Wednesday, February 17, 2010

POST-PUNE BLAST DEVELOPMENTS---ATTEMPT TO INTIMIDATE FOREIGN SPORTS TEAMS

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO.620

B.RAMAN


Two developments originating from Pakistan after the explosion in the German Bakery of Pune on February 13,2009, call for comments.


2. The first is the claim reportedly made by an individual to Ms.Nirupama Subramanian, the Islamabad-based correspondent of "The Hindu", the daily newspaper published from Chennai, claiming responsibility for the explosion on behlaf of an organisation called the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET)--Al Alami meaning international.


3. To quote from the paper (February 17): " Identifying himself as a spokesperson of a group calling itself the LET--Al Almi, an individual using the code name Abu Jindal said the bombing was carried out because of India's refusal to discuss the Kashmir issue in the coming talks with Pakistan. Abu Jindal said he was calling from Miramshah in North Waziristan and the telephone number used to make the call carried an area code common to the Waziristan tribal area and Bannu, the adjoining district in the North-West Frontier Province. When The Hindu tried calling back, though, a recorded voice message said the number was temporarily not in use. No past communique was issued by the LET--al Almi and terrorism experts in New Delhi told The Hindu that no such group was known to exist."


4. The expression "Al Alami" meaning "International" had been used in the past by Pakistan-based terrorist organisations, which claim to have an international presence. Two examples are the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), which is a founding member of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People and the Jamiatul-Mujahideen. After 9/11, there were some terrorist strikes in Pakistani territory directed against the US and other foreign targets----such as the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the reporter of the "Wall Street Journal ", the murder of the wife and daughter of a US diplomat with a hand grenade in an Islamabad church, a suicide attack outside the US consulate in Karachi etc. Pakistani investigators attributed these attacks as well as an unsuccessful attempt to kill Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Karachi to an organisation called the HUM--Al Alami.


5. On different occasions, Pakistani police officers gave different accounts of its background. Sometimes, they described it as the international wing of the HUM. Some other times, they described it as the wing of the HUM which represents it in the IIF. On other occasions, they described it as a spinter group of the HUM, which had split from it due to differences. They also said that the the HUM itself had started functioning under the name HUM--Al Alami after it was declared a Foreign Terrorist Organisation by the US in 1997 because of its involvement in the kidnapping of some Western tourists in Jammu and Kashmir under the name Al Faran in 1995.


6.The HUM had never made a secret of its extensive presence abroad outside India, including in Southern Philippines, the Central Asian Republics, the Gulf countries, and Chechnya. In fact, it used to brag about it in interviews to Pakistani media. Next to the HUM, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the LET have a presence abroad outside India. While the HUJI's presence is confined to Bangladesh, the Arakan area of Myanmar, Southern Thailand, the Central Asian Republics, the Gulf countries and Chechnya, the LET is the only Pakistani organisation, which has a presence not only in Indonesia, Singapore and the Gulf countries, but also in the US and West Europe.


7. Whereas the HUM talks openly about its international presence, neither the HUJI nor the LET do so. The LET, in particular, which is close to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), never talks of its activities in the West lest the ISI be embarrassed.Till today, it has not admitted that David Coleman Headley and Hussain Rana, presently facing trial in Chicago, belonged to it.


8. The only occasions when the LET had referred to its interests in overseas targets other than India were with reference to the need for a jihad against the US troops in Iraq and the need for action against the Danish newspaper and its cartoonist for publishing cartoons of Prophet Mohammad in 2005. One never found in the past any reference to an Al Alami wing of the LET.


9. It will be difficult to establish the authenticity of the telephone call received by The Hindu correspondent as having really originated from a designated representative of an organisation called the LET--- Al Alami. If one presumes that such an organisation exists and that the call did originate from its spokesman, it would mark an attempt by elements based in Pakistan to project the LET---Al Alami as part of bin Laden's IIF unconnected with the Jamaat-ud-Dawa of Pakistan headed by Prof-Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed. It is similar to the attempt made after the 26/11 terrorist strikes to project them as having been carried out by a group of Indian Muslims called the Deccan (Southern) Mujahideen.


10. The second development calling for comments is the E-Mail received by the Karachi-based correspondent of "Asiatimes Online" purporting to be from Ilyas Kashmiri, a Pakistani national, who has been indicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with Headley and Rana for conspiring to launch a terrorist attack on the offices of the Danish journal which carried the cartoons. According to well-informed Pakistani journalists such as Hamid Mir, Ilyas used to be in the Special Services Group (SSG) of the Pakistan Army before drifting into the world of terrorism----initially in Afghanistan, then In Kashmir and now in North Waziristan.


11. Till some years ago, he used to be responsible for the operations of the HUJI in J&K. He has since fallen out with the HUJI and now heads as organisation called the 313 Brigade based in North Waziristan. Headley, who had met Ilyas in Norh Waziristan, was a common cut-out of the LET and Ilyas. He was helping the LET in its acts of terrorism in India and Ilyas in his planned attack on the Danish journal. For details of Ilyas and his 313 Brigade, please see my earlier two articles titled :LET Revives 2003 Plan to Use US As Launching Pad for Terrorism in India at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers35%5Cpaper3481.html and The 313 Brigade at http://ramanstrategicanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/11/313-brigade.html .


12.In the past, Ilyas had come to notice for his activities on behalf of the HUJI in J&K, but not in Indian territory outside Kashmir. But, HUJI cadres---from Pakistan as well as Bangladesh--- have been active in Indian territory outside J&K for many years.In the E-mail, Ilyas has sought to intimidate intending foreign participants in the World Cup Hockey league, the IPL Cricket League and the Commonwealth Games in India in the comming months into cancelling their participation by warning them of the consequences of their participation.


13. Since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore last year, foreign sports teams are not prepared to participate in any events in Pakistan, which has been totally boycotted. Ilyas' attempt to intimidate is part of a Pakistan-inspired Psywar to create similar nervousness among foreign sportsmen and sports officials about the likely dangers of participating in sports events in India.


14. Three prestigious sports events are to take place in India this year.The terrorists will look upon these events as providing an opportunity to publicise their cause and embarrass India. A similar attempt to intimidate sportsmen was made by the Khalistani terrorists at the time of the Asian Games in New Delhi in 1983.On getting information of their plans, Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, personally monitored the security arrangements through Rajiv Gandhi and Arun Singh and requested R.N.Kao, former chief of the R&AW, to co-ordinate the physical security. Kao did so with the help of K. Sankaran Nair, who had succeeded him as the chief of the R&AW.


15. Keeping in view the likely threats and the high-profile attempts at intimidation initiated by Ilyas, the Government should constitute a high-power committee of senior officials to monitor the situation on a day-to-day basis and coordinate the physical security. The matter should not be handled in a routine manner as the follow-up action on Headley's visits to India seem to have been handled . (17-2-10)


( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd ), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2gmail.com )

5 comments:

Sarang said...

Sir,

I found this excellent interview on rediff. Defence analyst Maroof Raza gives his comments. I fount them very realistic:

http://news.rediff.com/slide-show/2010/feb/17/slide-show-1-we-are-keeping-the-nation-alive-in-an-icu.htm

shaan said...

Israel assassinates Hamas leader in Dubai. Moscow assassinated a former KGB man in London. But we are not able to do anything even when terrorists have round table conference in PoK. Why? The general assumption is that we lack guts.

The only country against which we can take action is distant tiny Fiji against which we had sanctions in place for a long time. We cannot impose even economic sanctions against Pakistan. What a great power we are.

Sarang said...

When you throw a stone in water, it creates ripples. Similarly, with the bomb in Pune on one hand, helping to capture Baradar on another hand, agreeing to talks on the third hand and getting their pawns Ilyas Kashmiri and Hafiz Saeed to demand discussion of Kashmir on the fourth hand, Pakistan is throwing a stone into the calm waters of Indian Diplomacy. It wants to rattle our feathers before the talks on February 25. Pakistan wants to use a smokescreen to thoroughly confuse India about its intentions and its aim is to squeeze out maximum concessions out of India while it is confused during these talks. That is why Pakistan is keen to include all problems in the talks (Kashmir, Water and Balochistan). It feels that with the current confusion in Indian strategic and diplomatic circles further complicated by the already (in)famous naivety of India's negotiators under PM Manmohan Singh(remember sharm-al-shaikh?), this is a golden opportunity to extract maximum concessions from India without giving away much in return. Indians are emotional and dreamy and idealistic negotiators while the rest of the world (and specially Pakistanis) are ruthless, cunning and deceptive on the negotiating table. I feel India should only discuss Pakistan sponsored and terrorism at the moment.

ambi said...

Hi shaan!
Pls. forgive me but I tend to disagree with you for your comment above; if you mean to say that our intelligence agencies are not capable enough in their covert & espionage activities.
If you try to gather some info on net or books. You ll come to know what RAW is capable of. No wonder despite its many limitations RAW is my first love & always will be. As an Indian I am proud to have an organization like RAW.
Spy agency means secrecy right? Isn’t it actually a failure that Mossad agent was caught in camera while assassinating Hamas leader? Or KGB hand was found in assassinating his agent?
It has barely failed us. What can be biggest success of RAW, that very few people know about its achievements & that many ordinary Indians don’t even know that there is an Indian organization called RAW? That’s secrecy, that’s its success.
If free hand is given to RAW by our almighty civilian gods who seat in New Delhi, RAW can take a hell out of Pakistan or for that matter any other target country, and bring it on its knees.
For example, Just try to find out how ISI chief came crawling to Jordanian king to meet than RAW chief with a promise that he will no more support Khalistani insurgency, but pls stop your covert activities in Pakistan. Pakistani strategic analyst Ayesha Siddique has written about it. Just go through it, its very interesting story. I wish Raman sir could write about it someday.
If you are pointing finger at our civilian gods, than I am with you. They really lack the will. How badly I wish that they give free hand to RAW in its operations.

Broadway said...

I guess i can understanding jihadi groups for academic study. I think we should first figure out if it was a pakistani state sponsored group which ordered the hit or was it a small time jihadi group which gave the hit. Small time groups spring up because of he environment of the country and doesn't necessarily mean state sponsored.

Maybe this is pakistan trying to tell us that there state had nothing to do with the pune blast.

http://www.timesnow.tv/Gilani-offers-to-step-up-intelligence-cooperation-with-India/articleshow/4338664.cms

It is now generally believed that india has emerged victorious against pakistani state terrorism. It couldn't force india to hand over kashmir to pakistan. I think there terror policy has left with only one purpose now which is to force india for talks. India cannot sit quite when they continue to radicalize few indian muslims and execute attacks through them.

Obviously, the intention is not to wipe out indian population. It is to scare people, investor confidence and force india to talk.

India is second to iraq when it comes to terrorist incidents and that still doesn't scare people.

Indian economy is booming. When india retaliated in kargil, investors supported the actions by propping up the index values.

Hence, i think the only objective left is to force india to talk. Agreeing to talk to pakistan was a big mistake as raman sir has said himself. But since we have given our words, we cannot go back now and cancel the talks as it will look bad on us.

It could either be IM or a small time jihadi group in pakistan who gave the orders. It could also be a beginning of a momentum to jeopardize the common wealth games since foreigners where attacked.

We need pre-emption. We need to find a way to break the enemy's will. Abolishing article 370 will be a big blow to pakistan. It should have been used as a stick technique. We should have removed that article when mumbai attacks happened. We keep getting attacked because we do not apply stick.

It's either we refuse to talk or we choose to talk after a year. "Talks" should not be considered "stick".

I mean if they hit us again, we'll have to talk don't we? Like were forcing to take action against LET or jamaat ul dawwah. Isn't that talks? Whenever we try talking they place kashmir on the table so what use is talking. There intentions are to force us to talk.