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: )




Mr.Liu Jian, the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, said on September 9,2010, that China would offer more assistance to flood-hit Pakistan as the country was still facing difficulties. China had announced on September 6 another instalment of humanitarian assistance to Pakistan amounting to 200 million yuan (29.4 million U.S. dollars). China had earlier given 120 million yuan (17.6 million U.S. dollars).Thus, the total Chinese assistance to Pakistan has come to US $ 47 million.The Ambassador said that a Chinese medical team would soon arrive in Pakistan and that Chinese helicopters would also take part in Pakistan's relief operations. A 55-member Chinese search and rescue team has been working for two weeks in Thatta in Sindh. It has set up a mobile hospital.

----XINHUA IN “CHINA DAILY” of September 10

MY COMMENTS (a). The Swiss Government announced on September 8 its decision to gift 10 second-hand Aloutte helicopters to Pakistan for flood relief. Pakistan has reportedly given a written undertaking not to arm the helicopters and to use them only for search and rescue. The Alouettes are not subject to the Swiss law governing arms exports. The helicopters will be flown by Pakistani crew.

(b). The US 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, has deployed 19 helicopters (CH 53E) for relief operations in Pakistan. Two more are to join. Six of these helicopters operate out of the Pano Aqil airbase. The copters are flown by American crew with a Pakistani officer on board.

( c ). During a visit to the flood-affected Hunza area in Gilgit-Baltistan in January last after an artificial lake formed by a landslide burst, Mr.Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), suggested to the Government that it should seek the humanitarian assistance of China and Switzerland, which had experience in disaster relief work in high altitudes.

(d). India has so far pledged a sum of US $ 25 million in two instalments for flood relief in Pakistan. Since Pakistan was reluctant to accept them directly, they are being given to the UN agencies engaged in flood relief in Pakistan.


That is the interesting theme of discussion in a “People’s Forum” of the Party-owned “People’s Daily” dated September 10. May be seen at


Mr.John Hamre, President of the Washington-based Centre For Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), who had served as the US Deputy Defence Secretary under President Bill Clinton, is on a visit to China to attend a symposium at the invitation of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations. He called on Gen.Ma Xiaotian, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), on September 2 . Gen.Ma reportedly told Mr.Hamre: "A sound and stable China-U.S. military relationship is good for bilateral strategic trust and regional peace and stability. China has always attached great importance to developing military ties with the United States and has made efforts in this regard." According to the “People’s Daily” of September 3, Gen.Ma told Mr.Hamre that both sides should respect each other's core interests and major concerns. Both sides should also properly handle differences and sensitive issues. Mr.Hamre said China's prosperity contributed to the world, adding that the PLA's development is "logical." He added that it was necessary for the two militaries to maintain candid communication to keep stable military relations. He also met another senior Chinese General, Xu Caihou, on September 6. The “People’s Daily” of September 3 commented on these meetings as follows: “ The meetings between the Chinese Generals and Hamre are a rare occurrence as China cut off some military exchange programs with the United States after Pentagon decided in January to sell a nearly 6.4-billion-U.S.-dollar arms package to Taiwan, an inalienable part of China. Subsequently, none of the high-level military visits outlined in the China-U.S. communique signed in November last year when U.S. President Barack Obama visited China have been possible for the past eight months. Those planned visits included trips to Beijing by U.S. defense chief Robert Gates and Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen. A visit to Washington by Chief of General Staff of the Chinese PLA Chen Bingde was also suspended. On the same day Ma held talks with Hamre, the Chinese foreign ministry said U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon and U.S. National Economic Council Chairman Larry Summers will visit China this week. Donilon and Summers are also scheduled to meet with Chinese General Xu during their stay in Beijing. "Those U.S. officials' talks with Chinese military leaders reflect the fact the two countries want to keep channels open for defense talks, even though their official military exchanges have stalled," Yang Yi, a strategic expert at China's National Defense University, told Xinhua. "The suspension of military exchanges does not tally with the state of China-U.S. exchanges in other fields," said Zhu Feng, an international studies professor at Peking University.”

Mr.Larry Summers and Mr.Thomas Donilon called on President Hu Jintao on September 8.

The Agence France press (AFP) reported on September 10 as follows:”China may host US Defence Secretary Robert Gates for talks later this year after having cancelled an earlier visit over US arms sales to Taiwan, the Pentagon said on Thursday (September 9). Beijing had rebuffed the Defence Secretary in June, despite an expected visit, but now appears ready to issue another invitation, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told a news conference. "So if it (an invitation) is being extended again, as it appears to be, we're going to certainly look for the possibility of trying to schedule that before the end of the year," Morrell said. With the Chinese and US Presidents due to meet "early next year," it was crucial to make progress as both leaders have called for bolstering military-to-military relations, he said. But he added that the visit was not "engagement for the sake of engagement." "What we are looking for is a resumption of productive, transparent, military-to-military engagement so that we can both gain a better understanding of what our ambitions are, what our intentions are when it comes to our military budgets, how we operate, where we operate, and so forth," Morrell said. Despite misgivings expressed by Beijing, the US military planned to go ahead with joint military exercises with South Korea in the Yellow Sea, he said. "It's not an affront to the Chinese. It's not meant to send a message to the Chinese. It's meant to send a message to the North Koreans about their behavior," he said of the planned exercises involving the USS George Washington aircraft carrier. The United States maintained "the right to operate in any and all international waters, respecting, of course, territorial boundaries," he said.The Pentagon's comments came a day after Chinese President Hu Jintao extolled "fresh progress" in China-US ties as he met a White House delegation that held talks on thorny issues including North Korea, Iran and trade.” ( Summers and Donilon)

MY COMMENTS: It will be important for India to see what effect this US-China fence-mending exercise has on the Indo-US discussions on China during the visit of President Barack Obama to New Delhi in November. Mr.Obama may not want any shadow to be cast on Mr.Gates’ visit to China by his discussions in New Delhi. Mr.Gates’ discussions with the Chinese leaders on Iran, North Korea and the Af-Pak region would be more important to the US than Mr.Obama’s discussions with Indian leaders on China. So far as China is concerned, any significant outcome is unlikely during Mr.Obama’s visit to New Delhi.


China warned Japan on September 9 that their relationship could suffer if Tokyo mishandled the dispute over a Chinese fishing boat seized by the Japanese Coast Guard (JCG) in waters off the Diaoyu Islands. "The Diaoyu Islands are China's inseparable territory, and Japan applying its domestic law to the Chinese fishing boat operating in this area is absurd, illegal and invalid," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular news conference. "China will never accept that," she stressed. Jiang said China had also sent "a fishery law enforcement ship" to the area "to safeguard order and protect the safety of fishermen and their assets". She did not elaborate. The JCG on Thursday (September 9) handed over 41-year-old Chinese captain Zhan Qixiong to prosecutors who will decide whether to charge him, spokesman Masahiro Ichijo said. The captain has been in custody since his arrest on Wednesday (September 8), after two Japanese patrol boats intercepted his boat near the islands on Tuesday ( September 7). No one was injured. The captain was arrested on suspicion of "obstructing officers on duty", and faces a possible jail sentence of up to three years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen ($6,200).But the JCG also said the captain could be released in a couple of days if he acknowledged the allegation and paid the fine. Japanese officials were also questioning the ship's 14 crew members who have been kept on the boat because they did not have visas, the JCG said.

MY COMMENTS: The Japanese Navy has been increasingly assertive in the East China Sea since April last. Please see my article of April 27,2010, titled “Chinese Navy’s Power Projection” at (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: )