Saturday, November 8, 2008

Move to the offensive mode: Doval

Move to the offensive mode: Doval
Sept 27, 2008
An Interview by Harinder Baweja
Source: Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 38,

Whoever thinks faster will win, former IB chief AK Doval tells HARINDER BAWEJA

As the former director of the Intelligence Bureau, what do you think the state needs to do to counter terror?

The state does not have the political will by which it can convert its intrinsic state power into real power. That can happen if the politicians are prepared to take the right decisions in the national interest, unmindful of the political consequences to their own self and their party. When there is a conflict between the interest of a party or an individual and the interest of the state, the latter should prevail.

Is there a failure in collecting cutting edge intelligence?

We require pro-active intelligence to degrade their [terrorists’] capability and degrade their resources. We are chasing them, but they are ahead of us. You require a paradigm shift in the intelligence approach. We have to get from the defensive mode to the offensive mode. Every hour, new ideas need to be generated. It is essentially a game of outsmarting and outwitting. Whoever can think faster and do the unexpected will win the game.

From past experience we know that POTA and TADA did not succeed.

It is totally incorrect. Neither TADA failed, nor POTA failed. First we must know what is the purpose of legislation. Legislation is the demonstration of national will through politically elected representatives on a particular issue. Through POTA you conveyed to the terrorists groups and their mentors that India will respond to acts of terror with all the force at its command.
It also works as a deterrant not only to the terrorists but their overground supporters. Legislation is not about how many people have been sent to jail. It also works as a motivator for the law enforcing agencies.

Conviction under TADA was 1 percent.

Anti-terrorist laws are not for conviction only. When POTA was in force, only onetwentieth of the number died as compared to when POTA was removed. Within six months of removal of POTA, SIMI struck on July 5, 2005 at Ayodhya. The trail of their terrorist depravations from that day has remained unabated.

But SIMI activists are being acquitted by the courts for lack of evidence.

Convictions and acquittals depend on the evidence that is produced in the court and not on the guilt of the individual. The courts are not there to find the truth but to examine the evidence . In terrorist cases, the evidence is difficult to find, particularly if the yardstick of common crimes is applied to them.

But there is something called the criminal justice system.

Yes, a criminal justice system is important. However, the Mallimath Committee that examined the criminal administration system of India unequivocally felt that the country’s criminal justice system was totally inadequate for meeting terrorist threats.
They recommended far reaching changes which, unfortunately, the government has shelved. Terrorism is a form of war, and its jurispudence has to be different from those applicable with respect to ordinary crime.

How can this serious threat be met?

The solution lies in various concentric circles — at the levels of policy formulation, implementation, technical, operational and legal. We also need policies that will minimise the sense of alienation among various sections of society. We also need to minimise collateral damages. There is a need for bringing convergence in intelligence activity and at least bringing all central intelligence agencies under one umbrella, as has been done in the US.


Expert advice to cops: Innovate

Expert advice to cops: Innovate
Date: Sep 15, 2008
Source: The Times Of India

Every time serial bomb blasts take place, the absence of real time intelligence is lamented. And the Delhi blasts on Saturday were no exception.
But former spymasters and top strategic analysts believe the battle between terrorists and intelligence officers is a cat-and-mouse game where the side with better innovative skills stays one step ahead of the other.
If intelligence officers are not able to surprise terrorists, then terrorists will surprise the nation, says ex-IB boss Ajit Kumar Doval. The ability to carry out a surprise strike — for terrorists, it could be a bomb blast; for intelligence officials, it could be a preventive swoop — depends on the team's ability to generate new ideas. New ideas help find ways to create new tactics to combat and thwart the adversary.
Which is why, says former Intelligence Bureau director Doval, there's nothing like a time-tested formula for either terrorists to carry out their devious plans or for intelligence officials to stop them. The sheer ingeniousness of the plan enabled terrorists to hoodwink the US intelligence apparatus and carry out the 9/11 strikes. Says Doval, "Time-tested wisdom is an anti-doctrine in successful intelligence operations. You require constant refinement of tactics on the ground. A successful tactic can be used only once. It's a use-and-throw technology."
Ironically, the same holds true for terrorists too. For instance, once a terrorist knows that intelligence officials indulge in telephone tapping, he is unlikely to divulge classified information during a call; on the contrary, he will only talk what he wants the other side to know.

Armed Conflicts and Peace Processes in South Asia

Armed Conflicts and Peace Processes in South Asia
Nov 30, 2006
Speaker: Ajit Kumar Doval
Source: Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies

The left wing problem should not be seen statistically. It is seen as a serious problem because it tends to spread as of today, even if incidents take place sporadically. The important aspect is the number of people involved in the attacks or incidents of violence. In such cases, response option becomes difficult and is limited. Such helplessness of response brings violent changes. In future, this is likely to increase as more and more people are being mobilized.
We should get out of our propensity to look all the problems in a single readymade framework and deal with this problem independently and in alienation. There are vested interests which want to preserve the conditions. This way, the problem becomes extremely difficult. The chapter, falls short of tracing out a comprehensive history/background of left movement. Various crucial stages have been found missing from the historical background. The dynamics within the ideology have also to be taken into account to understanding the problem. In different areas, different dynamics are prevailing.
Impact of patterns of violence that takes place need to be studied. It would have been worthwhile, if this would have been taken into account in the chapter. There is a problem with the identification of the groups, which could have been as ideologues, armed groups etc. A deep study of how the money is generated, where does it go and how is it disbursed, who all are involved is needed.
The chapter on Nepal was a good though events have fundamentally changed since when it was written. It provides a wonderful background as to how it developed from the beginning till the last decade. Factors that influenced it have been covered. Last one year had been eventful. Recommendations for genuine and transparent democracy are agreeable. Recent visit and remarks by Prachanda that Indian Maoists are ideologically mislead is significant.


Chinese envoy’s remark unwarranted: Doval

Chinese envoy’s remark unwarranted: Doval
An Interview by Rajeev Sharma
Nov 19, 2006
Source: The Sunday Tribune

Mr Ajit Kumar Doval, the former Chief of Intelligence Bureau, Government of India, is an internationally renowned expert on strategic affairs. He is known for his out-of-box thinking, unconventional wisdom and pragmatic views.
Mr Doval speaks to The Sunday Tribune exclusively on the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to India beginning tomorrow.
Q: The Chinese Ambassador to India, Mr Sun Yuxin, has said the whole of Arunachal Pradesh belonged to China. What could be his motive behind this comment?
A: The remarks made by the Chinese Ambassador were bad in form and content. A subjective interpretation of facts, history and obligations under international law does not alter the realities. There is a bilateral mechanism in place where the border question is being addressed and such assertions do not help the process.
More important, it was the timing, stridency and the fact that the remark was made without any apparent provocation is disquieting. Obviously, it was a deliberate assertion and not an off the cuff remark. Its impact on President Hu Jintao’s visit could also not have been lost sight of. It may well be an attempt to put India on the defensive when addressing various bilateral issues.
Q: How do you see Mr Hu’s visit to India? Will it be a successful, substantive, forward-looking visit? Or is it just a stopover for Mr Hu who undertakes a far more important and sensitive visit to Pakistan from November 23?
A: It is a very important visit. India and China are poised to be two major players in the emerging global scenario and have much in common, both in strengths and problems. Together they have world’s one-third population, are fastest growing economies and share many problems of growth and development. Most important, they are neighbours with a long common border and it is in the interest of both the countries not to grow as strategic adversaries.
President Hu’s visit is an important visit and underrating it will be a mistake. Linking it to his visit to Pakistan may not be the right approach. With a long-term perspective, we need to formulate an independent China policy and firm sure footed moves at this stage will help in evolving that policy.
Q: Can India trust China considering Beijing’s close ties with its all-weather ally Pakistan? Is India’s China policy faulty? Should India reverse its stand on two crucial issues of Tibet and Taiwan? What will be the pros and cons if New Delhi were to do that?
A: The question of trust and distrust is not the issue. Identifying our best national interests and developing a convergence to achieve them is the issue. Let us not underestimate our own strengths. India is as important to China as China is to India in pursuing their respective long-term national interest. A conflict relationship is not in the interest of either country. How do we develop that commonality of interests, fully protecting our strategic, security, political and economic interests, is the challenge.
India does not have to speak from a position of weakness or strength but reasonableness and rationality. China would do well to develop greater sensitivity and understanding of India’s genuine concerns.
Q: Is it correct that the Chinese have re-started arming the Indian Northeast insurgents, reversing their own decades-old policy?
A: I don’t have any information about the Chinese arming the Northeastern insurgent group. I do not know what is the basis of your information. On the face of it, it looks highly unlikely to me.
Q: How do you see the trade route with China through Nathu La in Sikkim? Will it ultimately work as the Chinese mainland-Lhasa railway is now poised to expand to the Indian borders? What are the military and strategic implications of this railway line for India?
A: Opening of Nathu La for trade was an important move forward. Its trade potential, at least at this juncture, may not be very high but its symbolic import cannot be underestimated. It does have some security implications, but I am sure the agencies concerned would have taken appropriate countermeasures. Whether the experiment will prove to be fruitful or not will depend on overall evolution of relations between the two great neighbours.
Lhasa being connected to the mainland by a railway line has definite military and strategic implications for India. The railway infrastructure has been built which is capable of enhancing combat capability of China and transporting hardware for military offensive. India has to factor it in its higher defence planning and match the capabilities.
Q: How do you see the role of Yughen Thinley Dorjee, the Chinese-recognised 17th Karmapa working among the Tibetan Diaspora both within Tibet and outside, especially in India?
A: On the face of it, the whole sequence of his coming to India, establishing himself, developing contacts and linkages, gives an impression that there is more to the whole episode than what meets the eye.
I definitely feel that it is a sensitive matter and needs to be addressed from a higher plane of knowledge. Of course, if he is under the spell of some hostile influences, internal or external, it can be detrimental to India and we need to maintain a high degree of vigil.


Old men and their Official secrets

Old men and their Official secrets
3 Sep 2006
Source: The Times Of India

When a man lies to his wife about where he is going, he is not always headed to his lover's nest. Sometimes, it is just a state secret.
For decades, the lives of such men who walk down the forbidden alleys of intelligence or the nuclear programme are bound by a written code of silence. Then one day they retire. And state secrets become distant memories. Even their memories are guarded by the Official Secrets Act.
Fobbing off the wife is a tact that former Intelligence Bureau director Ajit Kumar Doval learnt during his exciting life. His wife, Anu, unknowingly, played host to a band of armed men at their home in Aizwal. For two years.
He told her that they were part of an operation. But they were, in fact, army commanders of the legendary Laldenga's Mizo National Front, which was involved in the Mizo insurgency.
"They were all heavily armed but I had given my word that they would be safe. My wife cooked pork for them even though she was not used to cooking pork," says 61-year-old Doval, chuckling. His wife came to know of their identity many years later and felt miffed.
Besides hosting the Mizo army commanders and helping the government in Mizoram, Doval's 33 years of service took him to inaccessible areas of India's north-east.
He was inside the Golden Temple in 1989 during Operation Black Thunder when security forces were charging in to flush out terrorists from there. He also helped plan the 1992 Punjab state elections.
An interesting aspect of his career was the six years he spent in Pakistan. That country's Intelligence always shadowed him. One day, Doval decided to visit the dargah in a local market at Lahore. The attraction was a qawaali programme.
"I decided to go incognito and dressed up as a middle-class Muslim gentleman. Later, when I was enjoying the qawaali, one Pakistani Intelligence officer came to me very quietly and whispered into my ear that my fake beard was dangling. It was so embarrassing. I quickly left."
With his two sons having flown away to the West, Doval now leads a quiet life in Delhi with his wife. He has no plans to write a book, unlike his colleague and former joint director of CBI, Maloy Krishna Dhar, who broke traditions by writing a book Open Secrets, which he called "the first open confession of intelligence operative".

Pak must destroy terror infrastructure: Doval

Pak must destroy terror infrastructure: Doval
An Interview by Rajeev Sharma
August 6, 2006
Source: The Sunday Tribune

A quintessential “operations” man and the Bhishma Pitamah of the Indian intelligence brass, Ajit Kumar Doval (IPS 1968 batch, Kerala cadre), is viewed as a national asset. A former Chief of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi conferred on him the Kirti Chakra.
Mr Doyal spent years in Pakistan and is credited with breathtaking acts of espionage during his stay there. Incidentally, he was the Centre’s chief negotiator with hijackers of Indian Airlines IC 814 in Kandahar. In an interview to The Sunday Tribune, he maintains that Pakistan must dismantle its terrorist infrastructure at any cost.
Q: What should India do to make Pakistan dismantle the terrorism infrastructure?
A: Pakistan will have to do it and it is bound by international obligations including the UN resolutions 1373, 1455, etc. and bilateral commitments. India has to create compulsions for Pakistan to do it. It has to be forced to realise that this perceived low-cost option to achieve politico-strategic objectives is too costly. It involves putting a stop to recruitment and training, financing and equipping, communication facilities and demolishing collaborative networks of terrorist with gunrunners, underworld, currency counterfeiters, hawala operators, etc. It would also involve ISI dismantling its networks in Bangladesh, Nepal, Middle East etc created to assist terrorists.
Q: Is India justified in postponing the Foreign Secretary level talks with Pakistan following the Mumbai serial blasts? Can the composite dialogue process with Pakistan and terrorism go side by side?
A: Yes. The dialogue process cannot succeed as long as Pakistan’s mindset is routed in what President Musharraf reportedly said on July 15, 2003 to Gulf News that “we don’t trust the Indian Government. Before Kargil, Kashmir was a dead issue” and “another Kargil taking place depends on how the peace talks proceed.” If blood and terror or the threat of it, implicit or explicit, is the only argument that Pakistan has to bring to the negotiating table, the talks have no prospects.
Q: What prevents India from using satellite imagery and other modern devices to nail down Pakistan’s lies?
A: Jurisprudence of covert actions, as also its response, is not governed by the laws of evidence. Evidence, or lack of it, is only an argument used by the players to lend legitimacy to what they want to do or refrain from doing in their perceived self-interest. We do use high technology intelligence capability wherever needed. But satellite imageries can only show you some physical objects on the ground but it cannot connect it with the terrorists.
We have much better evidence in the form of hundreds of Pakistanis and their associates arrested who have given graphic details of how they were recruited, trained, motivated, tasked and enabled to undertake terrorist actions. We have loads of terrorist documents and diaries to prove Pak involvement. Sharing of evidence like Dawood Ibrahim or Salahuddin’s Pakistani passports and identity cards, etc. may be good evidence in a court but not in the game of intelligence. The adversaries insist on evidence not for taking action, but to plug the gaps and bring about correctives.
Q: War with Pakistan will have much less casualties than the number of people who have lost their lives or limbs due to Pakistan’s proxy war. Is this view cynical?
A: I find this view cynical to the extent that we are not living in the medieval age where wars were waged to kill people. Wars are fought to achieve well defined political or military objectives. Loss of lives is just a collateral damage. Pakistan’s nuclear status will not have a decisive bearing on India. However, like many other components, nuclear factor will also be an element that will have to be factored in.
Q: What does Pakistan get out of this proxy war strategy which is out of sync with modern times?
A: Pakistani strategists are fully aware that terrorists cannot dismember or weaken India. It, however, looks at the proxy war as a low-cost and sustainable offence which can bleed India, against whom it harbours a compulsive hostility. It also feels that it commits a large body of Indian troops to internal security duties thereby narrowing the gap of force-level disparities between the two countries. Pakistan also assesses that it may lead to communal polarisation in India increasing its leverage amongst Indian Muslims. In the aftermath of the Afghan war, it also felt that so many trained jehadis and loose terrorist weapons floating around could be a source of serious internal instability and could best be directed towards India. Retarding India’s economic progress was also an objective.
Pakistan has been proved wrong on all counts. India’s military preparedness is as high as ever, Indian Muslims hate Pakistan today more than ever before and India’s economic progress is for the world to see. Ironically, Pakistan today is much more internally unstable today because of the jehadi factor.
Q: Is General Musharraf in total control of Pakistan? Is he no longer capable of reining in terrorist outfits?
A: General Musharraf is in total control of Pakistan like any other army ruler in the past. However, the people’s hearts and minds may not be with him. Nevertheless, he and his army are capable of reining in terrorist outfits, given the will.
Q: Will the Indo-US nuclear deal adversely impact India’s strategic programme?
A: It was a positive move. But the devil lies in the detail. The form it is taking now leaves much to be desired. The fine print is not conducive to our long term national interests.

The IB chief who dined with militants

The IB chief who dined with militants
15 Jul 2004
Source: Times of India

A daredevil operations man who spent three decades chasing, terrorising and educating terrorists is now India's Intelligence Bureau chief.
Unlike his predecessors, who have largely been faceless officers with just grey hairs of wisdom and a bit of luck in winning the crucial political nod, Ajit Kumar Doval, brings with him action, dynamism and adventure that has kept him in the news for years.
The office of the Intelligence Bureau chief demands seniority, which all his predecessors had. Doval has that too. But he has more to offer. He is starkly different in his approach as his track record shows.
An operations man, Doval has spent more than three decades in the rough and tumble of India's fight against terrorism.
He was posted in the northeast at the height of militancy. Among the numerous tales surrounding Doval, one tells of the few days he spent with a senior militant in his hide-out, without the latter realising that his companion was a top cop.
It was during the height of Punjab terrorism that Doval, a 1968 batch Kerala cadre IPS officer, actually proved his mettle. In fact, he went on to become India's first civilian to win the military bravery honour Kirti Chakra.
Doval, say his peers, has shown an uncanny ability to seize the moment and act, on several occasions putting his life at risk.
Once, in pursuit of a hardcore Punjab terrorist, Doval got a tip-off that his quarry was planning to flee the area.
Doval had to act before the reinforcement arrived. The not-so-tall IPS officer jumped on the terrorist and held on to the tall, well-built Sikh for quite a while before the back-up arrived.
"He is unconventional, courageous and sharp," says one of his contemporaries.
On another instance, Doval had asked a few of his colleagues to meet at a particular point for the day's work, mostly surveillance.
Minutes after the juniors arrived, Doval showed up as a rickshaw-puller, and asked his juniors to hop on to the rickshaw.
It is his hands-on approach that endears him to his juniors. When his appointment as IB chief was announced last week, the entire IB office erupted in celebrations, including those who were in the running for the post.
"I am sure he would bring back a lot of professionalism. He definitely has a vision for the agency," says a former IB officer.
When IC-814 was hijacked in December 1999, Doval was the obvious choice to go to Kandahar, Afghanistan to negotiate.
Doval's training as a professional negotiator helped, as did his ability to speak Pashtu and Urdu. At the end of his Kandahar negotiations, Doval was featured on the front page of a Pakistani magazine and was a prominent media figure across the border.
But the then government was in a hurry. Doval and other officials had to talk to Jaish militants without any proper brief, without much time, and with not much space to manouevre.
Decisions had already been taken in Delhi and on the last day of 1999, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh landed at Kandahar with three dreaded terrorists, who are now kingpins of terrorism in Kashmir.
Doval continues to do what he is best at: watching, chasing and studying terrorists, and warning and informing the government about the nation's security situation.
The Kashmir Challenge
For the past few years, Doval has been a crucial advisor to the government on Kashmir and Pakistan matters. His judgement has been on target on
Kashmir and Pakistan, says a senior bureaucrat who has interacted with Doval on several occasions.
Now as the Kashmir situation once again threatens to get out of hand, Doval is in the thick of action. It would require much courage and imagination to keep Kashmir on track and to get the doves among Hurriyat Conference to come back to the negotiations table. This will involve some political manoevring as well.

India’s new generation intelligence agencies – Sharp, Smart and Operational – Bond and Swartzenegar types take control

India’s new generation intelligence agencies – Sharp, Smart and Operational – Bond and Swartzenegar types take control
July 14, 2004

India’s intelligence agencies are taking different look. The agencies are led by sharp, smart and street fast operational heroes who bring real world experiences on the table. These are new generation Bond and Swartzenegar types who can terrorize the terrorists and make them run for cover!
A daredevil operations man who spent three decades chasing, terrorizing and educating terrorists is now India's Intelligence Bureau chief. Unlike his predecessors, who have largely been faceless officers with just grey hairs of wisdom and a bit of luck in winning the crucial political nod, Ajit Kumar Doval, brings with him action, dynamism and adventure that has kept him in the news for years. The office of the Intelligence Bureau Chief demands seniority, which all his predecessors had. Doval has that too. But he has more to offer. He is starkly different in his approach as his track record shows. An operations man, Doval has spent more than three decades in the rough and tumble of India's fight against terrorism. He was posted in the northeast at the height of militancy. Among the numerous tales surrounding Doval, one tells of the few days he spent with a senior militant in his hideout, without the latter realising that his companion was a top cop. It was during the height of Punjab terrorism that Doval, a 1968 batch Kerala cadre IPS officer, actually proved his mettle. In fact, he went on to become India''s first civilian to win the military bravery honour Kirti Chakra. Doval, say his peers, has shown an uncanny ability to seize the moment and act, on several occasions putting his life at risk. Once, in pursuit of a hardcore Punjab terrorist, Doval got a tip-off that his quarry was planning to flee the area. Doval had to act before the reinforcement arrived. The not-so-tall IPS officer jumped on the terrorist and held on to the tall, well-built Sikh for quite a while before the back up arrived. "He is unconventional, courageous and sharp," says one of his contemporaries.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ways to defeat ourselves

Ways to defeat ourselves
Ajit Doval
Jun 01, 2006
Source: Indian Express

On the face of it the two have no correlation. Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW), which has kept strategic thinkers engrossed for the last decade and a half, is about the what, why, where and how of future conflicts and possible responses. The reservation issue is an expression of anger and frustration in some of India’s bright youth against what they perceive as denial of justice and equality.
Before I explain the connection, let me explain what generation warfare is all about. Following the treaty of Westphalia in 1648 when fire arms began to dominate the battlefield, the concept of nation states started concretising and the state established monopoly on war, the first generation of modern warfare started. It involved massed manpower concentration of armies outnumbering the enemy. It lasted till machine guns and indirect fire made such tactics suicidal. The second generation warfare was based on massed fire power with heavy reliance on artillery; the tactics involving outdoing the adversary in fire power, speed and movement. The third generation warfare was based on manoeuvre and high technology exemplified by the Blitzkrieg of World War II. Later, strategic weapon systems made big wars un-winnable. Conventional wars became cost ineffective. There was no guarantee the state with superior weapons/ armies would necessarily emerge victorious (US in Vietnam, USSR in Afghanistan) and unpredictable post-war consequences could turn victories into net national disadvantage (Afghanistan and Iraq).
This takes us to 4GW, warfare in which civil society becomes the critical element of war. Societal factors within a state will influence forces both within and without — who will launch the war, against whom, how and when. Societies and governments which lose their legitimacy and credibility will be the most vulnerable. If an adversary has to destabilise and bleed a nation to achieve its strategic, political or economic ends, a fractured society will provide a ready ground to exploit the faultlines. It costs much less, can be sustained for longer and, with a few exceptions, even those who become tools of external machination are ignorant of that.
And then, there is a more serious danger within. Fragmentation of society unleashes forces which can destabilise the state, retard its economic growth, undermine the rule of law and lead to violence. How many of us are brave enough to concede that what beleaguered Punjab, J&K, Northeast and now left-wing extremist areas was to some extent a consequence of divisive politics providing openings to our external adversaries? We can ignore history’s lessons only at our peril. A fragmented society loses its national will, which is key. After all, in battles military might is used to subdue the will of a nation to enable the victor to dictate its terms of peace. Divisive politics, in the blind pursuit of power, at times ignores the impact of actions on the will of the nation. When that happens a country becomes a soft ground for launching a 4GW by asymmetric adversaries.
The guru of 4GW, William S. Lind, observed: “If nation states are going to survive they (people in power) must earn and keep the trust of the governed.” He told the American Council of Foreign Relations: “The heart of 4GW is a crisis of legitimacy of the state.” How true to the Indian model when he added, “The establishment is no longer made up of ‘policy types’. Most of its members are placemen. Their expertise is in becoming and then remaining members of the establishment. Their reality is covert politics and not the competence or expertise.” When 4GW visits them their response would be to “close the shutters on the windows of Versailles”.
India is an old civilisation but a new nation state. In the package of its rich national heritage it was also bequeathed many faultlines, prejudices and undesirable social practices. To build a strong, vibrant India, in which members of all communities could grow to their potential excellence we needed a social revolution that resisted the temptation to use these fissures to acquire and sustain power. After Independence many far-reaching laws were enacted to bring about socio-economic transformation — drastic changes in Hindu Civil Law, making untouchability a crime, abolition of zamindari, etc. They were all accepted with near national consensus. It is because the leaders of that time were genuinely interested in bringing about social transformation to build a strong Indian society — all enabled and empowered.
Why is it that the present initiative of the Government has such a divisive impact? It is essentially because no one is convinced, including the likely beneficiaries, that it has been done with bonafide intentions to bring about social justice. They feel it is meant to subserve the power interests of few, callously undermining its disastrous impact on society, its stability and security. It is the error of intentions which is at the root of the problem followed by a failure to anticipate its long-term consequences.
From a security point of view the reservation issue, particularly the way it has been handled, militates against India’s interest. It is not only about admission of some students to elite institutions. It impacts the mindset of the people belonging to different communities — rival sections of society considering their interests as inversely related. It is significant that the medicos and others spearheading the agitation personally have nothing to gain. Their admissions are not at stake. It is bad when it starts psychologically affecting our people in fields and factories, courts and police stations, cantonments and sports fields, classrooms and marketplaces. It may appear to be a harmless passing phenomenon but history testifies to the fact that social acrimonies have a cascading effect and it takes tremendous time and effort to bring about correctives.
The reservation issue is only the latest manifestation of a larger malaise: the politics of dividing the electorate — and society — on as many issues as possible till one’s own tiny segment becomes the biggest. It is the strategy of pygmies. It has to be substituted by the strategy of consolidation and integration of as many segments and interests groups as possible till one acquires the critical mass that gives legitimacy to rule. There is no dearth of issues on which, cutting across caste, communal and other divisive lines, Indian society can be consolidated and led. But that will involve vision, competence, commitment and honesty of purpose.
The writer was director, Intelligence Bureau

Red star over India

Red star over India
Ajit Doval
Apr 14, 2006
Source: Indian Express

Does Left Extremism really pose a threat to India’s security or is it something the media hyped up? After all, they do not question India’s territorial integrity and apparently are not working as proxies of powers hostile to India. They, at best, want a regime change, albeit through violence, which many others would also vote for. They raise issues of hunger and poverty. These and other nuances notwithstanding, the straight answer to the question is: Left Extremism poses a very real threat which has to be fought with total resolve. Any obfuscation would lead to increased costs and prolonged agony. Naxalites use violence to achieve their political objectives and target innocent lives and thus fully meet the definition of terrorism. Diluting India’s principled position that the “core issue” argument does not justify Terror would have serious implications. But let us examine why is it really a high potential threat.

First, they seek to bring about change through violence and annihilation of arbitrarily identified class enemies. In-built is destruction of all that free India stands for. If hypothetically, the “revolution” succeeds and the new dispensation becomes tyrannical, oppressive and corrupt, which with the exercise of absolute power it’s bound to, how does one get rid of it? Backed by the might of a totally politicised state apparatus, it would be unchangeable except through civil war or foreign intervention. Fortunately this is a remote threat.

Second, Naxalites feel no ideological compunction in aligning with and supporting forces adversarial to India’s security interests. In the name of supporting nationalist minorities, they support secessionists in Kashmir, insurgents in Northeast, LTTE in Sri Lanka and CPN (Maoist) in Nepal. Charu Majumdar, their role model, opposed India in the Bangladesh war. Support for the 1962 Chinese aggression is an old story. So much for their ideology of supporting people’s movements against oppressive regimes. Similarly, in the name of class war, in Bihar and Jharkhand, they indulge in the worst form of caste violence. They have a self-serving definition of “have nots” and exercise ruthless violence against the landless and tribals who do not support them. The massacre of Salwa Judum tribals illustrates this. Over 90 per cent of civilian victims of their violence are poor. Under the veneer of revolutionary ideology lies a ruthless ambition for absolute power.

Third, the “revolution” continues to gather strength, engulf new areas, militarise itself and make large areas of the country non-governable. Naxalites stun to submission the poor and the deprived and the state is unable to provide protection or even undertake schemes for their socio-economic uplift due to a vitiated security environment. Naxalites have a vested interest in perpetuating poverty to conserve and expand their constituency. Their area of dominance runs into thousands of sq km, one Punjab getting added to it every two years. This will erode India’s state power, retard its growth, prevent social and economic uplift of the poor and downtrodden and make the political process hostage to the politics of violence. This is the real danger.

Taking the trends of the last five years, we can build a model of the security scenario for the year 2010. Over 260 districts, nearly half of India, would be Naxal affected where the government’s writ hardly runs. If we add to this the insurgencies in the Northeast, militancy in J&K and the scourge of Islamic terrorism, India’s overall internal security landscape presents a frightening picture. The strength of left-wing armed cadres would soar from the existing 7,500 to over 16,000, with backup support of thousands of “revolutionary” militia. Their arsenal may be in the range of 12,000 to 15,000 sophisticated weapons. Jan adalats where spot justice is dispensed, extending to beheadings, may increase from the present three per week to one a day. Collection of taxes estimated to be in the range of Rs 17 crore per month may soar to over Rs 40 crore. This money power in economically backward and inaccessible tribal areas can cause havoc.

In this scenario, visualise Indian security forces thinly deployed in the countryside facing murderous crowds in the thousands, many equipped with automatic weapons. The force, in self-defence, will either over-react leading to unacceptable civilian casualties or will be disarmed and possibly lynched. It is noteworthy that despite a sizeable army and paramilitary presence, domination of the Kashmir Valley and six worst affected districts of Punjab proved difficult.

We should doctrinally accept it as a problem of terrorism and deal with it as such. On Thursday the PM recommended enhanced inter-state cooperation. He should call an all party meeting and build a consensus against providing any space to Naxalites for electoral gains or political appeasement. Proactively invoking Article 355 of the Constitution, legislation should be enacted empowering the Centre to suo motu deploy Central forces in badly affected areas. State governments may be informed that provisions of Articles 365/352 could be invoked in the eventuality of breakdown of constitutional machinery if they fail to control the problem.

The number of policemen available for per one lakh population in all the Naxal-affected states is amongst the lowest and much below the national average of 123 — Bihar 56, Chhattisgarh 92, Jharkhand 74, Orissa 92. At least 150 policemen per one lakh population must be made available. More important is qualitative upscaling of manpower. Operational capabilities of state intelligence, right up to the police station level, must be built for undertaking tactical operations. Concerted efforts to choke Naxals’ sources of finance and channels of procuring weapons also deserves high priority.

A concerted effort should be made to access the affected population to disabuse them of misleading propaganda. The media, think-tanks and NGOs operating in these region could be enlisted. These are only some illustrative policy ideas which need to be converted into a comprehensive action plan.

The writer was director, Intelligence

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'A deterrent law can really contain terror'

'A deterrent law can really contain terror'
Q&A: Ajit Kumar Doval, former Director, Intelligence Bureau, speaks to Asha Khosa about the lapses in the country's intelligence setup.
October 5, 2008
Source: Business Standard

Are we, as a country, under siege from home-bred as well as global terrorists?

India faces a serious threat to its internal security, if not a siege. Even so, the state’s power to counter terrorists and subversives is much more than the combined strength of all terrorist groups. We have a well-defined law and order apparatus and above all, the requisite political will to fight this challenge. But the situation might change anytime and India may face threats of much higher degree in future. For this, we do not seem to be ready. There’s an urgent need to put our house in order.

Is our government moving in the right direction in fighting terrorists?

Our system was never meant to handle the current level and quality of terrorist threats. Our laws, structures of governance, infrastructure, governmental functioning and the pace of decision-making etc are all meant for an earlier time. So, this needs to change drastically.
First of all, we need a strict anti-terror law, which can be a deterrent to the terrorists and also enable the security forces to tackle crimes related to the inflow of funds from abroad, the overground support to the terrorists, and also the corruption in political institutions.
There is a divergent opinion on the need to have a strong law.
Unfortunately, the debate on anti-terror law is motivated by political considerations. The real question is: Is POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) desirable? POTA was in force from September 2001 till December 2004, and the graph of terrorist-related violence was the lowest in this period. After POTA was scrapped, we saw a five-time rise in such incidents. With POTA gone, terrorists took just six months to reorganise themselves and they started striking in the hinterland from June 2005 onwards. A deterrent law really helps contain terrorists. Ask an average terrorist, and he would tell you that a strong law makes his work more difficult.

There are apprehensions that a harsh anti-terror law would be misused by the police and security forces...

We need to enable our police to deal with terrorists. A law is required so that the police do not have to work under pressure to produce results. If a policeman has no right to detain suspects for a reasonably long period, he would resort to torture to find out whatever he can in a short time. POTA or a POTA-like law can be reworked to ensure it’s not misused. A good law would always give the benefit of the doubt to the police in case they have made bonafide mistakes.
Looking at what is happening today, there is no future for us if we keep maligning the security forces and police who go after the terrorists. This is like giving them the gun but not giving the right to use it.

Giving sweeping powers to the police to detain people appears a scary proposition...

Giving powers to the police does not mean that they would wield them indiscriminately. It only gives them the confidence of moving scientifically and not being prosecuted if they make a bonafide mistake. For example, during anti-militancy operations in Kashmir, the security forces could use gunships. We never used them because we realised it would cause huge collateral damage. Imagine a village where a few terrorists are entrenched. Security men fight them with hand-held weapons the whole night and sometimes for days on end. There is the option to bombard the village but, barring the Kargil invasion, we never used gunships.

If POTA or a POTA-type law is so good, why do you think the government is not agreeing to it?

If it is for political considerations, I must say it is suicidal. The debate on the anti-terror law should be held in view of protecting our national interests and not the political interests of one or the other party.

There is a feeling that Indian Muslims are being pushed to the wall and an anti-terror law would accentuate their feeling of being wronged.

Firstly, there is a dire need to de-link Islam from terrorism. Terrorists must be treated as individuals and not representatives of one religious or ethnic community. Look at Pakistan, how it is tackling militancy. They have Muslims as terrorists, and also as the victims of police and militants’ action. But is anyone making it an Islamic issue?
However, it’s also true that since 1989, anti-India forces have used local Muslims for subversive activities and it’s only natural that the community, at any given time, would feel the heat. It happened to Sikhs in the past. On its part, the state should try to insulate Muslims from this, and the community must come forward to ostracise those who have even the remotest connection with anti-national acts. Unfortunately, it does not help when a university, instead of rusticating terror suspects, gets into providing them legal support. Such actions mount the heat on Muslims.
I believe common Muslims too want a strong anti-terror law. It would protect them from being coerced into giving shelter to terrorists or becoming their overground supporters.

With our growing economy, what new challenges should India be prepared to tackle in future?

The ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan) has been showing us what’s in store for us if we do not act now. The ISI is pumping counterfeit currency into our country in huge amounts. Look at what happened in Parliament on July 22 during the vote of confidence. Money was paid to some members to influence such a crucial decision as India becoming a nuclear power. What happens if a particular country pays Rs 50,000 crore to an MP to subvert a decision of crucial national importance in Parliament. A provision to look into this kind of corruption should be part of the anti-terror law.

Is there need for a federal investigating agency in India in view of the terrorist threats?

I find this entire debate on an FBI-type agency as mere talk of hardware even before the ideas on threat perception have been identified. We seem to be working on formulas and theories on the basis of mere slogans. This debate is topsy-turvy.

How would you compare our handling of terror in various parts of the country?

Mizoram was the first state where militancy was eliminated with the help of the local community. Insurgency is a games of wits where both the insurgents and the government wait for the other side to make mistakes and quickly cash in. For example, in Punjab we botched up Operation Bluestar, but we did not lose a day in exposing the militants’ misdeeds by launching Operation Black Thunder. This was the single-most important decision that changed the situation in Punjab. Recently, in Kashmir, the militants got the better of us when they encashed the Amarnath agitation in Jammu to beef up their support base.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Need for Discovering New Paradigms to Fight Terrorism

Need for Discovering New Paradigms to Fight Terrorism
*Ajit Doval, K.C.
October 2008
Source: Eternal India: A New Perspective Monthly, Vol.1, Number 1
High threats make security problems serious; not knowing how to deal with them make them dangerous. Terrorism is one such problem. Nations of the world, affected states, law makers and enforcers, all alike, are still groping in darkness for right solutions and at an ever increasing cost. For want of policies that can deliver, strategies that can subdue the threats and tactical response which could be executed, credibility-deficit statements or politically motivated stereotypes are masqueraded as response. There is no scientific study or analysis to sustain those sweeping generalizations. Over a period of time the establishment itself starts believing its own bluffs in the absence of anything better to substitute them.

For a scientific enquiry, access to data which is relevant, reliable and comprehensive on one hand and its objective painstaking analysis on the other is necessary. Studies of contemporary terrorism lack both, leaving answers to key questions required for policy formulation or execution unanswered. A researcher has no direct access to information about the terrorists, their organizations, sources of finances, procurement and distribution of terrorist hardware like weapons and explosives, their internal communications or relationships of the militant groups with the state and non-state entities supporting or opposing them. The data that would be required to analyze their psycho-sociological profile, emotive and material elements influencing their individual and group behaviour, content and style of leadership and unique mode of command, control and coordination are still more distant. Even the limited information available, if scientifically analyzed could provide answers to some critical questions. But this remains buried in classified files of security agencies, who have little time or talent to use it for a painstaking scientific enquiry. For justifiable reasons of security the data cannot be made public. Consequently most of what passes off as source material, if its origin is traced, will be found emanating from one or the other interested party, interested in projecting a particular point of view to subserve their perceived advantage. The literature or websites of the terrorists, books authored by sympathetic ideologues, tapes and press releases of terrorist leaders, their threats, claims and justifications for terrorist actions have its use but is contaminated material for research. Moreover, they do not answer the vital questions that a researcher need to seek. Equally incomplete and unreliable are the assertions of the governments regarding the terrorists, their organizations, sources of support and sustenance, morale and motivation, strengths, capabilities and intentions. Besides emanating from bona-fide knowledge gaps, these infirmities are consequented by understandable, higher considerations of national interest and public good. Governments do not run their business for the comfort of researchers and hence cannot be found fault with their ‘perception management approach’, except when they produce results, contrary to what was intended, or the governments become victims of their own propaganda. Both often happen.

Most of the writings and researches on terrorism have tended to focus on causes and history of terrorist uprisings, their political dimensions and ideologies, organizational and structural architect, incident analysis – either in statistical or case study mode, etc. Prescriptive responses are suggested based on these findings – the two having sub- optimal direct relationship. Nevertheless, these studies have substantially contributed in de-mystifying terrorism and help policy formulations, particularly in the western countries, where independent research and governance have developed an institutionalized linkage.

For responding to terrorism there is needed an approach which differentiates between tackling terrorist movements and the terrorist groups. Terrorist movements are essentially political or ideological beliefs which its adherents believe are attainable through instrumentality of violence. Only few among them are practicing terrorists. Terrorist groups on the other hand are well organized, trained, equipped, controlled and commanded formations who can operationalise the idea of violence and convert it into ground reality. Terrorism manifests its coercive power through terrorist groups. The rise and fall of terrorist movements and the groups may not be co-terminus but terrorist movements cannot survive for long in the absence of terrorist groups. And even when they do, they do not constitute a grave threat. Fighting terrorism is just like talking about fighting poverty or illiteracy- more a political gimmick than an action plan. At empirical level, it is the terrorist groups- their leaders, activists, supporters, infrastructure, weapons, funds and infrastructure which have to be degraded to defeat terrorism. The first shortcoming of our approach is undue focus on fighting terrorism rather than the terrorists, which deflects the discourse from practical action to theoretical domain. You can never fight let alone defeat an enemy that you cannot define in tangible terms. If problem identified is itself abstract, the solutions suggested cannot be otherwise.
Terrorists Lifespan
Terrorist groups are not endless entities as they sometime appear to be. They have a life cycle which includes their birth, ascendancy, peak and decline; eventually leading to their demise. When at their zenith, these groups appear to be endless but when they eventually wither away one only wonders how could they demonstrate the resilience for so long before meeting their logical end. Audrey Kurth Cronin, a noted authority on terrorism observed that “Studies of groups that use terrorism, across regions, cultures and historical areas, reveal that terrorism is by no means a promising vocation. Over and over, these case studies point to how difficult it is to maintain the momentum of a campaign. By any objective measure, the average lifespan of a group that relies on terrorist attacks is short.”

U.S based Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT) examined about 521 terrorist groups around the world to study their lifespan. They found that the lifespan of 243 (46.6%) of them worked out to be below 10 years while 104 (19.96%) survived from 10 to 20 years and 119 (22.84%) for 20 to 30 years. Only 3.646% endured beyond 50 years. Nearly 90% of them thus consumed themselves within 30 years, the average lifespan of a terrorist group working out to be 5 to 10 years. For governments it may be a long game of patience but seen in historical perspective it offers hope for success. What is more important is that it is only in minuscule of cases where terrorist groups become extinct after achieving their political goals. Serious research is required to identify the factors that hasten the demise or prolong life span of terrorist groups. Both, horizontally, across regions, and vertically, across time, there is a commonality in the group behaviour of terrorist outfits and largely identical factors contribute to their decline and demise. There is a weak relationship between the causes of their birth and those of their death. The reasons for which violence is initiated, within two to three years undergo a metamorphis and new causes for their survival or death start replacing the old. Initial goals start getting eclipsed by subsequent external and internal pressures. The studies bring out that governments often inadvertently play a contributory role which delays the termination. Indecisiveness, weak initial actions, appeasement and opening the political door without convincingly subduing them are just few in the long list.

Unfortunately, once a terrorist group disappears from the conflict arena, very little attention is paid to analyze the course of its life span and the causes that led to its demise. For the governments and their security bureaucracies, once these groups become inactive an amnesia sets in that prevents the states from learning from their own experiences. This leads to unique tendency of the states to commit the same mistakes again and again hoping that next time the results would be different. For intensive study of extinct terrorist groups, which can provide useful basis of formulating counter strategies, it could even be easier for the governments to make the old interrogation reports, terrorist documents, their internal communications and other official materials available to selected researchers under controlled conditions. Interestingly, all new terrorist groups very closely study the history, methodology, tactics, organizational structure, reasons of failures etc. of their predecessors to ensure that they don’t repeat the earlier mistakes. Aware that state responses are more ‘precedent’ driven stereotypes and hence predictable they are able to innovate methods to maintain secrecy and deny intelligence to the enemy, bring about tactical improvements, camouflage their movements, take care in recruitment, carefully select targets, introduce elements of surprise in their operations, modus operandi, communications etc. As a matter of strategy, terrorist groups invariably leverage their strength through faulty or inadequate actions of the state. When the governments acquiesce to it, either by default or design, the war against terrorist groups becomes prolonged and costly. There are vast lessons to profit from historical experiences as to how terrorist groups gained strength not by their superior organization, resources, infrastructure or greater supporter base but acts of commission and omission of the states – both at strategic and tactical levels.
Common Features
A study of terrorist groups that met their end, both in India and abroad, brings out some interesting features of commonality. Firstly, neutralization of top leaders and activists proved to be one of the major contributory factors in their demise. At strategic level, their neutralization led to ideological dilution and confusion, demoralization in the ranks, doubts about movement’s ability to deliver promised goals and loss of invincibility image. At tactical levels, it leads to struggle for leadership, disruption of established sources of funding and weapon procurement, interruption of inter- group and intra- group communications and abandonment of plans in the pipe line. Further, the questioning of top leaders often provides strategic and tactical inputs, which if pursued diligently and imaginatively, substantially weaken the movements. Inherent in their interrogations is the answer to group specific actions that can lead to their destruction. At times, they agree to become active, join the government’s counter terrorist effort and wherever it happens their contribution is substantial.
Illustratively, CPI(M-L), which, during 1969 to 1972, perpetrated wide spread naxalite violence, with Charu’s death on 28th July, 1972 lost its revolutionary steam and became faction driven. By 1974, the movement got splintered into many small groups due to fight for leadership. Leaders with limited local influence like Nagi Reddy and Pulla Reddy in Andhra Pradesh, Mahadev Mukherjee and Sharma in West Bengal and Bihar etc. emerged as weak centres of the movement. Large cadres, disillusioned and demoralized, left the organization and in many parts like Kerala, Punjab, U.P, Tamilnadu, the leaderless groups became defunct. In 1974, Subrato Dutta again brought pro-Mao, pro-Charu and anti-Lin Piao factions of the CPI(M-L) together rechristening them as CPI(ML-Liberation), but following Subrato Dutta’s killing in 1975 the group could not pursue its agenda of violence any more and had to embark on “Rectification Movement”, distancing itself from politics of violence.

Similarly, in Punjab, the neutralization of top terrorist leaders like Harjinder Singh Jinda, main killer of united KCF, Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, Chief of BTKF, Labh Singh, Chief of KCF etc. fragmented Punjab militancy and led to splintering of the movement and inter group clashes for supremacy to control funds and Gurudwaras. However, Babbar Khalsa was the only group which remained intact for quite some time as its leaders like Sukhdev Singh Dasuwal, Wadhawa Singh and Mahal Singh remained out of the net. However, within six months of its chief Sukhdev Singh Dasuwal getting neutralized the organization lost much of its sting. Similarly, in Kashmir, dozen of terrorist out-fits ceased to exist following neutralization of their top leaders. The termination of Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen following the killing of Hilal Beg, Muslim Mujahideen after arrest of Hyder Salim Zarger, Muslim Jaanbaz Force with arrest of Babbar Badr, Alah Tiger with arrest of Air Marshal Noor Khan etc. are illustrative. When in 1996, some of the senior commanders of terrorist groups like Kukka Parry, Majid Osman, Liaquat, Javed Shah etc. had a change of heart and decided to fight on the side of India, the Kashmiri component of the movement got heavily degraded and Pakistan had to bring in foreign jihadis under the banner of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harkat-ul-Ansar. These reformed terrorists played a major role in kick starting the long stalled electoral process in 1996.
Experience Abroad
The experience abroad also reinforces the fact that decapitation of top leadership gives a major blow to terrorist organizations. The examples of Shining Path in Peru, Aum Shinrikyo in Japan and the Real IRA in Northern Ireland are illustrative. The arrest of Abimael Guzman, charismatic leader of the Shining Path, on 12th September,1992, led to its decapitation and within a year the violence levels fell down by 50%. Today the group exists only in name. The Real IRA’s activities declined sharply after the British government arrested Michael (Mickey) McKevitt on 26 May,2000. From prison, McKevitt declared that further armed resistance was futile and that was the end of Real IRA. Shoko Asahara, cult leader of the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo, was arrested in 1995 and sentenced to death in a trial that ended in 2004. Asahara’s arrest was a devastating blow to the group, which was essentially built around the personality of Shinrikyo . His exit was followed by factional disputes which combined with decisive police action practically heralded its end.
Thinking the unthinkable
The other hypothesis which deserves to be researched is that wherever conventional and predictable options have been exercised by the state, the lifespan of the terrorist groups has tended to get elongated. When terrorist groups plan and operate they make a careful estimate of the counter-action that will follow. When the state out-smarts them by not doing what they expect and doing what they don’t, they are caught totally off guard. Unlike the governments, their resilience and capacity to absorb unexpected shocks is too low while capacity to absorb expected shocks is very high. They can absorb shocks of their degradation in terms of their cadres, equipment or infrastructure, which they anticipate and hence are prepared for. In May 1998, during operation Black Thunder, the militants were expecting and were prepared for an attack by the security forces after they shot at then DIG, CRPF S.S. Virk. A repeat of Blue Star of 1984 would have only been disastrous. But unexpected killing of Panthic Committee Chief inside the Golden Temple due to suspected inter group fight triggered suspicions and infighting that influenced events thereafter. The subsequent deft handling cashing on mistakes of the militants and assault through the media in which liquor bottles, implements of torture, shameful evidence of immoral activities inside the holy temple and surrender of hundreds of terrorists, all of which people could see on their TVs, led to mass-revulsion and anger. It overnight polarized the Sikh masses against the militants. The sight of scores of dreaded names amongst terrorists meekly surrendering to the security forces with their raised hands demolished their contrived image of invincibility and valour. The use of ‘Cat System’ of keeping some arrested militants duly camouflaged at vantage points led to arrest of many hard to identify terrorists in Punjab, Kashmir, North East etc. However, with surprise element over after some time - thanks to media- results started petering out. Time tested methods in invisible warfare are the worst methods. A method that has proved useful must be discarded and substituted by new one as fast as possible. It requires leadership at various levels to think the unthinkable and develop capacities to execute it.
Audry Kronin’s research of terrorist movements that failed brings out another interesting point. He, with evidence, blows a popularly held myth that the best way to end terrorism is for states to engage in politics designed to win the sympathy of the populations from which terrorist groups emerge. This kind of “hearts and mind” approach, he feels, “does not work” even though these methods may be “desirable for many other reasons”. He asserts that groups regularly self destruct by range of mistakes they commit and weaknesses which creep in. Over a period of time, operational errors, burn out factor, internecine splintering, doctrinal infighting, targeting errors or a backlash in the constituent populations start sapping the energy of the movement within. The heart and mind approach at times reverses it. Instead of sending signals that can be mistaken for weakness- a life elixir for dying terrorist groups- governments can take measures to indirectly catalyze the process of their making strategic and tactical mistakes. He concludes that in ending terrorism, government’s “top priority should not be to win people’s heart and minds, but rather to amplify the natural tendency of the violent groups to lose them”. Unfortunately, quite often the governments do just the opposite. Inviting ULFA for talks every time it was under pressure only helped it to convince the people of their viability and strength giving it a new lease of life. To cite an example at tactical level, when Mir Waiz was killed by Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists in Kashmir on 21 May, 1990, there was unprecedented anger against Pakistan. A huge funeral procession shouting anti-Pakistan and anti-terrorist slogans was on the streets. Overreacting to some commotion in the crowd, a panicky CRPF officer ordered firing and the whole scenario in the Valley changed. The funeral procession suddenly became slogan- shouting anti-India demonstration. The serious mistake of selecting a wrong target by Hizbul- Mujahideen could not be cashed in and instead just the opposite was done. The terrorists groups for their survival look forward to mistakes by the governments which they exploit to the hilt while the governments in real time are not even able to see the opportunities which come their way.

Che Guvera the doyen of guerilla warfare in Latin America had propounded a doctrine that the efforts of the terrorists should be aimed at grounding enemy forces to static formations. Higher the security personnel on static duties lesser the bleeding of the guerillas. Terrorist groups, world over, have internalized this doctrine. We should have conducted research to determine how could it be undone. The visible heavy deployment of the troops, including army, builds pressure on the terrorist groups is a myth that all in the government, including senior police officers and policy makers, believe to be true. It at best makes few targets inaccessible to them but still leaves plenty for a free hit. All personnel on protecting the VIPs , installations, bridges and culverts, airports and power houses and own formations of security forces deplete most of the man power which in offensive mode could create serious pressure on the terrorists. In India over 75 to 80% forces, which includes army, is either on self-protection mode or protecting the likely targets. Wherever planners have been able to reduce this number to the minimum, degradation of terrorist groups has been very high and fast.
Devil lies in Detail
To conclude, terrorism has to be fought by emaciating and decapacitating terrorist groups which in turn involves degrading their leadership, image, resources and infrastructure. Most of the battle has to be fought and won at tactical level and perfecting the tactics to out-smart the terrorists should in itself constitute a major component of the strategy. Devil lies in the detail and a strategy without tactics is only a noise before the defeat. The other part of the strategy should be to employ policies that bring to surface the illegitimacy of the movements and erode their credibility, both in terms of objectives pursued and means adopted. Illustratively, holding of regular elections, after 1996, in Kashmir has been one single step that proved to be a serious setback to the separatist- terrorist movement.
This approach requires a deep understanding of historical, political and social context in which the war on terror has to be fought. Formulating doctrines that can deliver will require in-depth research, based on authentic data which is relevant for answering critical questions. The civil society response, which is vital for fighting terrorism, in different socio-political and cultural settings also varies widely. Intensive situational and area specific research is hence necessary for contextual insight.
*The author is a former Director of Intelligence Bureau.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Only unsettled issue is continued occupation

Only unsettled issue is continued occupation
Ajit Doval
August 28, 2008
Source: MAIL TODAY ePaper
The enemies, both within and without, use bullets and bombs, not to kill people. They are collateral damages. The real objective is to subdue the enemy by breaking its will and dictating its terms of peace.
National will is the most vital ingredient of state power that erodes when leadership is weak and systems lose their strength. The chosen weapon to break the national will is psychological warfare or psywar; often employed by the adversaries to demoralise and confuse the enemy. Its aim is to manipulate the minds of the decision- makers and the people at large who could pressurise them to make them think and behave in a manner that will serve the attackers interests.
In the last few days, there have been some voices in the country questioning the wisdom and expediency of retaining Kashmir. The state, these people say, has bled the country so much in the last six decades. These people unwittingly play into the hands of enemies of the nation and give them a signal that national resolve is crumbling. Such an impression is not only totally incorrect and far from truth, but provokes our enemies to actually intensify their onslaught. Such suggestions are responsible for emboldening the forces of sabotage and subversion, giving adversaries the hope that with little more of a push, the ball will be in the goal. They also create confusion in the minds of people and erode singular conviction of people in the unity and integrity of the nation.
Like metals, states have a melting point. The state building process involves raising this melting point to a level where it is impervious to the heat generated by our enemies within or without. The enemy tries to get to know this metaphorical melting point as well as design its strategy to generate the heat required to reach it. If India wilts under the pressure of terrorists, insurgents, criminal mafia or violent demonstrations funded from abroad, it only indicates how low its meltdown point is. A nation aspiring to be a major player in global power dynamics can ill- afford to be a victim of such a psyche. Once a precedent is formed, all hostile groups will, supported by enemies within and outside, start competing with each other to reach that point at the earliest. This will create total anarchy in the country besides taking a huge toll in terms of lives of people.
Creation of a wrong discourse, by design or default, is the first step towards decline, which over time has a tendency to gather its own momentum.
These ill- conceived discourses start making space for themselves not by their superior reasoning and better understanding of history and strategy, but by an appeal to “ sexy” slogans. Such slogans do immense damage in all settings but are suicidal in democratic polities. It leads to people taking partisan positions without understanding the grave implications. This casts a heavy responsibility on the intelligentsia who have easy access to the media.
It is a pity that sweeping statements and prescriptive judgements are being dished out by some commentators who presume they can authoritatively talk on subjects they know little about.
Kashmir is an integral part of India, not only as per the unanimous resolution of the Indian Parliament and Constitution, but by it being an indestructible part of Indias civilisational identity. It also symbolises the fundamentals on which modern Indias state idea rests.
The only unsettled issue on Kashmir is continued occupation of parts of the state by Pakistan.
Anyone who deviates from this position holds in contempt not only Parliament but also its Constitution.
(The author is former IB director)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Religious Terrorism: Civilisational Context and Contemporary Manifestations

Religious Terrorism: Civilisational Context and Contemporary Manifestations
A.K. Doval

Source: As published in Civilisational Harmony: Global Conflicts and Indian Vision, Chapter 8, pp 196-241, Global Foundation for Civilisational Harmony (India), January, 2008

Transcending time and space, religions have influenced civilisations-in cultural, social, material and spiritual arenas- more profoundly than any other single factor. Tangible achievements of man’s possessive and creative impulses, struggle for self-preservation, pursuit of mundane happiness or supra mundane bliss, all bear its imprint. Religion has been both a dominant cause and effect of rise and fall of civilisations, influencing the conduct of war and peace, social intercourse, political and economic life, cultural motif and individual and group ethics.
‘Terror has no religion’ is a common refrain, particularly of political interest groups. Franco Frattini, the European Union’s Commissioner for Justice, banned the use of term ‘Islamic terrorism’ in 2006. He averred, “You can not use the term Islamic terrorism. People who commit suicide attacks or criminal activities on behalf of religion, Islamic religion or other religion, they abuse the name of religion”1. If this assumption is valid, religious terrorism is a misnomer and arguably deserves no place in any civilisational or religious discourse. However, if it is only a tactical positioning to evade hard realities it can cause immense harm. Dishonest diagnosis leading to a faulty treatment is unforgivable, particularly if it is deliberate. The assumption hence needs to be examined objectively in the light of hard realities on the ground, credible historical evidence, theological interpretation and religious doctrines of warfare in different religions. Taking the reality what we wish and not as it exists is an escapism that comes with unaffordable price tag. Some well-intentioned politicians, social scientists and intellectuals advance the formulation that it is a public interest myth floated to isolate the terrorists-which unfortunately it isn’t. Moderates among the coreligionists find in it an escape route from accepting their responsibility of confronting the wrong doers, lest they incur their wrath. The historical experience, unexceptionally, underlines the fact that escapism in the face of a danger, that is real and eminent, though may have apparent short-term tactical gains, but involves a heavy strategic cost that future generations have to pay.
While examining validity of the proposition, it may, however, be underlined that religion in terrorist context has to be understood more in its empirical form- the way it is practiced and its consequences felt, rather than theological sense, as intended by its founders. As Bertrand Russell puts it “Religion is primarily a social phenomenon. Churches may owe their origin to teachers with strong individual convictions but these teachers have seldom had much influence upon the communities in which they flourished. The teaching of Christ, as it appears in the gospels has had extraordinarily little to do with the ethics of Christians. The most important thing about Christianity, from a social and historical, point of view, is not Christ but the Church.”2
Religious Terrorism - Reality Or A Myth?
Religious terrorism is real as it is inspired by and carried out in the name of religion. Faith, in psychological sense, is a subjective phenomenon and its reality lies in what the believer thinks to be true and not what the truth is. Faith is a powerful motivator of human behavior influencing, in varying degrees, his perceptions, reasoning, response, actions and consequence estimates. Since a terrorist derives his motivation from his religious beliefs, religious terrorism is a reality. The interpretations of the governments fighting it, the victims, the courts of law etc. matter little as they do not affect their self- view or the world-view. However, as religion in its social form has an institutionalised structure, the only entity which can declare their acts as irreligious is the church to which they owe allegiance. As long as that approval exits, the acts can be illegal, inhuman, unreasonable or even psychopathic but they certainly are not irreligious. Faith has its own dialectics and jurisprudence from which a terrorist draws legitimacy for his actions. Wherever and whenever the source of this legitimacy emanates from religion, and is not declared as an act of an apostate by institutional mechanism of the religion, it is religious terrorism. Illustratively, to a question whether Eric Robert Rudolf, bomber of Atlanta Olympic in 1966, belonging to Army of God, was a religious terrorist or not, Michael Barkun, Professor of Political science at Syracuse University and a consultant to the FBI on Christian extremist groups held the view that, “Rudolf can legitimately be called a Christian terrorist”.3 Ku Klux Klan, with an unmistakable protestant identity, for nearly hundred years carried out acts of terror in the name of religion to achieve certain political objectives, but was always accepted as a Christian terrorist group. Significantly, the end came not as much by the efforts of the FBI and the police as by the initiatives of the Christian Church leaders to oppose the violent cult. Martin Luther King Jr., who spearheaded the Civil Rights Movement, was a Baptist minister. He insisted on ‘personal responsibility in fostering peace’.4 The formulation that terrorism has no religion precludes the responsibility of religious leaders and religion’s institutional mechanism to share responsibility. It makes the problem an exclusive responsibility of the coercive instruments of the state. This leads to violence being countered by higher violence generating a spiral effect, which may not serve the long term interests of the society best. Such myths advanced by politically correct, unreasonably optimistic or willfully ignorant, hence, do not appear to be sustainable.
As long as the Jehadis believe their actions to be as per the injunctions of Islam and the Islamic clergy does not frontally challenge and prove them wrong, Jehadi terrorism will deserve to be treated and tackled as religious terrorism. The response of the Islamic clergy against top terrorist killers has not been a fraction as severe as against Salman Rushdies, Taslima Nasreen and their likes who were excommunicated from Islam and fatwas were issued for their extermination. No such fatwa has been issued against any terrorist. The response of non- commitment that ‘Terror has no Religion’ only gives religious space to the terrorists, they so desperately need for their existence.
Secondly, the predominant motivation of religious extremists is to serve the political cause of their religion and not their spiritual salvation. The religion provides that psychic motivation to kill, or be killed, without any compunction. Devoid of this, no ordinary human being of prudence will undertake the suicide missions and cause concomitant pain and suffering to the innocents to please the ‘True God’. To understand the psychological phenomenon what is important is not the view of those who suffer but the self-view of those who carry out depredations in the name of religion. Daily Mail of London in its issue of 2nd July, 2007 brought out an interesting revelations by Hassan Butt, who till recently was a member of Al Qaeda affiliated Al-Muhajiroun in London. Butt observed, “We used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy”.5 He added, “Though many British extremists are angered by the deaths of fellow Muslims across the world, what drove me and many others to plot acts of terror within Britain and abroad was a sense that we were fighting for the creation of a revolutionary worldwide Islamic state that would dispense Islamic justice”.5 Providing an insight into terrorists religious dispensation of the terrorist mind he averred that, “The foundation of extremist reasoning rests upon a model of the world in which you are either a believer or an infidel… The Islamic jurists have set down rules of interaction between Dar ul Islam (the land of Islam) Dar ul Kufr (the land of unbelievers) to cover almost every matter of trade, peace and war. What radicals and extremists do is to take these two-steps further. Their first step is to argue that, since there is no pure Islamic state, the whole world is Dar ul Kufr. This reclassification of the globe.allows any Muslim to destroy the sanctity of the five rights that every human is granted under Islam: life, wealth, land, mind and belief. In Dar ul Harb, (land of war) anything goes, including the treachery and cowardice of attacking civilians.”5
It is interesting that even the secular modern states, who proclaim that terrorists have no religion, provide those services and facilities as per their claimed religion either in jail or if killed in action. Those very coreligionists who declare that ‘terror has no religion’, rally around to protest against alleged religious persecution if they find any of the religious facilities wanting. Except the terrorists who take an honest position of being religious fighters (Mujahedeens), the inherent dichotomy in the position of others is indefensible. If the world is facing religious terrorism let it be faced as such and solutions found taking the reality as it exists and not as it is wished to be.
Do Religious Traditions Provide Space To Justify Terrorism?
No religion justifies terrorism, in terms of the ingredients associated with it in moral context, is correct in a subjective framework. There is plenty in each religion which can be quoted against cruelty, killing of or inflicting injury on the innocents, causing wanton destruction etc. The problem arises when drawing from the same or equally authentic and impeccable sources, the opposite can also be justified. Contestants take subjective positions, deliberately or otherwise, which are in consonance with their self interests, predispositions or psychological fixations and then find religious justifications to rationalise their actions. This begs an objective examination of how much space different religions provide, if any, in support of violence which is inhumanly cruel, can be directed against the innocents, and target people for having a faith and belief system in variance of their own. It is no definition of modern day terrorism; actually there exists none-despite all the noise about its being the gravest threat faced by the modern civilized world and collective global effort to combat it. The underlying problem in finding an acceptable definition has been more political than intellectual; each involved entity wanting to fine-cut a definition which sub serves its interests, immediate or potential. Without getting into the semantics, it would be worthwhile examining if religions do provide any space where such indiscriminate and inhuman violence can be justified. If such violence can be justifiable there is every possibility of terrorists exploiting it to validate their actions.
Wars and violence in the name of religion is an established historical reality and thus part of religious history of most of the religions. If we consider use of ‘illegal violence’ as a binding ingredient of terrorism, probably some of the most inhuman atrocities committed will not qualify to be treated as terrorist acts since they were not in violation of the laws of their times and lands where they were perpetrated. However, in the evolutionary process of civilisations, while some religions transformed themselves with the changing needs of the society few were relatively slow to change. If in the moral jurisprudence, legality is taken as procedural and not substantive part of terrorism probably most of the religious traditions could be found guilty of indulging in religious terrorism in one form the other.
All religious traditions have a concept of just war to be waged in pursuit of what is believed to be true, not by reason but by faith, when ordained by institutionalized religious apparatus. Radicals position themselves as upholders of social and political ethics and, from their point of view; it is not that religion has become political but politics which has become irreligious that needs catharsis.
Just war concept was not only exclusive to expansionist and proselytizing faiths but more so in respect of non-proselytizing pacifist religions. What, however, distinguished the two were the ends for which just wars could be waged (Jus ad bellum) and the means that could be employed (Jus in bell). A comparative study of the means and ends of the just war becomes essential to understand the ideological underpinnings of the modern day religious terrorists since the terrorists try to draw their inspirations and legitimacy from these religious sources. The subjectivity aspect of terrorist phenomenon also needs to be factored in. All terrorist groups at ideological plane condemn terrorism and emphasize strong disapproval of their religion against it. They concurrently, characterize acts of adversaries as terrorist acts, retaliation against which, they feel, is not only permitted but ordained by their religion as a sacred duty. A terrorist considers his acts to be part of a just war. He perceives himself to be a religious warrior engaged in a just war against the enemies of his ‘True God’ and his ‘True Religion’.
A study of the role and place of terror in religion has two distinct aspects. One, the space, if any, that the religion in ideological domain provides to justify terror and two religious histories, which are cited as religious precedents, particularly when associated with the lives of Prophets and other holy men.
In Judeo-Christian tradition, waging of war to achieve religious and political objectives through a just war is approved. In Christianity, a just war, however, must be (a) exercised as a last resort when other peaceful means have been exhausted, (b) it can be declared only on the approval of legitimate authority, (c) ultimate goal of just war is to promote the cause of religion and (d) use of violence should be proportionate. In practice, these rules have, however, been often violated. As observed by, Christopher Tyerman in ‘God’s War: A New History of the Crusades’ and supported by many other authoritative sources on the subject, “Like many religions, Christianity has seen historic periods where some of the faithful and their leaders have resorted to terrorism, such as incidents during the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Reformation. In recent periods, examples of Christian terrorism are overwhelmingly tied to individuals and small groups”.6 Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant Reformation in Christianity said, “It is both Christian and an act of love to kill the enemy without hesitation, to plunder burn and injure him by any method until he is conquered”.7 As far as historical precedents are concerned, mony examples can be quoted of use of violence against the innocents, faith killings, inhuman cruelties etc.
Islam, essentially being a warrior religion and its early ascendancy being significantly attributable to political and military actions, had more strident and specific rules of engagements against religious adversaries. Unlike Christianity, where very little can be attributed to Christ in use of violence against the opponents or defining the rules and ethics of war, prophet Mohammad himself a military commander laid considerable emphasis on this issue as per the setting of his times. Besides Quran, many of the rules are contained in the Hadith, sayings attributed to Prophet Mohammad that postdate Quran. Some of the major doctrines of warfare include:
(a) Exhorting the Muslims to fight in the name of Allah but not to exceed the limits i.e. disproportionate use of force was not approved.Quran said, “Fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits” (2.190).
(b) Revenge killing was approved. Referring to non conformist opponents, it was said that “Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution be severer than slaughter” (2.191).
(c) No mercy was recommended towards non-believers as they were considered obstacles in Allah’s way. It was ordained “when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite their necks until when you have overcome them”.
While in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions violence was approved to achieve, mutually intertwined, politico- religious objectives, in Eastern religious traditions it was justified only to uphold Dharma (the eternal laws sustaining the creation of Supreme reality) and not to provide political support to the religion or the reverse. Torked Brekke elucidating this fundamental difference of approach, in his highly scholastic ‘Ethics of War in Asian Civilisation –A Comparative Perspective’, observed that “Classical Islam gives criteria for just war which are similar to those found in the Christian tradition, Hinduism on the other hand has been seen as completely alien in its theoretical treatment of war and warfare. Hinduism comes out radically different from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic family of religions”.8 Elaborating, he adds, “Killing for mundane goals was always forbidden according to the dominant ethical tradition of Hinduism”.8 Prof. Francis X. Coolney of Harvard University corroborates the same view in his study of wars in comparative religions. In his research paper, Coolney brings three basic elements of Hindu warfare viz. (a) “killing for mundane goals is always forbidden”, (b) “intending harm is always condemned”, and “no war by base motives and energized by malice towards the others”9 is justified.
Hindu missionaries did not accompany or were followed by marching armies. As early as the 4th Century BC Megasthense, a Greek Ambassador to an Indian court, in his diary observed, “Whereas among other nations it (destruction) is used, in the contests of war, to ravage the soil and thus to reduce it to an uncultivable waste, among the Indians, on the contrary, by whom husbandmen are regarded as a clan that is sacred and inviolable. The tillers of the soil, even when battle is raging, are undisturbed by any sense of danger. The combatants on either side in waging the conflict make carnage of each other, but allow those engaged in husbandry to remain quite unmolested. Besides, they never revenge enemy’s land with fire nor cut down its trees”.10 The treatment of war and conflicts in Hindu theology thus precluded possibility of religious justification for any indiscriminate violence or terror against religious or other adversaries. This is duly reflected in India’s record-one of the most ancient civilisations that rarely went for conquests or carried its sword to advance its political or religious interests.
Even when some practitioners of state craft, particularly Kautilya, in the wake of foreign aggressions in 300BC, came out with new state craft doctrines advocating means which were not in consonance with Dharma to protect sovereign interests of the state, he failed to get religious approval for the same. Rejected by the Hindu theologians, he failed to make any worthwhile dent on aggregate Hindu psyche. Kadimbini Bhatt a noted Hindu saint and scholar of Sixth century AD lambasted Kautilya for his unethical formulations and declared his teachings to be blasphemous.
This largely explains why oriental religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism etc., even when at their zenith, with no major religions to compete, did not opt for political conquests or holy wars to expand their empires or propagate their religions.
The postulates which bolster intolerance or provide scope for violent actions on religious grounds thereby giving ideological justifications to terrorism can be summed up as under;
(a) The concept of chosen people – People belonging to a particular faith believing themselves to be divinely privileged to the exclusion of others.
(b) The concept of True and False gods - The belief that only the ‘God’ worshipped by oneself and the co- religionists is true while the ‘Gods’ worshipped by others are false. It is religious and a service to the true God to destroy the false gods and their worshippers.
(c) Concept of martyrdom – The belief that the world is coming to an end and the martyrs, who die fighting for the religion, will be rewarded for their sacrifices in the world or the life hereafter. It creates a desire for deviant martyrdom, a keenness to die for killing others, making people psychologically dangerous for the society;
(d) Revelations are divine, infallible and unchangeable- Even suggesting or talking about any change on ordained matters is blasphemous. The concept of Ijitihad (Process of making a legal decision by independent interpretation) was highly restricted and confined to areas of Islamic law, social relationships, economic practices etc. and not in respect of religious postulates like Jehad (religious war), Kufr(non believing), Shahadat (martyrdom etc.) as they derive their authority from Quran. In any case, even the doctrine of Ijitihad imperative had fallen in disuse after eleventh century. As Toynbe asserted, when cultures limit variability and diversity, they lose their capacity to adapt to changing circumstances;12
(e) Bond of religious solidarity subsuming all other bonds of human relationships- the religious identity subsumes all other identities and, irrespective of merits, one was duty bound to stand by his coreligionist in any conflict with followers of other religions. Higher the stranglehold hold of these elements on any religion greater has been its inflexibility, fanaticism and propensity for violence.
Historically, different religions had different traditions of response to; (a) Challenges confronted - physical and ideological; and (b) Dynamics of change-political, economic, social, technological etc. These two paradigms to a large extent are intertwined and the response in one area has conditioned the other. Modernity emphasized individualism, political and economic competition, and moral benchmarks dictated by self interest. Colonial imperialism was a manifestation of this phenomenon so was defining new jurisprudence formulated to regulate the world order, including rules of war and peace, trade and commerce, international relations and human rights. Christian West, the dominant player, crafted these rules which sub served their interests. This constituted a challenge to others- either to change or to confront. Those unwilling to comply constituted challenge to the West. Religions which displayed greater flexibility and propensity to change and were able to integrate new variables depicted faster progress while the confrontationists were able to preserve their pristine fundamentals more zealously. Religions which, responded to challenges by adopting orthodoxy also developed a seize mentality while others suffered weakening of religious institutions and their hold over the community.
As Muslims were the dominant power of the pre- industrial era, they faced the challenge most acutely. Looking backwards, they responded trying to find solutions in their past and relying on their fundamentals. Islamic societies for reasons religious, historical and internal power dynamics found it difficult to opt for change to modernity. There was a tendency to turn its gaze “to the glorious past”. It was considered to be the only way to the glorious future – both before and after the death. As observed by Lauren Langman and Douglas Morris of Loyola University in their research paper, “In the face of various assaults or challenges to Islam, from the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols to the Inquisition and expulsion from Spain, and more recently the decline of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th Century, Islamic societies and leaders repeatedly embraced more conservative positions… When the central scholarly community of Baghdad was destroyed by the Mongol invasion, a centre of liberal, diverse learning was lost. This happened again in the Iberian Peninsula…Progressive alternatives to Islam orthodoxy were lost. This resulted in retrenchment and cultural conservatism.”11 The fact that Islam as a religious movement, right from its inception, heavily emphasized its military dimension and its founder had to militarily subdue his adversaries to establish the supremacy of his divine revelations contributed in shaping Islam’s response to challenge. Because of asymmetry of power in the new dispensation, terrorism became the new mode of Islamic warfare to cope with the challenge.
In pursuit of its political and economic ambitions, West provided the causation and to defend itself, the hard line Muslims, defying geographical boundaries, responded by getting radicalized and opting for Jehad. It set in motion a vicious cycle of stimulant- response relationship each feeding on and aggravating the other. With availability of technology, money, and state support by some Islamic states, the phenomenon assumed dangerous proportions.
Religious terrorism, a genetic mutation of fanatic radicalism, has acquired a very special import in contemporary world as it threatens the individuals, civil societies nation states and modern civilisational values equally seriously. Following the post September 11, 2001, strikes, in last six years, the US estimates of fatalities due to international terrorism have been placed at 18,154, while those of domestic terrorism at 32,112.11 Though the norms adopted for compiling these statistics are questioned by some experts who feel that menace of terrorism faced by non-developed countries is not adequately reflected in these estimates, basic points of colossal loss of human lives by terrorism is undisputed. Religious terrorism accounted for bulk of terrorist incidents of violence and well over 60% of persons killed, making it the biggest killer in the present day world.
Islamic terrorism takes the major share of religious terrorism in terms of human lives lost and geographical area covered- extending to Americas, Europe, Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Central Asian Republics, Russia, South East Asia and Australia.
Though the current high intensity and vast expanse of Islamic terrorism is relatively new, symptoms of radicalisation started becoming apparent immediately following the fall of Ottoman Empire. If terrorism is not taken merely as gory details of terrorist depredations or back grounders of terrorist outfits and their leaders, but more importantly, a war of ideas which threatens modern civilisation and way of life, it becomes necessary to have a closer look at evolution of these ideas and the factors that shaped them.
Conflict Of Islamic Radicalism And Secular Humanism-Evolution And Causes
Islam within five hundred years of its birth held sway over Middle East, Caucuses, North Africa and parts of Europe, South Asia and South East Asia. By the end of twentieth century, its size had substantially shrunk, its military and political power degraded, and Muslims left far behind in their social, economic and economic progress. Rather than take responsibility for the fall and find the causes within, which militated against their faith system, they tried to find them outside. Muslims suspected a global conspiracy against them and a serious threat to their faith from western ideas and interpretations of democracy, secularism, socialism, rule of law etc. It was perceived that West in its ruthless pursuit of a political and economic agenda, was out to destroy Islam and hit at its fundamentals. After the First World War when the Western powers carved out of the Ottoman Empire small non-Muslims states under the Sykes-Picot Agreement, their fears got further strengthened. Radical secularisation of Turkey under Kamal Ataturk, who was inspired by rationalist and secular ideas of Zia Gokalp and the abolition of Caliphate were widely resented dubbing Attaturk as a Western stooge. The emergence of Bahai faith at the end of the nineteenth century was suspected to be a part of conspiracy to undermine Islam.
This started a debate within Islam; Why the Fall and what was The Remedy? The modernists attributed this decline to inability of Islam to keep pace with changing setting and environment and pleaded for fundamental changes to modernize the Islamic society. The radicals differed. They attributed departure from the original path, as shown by the Prophet and Shari’a, as the root cause and demanded going back to the fundamentals of ‘glorious past’ to achieve the ‘glorious future’. Both fundamentalists and terrorists today draw sustenance from the thought that modern society is rotting, and the cause of rot is drift from the only true God and religion which Muslims were ordained to establish-Nizam-e-Mustafa (the sovereignty of God). In their view, “The only lasting sustainable solution lies in turning to the word of God in its purest form – the Quran and Sunna. Muslims must turn to the original core texts and interpret them in a way that makes them relevant to the needs of today”.12 As Islam historically when threatened, has tended to embrace orthodoxies laying emphasis on Jehad-fight to defend the faith, expectedly, fundamentalists opted for this route.
Moderate thinkers, such as Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, felt that Islam’s problems were consequented by superstitious beliefs and unscientific practices which had crept in the medieval times. They wanted Islam to adopt western-style scientific education, relate social progress to the betterment of the common man and acquire scientific temper. The medieval Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) was considered to be unfit to meet new requirements of the society and the individuals. They also advocated disconnect between worldly and spiritual matters wanting the religion to confine itself to religious matters.
They faced stiff resistance from the conservative Islamic clergy. Western educated moderates were dubbed as puppets in the hands of western powers- who failed to exert enough to assert themselves and opted for the policy of calculated non-confrontation leaving free space to the Islamic conservatives in religious matters. Well established in the fields of politics, trade, education, high skill professions etc., they developed a vested interest in avoiding confrontation with the Ulema’s (Scholars of Islam-usually including the clergy) whose rancor threatened to weaken their standing in the Community.
Muslim Brotherhood, A fundamentalist organisation, inspired by the teachings of Ibn-Taymiyya, an eighteenth century ideological successor to Mohammad Ibn Abu Al-Wahhab, was formed in Egypt in 1928. Some Muslims, owing allegiance to Muslim Brotherhood, spearheaded a violent campaign against the British opposing their presence in Egypt in violation of 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty. The Movement waned and waxed and gradually lost its momentum but was soon replaced by its more strident successors. In early fifties, Sayyid Qutub emerged as the group’s principle ideologue who propagated that the decline of Islamic world “could be reversed” only if a small group of real Muslims emulated the ways of the Prophet Muhammad and worked to “replace the existing governments in Muslim lands with Islamic ones”.15
Qutub’s ideology brought about radical redefinition of Islamic postulates in modern context. He advocated establishment of a true Islamic society based on Quran and Shari’a in which every Muslim was required to submit only to the will of Allah and not to the man or the laws made by him. He proclaimed that the way to bring about this transformation was only through Jehad. He announced Jehad was “Islam’s tool to exercise it divinely – ordered right to step forward and establish political authority on earth. Islam had the right to attack and destroy all obstacles in the form of institutions and traditions if it was required to release mankind from their pernicious influence and to engage in Jehad for this purpose”.14 Qutub characterized secularisation of law, philosophy of socialism, liberalism and modernisations as un-Islamic and tools of oppression. He justified Jehad against them. Qutub’s ideology had a seminal affect on Islamic extremist thought. Though he was tried and executed in 1966, his followers made him a martyr and he became an inspirational icon for later day radicals and terrorists. Every Islamic terrorist movement today swears by Qutub’s ideology. No credible school of Islamic theologians in last half a century has come forward to seriously contest his formulations.
At the political front, following the Second World War, nationalist struggle for independence began in many parts of the world including Muslim societies. However, while in non-Muslim societies, it remained a secular political initiative, in newly independent Muslim states, like Pakistan, Egypt, Algeria etc, it got intertwined with religious identity of the people and the mullah. Even moderate Islamic political leaders considered it tactically expedient to play the religious card, unmindful of its long term consequences. This led to religion becoming central to the polity of these countries, providing space to the radicals to expand their influence. The moderate political leaders, though in private, were contemptuously critical of their teachings, publicly never wanted to be seen on wrong side of the Ulema’s. They also provided financial and other state support to these institutions who started producing a new breed of radicals and potential foot soldiers for Jehad.. All this gave legitimacy and dedicated support base to the radicals which had long term political and security implications. s
The economic interests of West in the Middle East, particularly after the oil boom, made them not only to overlook but even strengthen unpopular, non-democratic regimes whom they could manipulate with ease to sub serve their economic interests. Most of these regimes for their survival at home were dependent on the conservative Islamic clergy and used them to counter the moderates and pro-democratic elements by dubbing them as un-Islamic. In the dichotomy that ensued, while the secular West was busy through theocratic dictatorial regimes manipulating its foreign and economic policies internally the conservative radical forces, opposed to democracy, secularism and pluralism were getting strengthened. The people in power while subservient to the West when outside the country were critical of them at home to curry favour with the conservatives. Emergence of religious institutions and madrassas at large scale, was another supporting factor in rise of radicalism.
The creation of Israel, without adequately addressing the Palestinian question and adjusting the refugees, proved to be the biggest contributory factor in growth of Islamic radicalism. It caused wide spread alienation among the Muslims throughout the world.
The Soviets finding Palestine issue strategically advantageous to extend its influence and add to West’s discomfiture, developed linkages with Palestinian hard line groups opting for resolution of conflict through violence. It selectively equipped and trained them to bleed the West. This provided Islamic extremist access to modern weapons, tactics, and expertise to engage regular professional forces in unconventional warfare, an expertise for which all had to pay a heavy price later.
Lastly, US response to the marching Soviet troops in Afghanistan in 1979; was a critical development in the evolution of modern Islamic terrorism. Mobilising Muslim youth from all over the world in the name of Jehad, equipping, training and logistically supporting them to fight the Soviets had four important adverse consequences;
(a) It brought about a physical interface and unity among scattered radicals at global level, later developing into a global net working and the consequent menace of international terrorism;
(b) The trained and religiously motivated Jehadis on return to their homelands after the Afghan war created modules of terror in their native countries;
(c) It validated the radical doctrine that Jehad, which was blessed by ‘Allah’, could subdue the mightiest. Victory of Jehad not only vanquishing a super power but eventually leading to its dismemberment and freeing of Islamic Central Asia came as a great moral booster to the Jehadis;
(d) Pakistan, a highly unstable Islamic state with nuclear capabilities, saw in Jehadis a potent force which could be effectively leveraged for asymmetric warfare and achieving its politico-military objectives. It patronized the new soldiers of Islam using it with a politico-military agenda in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Central Asia etc. The spill over effect was soon to be felt all over the world including the West.
Salafi Terrorism-The Eminent Threat
Most of the Islamic terrorism that the world is experiencing today- in the West, Arab countries, South Asia or South East Asia- is the Salafi variety of Jehad. Salafism represents a Sunni Islamic School of thought that is credited to an eighteenth century ideologue of Saudi Arabia named Muhammad Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab. It was later refined and perfected by Scholars of al-Azhar University in Egypt, notable among them being Muhammad Abduh Jamal-al-Din-al-Afghani and Rashid Rida. Salafis insist on reverting to the conduct followed by pious ancestors (Salaf) of the early period of Islam. They believe Islam was perfect and flawless during the days of Prophet Muhammad but undesirable innovations and impurities crept over the period of time. They all had to be identified and discarded. The School is thus opposed to any change and innovations and highly inflexible and orthodox in its approach.
Though its original home was Middle East and it largely remained confined there for many decades. Of late, its spatial growth in Sunni dominated areas all around the world has been notable. For rootless immigrants and disaffected second-generation youth in Europe, the attraction of the authentic Salafism as a way to differentiate from others-as it is seen to be pure and stripped of the local superstitions, conferring a status of moral superiority.21 One of the main political objectives of the Salafis is establishment of Islamic caliphate which could establish the sovereignty of Allah. The concept of caliphate is totally rejected by the Shias-Shia ideologues have their own interpretations of ideal Islamic world order, which create a different variety of radicalism and poses a different genre of conflicts with its own implications. The present day threat predominantly emanates from Sunni-extremism. Sunnis constitute over 80% of the world Muslim population, have widely dispersed global spread and exclusively contribute to the Salafi ranks, who believe in Islamic universality, allowing no local diversions.
Sunni revivalists of the caliphate idea include Hizb-ut-Tahir, a major radical Pan Islamic outfit which has its presence in over 45 countries. In Central Asia they stand for establishment of an Islamic state from Black sea to Xinziang in China. Similarly, an idea of a united Islamic state in South East Asia comprising of Indonesia, Malaysia, Southern Thailand, Parts of Philippines and other adjoining areas is envisaged. Similar vision is harbored for South Asian countries and many other parts of the world. All these new gains, through Jehad, integrated with Islamic world are envisaged to be part of the Islamic caliphate. It may be mentioned that during prophet Mohammad’s time, Arabia had no state and the Quran does not speak of any Islamic state as such. The notion of caliphate is of much later origin and came into existence only after the death of Prophet Mohammed. Salafis stretch the concept of Islamic Umma to mean a united Islamic Sovereign political entity rather than unity of Islamic people that it meant. Political consolidation, they consider is necessary for enforcing the divine laws of Quran the examples of Prophet (Shria), Islamic laws (fiqh) etc. Their conflict with notions of modernity likes democracy, Secularism, equality before law, human rights etc, is fundamental and irreconcilable. They consider that egalitarianism of Islam provides sufficient space to meet all human needs – both physical and spiritual.
The spread of Salafi philosophy has given a quantum jump to Islamic radicalism and concomitant terrorism. It has provided a new breed of radicals and foot soldiers for Jehad with a fire power and geographical expanse never known to any religion, including Islam, in history. The role of ideology in Salafi-Jehadi terror is multi-functional and intertwined to social and political processes. For a Salafi Jehadi the strategic objective is not only creating liberated Shari’a zones but perpetration of Jehad itself and attainment of martyrdom. The ideology both expresses and reinforces a culture of self martyrdom as a strategic good in itself giving rise to phenomenon like suicide terrorism. Salafis consider themselves as Al Taifa-al Mansoura (the victorious group) who alone would be saved at the end of time. They are critical of moderate Salafis who only believe in it ideologically but are unwilling to participate in Jehad, and label them as Margi’eb (prevaricators). This fraternity reaches its apogee in combat and revolves around the common pursuit of martyrdom.16 The promise of brotherhood and its associated group is essential component of the recruitment process, especially for Jehadis in the West.17 In its most extreme form, Salafi “parallelism” can be found in the concept of ‘takfiri’, separation from all elements of society outside their cells. In this concept exclusion both of Muslims and non-Muslims is legitimate and not apostate. This permits the targeting of everyone outside the group, Muslims and non-Muslims for violence.18 The Salafi terrorist ideology creates an obligation for physical Jehad as Bin Laden wrote “the most important religious duty –after belief itself- is to ward off and fight the enemy. Jehad is obligatory now for the Islamic nation, which is in a state of sin unless it gives its sons to maintain Jehad.19
Spatial Growth And Expanse
The above dialectic of Islamic terrorism renders a geographical theatre analysis meaningless. For them, the whole world is a single entity where Nizam-e-Mustafa (the Sovereignty of Allah) has to be established. Briefly, a geographical analysis has to be understood factoring in the following constraining factors:
(a) At ideological plane, the Jehadis consider the areas, where the sovereignty of Allah does not exist as Dar-ul-Harb. Here wars have to be fought to convert or kill to establish Islam. In the Islamic regimes, wars have to be fought to enforce the laws laid down by Quran, Shari’a, etc. This practically extends their arch of action to the entire world.
(b) Emergence of International Islamic Front for Jehad under the over-arching leadership of Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda has brought in ideological unity and global networking among Islamic extremist of various hues. The call of global Jehad cutting across nationalities, ethnicity, language culture etc., renders boundaries of nation states meaning- less. It has converted Al Qaeda from a terrorist outfit to an Islamic movement with no formal structure and centralized control but as a global motivator for terror and violence;
(c) Modern technology and revolution in informatics has enabled the terrorists to communicate with ease, facilitate flow of funds to each other, access common sources of terrorist hardware and draw upon human resources from a wide catchments area. In this scenario, state specific threat assessment or response strategy has become difficult. Geographic boundaries are part of the problem and not solution;
(d) Even where institutionalised linkages do not exist, perception of common enemy and ideological commonality reinforces group psychology which binds them in a common bond to think globally even when acting locally. There are various nuanced inter-linkages which are difficult to define but dangerous to ignore. There are very few experts today who can claim full knowledge of all the groups operating, their inter relationship and areas of cooperation. A terrorist of any area is a potential threat to any other part of the world.
Despite these limitations, as different regions have their own peculiarities, their own set of functional terrorist groups, have differing response systems etc, a geographical analysis becomes necessary.
Middle East
Middle East is not only the birth place of Islam but also of modern Islamic radicalism from where it spread its tentacles to new areas and mutated to take the form of global terrorism. This later engulfed new areas and graduated to full blown terrorism with global security implications. The festering Palestine issue has been central to Muslim religious leadership, intellectuals, politicians and laymen, cutting across national, sectarian, ethnic and denominational identities. Many militant groups from Palestine and other Middle Eastern Islamic countries targeted Israel to carve out the state of Palestine, which was deemed by them to be their legitimate struggle, and continue to do so.
After the conclusion of US backed peace plan it was expected that the peace will ensue and violence will abate. However, with road blocks surfacing in the peace plan, these hopes have been belied and violence has again escalated. The terrorist groups which currently are in the forefront of militant action include Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement), Palestinian Islamic Jehad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hezbollah. Their targets include government facilities, Israelis security forces and the civilians.
Hamas, Palestine’s major Muslim fundamentalist movement and terrorist outfit, has been primarily active in Gaza Strip and West Bank, where its armed wing has been striking. Besides, the armed wing, it has an extensive social service network which assists it in recruitment, intelligence gathering, and providing over-ground support to the armed cadres. Its social service network runs, mosques, health care clinics, orphanages, sports clubs etc. Its declared charter endorses armed struggle to establish supremacy of Islam, destruction of Israel, and establishment of an Islamic State on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. During last five years Hamas has been increasingly resorting to suicide attacks, targeting Israelis civilians and military establishments, leading to sharp escalation in casualties and damage to properties. It is well organised, financially strong and by its armed actions has been able to create wide spread fear-psychosis in the civil population. Though Hamas’s official membership is unknown, the intelligence agencies place the figure of their armed wing, over ground activists and active supporters in tens of thousands.
Palestinian Islamic Jehad (PIJ), like Hamas, is committed to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian State and the destruction of Israel. It is strongly anti-West, holding it responsible for the present plight of Palestinians and persecution of Muslims. Though small, it is better knit and organised; enabling it to undertake some meticulously planned terrorist operations inflicting high casualties. Since 2002, it has upped its ante of violence, particularly against Israeli civilian targets like city buses, shopping malls and cafeterias.
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is active mainly in West Bank and is affiliated to Al-Fateh, which claims to be a secular Palestinian nationalist movement but maintains links with armed Islamic organisations. The political objective of the group is to drive away the Israeli Army and Jewish settlers from West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem through an armed struggle and to establish an independent a Palestinian State.
Hezbollah, a Shia terrorist group with quarter of a century long history of terrorist actions, mainly operates from its bases in Lebanon and enjoys full support of Iran. Led by Lebanese based Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and Imad Fayez Mugniyah, who in terrorist circles is considered a legendary terrorist commander and operator are prime targets of Israel and the West. Mugniyah, variously reported as Hezbollah’s operational chief, security chief, chief of international operations and commander of Islamic Resistance (Hezbollah’s armed wing), has master minded series of highly sophisticated and daring terrorist operation in Middle East and much beyond- bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina, bombing of US embassy in Lebanon killing sixty three people, attack on US marine and French paratroopers in Beirut leaving 141 dead, being illustrative. Palestine cause is a passion with Mugniyah and recently he agreed to assist Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jehad to recruit foreign nationals’ capable of infiltrating into Israel. Despite being a Shia, in Sunni terrorist circles he is highly admired by all; Osama himself being his great fan. Mugniyah’s meeting with Osama Bin Laden in mid- nineties is on record and it is known that Osama sought his help in building up Al Qaeda’s international strike capabilities. Mugniyah agreed to train and provide expertise to Al Qaeda Mujahedeens in handling of explosives and planning secret operations in exchange for money. His extremely close links to Iranian establishment are well known, who besides financing provide the group with logistic assistance like use of government air crafts to its leaders for visiting Lebanon.
Fateh-al Islam, a Sunni Islamists group with activists from Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria, of late, has come to notice for undertaking terrorist operations, particularly in Lebanon. The organisation stands for organizing the Palestinian Refugees community in-line with Shari’a Law and building resistance against Israel. The outfit first surfaced in November, 2006 when it split from Fateh Al-Intifada, a Syria backed Palestinian group. It is strongly suspected of its secret links with Syrian Intelligence. The group gained provenance in May, 2007 when it got engaged in series of clashes with the Lebanese Security Forces. The organisation is reported to be linked with Al Qaeda and had been working in tandem with the outfit of slain Jordanian born terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi. Palestine Liberation Front and Asbat Al Ansar, are other two active terrorist outfits, the later primarily operating in Lebanon demanding strict enforcement of Islamic laws.
Following, American intervention leading to ouster of Saddam Hussain, Iraq has emerged as the bloodiest battle field of conflict between hegemonic power ambition and religion- inspired violent retaliation. Initially, it was estimated to remain a political power struggle between pro and anti Saddam forces with manageable religious overtones. But like many other assumptions, this too was to be proved wrong. Religious fury has now dominated the engagement, both anti US and among rival sectarian Muslims groups, relegating the political players to the margin. Iraqi civil society which hardly has the tradition of religious orthodoxy, has presently been totally eclipsed by the warring religious and tribal sentiments with political, economic, nationalist, and social issues taking a back seat.
Like most of the developments on terrorist front, both in this region and beyond, Al Qaeda’s resurrection has been the most disquieting feature. In Iraq too, after some initial hesitations, it entrenched itself quite deeply and decisively despite some inherent disadvantages like a large Shia population, Al Qaeda being under heavy pressure in Afghanistan and serious beating its terrorist infrastructure received following Sept 11, 2001 strikes. It maneuvered the situation to its advantage by forging alliances with high potential local groups, even where it had substantial differences with them on ideological issues or strategic objectives. In this marriage of convenience, all were right allies as long as they treated US and its allies as their enemies and were prepared to declare Jehad against them. Attracted by Osama’s larger than life image and the crafty alliances that he forged, many groups rallied under Al Qaeda’s banner and soon occupied center stage position. The declared political objective of Al Qaeda in Iraq is to topple the US supported “Un-Islamic Shiite puppet regime” and restore Sunni domination. But more importantly, its strategic objective is to bleed, punish, and discredit US and hopes that West’s engagement in Iraq will swell the ranks of Jehadis and enhance their standing in the Islamic world. It feels that inflicting unaffordable losses on America will make its claim of sole super power look ridiculous to the doubting Muslims giving rise to a new phase of Muslims resistance to the West. They also assess tactical setbacks to US, if sustained, will generate mutual dissensions among their allies, create domestic compulsions at home for them, and lead to reduction of pressure on the Jehadis in different theaters of the world. In Iraq, all perceived supporters of US-politicians, security personnel, suspected spies and government functionaries besides members of rival religious sects are on their radar, leaving very few out of the danger zone. Al Qaeda was responsible for the attack on Golden Mosque in Samarra, a sacred Shiite shrine, which triggered off most vicious Sunni-Shia clashes.
The outfit has large number of non-Iraqi volunteers from Algeria, Yemen, Syria and Saudi Arabia engaged in Jehad under Al Qaeda banner. Structurally, they are not under a unified command nor the tactical operations are coordinated. The terrorist actions, decentralized and localized, are out sourced to local Islamic outfits, tribal outlaws having their private armies, sectarian and religious leaders controlling various Mosques, and the criminal elements. The indulgence of Al Qaeda in complex local level Iraqi politics has also a down side as it has earned them many enemies and Zarkawi’s death is attributed to the local rivalries leading to his betrayal.
Tanzim Qaedat Al-Jehad Fi-Bilad is an important terrorist network active in Iraq. Floated by Zarkawi and closely linked to Al Qaeda, the organisations works in tandem with other local groups like, ‘Islamic State of Iraq’, an umbrella group of Sunni insurgent outfits formed in 2006. ‘Islamic Army of Iraq’, a Sunni-led group with over 15,000 activists has been responsible for large number of attacks against US forces.
The ‘1920 Revolution Brigade’, named after 1920 uprising against British colonial occupation of Iraq is another terrorist outfit sharing military objective of driving out foreign forces from Iraq and establishing an Islamic state. It specializes in use of Improvised Explosive Devices and has been responsible for a large number of roadside explosions as also mortar and rocket attacks in West of Baghdad. The group maintains close liaison with ‘Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq’, a grouping of Sunni scholars who are opposed to West’s intervention in Iraq. ‘Ansar Al-Suna’, a Sunni Salafi group, active in Central Iraq and ‘Ansar Al Islam’, active in North-East Iraq, also deserve a special mention for series of violent actions executed by them in the recent past. Most of these groups though maintain close ties with Al Qaeda, retain their decisional autonomy and ideological stance..
In addition to the groups’ active in Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and now Iraq, there are many other local Islamic outfits having their cells in other parts of Middle East. Al Qaeda has its modules and sympathizers in many of the Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The organisation is opposed to the present Saudi Royalty and wants total withdrawal of US troops from there. Middle East also is an important source of financing for Al Qaeda, though after post Sept. 2001, with the tightening of control on terrorist financing through multilateral international effort, there is discernible drop. It is now mostly being routed through Pakistanis settled abroad, who regularly remit funds to Pakistan from where they find their way to North Western tribal area and Afghanistan.
Egypt has not only been a premier seat of Islamic learning but also a hub center of providing ideological leadership to the Islamic world. Salafi Islam and its doctrines were evolved in Al-Azhar University of Cairo in late nineteenth century, which today form the basis of Salafi terrorism. The first reaction to termination of caliphate was felt in Egypt with the formation of Islamic Brotherhood in 1928, which can be considered as first among the modern radical organisations. Though over the years, Islamic Brotherhood has undergone lot of transformation and has fallen from grace among the hard line terrorists for its alleged soft stance, it played a vital role in the early years in nurturing Islamic radicalism and influencing the minds of those who were to provide radical leadership in years to come. Terrorist groups, however, were not able to develop deep routes in Egypt because of strong counter-terrorism policy pursued by different Egyptian governments, right from the time of President Naseer. Groups like Gamaa Al Islamia, which stands for over-throwing Egyptian government and establishment of an Islamic rule, and ‘Egyptian Islamic Jehad’ another Sunni militant group continue to have their presence and influence in the country. Some groups aligned to Al Qaeda are also active and there hands in some recent terrorist cases is suspected.
Of late some other parts of North Africa are also getting sucked into the vortex of Islamic extremism. Most notable among these is Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). This Algeria based Sunni group has renamed itself as Al-Qaeda and owned up responsibility for series of terrorist actions after Al Zawahiri second–in-command of Al Qaeda declared the group’s allegiance to it on Sept. 11, 2006. The group, till recently, only seen to be a domestic insurgency group wanting to throw out the Military regime in Algeria has now graduated to a full fledged Salafi terrorist group, recently announcing its decision to send Mujahedeens to fight Americans in Iraq. In a January 2007 speech, Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud, Al Qaeda trained commander of the organisation announced objectives of the organisation to fight in Palestine, Iraq, Somalia and Chechnya.
South Asia
In the evolution of Islamic radicalism and terrorism South Asian countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh have a special import, both academic and empirical. The first two where the virus proliferated most abundantly and the third where it hit most lethally. Largest number of Muslims have fought and died in the name of Jehad from this region in the last quarter of a century and over two hundred Islamic extremist groups and Jehadi organisations of various hues and sizes still claim their existence, of which about a dozen deserve to be taken very seriously. Islamic terrorists who struck in different parts of the world in last one decade have had some link or the other with the region. However, while the first three have overwhelmingly contributed to the Jehadi ranks and their depredations, Indian Muslims, who are numerically largest, have by and large remained out of it. Though India, with over 40,000 civilians killed, is world’s biggest victim of Islamic terrorism, ironically, majority of those killed were Muslims falling prey to the bullets of their coreligionists from across the border. All the three states where Islamic radicals received state or civil society support are politically unstable, burdened with no or weak democracies, trapped in slow economic and social growth and seen as near failing states. More importantly, though theocratic Muslim states, they themselves are facing a virulent form of sectarian terrorism.
History and geography have conspired to make this region the single largest contributor to the growth of Islamic terrorism as also its major victim. To flush out the Soviets, Islamic zealots were brought from all parts of the Islamic world to Pakistan and Afghanistan forging a unity among those who shared northing in common but willingness to die for a cause they considered Islamic. This convergence, enabled by western powers, not only made a superpower to retreat and eventually fall apart but made Islamists aware of the potential of Jehad and force multiplication effect of networking. Its aftermath saw ascendancy of Taliban – recruited, trained, weaponized and militarily backed up by Pakistan an ally of the west. More sinisterly, Taliban, under Pak patronage, converted Afghanistan into a breeding ground for Islamic terrorists with training bases and infrastructural support to extremists from Turkey to Indonesia, Chechnya to China and Europe to Africa. It became the home of Al Qaeda and gave Islamists a geographical space to pursue their global agenda with impunity.
Counter terrorist military action against Taliban following post September 11, 2001events did shake it. There was, however, a strategic flaw in response pruning was mistaken for uprooting. Clandestine support from across the borders, failure to neutralize the top icons, Karzai’s handicapped governance, shift in West’s focus from Afghanistan to Iraq and duality of the frontline ally enabled Taliban and Al Qaeda to reclaim the lost ground. Today, Afghanistan is fast relapsing to its past. Al Qaeda has found new sanctuaries in lawless tribal areas of North West Pakistan and Baluchistan. Taliban influence has substantially increased in these areas where Pakistan Army is increasingly on the defensive. Heavy military casualties forced them to strike a dubious deal with Taliban’s in September, 2006 which enabled them to consolidate their position. The sanctuaries in Pakistan and lack of control on the borders enabled Taliban leaders to cross over to safe areas in Pakistan whenever under pressure from the NATO troops. Within Afghanistan the terrorist scenario has worsened and there is considerable increase in their striking capabilities. The incidents of attack on the government troops and the civilians have substantially increased. .
Following Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, many factors influenced Pakistan’s strategy and response towards Islamic terrorists. First, having discovered their strength and potential, it decided to hold and nurture them as integral, albeit deniable, instruments of its state apparatus. A subservient Taliban regime was installed in Afghanistan which besides achieving strategic depth against India was envisaged to work as Pakistan’s backyard for dirty tricks. The agenda included installing Taliban prototypes in the Central Asian Republics, reaching out to radical Islamic forces globally and leveraging them to Pakistan’s advantage in the politics of Islamic world. The second policy objective was to settle scores with India on Kashmir and avenge the humiliation of 1971. Pakistan decided to use the Jihadi forces at its command against its asymmetric adversary hoping to succeed where its earlier military adventures had failed. The Jehadis, the huge left over arsenal and the infrastructure to recruit, indoctrinate, train, equip and infiltrate the terrorists, was positioned to launch a covert offensive against India. The West, instead of coming to India’s help or force Pakistan to rollback the apparatus, underplayed India’s concerns. The fire looked too far and distant than it actually was. The prophetic warning to US Congress by the then Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee in October 2000 that ‘Distance and geography provide no nation immunity against international terrorism’ met with characteristic indifference. Pakistan soon became a nursery not only for terrorists who trained their guns on India but those who targeted the West, Arab world, Far-East and other Afro-Asian countries. Keen to extend its influence in unstable Islamic Central Asian Countries, Pakistan used Taliban to strengthen radicals hoping to establish Taliban type regimes there. Radiational effect of terrorism thus started advancing in all directions—India being worst hit due to Pakistan’s hostility and geographical proximity.
The other important factor that shaped events in Pakistan was September 11 attacks in US which overnight changed global perception of the threat. Pakistan could no longer support the Taliban and Al Qaeda as before. It made a tactical withdrawal and decided to cooperate with the West to the extent it was necessary to protect Pakistan’s strategic interests. In a dangerously calibrated response, it made queer deals and counter-deals with both the sides. September 5, 2006 agreement with the radicals in North-Waziristan, marketed to both sides as something done to favour them is illustrative. While Taliban used the dichotomy to their advantage, West lost valuable time and is still trying to decipher Pakistani intentions.
The third factor has been inexorable growth of sectarian violence within Pakistan among rival Islamic groups. Intertwined in a complex relationship of mutual collaborations and hostility, Pak intelligence had used them selectively but is now finding it difficult to live with its contradictions. For different reasons, different groups have turned against Musharraf though still receive some patronage on the quite down the line. Attempts on the life of President Musharraf, however, have led to head on collision and brought to the fore their threat to internal security.
Pakistan’s policy of ‘different strokes for different folks’ bracketing the terrorists in three broad categories viz., those targeting the West, those responsible for domestic violence and those hitting at India has created a confusion that Pakistan is finding difficult to cope with. The problem stands compounded because of convergence of anti-establishment elements under re-emerging Taliban and resurgent Al Qaeda. Classifying terrorists under different labels is proving to be both strategic and tactical mistake. Pakistan continues to be soft on the groups operating against India. Their top leaders live and move around in Pakistan freely, travel on Pakistani passports and run businesses with impunity. Though ISI controlled training camps, and other terrorist facilities have not been rolled back, greater discretion is exercised to achieve higher deniability.
The situation in Bangladesh has fast deteriorated after September 11, 2001, than is normally understood. When Pakistan and Afghanistan came under pressure, a good number of terrorists, reportedly with Pak intelligence support, found Bangladesh as safe haven. Using Islamic card for political gains, the Bangladeshi society stands highly radicalized—local groups working on the franchise of Pak-Afghan terrorist outfits including Al Qaeda. The collective strength of terrorist groups like Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami, Harkat-ul Ansar, and Okaye Jote etc. now is estimated in several thousands. While India is the principal target, the anti-US and anti-West outbursts are too shrill to be ignored. The proximity to arm bazaars of Pacific Rim countries has enabled them to procure sophisticated weapons and explosives. Illustratively, on April 2, 2004 at Chittagong port, 1,790 rifles, 150 rocket launchers, 2,700 grenades, one million rounds of ammunition etc. were seized while being loaded in ten trucks. The brother of then ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader owned the two trawlers who brought the consignment from Malaysia. The weapons, it is reliably learnt, had India as their destination.
South East Asia And China
After early 90’s South East Asia has emerged as another hub of contemporary phase of international Islamic terrorism. Jemiah Islamiyah, (JI) which came into existence in late seventies, as a non descript Islamist group has spread its tentacles in many area adopting a stridently militant posture. It aims at establishing a Pan-Islamic State consisting of Indonesia, Malaysia, Southern Phillipine and Southern Thailand. The group which has its cells in almost all these countries, and traces its routes to ‘Darul Islam’, a violent radical movement that sprang up in late forties at the end of Dutch colonial regime in Indonesia. Though in its early years it did not subscribe to violence but after 1990s it has shown marked proclivities towards violence. These are attributable to its interface with Al Qaeda and other Afghanistan-Pakistan based radical Sunni Islamic groups during and after Afghan war. Its important leaders include Nurjaman Riduan Ismuddin (also known as Hambali), Hambali aften described as Osama bin Laden of South East Asia was arrested in Thailand in August 2003. Noordin and Azhari Hussain, a British-educated engineer and explosive expert, and Mohammad Noordin, a former Accountant, both Malaysian born members of JI, were responsible for attacks on Marriott Hotel and Australian Embassy in Jakarta in August, 2003 and September 2004 respectively. Besides, Abu Bakar Bashir, an Indonesian of Yemeni descent is the group’s ideologue leader who actively associates himself with the outfits operational plans. He joined ‘Darul Islam’ in the 1970s and was imprisoned in Indonesia. He later fled to Malaysia where he recruited Mujahideens to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. In 1998, following stepping down of President Suharto, he returned to Indonesia to run a Muslim seminari in a Muslim majority island of Java. He denies his involvement in any terrorist activity though his involvement in the October 2002 Bali bombing is strongly suspected. He was the head of JI’s reginal shura, and has close links with Al Qaeda leaders.
The group is outlawed in Singapore and Malaysia, while Phillipines Security Establishment has been maintaining a close vigil over it activities Response of Indonesian government has been relatively soft, at least in early years, as a view is shared by some influential persons in the government that precipitated action against JI may well its support base and lead to strengthening of radical forces. There has, however initially been hardening of attitude following the Bali bombings in October, 2002.
In Philippines Abu- Sayyaf, An off shoot of ‘Moro National Liberation Front’ which initially spearheaded a Muslim separatist movement in philipines, is an Islamist militant organisation operating from Southern Philippines. Its avowed objective is to carve out a separate Islamic state for the country’s Muslim minority. Abdurajak Janjalani, who fought under ‘International Islamic Brigade’ in Afghanistan during Soviet occupation, was its founding leader. Crucial financing to form the organisation was provided by one Muhammad Jamal Khalifa, a Saudi businessman following the death of Abddurajak in 1998, his brother Khadaffy Janjalani led the organisation till 2006 when he was killed. With the killing of Abu Sulaiman the successor in January, 2007 the organisation practically became headless as it does not have a committed second rung leadership. The second rung leaders are more of criminals than ideologically motivated Jehadis. Organisations links with its Middle Eastern donors have also got adversely affected. Recently, Radullam Sahiron, an old man with one arm severed and no operational experience was made the chief in January, 2007. The organisation is presently weak but its recovery can not be ruled out. It is also likely to continue with its criminal activities like extortions, kidnapping for ransom etc.
Activities of the organisation have included bomb blasts, assassinations, kidnappings and extortions. One of the major terrorist incidents perpetrated by the group was kidnapping of twenty people, including three Americans, in May, 2001 at a tourist centre. Abu Sayyaf beheaded one of the American captors and held the other two Americans as hostage in an island in Southern Phillipines. In June, 2002, in a rescue operation two of the hostages were killed and one American missionary Gracia Burnham was rescued.
Of late, Southern Thailand has emerged another active area where Islamic insurgents have been attacking Buddhists, including monks, in large numbers. Though in earlier years the movement did not show change in global activities for violence, with the Islamic mind set there was a cascading effect leading to escalation of violence. Over the past three years, the insurgency has claimed nearly 2000 lives. The conflict with the Muslims dates back to 1902 when Sultanate of Pattani in Soutnern most tip of the country was annexed by Thailand. Attempts to forcibly assimilate these ethnically Malay Muslims caused resentment amongst Muslims. The Muslim insurgency in Southern Thailand is still nebulous dispersed with a loosely defined organisational structure. However, among the major insurgent groups Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Coordinat(BRN-C), attani United Liberatiuon Organisation (PULO), Bersatu, Gerakan Mujahidin Islam Pattani (GMIP) are notable. Though it is essentially a local insurgency for greater political rights it has of late been given a Jehadi lavel by its leaders. The confused handling of the Islamic.
China:- In Xinziang autonomous region of China, Uighurs constitute the Muslim majority whose estimated population is around 15 millions. Civilisationally, close to Central Asia, Uighurs till 18th century were either ruled by distant Central Asian empires or not ruled at all. Annexed by China during the Qing dynasty, the Uighurs could never be culturally and politically integrated with the main land. After the advent of Communist rule in 1949, the Chinese government tried to marginalize Islam, settled the Hans to bring about a demographic change and undertake repressive measures to silence the voice of dissent. All this was resented by the Uighurs who considered it a serious threat to their religious, social and economic interests. The simmering discontent led to formation of East Turekstan National Congress which demanded creation of a secular, democratic government in Xingziang where political and economic interests of the original inhabitants were duly protected. They were also opposed to settlement of Hans Chinese in the region. The situation ,however, started deteriorating after early 90s. The bloody clash in the town of Baran in 1990 in which hundreds of Uighurs were killed proved to be a watershed point. The dismemberment of Soviet Union leading to creation of Central Asian Republics and the rise of Talibans in Afghanistan influenced the course of future events. Religious revivalism was discernible and Uighurs developed linkages with their Islamic neighbourhood. The erstwhile Sufi tradition of Uighur Muslims slowly started getting influenced by its more violent and radical varieties. Recently, “China is under threat of terrorists, separatists and extremists who often collude with foreign-terror organisations”. (Ref: Special Report – Peace Mission 2007 – Military Expert: Anti-Terrorism Is An Important Mission of Chinese Army). China, besides heavily banking on its military initiative through People’s Liberation Army has continued with it policy of demographic dilution of the Uighurs through Han settlements and other administrative measures which have not found favour with the Uighurs. The Chinese Special Report of Military experts on anti-terrorism stated that “The People’s Liberation Army has shouldered important tasks in taming the three evil forces as well as safe-guarding the country’s sovereignty” (Ref: Special Report – Peace Mission 2007 – Military Expert: Anti-Terrorism Is An Important Mission of Chinese Army).
Russia and Central Asia
The Northern frontier of Islam like deep in the steppes of the Russian Northern Caucasus and stretches as far north as Kazan . The anscient Turkic Muslim kingdom. After the final defeat of the Mongols in 1480, Russia subjugated Muslim-controlled territories in the late Fifteens to early Sixteens century. As the Soviet Union collapsed, the Islamic nationalist minorities asserted themselves and independent states of Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan were created. However, Russia was still left with some Muslim dominated areas in North Caucasus which included Chechnya, Baghestan. The Muslims in this area led by radical Islamists like Shamil Basaayev and Jordan-based Khattab raised banner of revolt demanding establishment of a North Caucascian Republic extending from Black Sea to the Caspician. They received both ideological and financial support from the Arabs. They also developed close linkages with the Al Qaida. It also received ideological support from Hizb-ut-Tahrir. The rebels claim allegiance of twenty millions Russians which include Tatars, Chechyans, Bashkirs and inhabitants of Daghestan.
Russian response to Islamic uprising was primarily militarily. Its policy was spelled out in two important documents, both formulated during Putin’s tenure as Head of the National Security Council of Russia. The doctrine characterising terrorist bases as illegal military formations, declared that they will be countered with all the might of Russia and Armed Forces. It also entered into a Secret Treaty with Commonwealth Independent States (CIS) and formed an Anti-terrorism Centre in Kyrgystan. China joined this in April 2001. The terrorists attacks and decisive military response led to series of high intensity engagements , with large number of casualties.
Shamil Basaayev was the cult figure of Chechyan uprising and his death in mid 2006 gave a severe blow to the Chechyan rebellions. Earlier movements self-styled President Abdul-Khalim Sudalayev was killed in June, 2006. BasaayEv, the Chechyan field commander was responsible for most of high profile attacks in the war for Chechyan independence, which included siege of a school in Deslan in September, 2004 in which 300 people died – mostly the children. His notoriety attracted many youth to the movement who wanted to take the war to the Russian people by making them their targets. Amongst the old guards now only Doku Umarov still remains but he is too weak to be consider as a substitute for Baasayev. One of the major shift that Umarov has brought about in the policy is that their future targets would be military and not the civilians. This has substantially brought down the level of violence in Chechnya.
Elimination of Basaayev and to a lesser degree of Dzhokhar Dudayev, Aslan Maskhadov, Adbul-Khalim Sadulayev and Omar Ibn al-Khattab. Have seriously eroded the striking capabilities of the Chechyans. The d rawing up of support from the neighbouring Islamic CIS countries and stricter vigil being kept by their governments have also come as a set back. The erstwhile channels of financing from Arab countries have also been throttled to a considerable degree on account of international cooperatiuon received by Russia, particularly from US and others. However, all these set backs are temporary and there is not dilution in ideological commitment and conviction of the Chechyan people to continue the Jihad. The foothold that Islamic radicalism have established is unlikely to be eroded in the wake of global spread of the Islamic radicalism in general and adjoining Central Asian countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan in particular.
Central Asia
Following the dissolution of Soviet Union, the newly emerged Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan took a course different from the Baltic republics. In these nascent break away states, unlike the Baltics, there was no dominant urge for democracy, free enterprise and the freedoms which had been denied to them under the Communist regime. However freedom of religion and a new enthusiasm about their rich past and heritage seized their imagination. Communism which had suppressed their religious urge for nearly three quarter of a century was suddenly rediscovered. Momentous developments were taking place in the Islamic world in general and their contagious neighbourhood in particular, and they could not remain insulated from their influence. Ahmed Rashid a noted Pakistani journalist who visited these states a year after they gained independence observed that “I was besieged by people wanting to know about the world of Islam outside their valleys and mountain villages. Few people knew about the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, the depth of Palestinian resistance to Israel or the mini wars that had been waged by Islamic militants in Kashmir, Algeria, Egypt and the Philippines. Many had forgotten their prayers and other rituals of Islam” (Ref. Jihad: The rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid)
Three factors influenced the course of events in these states. Firstly, the older generation which had passed the stories of ‘soldiers of Islam ‘who had resisted the 1917 Bolshevik revolution for long years giving a valiant fight, were remembered and revalidated. Their brutal repression and subsequent religious persecution was recapitulated by the new generations with a sense of spite and hatred; Secondly, the Soviet army had drawn heavily for its manpower from these areas. These youth –Tajiks, Uzbeks, Kazaks etc. – who had close civilisational affinity with the Afghan Mujahideens of various ethnic origins close to them started looking at their Islamic identity with a new sense of self –admiration. Presene of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, drawn from various Islamic countries of the world, gave them an awareness of the strength and expanse of the Islamic Ummah (community of believers in Islam). The eventual defeat and withdrawn of the Soviet troops destroyed the invincibility image of a super power against might of Islam. Moreover, a large number of these conscripted soldiers became aware of their ethnic, linguistic and religious identity which they found was closer to these against whom they were fighting rather than those for whom they were fighting. Concurrently, the Muslims of the region also became aware of the Iranian revolution and the changes that were sweeping the Islamic world. It particularly influenced Tajiks who historically had special relationship with Iranians.
The third factor was the role of Pakistan in post Soviet withdrawal phase when it created Taliban and used it to spread its tentacles in Central Asia with the objective of establishing Soviet type regimes there. It thought to control the affairs of these oil rich land locked countries on the Islamic using Taliban regime as its proxy.
The West
West, particularly US, faces multi-faceted problems in relation to terrorism. Firstly, it is the common enemy of all the Islamic terrorists all over the world, irrespective of th local factors responsible for the conflict and the players involved. As US has global political and economic interests, this renders their citizens and interests globally vulnerable. In dealing with the states where these terrorist outfits are active they require a high degree of brinkmanship as often these require are mutually contradictory requirements which have to be reconciled. This often makes them suspects in the eyes of those very Islamic regimes whose interests it seeks to promote. Capability building and motivating different state governments to initiate effective counter-terrorist steps also proves difficult and problemtic. Mostly the states involved lack the capability or the intentions to act, or quite often both. Regimes, even with best of intentions, which come to power with support of the West soon lose their credibility and consequently the efficacy. The regimes of Karzai in Afghanistan and ……………………in Iraq are illustrative. This leads to their direct engagements which further complicate the problems and provides Islamists a ploy to propagate that Islam is in danger. West’s serious limitations of understanding the culture, ethos, language and delicate societal relationships leads to their adopting highhanded methods often resulting in use of disproportionate force causing heavy collateral damages. The other problem of the West’s is of the homeland security. Most of the Western countries have a large diaspora of Muslim immigrants from the Arab world and other Islamic countries. A good number of them have not been able to integrate themselves with the new societies of their adoption leading to social, economic and psychological conflicts. The Islamists back home find in them useful human material for recruitment. Organisations like Hizb-ut-Tahrir undertake series of steps to radicalize the Muslim youth. Tahrir though itself not a terrorist outfit is the conveyer belt to terrrorism. It is presently active in forty-five countries including most of the West European counties like UK, Germany, France, Italy etc. As observed by Zeyno Baran, Director of International Security and Energy Programs at the Nixon Centre “HT has been particularly successful at recruiting frustrated youth who have lost faith in the systems of the countries to which they or their parents came. As a senior European diplomat has put it, after joining HT, they turn from being rebels without a cause to rebels with a cause”.
The another problem is the inroads that the radicals and terrorist groups have been able to make within the civil societies
Contemporary Trends And Problems
In the last one decade, frontiers of Islamic radicalism, quick to be followed by Jehadi terrorism, have substantially expanded. The sapatial growth is accompanied by acquisition of more lethal and innovative strike capabilities by the terrorists in terms of skills and resources. The global counter terrorists efforts have been a mixed card of achievements and failures. Overall, the successes have been more tactical than strategic. There has been degradation of Al Qaida cadres including some o its senior operators like Khalid Sheikh, Mohammed Atef Abu Zubadeha etc. However, the outfit has revived itself not only in Afghanistan and Middle East but also new areas of Iraq, Lebanon, Algeria, Sudan, Turkey, West Europe etc. Jehadi ranks are showing exponential growth both in numbers and geographic expanse. Following are some of the main disturbing features of the contemporary scenario:
(a)More Muslims Falling Prey To Radical Ideology:
The major failure has been on ideological front. In the war of ideas the Jehadi ideology has neither been defeated nor isolated. The failure can primarily be attributed to (i) inability to create a powerful ideological movement within the Islamic community against terrorism to counter the Wahabi and Salafi ideologies. The weak voices of few clerics and Muslims intellectuals who have stood against Islamic radicalism lack credibility and are perceived as lackeys of the West; (ii) Non resolution of entrenched grievances against injustice, real and perceived, and fears of domination by the West; (iii) Disproportionate use of force in conflict areas. Heavy human losses of coreligionists seriously agitates Muslim psyche; (iv) Lack of concerted efforts to counter vicious religious propaganda by the Islamists through a highly networked non-terrorist radical organisations.
(b)Decentralisation of Jehadi terrorism
Mushrooming of independent terrorist groups which are not structurally linked to Al Qaida or any other trans-national organisation, but draw ideological inspiration from them in different parts of the world. The Jehadi movement today is highly decentralized and diffused and the threat from self-propelled cells, some of them totally unknown and comprising less than a dozen self proclaimed Mujahideens, have sprung up in hitherto unsuspected areas. US, Europe, Israel and the places where their citizens live or interests are involved figure high in their hit list. For some of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi based terrorists India remains the prime target area.
(c)Situation in Afghanistan:
Consolidation of Al Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan contributed by many factors like shift in West’s focus to Iraq, dubious role of Pakistan, failure of Karzai government to deliver, rise in Poppy production to fund Al Qaida and Taliban have neutralized much of the advantage that accrued following international effort to control terrorist financing. The new recruitments to terrorist cadres and Taliban carving pockets of control in non- urban ares of Afghanistan have serious security implications.
(d)Developments in Iraq:
Iraq is one single factor that has most profoundly impacted Muslim psyche world over cutting across their sectarian, geographical or denominational differences. The conflict has become a cause celebre for the Jehadis world over and has generated high level of hatred and animus towards US and all those who are perceived to be its allies, including the US friendly Islamic states and leaders.
(e)Accredition In Financial Resources, Weapons, Technical Capabilities And Tactical Expertise:
The terrorists today have access to money, high technology and military hardware despite various initiatives taken to control, it at local and international levels. Easy commercial availability of equipment which can be used for terrorist operations has made the task of terrorists easier. Assistance from some regimes, though more covert and circumspect than before, has not fully stopped. Access to new technologies and equipment, communications facilities use of cyber space for propaganda, recruitment and communications etc have not been effectively checked. The use of dirty bomb or some other techniques for mass killings though not eminent, poses a probable long term threat. As evident from same seized documents and questioning of arrested terrorists, the thought has been engaging the minds of various terrorist groups and the possibility of their springing a surprise cannot be ruled out unless high grade operational intelligence capabilities are positioned in right places. Terrorists are quick to learn from their experience and develop defeat systems to technological or other operational counter measures taken by the governments. Adhering to ‘Time tested methods’ is increasingly proving to be an erroneous counter terrorist doctrine.
(f)Inadequacy Of Global Cooperation And Coordination In Counter-Terrorist Effort:
The global cooperation and coordination in international counter terrorist effort still leaves many gaps, at conceptual structural and operational levels. The anxiety of each nation to exploit the arrangement to its best advantage giving precedence to short term national interests over strategic global interests is a fundamental lacuna. The US and other Western countries perceived as pursuing their national interests under the garb of fighting international terrorism is soon emulated by others, often to the detriment of west’s interests When US made Pakistan as its principal ally in fighting terrorism, fully aware of its continued terrorist sponsoring role in Kashmir, it did not factor in Indian sensitivities. A preferred arrangement would have been to take India on board and convince Pakistan to stop support to all Islamic terrorists irrespective of their targets. Eventually the Americans themselves found that at the end of six year war and heavy deployment of its troops and resources the Islamic terrorism in the area was no where near containment and its epicenter shifted to the areas which were governed by its own ally. The flow of intelligence sharing, particularly the operational grade intelligence is selective shared, again on political considerations, mostly favouring the Western countries.
(g) Signs Of Fatigue In Some Nations:
Fight against terrorism is a war of endurance. There are indications that the past Sept. 11, 2001 resolve and determination is petering out and some countries are thinking of an exit strategy. There have been instances where the regimes have given concessions to the terrorists, either overtly or covertly, for some short term gain. The agreement of September 6, 2006 of Pakistan with Taliban is illustrative. Similarly, a soft approach towards Islamic extremists in Southern Thailand has emboldened them. The doctrine of making no concessions to the terrorists and not striking any deals is going to be much more important in future than ever before. The Jehadis who claim that the victory is well in the sight of late have started harbouring a feeling that the world is wilting under terrorist pressure. It only needs a final push. The policy of appeasement on the spurious argument of tactical compulsion could be a strategic disaster.
The Way Ahead
The above account brings out there distinct features (a) Fast growing geographic expanse of Islamic terrorism, (b) More fundamentalist radical ideology of Salafism substituting the moderals variety of Islam global maturating among Islamic terrorists, mostly under Al Qaeda franchise and (d) Sharp accretion in the offensive capabilities of the terrorists-availability of hardware funds and contacts to procure them.
The battle against terrorism has got to be fought at various levels and in various threatres. It is not with in competence only of the Army, Police, Intelligence and other agencies of the government who alone can bring about an end to the problem. It needs to be despite vastly superior state power of the terrorism fishtive states – military, economic, technological and political – the terrorist can bring organised societies and the states down to there knees by attacking critical targets. Striking at high vulnerability or densly populated areas; not only leads to colossal lose of life and property but generates a global fear that engulf millions which potentially can cause serious political instability or economic rupture. To combat and contain the problem the present generation of statesmen, politicians, strategic thinkers, military planners, intellectuals and the society at large has to take some a concrete measures. Some of the steps which could help ameliorate the critical position could include the following concere steps:
(a) The Jehadis too have some serious vulnerabilities and disabilities. Which need to exploitated one of their vulnerability is that their ultimate political objective of establishing an Ultra-conservative Islamic caliphate based on Shari’a is unpopular and unacceptable to the vast majority of Muslims. “Exposing the religious and political straitjacket that is implied in the Jehad propaganda would help to divide them from the audiences that they seek to persuade” (Ref: Declassified Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate - Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States - Dated April 2006). Though it is true that not many Muslim intellectuals have openly and spiritedly come forward to oppose Jehad ideology, it is also true that no well known school of Islamic thought has openly come out in support of terrorism though many of them have accused the West also of indulging in terrorist activities. There is a need to engage these Islamic theologicians to evolve a code of conduct that will delgitimize activities of terrorists and their radical supporters.
(b) Need to define terrorism is another pressing requirement. The terrorists or the states supporting them should not be able to get away under the excuse of their being freedom fighters or people who are fighting for a just cause. While the existing UN resolutions relating to terrorism have been useful in the absence of a UN accepted Convention on Terrorism, they have not been able to make the desired impact. This has been held up for want of an agreed definition of terrorism.
(c) Locating the dark areas and activising the governments there to take action: In its present phase non-discript small terrorist modules have started mushrooming in most unexpected area. In some of these areas the governments are complacent, the terrorists consider such areas of special operational importance to them for carrying out their activities. Al Qaida activists have been able to transit through many such areas in the past where they were not subjected to usual checkings by the complacent staff. Large part of Africa are becoming increasingly lawless and cane become future centres of covert terrorist activities.
(d) Enhancing operational intelligence capabilities and its real time sharing with concern states: Most of the intelligence agencies including some of the best resourced organisations of the West really fall far short of required expertise and skills in collection of real time operational intelligence. Despite huge technical back up support and availability of resources, there is dearth of human talents capable of producing 1 quality human intelligence and undertaking pro-active operations. Such a capability needs to be built as an integrated international requirements. The intelligence sharing is still highly politicized and decisions on with whom to share, what to share, and how much to share are determined more by political considerations than genuine professional demands. Some of the states like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Indonesia, Afghanistan are very favourably placed to collect highly valuable intelligence regarding internatiuonal terrorism but their contribution has left much to be desired.
(e) Reducing the areas and intensity of conflict: while the root cause theory in dealing with terrorism is fraught with serious dangers and no cause should be acceptable for undertaking a terrorist action, political, economic and administrative initiatives which could reduce genuine grievances of the community must be initiated. How the societies get alienated and at what level alienation leads to exercise of violent options makes an interesting study. If terrorism has to be denied the vital human resource component, and imaginative response to tackle the potential recruits at psychological level would be necessary.
(f) Finding substitute ideology to express dissent: large number of issues on which the Muslims are agitated, actually are not religious issues but political issues. Radicals make an attempt to mobilized the dissent giving a religious context. This should be countered by providing non-religious contexts like nationalism, economic interests, social needs etc. to express themselves. The problems cannot be wished away and their resolutions always to the satisfaction of agitating party can also not be ensured. However, the politics of agitation can have a non-religious expressiuon. This will also help the process of conflict resolutions through negotiations and peaceful methods- an option for which the terrorists leave very little scope.
Al Qaida is expanding its influence at a dangerously rapid pace in different parts of the world. Sunni extremism is likely to continue at a major source of instability in Islamic regimes and high potential threat to the non-Islamic world. Commercial availability of advanced technology and financial prowess of the terrorists is likely to bring about sharp accretion in their striking capabilities. The world has to respond fast and decisively lest it degenerates into a serious civilisational threat.
References: -
1. Memo to EU: ‘We call it Islamic terrorism because it is terror inspired by Islam’ by Nick Cohen in ‘The Observer’ May 14, 2006.
2. “Has Religion made useful contribution to Civilisation? By Bertrand Russell.
3. Is Terrorism Tied to Christian Sect by Alan Cooperman, Washington Post June 2, 2003
4. Martin Luther King – ‘Beyond Vietnam – A time to Break Silence’ – Speech.
5. On Crusades’ by Tyerman 2006; Wikipedia- Christian Terrorism
6. Daily Mail 2nd July 2007, a feature by Hassan Butt.
7. Religious Terrorism – http: lect B.htm.
8. A Brief History of India – By Alian Danielore.
9. The Ethics of War in Asian Civilisation – A Comparative Perspective by Torkel Berkke.
10. Pain but not harm’. Some classical resources towards a Hindu just war theory’ Francis Coolney.
11. Statistics on terrorism by Johnston’s Archive under Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, and unconventional warfare.
12. Islamic Terrorism: From Retrenchment to Resentment and Beyond – by Lauren Langman and Douglas Morris, Loyola University of Chicago.
13. The growth of Islamic terrorism by Tusitala.
14. The growth of Islamic terrorism.
15. Fighting the war of ideas by Zeyno Baran: Foreign Affairs – Nov-Dec 2005
16. Ref: Abdullah, Azzam, The Lofty Mountain (London: Azzam publications, 2003
17. Taarn by, “Recruitment of Islamist Terrorists in Europe”, p.38
18. See “From Dawa to Jehad,” pp. 33-34
19. Bin Laden: ‘Serman for the Feast of sacrifice
20. Declassified Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate - Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States - Dated April 2006
21. The Nest Attack by Deniel Benjamin