in June initiated efforts to secure a place for the Haqqanis in post-war Afghanistan by working out a rapprochement between the group and the Karzai government. US opposition to the initiative halted it. Sources suggest that Pakistan would make fresh moves to discuss peace with the Haqqanis, in the context of the overall reconciliation plan, during Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s current visit to Pakistan. The pattern of the attacks this month shows that the primary target is the Haqqani network, even though his host Hafiz Gul Bahadar and foreign militants of Al Qaeda have also been targeted.”

9.It further said: “The strikes this month have predominantly been in Miramshah sub-division, where the Haqqani network’s headquarters are based and where the group carries out its financial dealings, acquisition of weapons and strategic planning. Five of the attacks occurred in Datakhel tehsil, which is home to Gul Bahadar’s clan Uthmanzai Wazir. Dandi Derpakhel, the scene of another attack in Miramshah, is where members of Jalaluddin Haqqani’s family live. Gul Bahadar, who leads the other major militant grouping in North Waziristan, is more than a host for the Haqqanis. He not only provides them with the tribal support the Haqqanis lack, but also gives them passage to the border. The only attack this month outside Miramshah was in Shawal, where foreign fighters loyal to Al Qaeda have sanctuaries.”

10.The “Dawn” added: “The US, while targeting the Haqqanis, is pursuing the ‘hammer and anvil approach’. Alongside the spike in the drone attacks, US Special Forces have launched an intense operation against the group in eastern Afghanistan, killing a number of its ‘commanders’. The Haqqani network has been the focus of US action for the past two years. However, after the Dec 2009 suicide attack on the Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, a key facility of the CIA, the network again came under renewed focus. In this unprecedented intense bombardment by drones, military officials see a shift in US policy in Afghanistan from counter-insurgency to counter-terrorism.” (18-9-10)

( 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, September 11, 2010




Terry Jones, the US pastor, who had threatened to organize a campaign to burn the Holy Koran starting from the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, has since given up his plans. No Koran-burning incident took place anywhere in the world on the 9/11 anniversary.

2. Following the withdrawal of his threat, there have been no reports of an escalation of violent incidents in Afghanistan and protest demonstrations in Pakistan and other Muslim countries over his threat.

3. Normally, the Muslim anger over the pastor’s threat should subside in the wake of his withdrawal of the threat. However, attempts are being made by Muslim radical elements to keep the anger, particularly against the US, sustained even after the withdrawal of the threat by the pastor. They are trying to project the very fact that the pastor held out such a threat as an act of blasphemy and as an affront to Islam and calling for acts of retaliation by American Muslims.

4. Addressing an Eid prayer meeting in a Somali mosque on September 10,2010,Moalin Hashi, a senior Islamist cleric from the Hezbul Islam which is fighting against the Somali Government, is reported to have said: "These days senior infidels have been threatening to burn the holy Quran to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 incident, so we call on all Muslims in particular American Muslims to act against the pastor, to take tough action against the pastor."

5.After the prayer meeting, he is reported to have told local journalists as follows: "The wars going on in the world today are religious in nature but some think it is political but we can say it is religious considering what the pastors are saying and that they want to burn the Quran and that those before them used to insult our Prophet, so we want Muslims everywhere to rise up." ( 12-9-10)

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

Friday, September 10, 2010




India took 19 years to prevail over the Naga and Mizo insurgents, 14 years over the Khalistani terrorists in Punjab and about 10 years plus over Al Ummah of Tamil Nadu. It has been fighting against left-wing extremists in different incarnations for nearly 40 years with no end in sight, against different terrorist groups in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for 21 years and against indigenous and Pakistan-sponsored jihadi terrorist organizations in hinterland India outside J&K for 17 years.

2. The UK took about 35 years to prevail over terrorism in Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka 26 years to vanquish the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

3. Israel has been fighting against West Asian terrorist groups for 43 years and the US against Al Qaeda for 12 years plus and against the Taliban for nine years. The Russians have been fighting against the Chechens for 15 years. Pakistan has been fighting against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for three years now.

4. As I have been repeatedly saying, once terrorism or insurgency makes its appearance it takes years to prevail over it. One should not, therefore, be surprised that the end of the fighting against Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban is not yet in sight even nine years after the beginning of the sustained campaign against them under the US leadership in the Af-Pak region after the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US Homeland. In my assessment, it will take at least another eight to10 years for the international community to prevail over Al Qaeda and tame the Afghan Taliban.

5.The US-led campaign against the Al Qaeda brand of terrorism has had many tactical successes in eliminating a large number of its important leaders, in preventing many planned acts of terrorism and in thwarting an accretion in their capacity. It has kept Al Qaeda on the run to escape from the unrelenting drone ( unmanned planes) strikes in North and South Waziristan in Pakistan. It has prevented Al Qaeda and its affiliates from disrupting maritime trade, from threatening the world with weapons of mass destruction material and from turning the Internet into a weapon of mass disruption. These successes have come as a result of constant refining of the physical security techniques, US investments and innovations in the use of science and technology against global terrorism and making counter-terrorism an exercise in global partnership.

6. However, despite these tactical successes, Al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations have maintained a capability for repeatedly taking the international community by surprise as seen since 9/11 in Bali, Mombasa, Casablanca, Istanbul, Madrid, London, Sharm-el-Sheikh, Jakarta, twice in Mumbai and Islamabad. Al Qaeda has become a two-headed monster--- an insurgent organizations which seeks to overthrow Governments in Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Iraq, Algeria and Indonesia and a ruthless terrorist organization which seeks to keep the non-Muslim world bleeding.

7.It continues to pose a joint threat to the Islamic as well as non-Islamic countries. Unless the Islamic and non-Islamic countries join hands in countering it, a strategic neutralization of Al Qaeda will remain a distant goal. There is unfortunately an ambivalence in the attitude of the Islamic world to Al Qaeda. They want to protect themselves against it by whatever means possible, but are reluctant to co-operate sincerely with the non-Islamic world in neutralizing it. Al Qaeda is dangerous for the stability of the Islamic world, but its activities against the non-Islamic world are understandable. That seems to be their attitude, which could prove suicidal.

8.How to prevail over Al Qaeda and its affiliates-----with the co-operation of the Islamic world, if possible, and without it if the worst comes to the worst? That is the question facing all of us whether in India, the US or the rest of the world suffering the global jihadi depredations. In this endeavour, our primary aim should be the neutralization of Al Qaeda. Its neutralization will not eliminate global jihadi terrorism. It could make it less virulent and hopefully more manageable.

9. The recent indicators of the resurgence of Al Qaeda and its allied elements in Iraq show that the international community still does not have an answer as to how to deal effectively with global jihadi terrorism---- which has had a large geographical spread with the Af-Pak region, Yemen, Somalia and North Africa serving as its epi-centres. Unless there is a co-ordinated fight against the terrorists operating from all these areas, we will be fighting and fighting endlessly.

10. Al Qaeda has not only had a geographic spread. It has also had an ethnic spread by exploiting the feelings of Islamic solidarity and the victim complex of the Muslims of the world. By projecting the counter-terrorism campaigns of different countries as a war against Islam and not a fight against terrorism, it has been able to draw the support of Muslims belonging to different ethnic groups and of different nationalities. The international community has not been able to use effectively its soft power to convince the Muslim communities in different countries-----particularly the Muslim youth---- that it has been waging a counter-terrorism and not a counter-Islam campaign.

11. The over-focus on the use of hard power---- the heavily armed security forces and the civilian security agencies --- and the inability to use soft power to counter the ideological campaign of Al Qaeda, the Talibans and other allied organizations have resulted in a situation in which the word and example of the jihadists have a greater appeal in the Islamic world than the word and example of the States trying vainly till now to counter the terrorists.

12. The international community has not been able to isolate Al Qaeda and expose its pernicious ideology as likely to be detrimental to the interests of the Muslims themselves. The result: more and more jihadi organizations are joining the bandwagon of Al Qaeda and placing their cadres----many of them more volunteers to serve the perceived Islamic cause than recruits to act as Al Qaeda’s cannon-fodder---- at its disposal for being used in its fight against so-called infidels and apostates.

13. The fight against Al Qaeda and its associates has come to be seen as a war of attrition and not simultaneously as a campaign of decontamination too. The objectives of the war of attrition are the neutralization of the leadership, stopping the flow of funds and destroying their capabilities. These objectives are important, but they alone are not sufficient. Simultaneously, there has to be an intelligently waged decontamination campaign against pernicious ideas that seek to drive a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims.

14. In this decontamination campaign, elements of soft power such as the radio, the TV, the print media and the Internet are important. This campaign has to be waged with the help of Muslims of different ethnic groups and different nationalities. The fight against Al Qaeda and the Talibans cannot be won unless Muslims---particularly the youth---are persuaded to play a leading role in it.

15. The Muslim youth cannot be weaned away from the attraction of Al Qaeda unless and until its sense of anger over what it perceives as the injustices being committed against the Muslim community are taken note of and addressed where legitimate and possible. Closing our eyes and ears to their anger is proving counter-productive.

16. Anger is nothing unusual. It has always been there, but in the past the anger was due to feelings of poverty and deprivation and social discrimination. Now, the anger is increasingly due to the counter-terrorism methods adopted after 9/11----- profiling, special checks of Muslims, disproportionate use of force, air strikes in populated areas etc . There is a perception encouraged and exploited by Al Qaeda and its affiliates that Islam and Muslims as a religious group are targeted in the name of counter-terrorism. The feeling that what is being waged is not a counter-terrorism, but a counter-Islam campaign is spreading. Unwise measures such as banning the wearing of burqa by Muslim girls attending schools in countries such as France, not permitting the construction of minarets in some countries are strengthening this feeling.

17. How to convince the Muslim youth that we are seeking to counter terrorism and not Islam? That is a question which needs the serious attention of policy-makers and non-governmental experts.

18.In the months after 9/11, there was a recognition that the counter-terrorism campaign must be holistic paying equal attention to security measures and to rising the level of education and economic well-being of Muslims. Measures for reforming the madrasas and for making modern education easily affordable for Muslims received considerable attention.

19.Counter-terrorism as being waged today is no longer holistic. The need for the reform of the madrasas is no longer emphasized. Spread of modern education is receiving less attention and less funding than improving the communications infrastructure in areas affected by terrorism. Just because many of the cadres of Al Qaeda and its affiliates come from an affluent and educated background such measures are no longer receiving the required attention.

20.The time has come for us to go back to comprehensive counter-terrorism. ( 11-9-10)

( 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: )




On September 7,2010, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra Police arrested Mirza Himayat Baig,who allegedly is the head of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in Maharashtra, on a charge of masterminding the explosion at the German Bakery in Pune on February 13 last. According to the ATS, Shaikh Lalbaba Mohammed Hussain alias Bilal of Nashik was one of his accomplices.

2. Quoting Mr. Rakesh Maria, the head of the ATS, “The Hindu” of Chennai reported as follows on September 10:”Himayat Beg received one-to-one training in bomb-making in Colombo in 2008 from an absconding LET operative…Baig was called to Colombo by Fayyaz Qazi, a wanted LET operative, in March 2008. Accordingly, he traveled from Aurangabad (in Maharashtra) to Hyderabad and then to Chennai. From Chennai, he flew to Colombo. He was trained in Colombo for 15 days by Qazi himself and another operative whom Baig didn’t know. He was also trained on how to communicate with them. After he returned from Colombo, he was sent Rs.2.5 lakhs for changing his identity.”

3. “ The Hindu” also said in its report: “ Amid speculation about the choice of Colombo as a centre for training, Mr.Maria said the Sri Lankan city was chosen only as a meeting point and there was no other significance to it. Ruling out the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or any other connection, he said: “There seems to be only two reasons for choosing Colombo—the access to the country is easy as there is a visa on arrival facility.”

4. In its report, the Press Trust of India has described Fayyaz Qazi as an activist of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), who was wanted in connection with a case of 2006 involving the recovery of some arms in Aurangabad.

5.The use of Sri Lanka as a meeting point by the LET had earlier once come to notice. In December 2002, the Tamil Nadu Police claimed to have unearthed a new organisation, apparently inspired and controlled by jihadi elements in Saudi Arabia, called the Muslim Defence Force (MDF). Published reports about the Tamil Nadu Police's detection indicated as follows:
* One Abu Hamsa, alias Abdul Bari, an Indian Muslim living in Saudi Arabia and associated with the LET, and one Abu Omar, a Pakistani Muslim working there, had together formed the MDF after the Gujarat riots. They had also met a Muslim leader from Tamil Nadu who had gone to Saudi Arabia on haj pilgrimage.
* On his return to Tamil Nadu, this leader held a clandestine meeting at Tenkasi in Tiruvelveli district, which was attended by about 30 Muslims. At this meeting, plans for organising MDF activities in India were discussed.
* Subsequently, two of those, who had attended the Tenkasi meeting, went to Sri Lanka (the Eastern Province?), where they were to have another meeting with Abu Hamsa, but he did not turn up from Saudi Arabia. They, therefore, returned to Tamil Nadu without meeting him.
* Abu Hamsa alias Abdul Bari was wanted in connection with an explosion in Andhra Pradesh. He had given instructions to his contacts in Tamil Nadu to organise the activities of the MDF and also to float another organisation called New Vision to propagate Islam amongst the so-called backward classes of the Hindu community and recruit them for jihad.
* The associates of Abu Hamsa in Tamil Nadu were instructed to form an elite force to establish hide-outs and protect jihadi terrorists visiting Tamil Nadu and to recruit youth for training in jihad at an undisclosed destination in the Gulf.
* Amongst those arrested by the Tamil Nadu police during their investigation into the activities of the MDF was Noohu Thambi Hamid Bakri, described as a suspected sympathiser of the LET. He was the principal of the Ayesha Siddique Arabic College for Women at Kayalpattinam and also the President of the All-India Tauhid Jamath Federation. He also used to be associated with an organisation called the Kayal Islamic Defence Force, which is now believed to be dormant.
* It was Hamid Bakri, accompanied by one Zakkaria, who had met Abu Hamsa in Saudi Arabia and subsequently gone to Sri Lanka for another meeting, which did not materialise. In November, 2002, Zakkaria was allegedly in receipt of Rs.1,50,000 from Abu Hamsa in Saudi Arabia through hawala.

6.In my article of September 4,2007, titled JIHADI TERRORISM IN SOUTH INDIA: EXTERNAL MOTIVATORS -INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR--PAPER NO. 271 available at , I had written as follows: “ It should be evident that for some years now there have been indicators of the cladestine creation of a jihadi web in Mumbai, south India and possibly in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, with the SIMI and the LET playing an active role in this matter, either in tandem or separately of each other. It is also evident that much of the inspiration and financial support for this came from Indian and Pakistani jihadi activists in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Important breakthroughs in connection with identifying the various strands of this web had been made by the police of Mumbai, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, but no attempt would appear to have been made for a co-ordinated effort to investigate and neutralise this web.” (10-9-10)

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

Thursday, September 9, 2010



President Barack Obama, Gen.David Petraeus, the US Commander in Afghanistan, and other American leaders have rightly condemned the proposed burning of the Holy Koran by Pastor Terry Jones, who leads a congregation of about 50 followers in the city of Gainesville, Florida, on 9/11 coinciding with the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US homeland.

2. There is still considerable anger in sizable sections of the US population over the 9/11 terrorist strikes by Al Qaeda and over the subsequent terrorist attacks on US citizens and troops in the Af-Pak region. There have also been attempts and thwarted attempts to indulge in acts of terrorism in the US itself, the latest being the unsuccessful attempt to blow up an American plane over Detroit on Christmas Day last year and in Time Square in New York on May 1 last.

3. The anti-US activities of the Yemen-based Anwar al-Awlaki , a US citizen of Yemeni origin, who has been described as a made-in-the-US bin Laden, have added to the concerns of Americans and their sense of unease and discomfort in their relations with Muslims. Al-Awlaki's sermons, while he was still in the US, were allegedly attended by three of the 9/11 hijackers. He reportedly met secretly with at least two of the hijackers in San Diego, and one hijacker moved from there to Falls Church, Virginia, as al-Awlaki moved. His sermons were also allegedly attended by Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist in the US Army, who killed 13 persons in a shooting incident on November 5, 2009, at Fort Hood— an important military base located just outside Killeen, Texas. The "Christmas Day bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had allegedly met al-Awlaki during his training by Al Qaeda in Yemen. In March 2010, al Awlaki said in a videotape reportedly delivered to CNN that jihad against the US was obligatory for all Muslims.

4. The US Homeland has been targeted not only by Al Qaeda, but also by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which is believed to have had a hand in the conspiracy to carry out the unsuccessful terrorist strike in New York in May last. It has threatened more terrorist strikes in the US Homeland.

5. One cannot, therefore, blame large sections of the US population if their distrust of the Muslims remains high. This distrust---and the resulting resentment---has been further aggravated by the ill-advised attempts to construct near Ground Zero in New York what has been called the Cordoba House project --- a 15-story community center that would include a performance-art center, gym, swimming pool, and a mosque. Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, a Muslim cleric, who inspired the project, has projected it as intended to foster better relations between the West and Muslims.

6. How insensitive and uncaring Muslims can be to the feelings of others not belonging to their religion is evident from the way they are trying to go ahead with the project unmindful of the protests against it and the concerns over its implications for peace and harmony in the US.

7. For large sections of Muslims---not only in the US, but also in the rest of the world---their feelings and sensitivities have to have primacy over those of others. They have a right to feel hurt and concerned, but not others.

8. The self-centred attitude of the Muslims and their unwillingness to take note of the sensitivities of others have created a feeling of revulsion against their community all over the world. Some express it openly. Many don’t.

9. Pastor Terry Jones’ threat to burn a copy of the Holy Koran is a reflection of this revulsion and the anger against the Muslims. No right-thinking person and no Government can support his plans. It could not only act as a red rag to the Al Qaeda/Taliban bulls and result in more terrorist attacks on US nationals and troops in the Af-Pak region, but could also drive more US Muslims into the arms of these organizations and result in an aggravation of the threat of home-grown terrorism in the US.

10. The US Government should find ways of stopping his threatened act by persuasion or, if necessary, by invoking the law. At the same time, it is important to stop the Cordoba House project too, which would definitely add salt to the wounds of hundreds of thousands of non-Muslim Americans. The attempt of the Muslim sponsors of this project to project it as an initiative to heal the wounds and foster Muslim-non-Muslim harmony will not carry conviction. It will be seen as one more attempt by the Muslims to flaunt their right to do what they want unmindful of the feelings and sensitivities of others. (8-9-10)

( 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, September 5, 2010



There was another debate on the issue of "Saffron Terror" organised by Ms.Barkha Dutt on NDTV under the "We The People" programme on the evening of September 5. I liked the format of the programme, which was different from the usual format of the "We the People" programmes on Sunday. The number of patrticipants was less and the debate was well-focussed. It was more like a brain-storming on the subject than a no-holds barred debating contest.

2. I wanted to record the following observations with reference to some of the points made during the discussions. I have made these observations many times before in my books and articles and during my participation in seminars. Despite that, I thought it was worth repeating them since there seems to be a lot of inadequate knowledge and appreciation of them:

* Firstly, During the 1980s, many Muslims from all over the world were motivated by the intelligence agencies of the US, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to go to Afghanistan and wage a jihad against the Soviet troops there. They could not succeed in motivating members of the Indian Muslim community outside Jammu & Kashmir to go to Afghanistan and join the anti-Soviet jihad.
* Secondly, a few Indian Muslims from outside J&K motivated by the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) of Pakistan did go to Pakistan for being trained in camps run by the JEI with funding by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The JEI and the ISI instructed them to wage a jihad against the Government of India and to operate jointly with the Khalistanis. On their return to India, they failed to motivate the members of the Indian Muslim community to start a jihad. Their appeals for action were spurned by the Indian Muslim community in hinterland India.
* Thirdly, according to the then President Najibullah of Afghanistan, many angry Kashmiris did go to Pakistan for training in the camps set up by the JEI. From there, they were taken to Afghanistan for gaining experience in waging a jihad. Some of these motivated Kashmiris became the initial hard core of the Hizbul Mujahideen and the J&K Liberation Front.
* Fourthly, while the phenomenon of the radicalisation of some sections of the Indian Muslims had started in J&K even before the demolition of the Babri Masjid, this phenomenon started in the Muslim community outside J&K in hinterland India only after the demolition. The demolition of the masjid was the initial trigger for acts of terrorism by some indigenous Muslims belonging to organisations such as the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Al Ummah of Tamil Nadu. Many young Indian Muslims were also driven into the arms of Dawood Ibrahim. Thus, anger among some sections of young Indian Muslims in hinterland India over the Babri Masjid demolition played an important role in the emergence of jihadi terrorism in hinterland India. This was the main motivating anger during the 1990s.Many of the major acts of terrorism during this period such as the Mumbai blasts of March 1993, the Coimbatore blasts of February 1998 and other incidents such as explosions in trains were attributable to the anger caused by the Babri Masjid demolition.
* Fifthly, after 9/11, not a single Indian Muslim living in India went to Afghanistan to join Al Qaeda's jihad against the Americans. However, some Indian Muslims based abroad did join Al Qaeda, but this was not due to their anger against the Government of India, but due to their anger against the US for its invasion and occupation of Iraq. The jihad in Iraq against the Americans waged by Al Qaeda attracted a large number of foreign Muslims, but Indian Muslims kept away from Iraq's Al Qaeda.
* Sixthly, post-2000, the anger among sections of Indian Muslim youth in hinterland India over the demolition of the Babri Masjid started subsiding, but a new cause of anger made its appearance. This was due to the perception that the Indian criminal justice system--- the police, the lawyer community and the judiciary--- was unfair to the Muslims. This new anger had two consequences. It led to some of these Muslims helping Pakistani/Bangladeshi organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). At the same time it also led to the phenomenon of Indian Mujahideen.
* Seventhly, the phenomenon of some Hindus taking to anti-Muslim reprisal terrorism was the outcome of what is perceived by them as the soft policy of the Government of India towards Pakistan and towards those members of the Indian Muslim community who were indulging in terrorism. The anger over the allegedly soft policy made its appearance not only among some Hindu religious elements, but also among sections of the security bureaucracy belonging to the Hindu religion. The two felt attracted to each other and joned hands in starting reprisal terrorism against soft targets in the Muslim community.
* Eighthly, the emerging phenomenon of Hindu reprisal terrorism merits serious attention because of its negative implications for communal harmony and because of the emergence of a seeming alliance between some religious elements and some in the security bureaucracy. If we don't stop this, we may go the way of Pakistan.
* Ninthly,Counter-terrorism has two aspects----operational and psychological.The operational aspect relates to strengthening our preventive,investigative and intervention capabilities.The psychological aspect relates to prompt and effective action to identify and address causes for anger in any community. Equal attention should be paid to both these aspects. ( 6-9-10)

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

Friday, September 3, 2010




The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), which is an affiliate of Al Qaeda, have both claimed responsibility for the murderous attacks through suicide bombers on Shia processions during the holy fasting period at Lahore on September 1, 2010, and Quetta on September 3,2010. The Shia procession in Lahore was a normal one with no political significance. The procession in Quetta was in observance of Al Quds Day on the last Friday of the fasting period. Al Quds is the name of the historic mosque in East Jerusalem, which is under Israeli control since 1967. Ever since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, Muslims all over the world observe the last Friday of the fasting period as Al Quds Day to remind each other that Al Quds is still under the control of Israel.

2. The call for the observance of the last Friday of the fasting period as Al Quds Day was given by Ayatollah Khomeini in a message issued by him to all the Muslims of the world----Shias as well as Sunnis---in August 1979. He said in his message: " I invite Muslims all over the globe to consecrate the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as Al-Quds Day and to proclaim the international solidarity of Muslims in support of the legitimate rights of the Muslim people of Palestine. For many years, I have been notifying the Muslims of the danger posed by the usurper Israel which today has intensified its savage attacks against the Palestinian brothers and sisters, and which, in the south of Lebanon in particular, is continually bombing Palestinian homes in the hope of crushing the Palestinian struggle. I ask all the Muslims of the world and the Muslim governments to join together to sever the hand of this usurper and its supporters. I call on all the Muslims of the world to select as Al-Quds Day the last Friday in the holy month of Ramadan - which is itself a determining period and can also be the determiner of the Palestinian people’s fate - and through a ceremony demonstrating the solidarity of Muslims world-wide, announce their support for the legitimate rights of the Muslim people. I ask God Almighty for the victory of the Muslims over the infidels."

3. Thirty-three people, mostly Shias, died in the explosions in Lahore and 55 in Quetta. Attacks on Shias are not unusual in Pakistan, but the attacks this year have been very virulent. In the past the Sunni extremists used to attack the Shias when they were highlighting their sectarian identity. On September 3, they attacked them even when they were highlighting their solidarity with all Muslims---Sunnis and Shias--- in renewing the pledge of the Islamic world not to rest till Al Quds was liberated from Israeli control.

4. Even though the TTP and the LEJ have projected the attacks on the processions as in reprisal for the murder of a Sunni cleric last year allegedly by the Shias, there is another angle to the anti-Shia attacks this year. The fasting period this year has coincided with the proclaimed end of the US military mission in Iraq. Sunni extremists have always held Iran and the Shias responsible for facilitating the US invasion and occupation of Iraq and accused them of collaborating with the US against Saddam Hussein.Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No 2 of Al Qaeda, had in the past accused Iran of stabbing the Ummah in the back by facilitating the US occupation of Iraq.

5. Al Qaeda, the TTP and the LEJ have a common objective in making Iran pay a price for its collaboration with the US in Iraq. In the Islamic world, anti-Shia feelings are the strongest in Pakistan. The loyalty of the Shias of Pakistan to Iran remains strong. In the past, the LEJ had attacked not only Shia targets, but also Iranian targets. It had killed Iranian diplomats and has allegedly been assisting the Jundullah, the Sunni organisation of Iranian Balochistan, which has been fighting against the Iranian regime.

6. The attacks on Shias observing Al Quds Day in Quetta were meant to punish not only the Shias of Pakistan, but also Iran. Generally, Iranian diplomats join Al Quds Day processions in different cities of Pakistan. One should not be surprised if there were some Iranian diplomats in the Quetta procession.

7. The international community has not taken note of the continuing siege of the Shias of the Kurram Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) by the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. The Shias call Kurram the Pakistani Gaza and have been repeatedly appealing to the international community to end the siege by the Taliban. They accuse the Pakistan Army and its Chief of the Army Staff, Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani of inaction while pretending to act against the two Talibans.

8. The mutual hostility of the Shias and Sunnis of Pakistan towards each other shows no signs of abating. On the contrary, it has been increasing as seen by recent anti-Shia attacks in Karachi, Lahore and Quetta. ( 4-9-10)

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

Thursday, September 2, 2010



The Maoists of Bihar kidnapped on August 29,2010, Sub-Inspectors Rupesh Kumar and Abhay Prasad Yadav, Bihar Military Police havildar Ehtesham Khan and BMP ASI Lucas Tete after an encounter in the Kajra police station area the same day, which left eight policemen dead. They reportedly demanded the release of eight Maoists who are in the custody of the local authorities for allegedly having been involved in Maoist acts of violence.

2.Following the alleged absence of any move by the Bihar Government to establish contact with them before the deadline indicated by them for talks on their demand expired, they claim to have killed Sub-Inspector Abhay Prasad Yadav. They have not yet provided proof of their claim, but have promised to return Yadav's dead body to the police. They have further extended the deadline till 10 AM on September 3 and threatened to kill the other hostages if their demand is not met,

3.There is considerable indignation and shock over the claimed execution of S.I. Yadav.All TV news channels are devoting considerable attention to a discussion of the development with the participation of representatives of political parties and some retired bureaucrats.Participating in a debate on CNN-IBN anchored by Shri Rajdeep Sardesai, a leading TV anchor, at 9 PM on September 2, I pointed out that the hostage-takers will be watching the debates on different TV channels and any impression of differences as to how to deal with the situation could make a difficult situation even more difficult. I stressed the importance of everyone talking in a single voice in condemning the hostage-takers. I also stressed the importance of the State Government remaining in touch with the families of the hostages in order to keep them in the picture on the evolving situation and reassure them that everything possible was being done to rescue the hostages.

4.We should not forget that the failure of the Government of the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in December 1999 to remain in touch with the families of the passengers in an Indian Airlines plane hijacked to Kandahar by some terrorists of the Pakistan-backed and Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen led to a surge in protests from the relatives and their public and media supporters. This was one of the factors which forced the Government of Shri Vajpayee to concede the demand of the hijackers for the release of some Pakistani terrorists in the custody of the Government of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).

5. The Indian TV coverage of the Kandahar hijacking and the Manila TV coverage of a recent hostage-taking incident involving a sacked Filipino police officer on August 23 showed how ill-advised coverage and comments by the participants in the TV discussions could prove counter -productive and lead to a tragedy. There has been considerable criticism in Manila of the TV coverage, with some experts holding it partly responsible for the tragic death of eight of the hostages, who were allegedly killed by the hostage-taker who was losing patience.

6. One has to emphasise the importance of balance in the TV discussions while the hostage-taking situation continues. It would be a good idea for the TV anchors to caution the participants in the beginning of the discussions that the situation is continuing and that they should keep in mind the strong possibility that the hostage-takers will be watching the TV discussions. Leaders of political parties too should caution their media persons deputed to participate in the debates. Retired bureaucrats participating in the debates should also remember that their comments will be closely watched and noted by the hostage-takers.

7. At this stage, when the hostage-taking continues, only some general observations would be in order:

* Firstly, it would be unwise to treat the present incident as an act of desperation of the Maoists. It is more an indicator of their ruthless determination to continue their fight against the Government with no holds barred.
* Secondly, the Maoists' calculation in exploiting the police officers captured during an encounter with the police as hostages has two objectives---to discredit the Government of Bihar in the eyes of the public and to try to drive a wedge between junior and senior police officers and between the police and the political leadership by projecting the senior officers and the political leaders as insensitive to the agony of the relatives.

8. It is important for the crisis managers of the Governments of Bihar and India to keep these factors constantly in view while planning and carrying out their strategy to deal with the situation. Any other comments of a specific nature relating to the handling of the situation would be unwise at this stage.The entire nation should make it clear that it is behind the brave attempts of the security agencies, including the Bihar Police, to rescue the hostages and that it shares the agony of the relatives of the hostages. ( 3-9-10)

( 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: )