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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 3, No. 52, July 11, 2005

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal





The Jihad Runs Deep
Ajai Sahni
Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management

The reminders are as relentless as our efforts to deny, to forget. So, again, a little over a month after the Delhi cinema hall blasts of May 22, 2005, sought to inflame Sikh passions, a fidayeen (suicide squad) attack on the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi Site at Ayodhya in the State of Uttar Pradesh was engineered to polarize Hindus and Muslims across the country. Both incidents failed to provoke the wider backlash they were intended to trigger, but the intent, the purpose, the efforts, remain unwavering, and evidence of the enormous supportive infrastructure based in Pakistan, and an expanding network of subversive cells in India, adds up continuously.

It is premature to speak authoritatively of the identity and affiliations of the individuals involved in the July 5 Ayodhya attack, but some indicators bear notice. Cell phone records traced back from one of the instruments recovered from the terrorists have helped track their movements back to Lucknow and Akbarpur in Uttar Pradesh, and calls to Pakistan have also confirmed their linkages with handlers or associates in that country. Significantly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chose the aftermath of the Ayodhya incident to reiterate that the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan was yet to be dismantled and stated, further, that incidents like Ayodhya could impact adversely on the peace process. It is a different matter, of course, that he was contradicted in this latter claim by his own Home Minister, who was quick to state that Ayodhya would have 'no impact' on the Indo-Pak talks. The apparent contradiction is, perhaps, explicable in terms of the different time frames within which the two leaders were speaking, the Prime Minister focusing on the long term impact of continued Pakistan-backed subversion and terror, the Home Minister speaking of the direct impact of this specific incident; or it could be explained in terms of the habitual muddle-headedness that afflicts India's top policy echelons.

Despite the efforts of a sensationalist media and opportunistic elements within the Hindu far-right to milk the Ayodhya incident, it is abundantly clear that this failed attack was just another and abortive attempt to polarize communities within the country. Once the dust has settled, its abject failure will relegate it to a long list of minor terrorist attacks in the country. But Ayodhya is no more than the tip of the iceberg.

The enormity of Pakistan's subversive enterprise in India can be gauged from the fact that, since mid-1998, a single Central intelligence unit charged with monitoring Pakistan backed Islamist terrorist and subversive activities outside Jammu & Kashmir has identified and neutralized as many as 222 terrorist and espionage cells across the country. 641 persons were arrested (39 of these were Pakistani nationals) and another 51 (30 Pakistanis) were killed during these operations. In addition, while consolidated data on this is unavailable, there has been a significant number of arrests carried out by various State Police units. No region and virtually no State in the country has remained unaffected by the activities of these cells. While a comprehensive listing of all these cells, their activities and their affiliations is not possible here, it is useful to look at a sample of the more important modules detected and neutralized in the current year.

  • January 16, 2005: The Delhi Police arrested a Pakistan trained terrorist, Aijaz Ahmed Farash of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) at Karol Bagh.
  • February 12, 2005: The Delhi Police arrested a Pakistani agent, Mohammed Ahsun Untoo, from Church road in the Cantonment area.
  • March 7, 2005: A Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) cadre, Iftikar Ehsan Malik, was arrested from Dehradun, Uttranchal.
  • March 10, 2005: Khalil Husain Shah, a suspected Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agent, arrested at Lalkurti, Uttar Pradesh.
  • March 19, 2005: Eyaz Mohammad, a member of the Al Badr, arrested at Kaliachak in Malda, West Bengal.
  • April 28, 2005: Abdul Rezzak, a suspected ISI agent, arrested in Mumbai, Maharashtra, for running a fake currency racket.
  • May 11, 2005: Mohammad Aish-ur-Rahman, a citizen of Nepal suspected to be linked with the ISI, arrested from the New Delhi Railway Station with high quality heroin worth INR 10 million and fake currency of INR 195,000.
  • May 12, 2005: Harun Rashid, a resident of Siwan, Bihar, working with the LeT, arrested at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.
  • May 15, 2005: Mohammed Hasifuddin, working for the ISI, arrested at Minkrie Village, Khliehriat Police Station, Meghalaya, with 400 gelatine sticks. He is believed to have supplied explosives for the August 15, 2004, blasts in the Dhemaji town of Assam.
  • May 30, 2005: ISI agent Mohammad Mehmood @ Sahil @ Aplu arrested from a hotel in Ajmer, Rajasthan.
  • June 10, 2005: An HM cadre, Ali Mohammed, arrested with RDX at the Inter-State Bus Terminus, New Delhi. He transported explosives to supply to a module of the organisation in Delhi.
  • July 1, 2005: Four terrorists, Masood, Zahid, Bashir and Nazir, are arrested from the South-West Delhi area. Recoveries included arms, ammunition and a map of the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

In addition to these, the Pakistan backed Sikh terrorist module involved in the Delhi cinema hall blasts was also uncovered:

  • June 1, 2005: Jaspal Singh arrested at Inderpuri in Delhi with 1 kilogram of RDX, a timer, detonator, rifle, ammunition and several fake driving licenses.
  • June 5, 2005: Two Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) activists, Bahadur Singh and Gurdip Singh, arrested from Nawanshahar, Punjab. A kilogram of RDX, 11 detonators and cordex wires were recovered from them.
  • June 8, 2005: Jagtar Singh Hawara, 'operations chief' of the BKI in India arrested with two other accused in the Cinema hall blasts from an industrial area in Narela, West Delhi. 10.35 kilograms of RDX, pistols, ammunition, three remote-controlled explosive devices, and hand grenades were recovered during the arrests.

Several other arrests have also taken place since in a 'mopping up' exercise targeting Hawara's associates and the support structure that facilitated the module's shelter, movement and operations.

This small selection of cells - linked together only by the accident of the timing of their detection - illustrates the sheer spread, intensity and relentless character of the Pakistan-backed enterprise of terror in India. While terrorist activities and attacks offer the most dramatic instances of the existing threat, there is a far more insidious danger that continues to be nurtured in, and exported from, Pakistan: the continued, vigorous and universal propagation of the ideology of jihad, of communal polarization and hatred, the demonization of all other faiths in the eyes of the Muslims, the continuous recruitment of cadres and the build-up of widely distributed arms caches for future use.

This process is not unique to India, and the Islamist extremist enterprise - both with state support from Pakistan and within more autonomous non-state groups - is replicating a process of 'encirclement and penetration' in target communities across the world. The process often precedes actual terrorist activity by years, if not decades, and passes through the following stages:

  1. A 'hardening' of Islam through a distortion of the relatively pluralistic practices of South Asian Muslims - a process of "religious mobilisation and an extremist Islamist reorientation" that may extend over decades before it is translated into violence. This involves a triad of ideological concepts: the transnational Islamic ummah, khilafat and jihad. The transfer of populations and demographic destabilisation - both externally induced and natural - have been powerful complementarities in these processes.
  2. The second stage of this process is the mobilisation of motivated Islamist cadres for political action, and for support activities to existing terrorist operations, both in present areas of such operation as well as in all potential areas of expansion. Such potential areas are conceived, within the pan-Islamist perspective, to comprehend all concentrations of Muslim populations, wherever these may be located.
  3. The third stage involves exfiltration and training of such cadres for terrorist operations - in the past, primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These processes continue in camps in Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  4. The fourth stage involves the infiltration of these cadres back into the target communities, either for immediate terrorist operation in 'active' theatres, or for the creation of cells that engage in consolidation activities, further recruitment, the build-up of arms and ammunition caches, financial mobilisation, propaganda, the creation of 'front organisations' that engage in legal and political activities based on an exploitation of the institutions and processes of democracy to undermine democracy, or as 'sleepers', awaiting instructions for deployment and terrorist action.

The actual scope of the penetration of these processes comprehends elements - large or small - within virtually every major pocket of Muslim populations in South Asia - particularly, in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Most of the major groups involved in Islamist terrorist activities in India have a transnational presence, with bases, training facilities, headquarters and supply lines located particularly in Pakistan, with Bangladesh as a secondary player, and with operational linkages with the larger pan-Islamist enterprise of terrorism. More specifically, the major Islamist terrorist actors in the region are either directly connected, or have had mediated linkages, with the Al Qaeda.

There is sufficient evidence of Pakistan's abiding support to a wide range of jihadi groups in its covert war against India. The export of terror to J&K, thus continues, although there has been a secular decline in the number of incidents and fatalities since 9/11, related essentially to an erosion of Pakistan's capacities to sustain a high intensity conflict in this State as a result of increasing international - and particular US - pressures, as well as an enormous media focus on Pakistani activities in this region. Significantly, the trends in fatalities have, since 9/11, shown no correlation between 'peace processes' or periods of acute belligerence between the two countries. Thus, even as peace talks with India continue to be pursued as a parallel tactic, 1,810 persons were killed in J&K in 2004 in violence related to Pakistan-backed terrorism; another 915 had lost their lives in 2005, by July 10. Pakistan also continues to extend support to terrorism by ideologically incompatible groups such as the Khalistani (Sikh) terrorists to whom it continues to play host even over twelve years after the comprehensive defeat of terrorism in the Indian province of Punjab; and to ethnic insurgencies in India's Northeast. There is now some evidence of arms and ammunition supplies to Left Wing extremists active across a widening swathe of territory along India's eastern board.

Further, across Europe, America, South, South East and Central Asia, and Africa, evidence of continued subversion and of the persistence of terrorist training camps and activities in Pakistan continues to crop up with the arrest and disruption of a number of Islamist extremist cells. In the US alone, this has included the arrest of several 'modules', the latest in Lodi, California, in which one of the accused confessed that he had attended a jihadi training facility run by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, as recently as 2003-2004, at, according to reports, "Tamal in Rawalpindi" (probably Dhamial in Rawalpindi, where Rehman has run a 'jihad factory' for many years). While investigations into the London bombings of July 7, 2005, are yet in the preliminary stages, Pakistani linkages have repeatedly cropped up in media reports, and varying estimates of British citizens who have undergone terrorist training in camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan have been thrown up in assessments of the future potential of terrorist activities in the UK. Unless the production lines of the global jihad are destroyed, more and more terrorist modules are going to be discovered across the world - and at least some of these are going to slip through intelligence filters to execute their missions of devastation.

The proclivity of states and the international community to focus only on the most dramatic incidents of terrorist violence, and on the dubious pronouncements of Pakistan's military dictator and his proxies in Government, ignores this gradual and sustained campaign of subversive mobilisation and capacity building. This, and not the sporadic manifestation of these capacities in specific acts of terror, comprehends the real potential that counter-terrorist agencies, operations and policies are required to confront and neutralize.


Naga Talks: Summer of Disappointment
Wasbir Hussain
Associate Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi; Consulting Editor, The Sentinel, Guwahati

After a seven-month stay in India, talking peace, the leaders of the rebel National Socialist Council of Nagaland faction headed by 'chairman' Isak Chishi Swu and 'general secretary' Thuingaleng Muivah (NCSN-IM) returned to their 'shelters' abroad. While Swu had left sometime back, Muivah took a flight to Amsterdam on July 4, 2005. They had arrived in India to a rousing welcome by Naga supporters in December 2004, sparking hopes for a resolution of the nearly six decade-old Naga problem. If their arrival in New Delhi, and later in Nagaland, appeared to herald a winter of hope, their departure in mid-summer has raised doubts on the outcome of the negotiations.

It would be simplistic to conclude that the Naga peace process, as it stands now, is in the reverse gear. But, the forward movement that was expected is absent. New Delhi has reason to be happy that the NSCN-IM has not really pushed its key demand: that of a sovereign Naga homeland. But, the Government negotiators could not get the NSCN-IM to budge from the next best option that the group thinks is actually feasible - the integration of all Naga-inhabited areas in the Northeast with the existing State of Nagaland to constitute a single politico-administrative unit. It is the logjam over integration demand that stalled the forward movement of the negotiation process.

The peace process between the NSCN-IM and New Delhi has been on since 1997, after the two sides entered into a formal ceasefire agreement. But if the outcome of the past seven months of negotiations is to be assessed, the NSCN-IM, rather that the Government, appears to have secured some advantage. As a top NSCN-IM leader and the group's 'Home Minister,' R.H. Raising, told this writer on July 9, 2005: "As far as we are concerned, the current rounds of talks have ended on a positive note. We have certainly succeeded in making the Indian Government understand the strength of our arguments in favour of our demands, and what the Nagas think of it. We are sincere in our effort at seeking a solution. We hope, New Delhi too comes to adopt an equally sincere approach in the days to come."

The Government remains caught in a bind and shied away from telling the NSCN-IM leadership that their demand for integration of the Naga-inhabited areas in the region could not be conceded. New Delhi is aware of the mood of both the State Governments and the people in the States of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh - they have made it clear they will not part with any stretch of their territory to appease the Nagas. Obviously, the Government of India cannot attempt to resolve one nagging problem only to open up several new fronts in the already turbulent Northeast.

Significant ground was, nevertheless, covered during the latest rounds of talks in New Delhi:

  • There were not just official talks, but 'undisclosed official talks' as well. For example, the NSCN-IM top brass had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at least five times over the past seven months, besides meetings with Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, official interlocutor K. Padmanabhiah, and the Group of Ministers. Many of these sessions were informal talks or dinner meetings.
  • In a move appreciated by the NSCN-IM, New Delhi has upgraded the level of talks by appointing a Group of Ministers headed by Oscar Fernandes, a Minister of State, to represent the Government of India. That was an acknowledgement of the fact that the talks have reached a 'political stage.' In the past, New Delhi was officially represented by an interlocutor.
  • Despite the difficulty of conceding the integration demand, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is said to have assured Muivah that he would not 'waver' from the path of peace. The Prime Minister is reported to have told Muivah: "I am sincerely telling you that I am committed to finding a solution through peaceful means. I will not waver. I am serious and determined to solve the Naga issue."

The direct one-on-one meetings between the top NSCN-IM leaders and the Prime Minister and other Government and political leaders has certainly helped the two sides understand each other's position better. That may come in handy when the next rounds of talks begin, at a location outside India. It was such direct contacts that prevented the talks from getting derailed. At one stage, when New Delhi was silent on the NSCN-IM's integration demand, Muivah and other rebel leaders got impatient and blamed the Government of trying to buy time by harping on the need for a 'consensus' on the issue. The angry rebel bosses were reassured during several informal sessions and dinner meetings at the initiative of Oscar Fernandes and National Security Adviser Narayanan.

The turnaround was evident in reassuring comments from the NSCN-IM camp - Muivah said before leaving that they can certainly return to India to take the peace process further, and the rebel group put it on record that it was still positive about the eventual outcome. Besides the tactful handling of the situation at the last moment by leaders like Fernandes and Narayanan, the NSCN-IM leadership may have realized that, if the talks were snapped off at this stage, their group, and not New Delhi, would be in a spot. All the top leaders of the group, Swu, Muivah, Raising, and many others are ageing, and, therefore, the sooner an acceptable solution is reached, the better it would be for them. Most importantly, however, the NSCN-IM leadership is certainly aware of the fact that it would not be easy to order their young cadres back to the jungles - despite the threat to do so if the situation warranted - after they have lived a life of relative comfort in designated camps and outside, for eight years at a stretch.

In the coming days, New Delhi will be busy carrying out the annual formality of extending the prevailing ceasefire between the two sides for another year, after the current term expires on July 31, 2005. Then, Government negotiators would need to build on the latest 'understanding' between the two sides to try and break the deadlock over the integration issue. That will be far from easy, and would require the NSCN-IM to come up with yet another compromise offer, either on its own, or with prodding from New Delhi. The peace process has now entered a delicate stage, with options progressively narrowing, and the rebel cadres and the common Naga people becoming restive.

Evidence of this impatience was visible in the latest orgy of violence in the four Naga-dominated districts of Manipur - Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong and Chandel. In blistering and coordinated mob violence on July 9, 2005, angry Naga youth torched at least 25 Government buildings, including the offices of two district magistrates in these districts. Significantly, the immediate provocation for the violence was the death of a Naga youth at the hands of the police, who were trying to break an ongoing road blockade campaign. The road blockade stir had been launched in protest against the Manipur Government's decision to observe June 18 as 'State integration day.' Clearly, the 'greater Nagalim' idea has enormous potential to spark violence in the region, and even the smallest symbolic measure by either side - the Manipuris had resorted to widespread violence after the ceasefire agreement between the Centre and the NSCN-IM had been extended 'without territorial limits' on June 18, 2001 - has the capacity to set off the ethnic tinderbox in wide areas around the present State of Nagaland.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
July 4-10, 2005

Security Force Personnel






     Jammu &








Total (INDIA)







 Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Maharashtra Government announces surrender scheme for Naxalites: On July 6, 2005, the Maharashtra Government announced an amnesty scheme for Naxalites (left-wing extremists). Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said after a cabinet meeting in the capital Mumbai that those surrendering will be given a 'cash prize' immediately and additional money would be given if they surrender with weapons. Deshmukh also said that those demanding security cover would be provided with the same. The State Government would also review cases filed against the surrendered Naxalites and the ways to withdraw them. The scheme would be applicable for six months. Times of India, July 7, 2005.

Six terrorists killed after failed attempt to attack disputed complex in Ayodhya: Six heavily-armed terrorists, who made an attempt to storm the makeshift Ram temple at the disputed Ayodhya complex in Uttar Pradesh, were shot dead by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel on July 5, 2005. Four CRPF personnel and two civilians, including a woman devotee, were injured in the exchange of gunfire. Uttar Pradesh Police chief Yashpal Singh said that three AK-47 and one AK-56 rifles, one carbine, one Chinese revolver and four grenades were recovered from the slain terrorists. The terrorists, whose identities are yet to be determined, arrived at the incident site in the guise of devotees in an explosive-laden jeep, which they rammed into the security barricade to breach the cordon. While one terrorist who rammed the jeep was blown to pieces, five others were killed in the subsequent encounter with the CRPF personnel. One of the slain terrorists was found with explosives strapped to his body. The driver of the taxi, Rehan Alam, a resident of Ayodhya, who also got down along with the terrorists a short distance away from the barricade, was arrested and is currently being interrogated. The Hindu, July 6, 2005.


India resumes non-lethal military supply, indicates report: According to The Indian Express, India has supplied the first consignment of non-lethal military items to Nepal including bullet-proof jackets, Mahindra jeeps, concertina security wires, bunker protection devices and mine-proof vehicles through the Raxaul border in the State of Bihar. According to the report, sources said Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had approved the decision on June 30, 2005 after King Gyanendra gave his assurance that Nepal would move towards restoring multi-party democracy. However, the date of delivery was not mentioned. Indian Express, July 5, 2005.


Terrorist training camps resume functioning, indicates report: Terrorist training camps in Pakistan have reportedly resumed functioning after a year-long hiatus and the old and new recruits are flocking to them notwithstanding the official ban, according to the Karachi-based Herald. Citing an example of the camps being reopened, the magazine in its cover story, said one of Pakistan's oldest training camps at Mansehra in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) is bustling with activity after a year-long closure, as old and new cadres converged on it to resume their training. "Our transport fleet is back, electricity has been restored and communications systems are in place… Until 2001, thousands of fighters trained here for operations in Kashmir and Afghanistan," the magazine quoted a guide who conducted the correspondent around as saying. According to a top manager of the training camp in Mansehra, all the major organisations, including Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), Al-Badr Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) and others, began regrouping in April 2005 by renovating training facilities that were deserted in 2004. Contrary to official denials, the magazine said despite the ban, outfits like HM, HuM, Al-Badr Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) managed to stay in touch with their cadres in 2003-04, which was considered as their worst year. Herald, July 11, 2005.

The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that brings you regular data, assessments and news briefs on terrorism, insurgencies and sub-conventional warfare, on counter-terrorism responses and policies, as well as on related economic, political, and social issues, in the South Asian region.

SAIR is a project of the Institute for Conflict Management and the South Asia Terrorism Portal.


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