Saturday, May 22, 2010




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

By B.Raman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The decision of President Barack Obama to drop retired Admiral Dennis Blair, his Director of National Intelligence (DNI), has led to his resignation from the post with effect from May 28,2010. He has chosen to resign instead of waiting for the President to name his successor after being informed by Mr.Obama of his decision to replace him. His announcement that he was quitting came on May 21,2010, three days after the Senate Intelligence Committee had come out with a report specifying 14 intelligence failures relating to the unsuccessful attempt by a Nigerian student trained by Al Qaeda in Yemen to blow up a US flight from Amsterdam as it was about to land in Detroit on December 25,2009. The list of 14 failures named by the Committee is annexed.

2. Ever since the Christmas Day incident, there were indications that Admiral Blair had lost the confidence of Mr.Obama. His role as the co-ordinator of the intelligence community of 16 agencies, as the supervisor of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and as the driving force behind efforts to improve the collection of human and technical intelligence relating to terrorism came under a cloud. There were reports that Mr.Obama had started dealing directly with other officials like the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mr.Leon Panetta, and the President’s Counter-Terrorism Adviser Mr.John Brennan. Media reports had alleged that Mr.Obama had sidelined Admiral Blair without removing him from his post.

3. The exit of Admiral Blair was, therefore, not a surprise, but it was interesting that Mr.Obama took five months to decide to replace him even though it became evident after the Christmas Day incident that the DNI had not been able to perform effectively the tasks of co-ordination and joint action for which he was handpicked by Mr.Obama in January 2009.

4. Mr.Obama’s decision to replace Admiral Blair has come at a time when Mr.Obama has failed to make headway with his policies in Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea and has been unable to make Pakistan act vigorously against Al Qaeda and the Talibans, which continue to target the US homeland. While the ground situation in Afghanistan continues to be bad, that in Iraq has started deteriorating with renewed Al Qaeda-inspired terrorism. He has been unable to make Iran and North Korea reverse their nuclear policy. North Korea’s action in sinking a South Korean naval ship killing many South Korean naval personnel is a challenge not only to South Korea, but also to the US presence and leadership in the Pacific area. There has been an erosion of US leadership in the East as well as the West Asian regions and the problem states of the world such as Iran, North Korea, Syria and Pakistan no longer have a fear of the US.

5. The replacement of Admiral Blair in the wake of the nervousness caused in the US by the failed attempt of Faisal Shahzad, the US citizen of Pakistani origin, to cause an incendiary explosion in the Times Square, New York, on May 1 would help in diverting public attention away from the gaps in Mr.Obama’s own leadership by focusing on the gaps in the leadership qualities of Admiral Blair, which have enabled foreign-based terrorists----whether Al Qaeda or the Tehrik-a-Taliban Pakistan--- to revive their attacks against the US, whether in the Khost area of Afghanistan where they killed seven CIA officers in the last week of December last or in the US homeland where two surprise attacks planned in stealth failed not because of the capabilities of the US intelligence, but thanks to the alertness of the public.

6. The post of DNI was created in 2004 to coordinate the work of the US intelligence community and to supervise that of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC). This was one of the recommendations of the National Commission, which had enquired into the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US homeland. Admiral Blair was the third incumbent of the post. The previous two under Mr.George Bush were Mr. John Negroponte and Mr. John McConell. One had expected that the fact that the DNI works directly under the President and draws his status and authority from him would enable him to perform the role of intelligence co-ordinator effectively. But the expectations were belied.

7. Admiral Blair, like his two predecessors, was able to co-ordinate effectively only the budgetary part of the work----that is, having the total intelligence budget approved by the Congress and deciding on the allocations of individual agencies. He was unable to co-ordinate effectively the operational part of his work---- that is, setting the intelligence collection tasks for different agencies and getting the intelligence collected by different agencies integrated in a single stream, analysed, assessed and followed up. A DNI can perform the operational co-ordination effectively only if the heads of the agencies keep him in the picture regarding their important operations and share with him all important intelligence at every stage of their processing.

8. None of the three DNIs since the post was created in 2004 was able to make the chiefs of individual agencies share with him all that needed to be shared. There was no common understanding of what needed to be shared. The chief of every agency decided this according to his own whims and fancies. Neither Mr.Bush nor Mr.Obama was able to call the heads of individual agencies to order. The US intelligence community lacked the culture of joint action similar to what one finds in the Joint Chiefs of Staff mechanism in the Armed Forces. Instead of creating and heading an integrated intelligence staff, the DNIs were functioning in an ad hoc non-integrated manner.

9. The National Commission wanted the creation of the NCTC under the leadership of the DNI to ensure the integration of the entire intelligence process relating to terrorism-----collection, collation, analysis, assessment and follow-up action. The terrorist attempts on Christmas Day and on May 1 showed weaknesses in the integration process six years after the post of DNI and the NCTC were created.

10.The exit of Admiral Blair will not remove the deficiencies unless and until the entire counter-terrorism mechanism is overhauled and made to function in an integrated manner. There are lessons for India too because one has the impression that after his visit to the US earlier this year, Shri P.Chidambaram, our Home Minister, seems to have come back with some admiration for the NCTC and has been trying to create a similar set-up in India. It is necessary to study what went wrong with it in the US so that we can ensure that similar weaknesses do not creep into our system.

11. What makes the difference between a good intelligence community and a bad one is not the number of its staff, its gadgetry and budgets alone, but its culture of joint action. If this culture is missing, thousands of intelligence personnel and billions of dollars alone will not win the fight against terrorism. None of the three DNIs who have held office since 2004 has succeeded in creating this culture. (22-5-10)

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




The Senate Intelligence Committee found 14 intelligence failures that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to travel to Detroit on Christmas Day :

— The State Department should have revoked Abdulmutallab's U.S. visa based on information available to the department.

— Abdulmutallab wasn't placed on any of the terrorist watchlists because the standards were interpreted too rigidly and may be too complicated to address terrorist threats.

— Key intelligence reports weren't reported to all appropriate CIA individuals and offices.

— A CIA division at the agency's headquarters in Langley, Va., didn't search databases that contained reports related to Abdulmutallab.

— The CIA didn't disseminate key reports until after the attempted attack.

— A name search by the CIA Counterterrorism Center was too limited and failed to uncover key reports about Abdulmutallab.

— Analysts at the CIA Counterterrorism Center didn't connect the reporting on Abdulmutallab, focusing instead on Yemen -based threats from al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula .

— Because her computer was wrongly configured, an FBI counterterrorism analyst couldn't access all the relevant reports even though they were in the FBI's system.

— The National Counterterrorism Center's directorate of intelligence wasn't properly organized to connect the reporting on Abdulmutallab.

— The National Counterterrorism Center's Watchlisting Office didn't conduct additional research to find more derogatory information to put Abdulmutallab on a watchlist.

— The National Security Agency didn't take all available actions that could have provided information on Abdulmutallab.

— Analysts didn't connect key reports partly identifying Abdulmutallab and didn't disseminate all relevant reporting.

— The NSA didn't select Abdulmutallab for watchlists based on information that only partly identified him.

— Intelligence analysts were focused primarily on threats to U.S. interests in Yemen from al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula rather than on potential threats to the U.S.