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Terrorism & Security In South Asia: Likely Scenarios During 2009

Reader comment on item: Still Asleep After Mumbai
in response to reader comment: Mansoor, my response to your response, but really you are just boring me now!!

Submitted by SAA (India), Jan 13, 2009 at 12:00

Al Qaeda is organizationally intact, but operationally weakened because of the losses suffered by it in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and because of the strong anti-Al Qaeda measures taken by many countries.

It has not been able to organize any major terrorist strike outside Pakistani territory. Two of the 2008 terrorist strikes in Pakistan----the attacks on the Danish Embassy (June 3, 2008) and the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad (September 20, 2008)--- had definite Al Qaeda signatures. However, while claims of responsibility in respect of the attack on the Danish Embassy were made on behalf of Al Qaeda, no such claims have been made in respect of the Marriott Hotel attack.

The attack in Mumbai from November 26 to 29, 2008, was by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), which has emerged as an international terrorist organization on par with Al Qaeda.Its planning to the minutest details, faultless execution and the barbaric methods used against the Israelis and other Jewish persons speak of a possible Al Qaeda hand in the planning and orchestration. The targets chosen by the LET were also the favoured targets of Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban.

Al Qaeda operates where it thinks there are physical security deficiencies and where it thinks it can successfully attack American and Israeli nationals and interests. The physical security deficiencies exposed in Mumbai could tempt Al Qaeda----directly or through intermediaries--- to mount another terrorist strike against American and Israeli nationals and interests in Indian territory.

Indian and Western pressure on Pakistan to act against the JUD/LET combine might affect the chances of its being able to repeat Mumbai—November 26. But there are four other Pakistani organizations, who would be happy to do the bidding of Al Qaeda----namely, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), a rabid anti-Shia organization. All of them except the LEJ have been operating in India off and on. The HUM is a founding member of bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People formed by him in 1998. The LET and the other organizations joined it subsequently.

Of these, the most successful in the Indian territory, after the LET, has been the Bangladesh branch of the HUJI known as HUJI (B). It profits from the presence of a large number of illegal migrants from Bangladesh not only in Assam and West Bengal, but also in other urban centres of India. Successive Governments in Bangladesh have avoided taking action against the HUJI (B) just as successive Governments in Pakistan have avoided acting against the LET. There cannot be effective counter-terrorism in Indian territory without effective action against both the Pakistan and Bangladesh branches of the HUJI and without equally effective action to stop illegal immigration from Bangladesh and to identify and expel those who have already settled down in India.

One of the lessons of 9/11 was the importance of effective immigration control in counter-terrorism. India has the weakest anti-immigration infrastructure among the democracies of the world. There is a lack of political will to act against illegal immigration due to partisan considerations and unwise electoral calculations. The proposed National Investigation Agency and additional powers for the police alone will not be able to prevent another November 26 unless accompanied by strong measures against illegal immigration from Bangladesh.

Whatever be the extent of Western pressure on it to act against the LET, Pakistan is unlikely to give up the use of the LET, the HUJI, the JEM and the HUM against India. In its strategic calculation, that is the only way of changing the status quo in J&K and countering the increasing Indian presence in Afghanistan.

The West is unlikely to increase the pressure on Pakistan to an extent that might hurt it. It needs Pakistan's co-operation to prevent another 9/11, another Madrid---March, 2004 or another London, July, 2005. It has sympathies for Pakistan because its co-operation with the US and the rest of the West have made it a victim of jihadi terrorism. During 2008, there were about 90 acts of terrorism in Pakistani territory----- 60 acts of suicide terrorism and 30 of other kinds. The West's continued dependence on Pakistan and its sympathy for it would put a limit to its support for India.

The ground situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan is likely to get worse during 2009 despite the US proposal to induct an additional 30,000 troops and the more robust policy towards Al Qaeda sanctuaries in the FATA promised by President-elect Barack Obama. His options are going to be limited. He could step up the Predator strikes, but these are unlikely to be effective unless driven by precise intelligence. Without a significant inflow of human intelligence, Predator strikes alone will cause more collateral damage and add to anti-US feelings.

There is no convergence of views between the political and military leaderships in Pakistan as to how to deal with terrorism. There is no convergence either among different political formations. Strong sections of its political class such as the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif and the religious parties believe that Pakistan's co-operation with the US against Al Qaeda is the root cause of its problems. They would want Pakistan to opt out of the war against international terrorism. Sections of the Pakistan Army too ask themselves why the Pakistan Army should fight against groups which pose a threat to the US and not to Pakistan.

The Soviet Union failed in Afghanistan in the 1980s because of the failure of the Soviet leadership to attack on the ground the sanctuaries of the Afghan Mujahideen in Pakistani territory. The US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan are failing because of their reluctance to attack on the ground the sanctuaries of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan. Indian counter-terrorism is facing serious difficulties---- which are likely to increase in future--- because of the reluctance of the policy-makers to authorize clandestine actions against the sanctuaries of anti-India jihadi organisations in Pakistani territory.

If the Western pressure on Pakistan to dismantle the LET's terrorism infrastructure in its territory fails to produce results, India should have an alternate plan ready for appropriate operational options short of a direct military strike.

It is in India's interest that the US succeeds in its operations against the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda. This would not put an end to Pakistani state-sponsored terrorism in Indian territory, but could make it more manageable. It is not in India's interest to unwittingly create difficulties for the US war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by engaging in a military confrontation with Pakistan. Obama should be given time to try out his more robust strategy.

In its preoccupation with the external dimensions of the problem arising from Pakistan's continued use of terrorism, India should not neglect the internal dimensions arising from the grievances in sections of its Muslim youth and the weaknesses in its counter-terrorism community.

There is a need for a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy with strategic and tactical dimensions. The decision to set up a National Investigation Agency and give additional powers to the Police are the building blocks of the strategic dimension. A revamping of the intelligence agencies to improve the flow of terrorism-related intelligence and of the physical security agencies to prevent physical security failures of the kind witnessed in Mumbai by promoting the culture of joint action should also be part of the strategic dimension. The tactical dimension would involve the identification of vulnerable cities and targets and immediate action to protect them.

Preventing another 26/11 should be the immediate priority. Making jihadi terrorism---home-grown or externally sponsored---- wither away through a mix of political, diplomatic and operational measures should be the strategic priority.

The Text Of The Paper

India faced six major acts of terrorism in 2008. Of these, four in Jaipur (May), Bangalore (July), Ahmedabad (July) and Delhi (September) were committed by some members of the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which has had contacts with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) of Pakistan. In messages sent before and after the attacks, they described themselves as the Indian Mujahideen (IM). The IM came to notice for the first time in November 2007 when it organized three explosions in three towns of Uttar Pradesh. In a message sent to sections of the media that day, it accused the Indian criminal justice system of being unfair to Muslims. All these four were acts of reprisal terrorism with no strategic objective.

2. During these strikes, the IM did not attack foreigners either in Jaipur, which has the second largest foreign tourist traffic after Goa or in Bangalore which is one of the favourite destinations for foreign business companies.

3. India has been facing terrorist attacks by home-grown jihadi groups since 1993. The defining characteristics of these attacks have been:

  • No suicide or suicidal (fedayeen) terrorism. No Indian Muslim has so far indulged in suicide terrorism in Indian territory. The only instance of suicidal terrorism by an Indian Muslim was in Glasgow in the UK in June, 2006.
  • No barbaric methods such as slitting the throats of the victims. Such barbaric methods are the signature modus operandi of jihadis from Pakistan. Well-known examples---slitting the throat of an Indian passenger on board a hijacked plane of the Indian Airlines in December 1999 by the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) of Pakistan and of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist, in Karachi by the HUM and Al Qaeda in January-February,2002. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM), a Pakistani member of Al Qaeda, who allegedly co-ordinated the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, has reportedly confessed before a US military tribunal in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre that he slit the throat of Pearl.
  • Reliance more on improvised explosive devices (IEDs) than on hand-held weapons.
  • No attacks on foreign nationals except once in 1991 when the J&K Liberation Front (JKLF) killed one Israeli tourist in Srinagar.

4. Of the remaining two terrorist strikes in 2008, one in Assam in October was committed by a local ethnic group with the help of elements from Bangladesh and the other in Mumbai from November 26 to 29, 2008, by 10 Pakistani members of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET). The LET is the militant wing of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), a Pakistani jihadi organization based in Muridke, near Lahore. The US designated the LET as a foreign terrorist organization in December 2001 and the JUD in April 2006. Pakistan, under US pressure, banned the LET on January 15, 2002, but it started functioning under the name JUD. Pakistan denied that the JUD is the same as the LET and refused to ban it. After the Mumbai terrorist strike, the Anti-Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council designated the JUD as a terrorist organization. Thereafter, Pakistan has placed some of its leaders, including Prof-Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, its Amir, under house arrest, but has not yet formally banned it on the ground that there has been no evidence, which would justify a formal ban.

5. The defining characteristics of the Mumbai attack were:

  • This was the first attack of suicidal (fedayeen) terrorism in the Indian territory outside J&K. All previous fedayeen attacks were in J&K.
  • This was the second attack in the Indian territory outside J&K in which all the principal perpetrators were Pakistani nationals. The first one was the attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. Some Indian Muslims played peripheral roles in the attack on the Indian Parliament. One cannot rule out the possibility of similar peripheral roles by Indian Muslims in Mumbai too, but there has been no evidence in support of this so far. All other attacks of jihadi terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K since 1993 were committed by either Indian Muslims or mixed groups of Indian Muslims belonging to the SIMI, Pakistani Muslims belonging to the LET and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) and/or the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) of Bangladesh.
  • This was the second attack of jihadi terrorists on India's economic infrastructure. The first was in March, 1993, when a group of Indian Muslims, raised by Dawood Ibrahim, the Indian mafia leader now living in Karachi, and trained and equipped by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), attacked economic targets in Mumbai killing 257 civilians.
  • The LET terrorists attacked a mix of targets------ human beings as well as economic capabilities, the man in the street as well as the elite and Indians as well as foreigners.
  • This was the first attack by jihadi terrorists on foreigners in Indian territory outside J&K. Since 9/11, there have been 13 targeted attacks on foreigners in the Indian sub-continent---- 12 in Pakistani territory and the Mumbai one in Indian territory. Of the 12 attacks in Pakistani territory, five were on Chinese nationals, four on American nationals and one each on French, German and Danish nationals or interests.
  • The LET terrorists in Mumbai killed 160 Indian nationals ---- civilians as well as security forces personnel--- and 30 foreigners. Four of the foreigners were from South-East Asian countries. The remaining 26 were either from Israel or were Jewish persons of other nationalities or nationals of countries which are participating in the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
  • The Israelis and other Jewish persons were subjected to barbaric torture and then killed. There was no evidence of such barbaric acts against other foreigners.
  • This was the first terrorist attack on Israelis and the Jewish people in the Indian territory outside J&K. It came in the wake of intelligence warnings that the LET and the SIMI were planning to attack Israeli tourists in Goa. KSM had reportedly told his American interrogators that Al Qaeda had wanted to attack the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi. Mumbai has two establishments associated with Israel and the Jewish people---the Israeli Consulate and a Jewish religious-cum-cultural centre located in a building called the Narriman House. The terrorists came by sea and attacked at night. They chose the Narriman House and not the Consulate because it is near the sea and had Jewish people living there whereas the Consulate has no Jewish people at night.
  • There was a mix of modus operandi (MO)--- urban warfare of the kind waged by the Hezbollah in Beirut in the 1970s and the 1980s and orchestrated acts of mass casualty terrorism of the kind waged by Al Qaeda; and old terrorism involving the use of hand-held weapons, hand-grenades and explosives and new terrorism involving the use of the latest communications and navigation gadgetry. The TV visuals from Mumbai during the 60 hours that the attack lasted brought back to the minds of professionals visuals, which used to come out of Beirut.
  • There was a mix of strategies---- a strategy for disrupting the till recently on-going Indo-Pakistan peace process was combined with a strategy for acts of reprisal against India's close relations with Israel and the West. A strategy for discrediting the Indian counter-terrorism community and policy-makers in the eyes of the Indian public was combined with a strategy for discrediting them in the eyes of the international community and business class.
  • There was a mix of attacks on the man in the street in public places such as a railway station, a public square, a hospital etc and on the business and social elite in the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi/Trident Hotels. These are not ordinary hotels patronized by tourists who travel on a shoe-string budget. These are very expensive hotels patronized by the cream of the international business class, who visit Mumbai not for pleasure, but for business. Apparently in respect to the sensitivities of the elite, the Governments of Maharashtra and India have wisely chosen not to identify the cream of the business world who were staying in these hotels at the time of the attack.
  • The terrorists did not indulge in classical hostage-taking tactics, where one takes hostages in order to put forward a demand. They took hostages and locked themselves in buildings in order to force an armed confrontation with the security forces.
  • The grievances of the Indian Muslims was not the cause of the terrorist attack. Pakistan's strategic objectives against India such as forcing a change in the status quo in J&K and disrupting India's economic progress and strategic relations with the West and Israel were the motive. Reprisal against the US-led coalition in Afghanistan for its war against

6. There has been considerable criticism of the Indian counter-terrorism community---some justified and some unfair. In September, there were reports from the Indian and US intelligence that LET terrorists in Pakistan were planning to carry out a sea-borne terrorist strike against sea-front hotels in Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal hotel. A high-alert was issued. Security was tightened up by the Police, the Navy, the Coast Guard and the security set-ups of the hotels. The terrorists, who had planned to strike on September 26, postponed their attack. There was no fresh information in October. No terrorist strike came. The alert was downgraded in November. The attack came on November 26. It is always a dilemma for the counter-terrorism community as to for how long a high alert should be continued.

7. There has also been criticism of what has been described as the slow response of India's special intervention forces such as the National Security Guards (NSG). While some Western analysts have criticized their response as too slow taking about 60 hours, some Israeli analysts have criticized it as too hasty, without trying to tire the terrorists out by indulging in talks with them. The NSG did not have the luxury of many options since it was not a classical hostage situation. Their objective was to save as many lives as possible from three different places which were under the control of the terrorists.

8. There are two ways of assessing the performance of the NSG and the Police. The first is from the number of people killed by the terrorists in these three places--- about 100. The second is from the number of people, whom they rescued alive--- nearly 1000. Let us applaud them for saving so many people despite the difficulties faced by them.

9. The most objective assessment of the performance of the NSG and the Police has come from Ami Pedazhur, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and the author of the forthcoming book "The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism," in an article contributed by him to the "New York Times " ( December 19,2008). I am annexing a copy of this article to this paper.

10. Mr.Pedazhur wrote: "It is clear that the Indian security forces made some mistakes. However, mistakes are inherent in such crises. At the same time, given the complex nature of the attacks, it seems likely the death toll could have been much higher. After the initial confusion, the Indians seem to have done a thorough job of gathering intelligence and carefully planning their counterattacks. The execution itself was careful and thorough."

11. He added: "The Mumbai attacks showed just how difficult it is for large, multiethnic states to protect themselves from terrorism, something Americans have known well since 9/11. There is certainly much for New Delhi and Washington to learn from the Israeli experience, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. While Israel has much to be proud of in how it has handled terrorism, it also has much to be humble about."

12. Counter-terrorism is much more difficult in India than in any other country because of its large size, federal constitution which gives greater powers to the State governments in respect of crime control and law and order, multi-party system and coalition governments at New Delhi and in many States. Moreover, India is located right in the centre of the Islamic world with Islamic countries to the East, West and North-West of it. It has the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. Actions against jihadi terrorists----whether home-grown or externally sponsored--- have to be attentive to the sensitivities of the Muslim community while acting against the terrorist elements from them. This often creates a Hamlet-like situation for the counter-terrorism community. Political consensus on counter-terrorism related issues is more difficult to achieve than in other democracies.

13. India has had a successful record against insurgencies and terrorist groups, whose activities were confined to a single State or region. The difficulties faced by it since November, 2007, are due to the fact that the post-November, 2007, terrorism is pan-Indian in nature with a presence in a number of States. To meet this phenomenon, the Government has decided to create a National Investigation Agency to facilitate co-ordinated investigation, which has not been possible till now. It has also added to the powers of the police after the Mumbai strike.

14. Indian counter-terrorism agencies managed to catch alive Mohammad Ajmal Amir Imam, one of the 10 perpetrators trained in Pakistan---initially in a camp in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and subsequently in Karachi--- and sent to Mumbai for launching the attacks. In his interrogation, he has reportedly stated that he and the other nine terrorists, who were killed, were Pakistani nationals, who were recruited by the LET, trained, armed and sent by boat to Mumbai. His Pakistani nationality has been confirmed by independent enquiries made by the Pakistani correspondent of the "Observer" of the UK and sections of the Pakistani media such as the highly-respected "Dawn" of Karachi and the GeoTV. Even his father has admitted in a media interview that the captured perpetrator is his son.

15. In order to disown any responsibility for the terrorist attack, the Pakistan Government has adopted various tactics. Initially, it tried to create an alibi by making a Pakistani lawyer claim that Ajmal Amir Imam was his client, who had been arrested by the Nepalese authorities two years ago and handed over to the Indian intelligence. When the Nepalese authorities denied this, the Pakistani authorities, including President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani, have started denying that he is a Pakistani.

16. Because of the death of many foreign nationals, many foreign intelligence agencies----including those of the US, the UK and Israel--- are making their own independent investigation. The Government of India has given them free access to the captured terrorist and allowed them to interrogate him independently. All the agencies have independently of each other come to the conclusion that the arrested perpetrators were Pakistani nationals belonging to the LET, which had trained them in Pakistani territory and infiltrated them into Mumbai by sea.

17. While there has been a consensus among the various intelligence agencies of India and other countries that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been using the JUD/LET as a clandestine arm for acts of terrorism in Indian territory, there is as yet no consensus as to whether the ISI sponsored the attack in Mumbai. Indian investigators believe so, but the Government of India has refrained from articulating their belief. It has restricted itself to saying that the perpetrators were Pakistani nationals from the LET who were trained for this attack in camps in Pakistani territory.

18. India has made two specific demands to Pakistan. The first is for the arrest and handing over of the Pakistani LET operatives who had orchestrated the Mumbai attack as well as of all Pakistan-based terrorists, who had carried out terrorist attacks in the past. The second is for closing down the terrorist infrastructure of the LET in Pakistani territory. There has been considerable pressure on Pakistan from the US, the UK and other Western countries to meet the Indian demands.

19. The Zardari Government has vehemently refused to do so. It continues to claim that there is no evidence so far to show that the attack was mounted from the Pakistani territory and that Pakistani nationals were involved. It has also stuck to the traditional Pakistani position that no Pakistani national---whatever be his crime--- will be handed over to India for interrogation and prosecution and that the Indian Police will not be allowed to interrogate them in Pakistani territory either. Its so-called actions against the leaders and other operatives of the JUD/LET and other organizations such as the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) have been a farce. It has not yet formally banned the JUD despite the action of the Anti-Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council in designating the JUD as a terrorist organization and four of its leaders, including its Amir Prof-Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, as international terrorists.

20. The strategic significance of the Mumbai strike arises from the fact that the Pakistan-based LET has emerged as an international terrorism organization on par with Al Qaeda. In fact, some US experts view the attack as probably jointly mounted by the LET and Al Qaeda. The LET poses a threat not only to India's national security, but also to international peace and security. That is the point India has been highlighting in its diplomatic campaign.

Ground Situation In Afghanistan & Pakistan

21. The ground situation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region shows no signs of improvement. The Afghan Taliban headed by Mulla Mohammad Omar, which has been fighting against the NATO forces in Afghanistan from sanctuaries in the Balochistan area of Pakistan, has maintained a high level of activity in southern and eastern Afghanistan as well as in the Kabul area. It has shown a capability for conventional fighting in sizable formations of up to 200 as well as a capability for suicide attacks. There have already been over 100 acts of suicide terrorism in Afghan territory till November 30,2008, mounted from sanctuaries in Pakistani territory.

22. The difficulties faced by the NATO forces are partly due to the unwillingness of the Pakistani army to act against the Afghan Taliban, which it looks upon as its strategic ally to regain its influence in Afghanistan. These difficulties have been aggravated by the increase in the activities of the Pakistani Taliban called the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) founded by Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan after the raid by the commandoes of the Pakistan Army into the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) of Islamabad in July 2007 in order to free it from the control of pro-Taliban and pro-Al Qaeda elements.

23. The large number of fatalities of young tribal students---many of them girls--- during the raid caused a wave of anger in the tribal belt, which has not subsided. This anger led to 56 acts of suicide terrorism in Pakistani territory during 2007. There have already been 60 acts of suicide terrorism this year. Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister, who supported the commando raid, was killed by one of the suicide terrorists on December 27, 2007. There has been no progress in the investigation and prosecution of the terrorists responsible for her assassination. In recent months, terrorists of the Pakistani Taliban have also succeeded in disrupting the movement of supplies for the NATO forces in Afghanistan from the Karachi port.

24. The activities of the Pakistani Taliban started initially in the South Waziristan and Bajaur areas of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) adjoining Afghanistan. From there, they spread to the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and they are now threatening Peshawar itself, the capital of the NWFP. There have been repeated acts of suicide terrorism in the Peshawar area giving rise to fears that it could eventually become Pakistan's Beirut.

25. Suicide terrorists operating from the tribal belt fall into two groups---- those of the Pakistani Taliban and the so-called Jundullas (soldiers of Allah), who are self-motivated individuals without any organizational affiliation. These suicide terrorists have been able to operate not only in the tribal areas from where they often originate, but also in cantonments in the non-tribal areas and even in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, Rawalpindi, where the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Army are located, and Lahore. There have also been reports of clandestine cells of the Pakistani Taliban being set up in Karachi, where there is a sizable migrant Pashtun population.

26. The Pakistan Army, which is greatly concerned over the increase in the activities of the Pakistani Taliban, had mounted special operations against them through the Frontier Corps, a para-military force consisting largely of Pashtuns, in the Swat Valley and the Bajaur Agency. It had also trained and armed tribal militias called Lashkars to counter the Taliban. These Lashkars consist largely of Shias specially trained and motivated to counter the Taliban, which is mainly a Sunni force. This has led to the Taliban indulging in large-scale reprisal attacks against the Shias.

27. Thus, one finds three waves of anger in the FATA, the Swat Valley and in the Peshawar area ---- an anti-Army anger because of the commando raid into the Lal Masjid and the perceived co-operation of the Army with the US in its operations against Al Qaeda, an anti-US anger because of its operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban and an anti-Shia anger because of the Shias' co-operation with the Army as members of the anti-Taliban Lashkars.

28. There have been nearly 30 air strikes by the unmanned Predator planes of the US intelligence agencies against Al Qaeda hide-outs and suspects in the North and South Waziristan areas this year. Some middle and lower level operatives of Al Qaeda were killed in these air strikes. Among others killed by these strikes was Rashid Rauf, a UK citizen of POK (Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir) origin, who was suspected to have played an active role in the conspiracy to blow up a number of US-bound planes, which was unearthed by the British Police in August, 2006. Senior leaders of Al Qaeda such as Osama bin Laden and his No.2 Ayman Al Zawahiri have managed to avoid capture or death. They continue to guide the activities of Al Qaeda from its sanctuaries in North Waziristan.

29. Apart from Al Qaeda, two other organizations associated with it have their sanctuaries in the Waziristan area----the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG), another Uzbeck organization. While the IMU has a limited agenda relating to capture of power in Uzbekistan, the IJG, which is sometimes also referred to as the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), has a much larger agenda. It refrains from projecting itself as a purely Uzbeck organization. Instead, it projects itself as a global jihadi organization and has been recruiting members from the Pakistani diaspora in Europe---- particularly in the UK and Germany.

Looking To 2009

30. Al Qaeda is organizationally intact, but operationally weakened because of the losses suffered by it in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and because of the strong anti-Al Qaeda measures taken by many countries.

31. It has not been able to organize any major terrorist strike outside Pakistani territory. Two of the 2008 terrorist strikes in Pakistan----the attacks on the Danish Embassy (June 3, 2008) and the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad (September 20, 2008)--- had definite Al Qaeda signatures. However, while claims of responsibility in respect of the attack on the Danish Embassy were made on behalf of Al Qaeda, no such claims have been made in respect of the Marriott Hotel attack.

32. The attack in Mumbai from November 26 to 29, 2008, was by the LET, but its planning to the minutest details, faultless execution and the barbaric methods used against the Israelis and other Jewish persons speak of a possible Al Qaeda hand in the planning and orchestration. The targets chosen by the LET were also the favoured targets of Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban.

33. Al Qaeda operates where it thinks there are physical security deficiencies and where it thinks it can successfully attack American and Israeli nationals and interests. The physical security deficiencies exposed in Mumbai could tempt Al Qaeda----directly or through intermediaries--- to mount another terrorist strike against American and Israeli nationals and interests in Indian territory.

34. Indian and Western pressure on Pakistan to act against the JUD/LET combine might affect the chances of its being able to repeat Mumbai—November 26. But there are four other Pakistani organizations, who would be happy to do the bidding of Al Qaeda----namely, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), a rabid anti-Shia organization. All of them except the LEJ have been operating in India off and on. The HUM is a founding member of bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People formed by him in 1998. The LET and the other organizations joined it subsequently.

35. Of these, the most successful in the Indian territory, after the LET, has been the Bangladesh branch of the HUJI known as HUJI (B). It profits from the presence of a large number of illegal migrants from Bangladesh not only in Assam and West Bengal, but also in other urban centres of India. Successive Governments in Bangladesh have avoided taking action against the HUJI (B) just as successive Governments in Pakistan have avoided acting against the LET. There cannot be effective counter-terrorism in Indian territory without effective action against both the Pakistan and Bangladesh branches of the HUJI and without equally effective action to stop illegal immigration from Bangladesh and to identify and expel those who have already settled down in India.

36. One of the lessons of 9/11 was the importance of effective immigration control in counter-terrorism. India has the weakest anti-immigration infrastructure among the democracies of the world. There is a lack of political will to act against illegal immigration due to partisan considerations and unwise electoral calculations. The proposed National Investigation Agency and additional powers for the police alone will not be able to prevent another November 26 unless accompanied by strong measures against illegal immigration from Bangladesh.

37. Whatever be the extent of Western pressure on it to act against the LET, Pakistan is unlikely to give up the use of the LET, the HUJI, the JEM and the HUM against India. In its strategic calculation, that is the only way of changing the status quo in J&K and countering the increasing Indian presence in Afghanistan.

38. The West is unlikely to increase the pressure on Pakistan to an extent that might hurt it. It needs Pakistan's co-operation to prevent another 9/11, another Madrid---March, 2004 or another London, July, 2005. It has sympathies for Pakistan because its co-operation with the US and the rest of the West have made it a victim of jihadi terrorism. During 2008, there were about 90 acts of terrorism in Pakistani territory----- 60 acts of suicide terrorism and 30 of other kinds. The West's continued dependence on Pakistan and its sympathy for it would put a limit to its support for India.

39. The ground situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan is likely to get worse during 2009 despite the US proposal to induct an additional 30,000 troops and the more robust policy towards Al Qaeda sanctuaries in the FATA promised by President-elect Barack Obama. His options are going to be limited. He could step up the Predator strikes, but these are unlikely to be effective unless driven by precise intelligence. Without a significant inflow of human intelligence, Predator strikes alone will cause more collateral damage and add to anti-US feelings.

40. There is no convergence of views between the political and military leaderships in Pakistan as to how to deal with terrorism. There is no convergence either among different political formations. Strong sections of its political class such as the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif and the religious parties believe that Pakistan's co-operation with the US against Al Qaeda is the root cause of its problems. They would want Pakistan to opt out of the war against international terrorism. Sections of the Pakistan Army too ask themselves why the Pakistan Army should fight against groups which pose a threat to the US and not to Pakistan.

41. The Soviet Union failed in Afghanistan in the 1980s because of the failure of the Soviet leadership to attack on the ground the sanctuaries of the Afghan Mujahideen in Pakistani territory. The US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan are failing because of their reluctance to attack on the ground the sanctuaries of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan. Indian counter-terrorism is facing serious difficulties---- which are likely to increase in future--- because of the reluctance of the policy-makers to authorize clandestine actions against the sanctuaries of anti-India jihadi organisations in Pakistani territory.

42. If the Western pressure on Pakistan to dismantle the LET's terrorism infrastructure in its territory fails to produce results, India should have an alternate plan ready for appropriate operational options short of a direct military strike.

43. It is in India's interest that the US succeeds in its operations against the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda. This would not put an end to Pakistani state-sponsored terrorism in Indian territory, but could make it more manageable. It is not in India's interest to unwittingly create difficulties for the US war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by engaging in a military confrontation with Pakistan. Obama should be given time to try out his more robust strategy.

44. In its preoccupation with the external dimensions of the problem arising from Pakistan's continued use of terrorism, India should not neglect the internal dimensions arising from the grievances in sections of its Muslim youth and the weaknesses in its counter-terrorism community.

45. There is a need for a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy with strategic and tactical dimensions. The decision to set up a National Investigation Agency and give additional powers to the Police are the building blocks of the strategic dimension. A revamping of the intelligence agencies to improve the flow of terrorism-related intelligence and of the physical security agencies to prevent physical security failures of the kind witnessed in Mumbai by promoting the culture of joint action should also be part of the strategic dimension. The tactical dimension would involve the identification of vulnerable cities and targets and immediate action to protect them.

46. Preventing another 26/11 should be the immediate priority. Making jihadi terrorism---home-grown or externally sponsored---- wither away through a mix of political, diplomatic and operational measures should be the strategic priority.

Submitting....

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