VIEW­POINT : MORE TER­ROR

Iron­i­cally, among all the big talk of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion for coun­ter­ing ter­ror­ism, at best one can ex­pect shar­ing of in­tel­li­gence but that too if it suits the na­tional in­ter­est of the in­tel­li­gence provider. The bot­tom­line there­fore is that this is

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In a re­cently re­leased video, Al Qaeda leader Ay­man al-Zawahiri has an­nounced the for­ma­tion of an In­dian branch of his mil­i­tant group that, he said, would spread Is­lamic rule and “raise the flag of ji­had” across the sub­con­ti­nent. The new group, he said, “is the fruit of a blessed ef­fort of more than two years to gather the Mu­jahideen in the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent into a sin­gle en­tity.”

The fact is that Zawahiri who had thought his cadres help­ing the rebels in Syria and Libya would buy him favours of the US and EU has ac­tu­ally been given the drub­bing of his life by Al Qaeda’s off­shoot Is­lamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that wants to con­sume its own mother. So with the ISIS push­ing his face into the gut­ter, Zawahiri de­clares he is turn­ing fo­cus to the sub­con­ti­nent. His claim of gath­er­ing the Mu­jahideen in In­dia and procla­ma­tion of support to Afghan Tal­iban is a good ef­fort to score brownie points. Al Qaeda’s support to Afghan Tal­iban is noth­ing new. As far as mus­ter­ing the Mu­jahideen in the sub­con­ti­nent is con­cerned, Al Qaeda’s god­mother Pak­istan has been at it since ages, even since Al Qaeda pro­tégé Mushar­raf as a young of­fi­cer was train­ing ter­ror­ists in the Chitagong Hill Tracts of what ear­lier was East Pak­istan. The con­stant of course has been the un­stinted support of Pak­istan to Al Qaeda; shel­ter­ing Osama bn Laden, pro­vid­ing safe havens and support to the Haqqani net­work. Zawahiri’s video mes­saged in the in­stant case too is as­sessed to have been broad­cast some­where along the Pak­istan-Afghanistan bor­der, which may well have been un­der the tute­lage of the Haqqa­nis and In­ter-Ser­vice In­tel­li­gence (ISI).

In con­junc­tion ter­ror­is­ing Jammu and Kashmir ( J&K), Pak­istan in­ducted armed mod­ules pan In­dia; in the states of J&K, Assam, West Ben­gal, Bi­har, Ut­tar Pradesh, Delhi, Kota/Ajmer re­gion of Ra­jasthan, Gu­jarat, Ma­ha­rash­tra, Andhra Pradesh, Ker­ala and that Stu­dents Is­lamic Move­ment of In­dia (SIMI) had al­ready started deput­ing ‘vol­un­teers’ to Pak­istan for train­ing along with the Mu­jahideen, Tal­iban and Al Qaeda cadres, as penned by a for­mer joint di­rec­tor of In­tel­li­gence Bureau in 2005.

So those who hide be­hind the fa­cade that In­dian Mus­lims will not get lured by ISIS are adopt­ing the os­trich ap­proach. It is a process that has been or­ches­trated over decades. We have the largest youth bulge in the world but we also have the largest num­ber of il­le­gal weapons cir­cu­lat­ing in the coun­try and be­ing cen­tral to the Golden Tri­an­gle and the Golden Cres- cent are slush with nar­cotics. Not that we should dis­count the threat from Al Qaeda whose foot­prints were re­ported by the me­dia cit­ing the In­tel­li­gence Bureau and the Re­search and An­la­y­sis Wing sources over five years back. Tn fact the rise of the Ker­ala head­quar­tered Popular Front of In­dia (PFI) was at­trib­uted to the joint ef­fort of Al Qaeda and LeT.

Then is the nexus of the Al Qaeda and the Lib­er­a­tion Tigers of Tamil Ee­lam (LTTE) goes back many years and poses a threat to South In­dia in con­junc­tion Al Qaeda and LeT in­vest­ing into neigh­bour­ing Mal­dives. That the In­dian Maoists were trained by LTTE in use of mines, IEDs and ex­plo­sives at the be­hest of Pak­istan’s ISI and LeT rep­re­sen­ta­tives at­tend­ing Maoists meet­ings are well known, as is the use of Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lankan soil for ISI ac­tiv­i­ties. Con­cur­rent to all this, is the startling news of more than 300 In­dian youth hav­ing been re­cruited by Pak­istan­based Tehreek-e-Tal­iban (TTP) which has joined hands with ISIS. This comes after the news that five ed­u­cated youth from Ma­ha­rash­tra had joined the ISIS and one of them has been killed in fight­ing re­cently.

The Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (NIA) re­port about more than 300 In­dian youth join­ing ISIS says that the youth are be­ing re­cruited from Ker­ala, Tamil Nadu, Ma­ha­rash­tra and Kar­nataka, and that they are be­ing trained in Pak­istan, Iraq and Syria to be Fi­day­een. Jmaat-e-Ahrar is the lat­est break­away group from the TTP that has openly pro­claimed al­le­giance to the ISIS. Not that any for­mal procla­ma­tion was needed when some 5,000 Pak­istan Tal­iban had been fight­ing along­side in Syria and Iraq past sev­eral months, as re­vealed by the Syr­ian Am­bas­sador to In­dia.

The ISIS threat too can­not be ig­nored ei­ther as ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions are get­ting more and more net­worked world­wide. We can­not dis­count global link­ages of in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions and the fo­cus to desta­bilise In­dia by forces that will re­main in­im­i­cal to us al­ways. The In­dian Mu­jahideen are the cre­ation of the ISI of Pak­istan but can be ex­pected to do the bid­ding of both Al Qaeda and the ISIS. Iron­i­cally, among all the big talk of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion for coun­ter­ing ter­ror­ism, at best one can ex­pect shar­ing of in­tel­li­gence but that too if it suits the na­tional in­ter­est of the in­tel­li­gence provider. The bot­tom­line there­fore is that this is our fight and we have to fight it our­selves. That is why Ash­ley Telis of the Carnegie Foun­da­tion had said some years back that “In­dia get­ting sub­jected to ter­ror­ism, suits many”.

LT GEN­ERAL P.C. KA­TOCH (RETD)

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