SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
The Road to Maximum Terror
"The only language India understands", the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT) supreme amir (chief) told top functionaries of his organisation on October 19, 2008, "is that of force, and that is the language in which it must be talked to".
Less than six weeks later, around 9:00 pm on the night of November 26, a woman in the koliwada — or fishing village — off south Mumbai’s upmarket Budhwar Park area saw an inflatable dinghy nudge up against the beach. She, and a few fishermen who were drinking near the beach, watched as ten men got off the boat, and made their way towards the road behind the slum. "Don’t bother us", growled one of the men, in response to a friendly query. The villagers, wisely, kept their peace.
Much of what we know about what happened next comes from the testimony of the dark young man who, dressed in a knock-off Versace T-shirt and grey cargo pants, was caught on closed-circuit camera just minutes before he opened fire at commuters at Mumbai’s crowded Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station.
Mohammad Ajmal Amir has told the Mumbai Police he was part of group of ten men who spent months training in guerrilla warfare, marine commando techniques and navigation skills at Lashkar camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Punjab.
Lashkar military commander Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, Amir has told investigators, showed the group Google Earth maps of South Mumbai, and films of the targets each of the five two-man units had been tasked to hit. Iman, along with his partner ‘Abu Umar’ — whose name, he learned, was in fact Mohammad Ismail Khan — were tasked with attacking the CST. Once they had reached their destinations, the men were told to kill, take hostages, and then — holed out on the roofs of their targets — phone Indian television stations. Once the inevitable rescue operation began, the men were to slaughter the hostages.
Amir’s journey to Mumbai began on September 15, 2008, when the five groups of fidayeen (suicide squad) were ordered to travel to Karachi after leaving Muridke, home of the Lashkar’s parent-political group, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). The group reassembled near Karachi, where the fidayeen were told that they would leave for Mumbai on September 27. For reasons that are unclear, the departure was delayed and fresh orders did not come in until November 22.
Lakhvi, Amir has said, personally saw off the group when it finally pushed off the Karachi coast at 4:00 AM on November 23. Amir and Khan rowed out to the Pakistan-flagged merchant ship al Hussaini along with men they knew as Abu Akasha and Abu Umar; ‘Bada’ [‘elder’ or ‘big’] Abdul Rehman and Abu Ali; ‘Chhota’ [‘younger’ or ‘small’] Abdul Rehman and Fahadullah; Shoaib and Umar — all Pakistani nationals who spoke Punjabi.
Each man carried a Kalashnikov rifle, 200 rounds of ammunition and grenades. Five men had larger bags, packed with integrated circuit-controlled improvised explosive devices. The group also had at least one state-of-the art Garmin Global Positioning System set, and several mobile phones fitted with Indian SIM cards.
Near Indian coastal waters, the men hijacked a fishing boat, the Gujarat-registered Kuber, which had strayed away from the main fishing fleet in bad weather. Four of the five-man crew on the Kuber were taken aboard the al Husaini, where they are believed to have been executed. The fifth crew member, Amar Narayan Singh — a 45 year old father of three — guided the fidayeen unit to the Sassoon Docks in Mumbai. Once there, the men slit Singh’s throat, and reached Budhwar Park in their inflatable dinghy.
From Budhwar Park, the men travelled on to their targets by the simplest means possible: they hailed taxis or, in three cases, simply walked the few hundred metres to their targets, all clustered in south Mumbai. Bombs later went off in two taxis in Mumbai’s suburbs, which are thought to have been planted there by two of the teams. Once at their targets, the men began opening fire. The operation went almost precisely as planned, bar two factors: against impossible odds, a few ill-equipped Mumbai Police officers put up an unexpected fighting, derailing the hostage-taking plans — and Amir, when halted by one police team, took two bullets in his arm, and lived.
Amir’s account — disputed by Pakistan’s State apparatus and media, until a welter of western reports confirmed that the terrorist was indeed a resident of the village of Faridkot, in Pakistan’s Okara District — isn’t however the sole piece of evidence on the Mumbai massacre’s planning and authorship.
Evidence on the route used by the fidayeen to reach Mumbai has been recorded in detail on the GPS system used by the terrorists, which maps their journey from Karachi in minute detail. In addition, a satellite phone used by the terrorists to make calls from the Kuber has five Pakistani numbers in its call records.
US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) detectives have also determined that the IEDs used in Mumbai closely resemble, in their fabrication, devices used by Pakistan-linked terrorist groups operating in Pakistan.
Moreover, the Mumbai Police and India’s intelligence services were able to intercept several phone calls made by the terrorists from their mobile phones, during the attack, to their controllers in Pakistan. The calls were made to virtual phone numbers in New Jersey and Vienna, purchased from the voice-over-internet service provider Vox Phone, paid for through a Western Union branch in Karachi.
The intelligence harvest also appears to bear out Amir’s account. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), notably, delivered two warnings to India of possible attack on Mumbai. The first, couched in general terms, was delivered to India through the Research and Analysis Wing on September 18. In response to an Indian request, the CIA delivered further details on September 24, warning expressly that the Lashkar was planning to hit targets with large numbers of foreigners, including the Taj Mahal Hotel. Read against Amir’s testimony to the Mumbai Police, it would appear that the CIA had picked up the movement of the Lashkar fidayeen from Muridke to Karachi.
The CIA’s warnings corroborated information generated by India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB), which, in September, warned that the Lashkar had conducted reconnaissance operations in several parts of Mumbai, in particular around hotels in south Mumbai as well as the suburbs. The IB’s warnings had led the Mumbai Police to step up security around south Mumbai. Pamphlets were distributed to store owners, asking them to report suspicious movement. Top management at the Taj Mahal Hotel and Oberoi Hotel were also briefed on the threat.
Bar imposing parking restrictions for a brief period, neither hotel acted. The chronically understaffed Mumbai Police, too, was forced to move out the additional police force deployed around the hotels in October, to deal with persistent law-and-order problems related to a local ethnic-chauvinist mobilisation. In any case, it is unclear that the additional Police presence in Mumbai would have altered the course of events: some officers had not trained with firearms for a decade, and even the elite Anti-Terrorism Squad’s Quick Reaction Teams had not used their assault rifles for a year, because of an ammunition shortage.
On November 18, RAW itself intercepted a satellite phone conversation from the al Husaini, which suggested that an unspecified ‘consignment’ was on its way to Mumbai. RAW analysts, who determined that the satellite phone call was made to a number known to be used by Lakhvi and his subordinates, notified the Indian Coast Guard of a potential threat. Late on the night of November 20, coast Guard authorities, in turn, launched a day-long hunt for the al-Hussaini, based on the GPS coordinates provided by RAW. The search, however, proved unsuccessful — not surprisingly, since from Amir’s testimony, we learn that the Lashkar group was yet to board the al Husaini. Coast Guard patrols kept an eye out for the ship in coming days, but not the Indian fishing boat on which the terrorists were eventually to arrive.
Without full cooperation from Pakistani investigators, though, it is unclear how much of the technical evidence can be turned into material that will facilitate the criminal prosecution of the command-level perpetrators.
From the available evidence, however, it is clear that the Lashkar had long been planning attacks using sea routes across the Indian Ocean. From as early as 2002, Indian intelligence assets reported that Lashkar elements were receiving some basic marine-skills training at the Mangla Dam reservoir in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and at the organisation’s private lake in Murikde.
American journalist Steve Coll provided independent corroboration for these reports in a recent article, noting that it "has long been an open secret, and a source of some hilarity among foreign correspondents, that under the guise of ‘humanitarian relief operations’, Lashkar practiced amphibious operations on a lake at its vast headquarters campus, outside Lahore".
Faisal Haroun, a top Lashkar operative who commanded the terror group’s India-focussed operations out of Bangladesh, helped concentrate India’s intelligence concerns on the issue sharply. In September 2006, Haroun was briefly held by Bangladesh authorities before being quietly deported. But a west European covert service obtained transcripts of his questioning by Bangladesh’s Directorate-General of Field Intelligence. Haroun, it turned out, had been using a complex shipping network, using merchant ships and small fishing boats, to move explosives to Lashkar units operating in India. Among the end-users of these supplies was Ghulam Yazdani, a Hyderabad resident who commanded a series of attacks, including the assassination of Gujarat pogrom-complicit former Home Minister, Haren Pandya and the June 2005 bombing of the Delhi-Patna Shramjeevi Express. Investigators probing the Haroun story determined his network had helped land a giant consignment of explosives and assault rifles on the Maharashtra coast for an abortive 2006 Lashkar-led attempt to bomb Gujarat.
India’s intelligence services determined that Haroun had been attempting to set up an Indian Ocean base for the Lashkar. Along with a Male-based Maldives resident, Ali Assham, Haroun had studied the prospect of using a deserted Indian Ocean island for building a Lashkar storehouse, from where weapons and explosives could be moved to Kerala and then on to the rest of India. In 2007, when evidence emerged of heightened Islamist activity in the Maldives — including the bombing of tourists in Male’s Sultan Park, and the setting up of a Sharia-run mini-state on the Island of Himandhoo — the seriousness of the threat to India’s western seaboard became even more evident.
Former Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil was shaken up enough by the flow of information to make a special reference, in a 2006 speech, to the emerging maritime terror threat. Patil’s Ministry moved, its Annual Report for 2007-2008 records, to strengthen "coastal security arrangements [and], to check infiltration". In liaison with the nine coastal States and Union Territories, the Report discloses, funds had been earmarked to set up "73 Coastal Police Stations which will be equipped with 204 boats, 153 jeeps and 312 motor cycles for mobility on coast and in close coastal waters. The Coastal Police Stations will also have a Marine Police with personnel trained in maritime activities". While about two-thirds of these Police Stations have, indeed, been built, there is no Marine Police in place, since there are no locations of facilities for their training.
Meanwhile, the Lashkar was closing in. India first learned of the Lashkar’s efforts to use the Mumbai-Karachi sea route in 2007, when the IB successfully penetrated a plot to land eight Lashkar fidayeen. Travelling in a boat investigators believe was hired through the Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar organised crime syndicate, captained by a man who spoke Mumbai-accented Hindi, the eight fidayeen landed off the Mumbai coast on March 3, 2007.
Later, the group spent time at a safehouse provided by a Mumbai-based Lashkar operative in the city’s suburbs, before travelling by train to join Lashkar units operating in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Two of the fidayeen, Pakistani nationals Jamil Ahmad Awan and Abdul Majid Araiyan, were arrested and are now held at the Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu; the rest are believed to have been killed in follow-up counter-terrorism raids.
In February 2008, the IB hit on yet more evidence that Mumbai was being prepared for assault. Investigators probing a New Year’s Eve attack on a Central Reserve Police Force camp in Rampur found that the Lashkar unit responsible for the attack also had plans to hit the Mumbai stock exchange and the Taj Mahal Hotel. Uttar Pradesh resident Fahim Ahmed Ansari, who was recruited by the Lashkar while working in Dubai in 2005, and then trained at its camps in Pakistan, was arrested along with Pakistani fidayeen, Imran Shehzad from Bhimber in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Mohammad Farooq Bhatti from Gujranwala in Punjab. Ansari provided investigators with a graphic account of his training, as well as the abortive plans to stage a fidayeen attack in Mumbai.
All three men carried legitimate Pakistani passports, presumably intended to secure their escape through Nepal. Shehzad held passport number EK5149331, issued on March 14, 2007, while Bhatti used passport number AW3177021, issued a day earlier. Ansari’s Pakistani passport, BM 6809341, issued on November 1, 2007, bears the pseudonym Hammad Hassan.
Saeed and other top Lashkar functionaries have also become increasingly aggressive in their recent public proclamations. In his October 19, 2008, speech, which was delivered before an audience of key Lashkar leaders like Maulana Amir Hamza, Qari Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh and Muhammad Yahya Mujahid at the organisation’s headquarters in Muridke, the Lashkar chief made clear he saw India as an existential threat. India, he claimed, was building dams in J&K to choke Pakistan’s water supplies and cripple its agriculture. Earlier, in an October 6 speech, Saeed claimed India had "made a deal with the United States to send 150,000 Indian troop to Afghanistan". He claimed India had agreed to support the US in an existential war against Islam. Finally, in a sermon to a religious congregation at the Jamia Masjid al-Qudsia in Lahore at the end of October, Saeed proclaimed that there was an "ongoing war in the world between Islam and its enemies" and that "crusaders of the east and west have united in a cohesive onslaught against Muslims".
It takes little to see that Saeed’s pronouncements were, in fact, a manifesto for Mumbai’s night of maximum terror.
Where might things go from here? For one, it is clear that further progress in the investigation will, in no small part, be contingent on support from the Pakistani State. While the mass of electronic evidence, as well as Amir’s testimony, point unequivocally to the fact that the authors of the attack were in Karachi and Lahore, demonstrating who they were — and proving their identities in a court of law — will need investigation on Pakistani soil.
Pakistan, as things stand, appears to have little incentive to back such an enterprise. For one, a full investigation of the Mumbai massacre will lead, without dispute, to embarrassing revelations on the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate’s relationship with the Lashkar — a relationship ably documented not just by scholars like Hassan Abbas, but by Islamabad’s envoy to Washington D.C., Husain Haqqani. More important, mired as it is in multiple confrontations with jihadis in the North West Frontier Province and Federally-Administered Tribal Areas, the Pakistani state cannot but wish to avert another conflict – this time, in the country’s heartland Punjab province.
Given its enormous financial resources and a wide popular reach that extends into the ranks of the Armed Forces, the JuD is arguably the best-organised political force in Punjab. Dismantling its infrastructure will prove a formidable challenge to Pakistan, even if the State does, indeed, decide it wishes to take that course.
Failure to compel Pakistan to act, however, could have incalculable consequences. If the "crusaders of the east" were the Lashkar’s main target till now, the Mumbai massacre demonstrates their western counterparts are no longer guaranteed immunity from its guns. The Pakistan State itself will come under increasing threat from a group that will, without doubt, be emboldened by its ability to survive the fallout from Mumbai. India and the world will have to act — or confront immeasurably larger horrors in the only-too-foreseeable future.
State of Denial
Orissa is gradually transforming into a Maoist stronghold. Exploiting the State Government’s lackadaisical response to the growth of Left Wing Extremism (LWE), the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) has not only carried out a number of high profile attacks in the State, but has established a methodical process of consolidation.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) data, available till August 31, 2008, reveals a sharp rise in the LWE-related incidents in Orissa since 2004.
Insurgency related fatalities in Orissa: 2004-08
Source: Union Ministry of Home Affairs. Government of India
The Institute for Conflict Management database, however, indicates that, while the total number of Maoist-related incidents in Orissa increased to 118 in 2008 (data till December 7) from 67 in 2007, fatalities suffered by Security Force (SF) personnel rose sharply to 75, from just two in 2007. Out of 30 Districts in the State, Maoist activity was reported from at least 22. Six south-western Districts – Malkangiri, Koraput, Raygada, Kandhamal, Nayagarh and Gajapati – accounted for almost 60 percent of all incidents in 2008.
It can safely be assumed that the phase of Maoist consolidation in Orissa has reached an advanced stage. While in 2007 and previous years, Maoists quietly went about with the tasks of political mobilization and expansion of their area of operation, in 2008 the Maoist ‘takeover’ of several areas in south-western Orissa had evidently been completed. This has allowed the extremists a corridor of easy transit between Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The movement of armed Maoists was noticed along the Ganjam-Kandhamal border in south-east Orissa. The dense jungle and hilly terrain of this region proved conducive to Maoist movement. As a result, it was hardly surprising that, when pressure mounted on Maoists in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, they found it convenient to step up activities in Orissa.
Against this backdrop, state agencies have sought to project Maoist subversion in Orissa as a spillover of violence from its neighbouring States. But reports of Maoist incidents from Districts like Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Khurda, Angul, Dhenkanal, all along the eastern board of the State and far from borders with States like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, as well as the arrest of a substantial number of Maoists local to Orissa, points at a steady strengthening of the Maoists in this State.
The augmentation of Maoist capacities in Orissa was most dramatically manifested in four high profile Maoist attacks in 2008, three of which targeted SF personnel.
The first of these was the near simultaneous raids on the District Armoury and the Police Training College at the District Headquarters town of Nayagarh, at the Mahipur Police Outpost, 11 kilometers away, at the Nuagaon Police Station, 20 kilometers away, and at the Dasapalla Police Station at least 40 kilometers away from Nayagarh town, on February 15, 2008. Nayagarh itself is barely 80 kilometres west of the State capital Bhubaneswar, lying in Orissa’s east. In the raids which lasted over five hours, 14 Police personnel and two civilians were killed. Though Police claimed to have killed three Maoists, not a single dead body was recovered. At least 1,100 arms, including rifles, light machine guns, single loaded rifles, AK-47s and pistols, were looted. While around 650 arms and 100,000 rounds of ammunition were taken away from the PTS Arms Depot, 400 arms and 100,000 bullets were looted from the District Armoury. Four guns were also removed from each of the three Police Stations. The combing operation that followed recovered around 70 percent of the weapons, most of the primitive .303 rifles, which had simply been abandoned by the Maoists as being of little utility, and in damaged condition.
The second high profile attack occurred on June 29 when 38 security force (SF) personnel, including 36 belonging to the elite anti-Maoist Greyhounds from Andhra Pradesh, were killed in the Chitrakonda reservoir of Malkangiri District, close to the Andhra Pradesh border. CPI-Maoist cadres atop hills sprayed bullets on the 68-member Andhra Pradesh-Orissa Police party, which was returning after conducting combing operations, after getting information that the Maoists were holding a conclave there. Heavy fire from sophisticated weapons sunk the motorised boat in the reservoir, drowning most of the SF personnel. Some who swam ashore were reportedly shot by the Maoists.
The third major incident occurred on July 16, when CPI-Maoist cadres killed 17 personnel of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Orissa Police in a landmine blast, once again in the Malkangiri District. The blast occurred in the MV-126 area when an anti-landmine van carrying the Police team was returning to the District headquarters town of Malkangiri. The personnel had gone to MPV-41 village, where a contractor’s house was attacked by Maoists in the night of July 15. A majority of the SOG personnel were in the anti-landmine vehicle and the rest were on motorcycles. Immediately after the blast, Maoists hiding in the nearby forest opened fire on the Policemen.
The fourth major attack was on August 23 when five persons including Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Lakshmanananda and four disciples, including a woman, were killed in an attack by CPI-Maoist cadres on an ashram at Jalespata in the Kandhamal District. The armed extremists opened fire and hurled bombs after entering the ashram (hermitage) run by Swami Lakshmanananda at 8.30 pm during a religious celebration.
Despite the enormity of the first three incidents, it was the fourth that added a new dimension to Maoist violence. In this case, the target was a noted religious figure, and after the incident, simmering conflict between Christians and the Hindu right wing Sangh Parivar, on the one hand, and between Scheduled Castes (mostly Christians) and Scheduled Tribes (mostly Hindus), broke out into month long violent riots. Maoists appeared to have exploited a pre-existing divide among the population, with its strong socio-economic overtones. There were reports that Maoists gave arms and explosives training to some 50 Scheduled Caste Christians for use in the ensuing communal riots that followed the incident. Subsequently, the Maoists also threatened to kill an RSS activist – and eventually carried out the threat. Though it is not clear who killed the RSS activist, the Maoists were able to generate fear among the masses in the area. During the protracted rioting, the state remained a mute witness, while the Maoists gained strength in many areas of the District where they had little previous presence.
The state response to the Maoist violence has repeatedly exposed an abject lack of understanding of the Maoist strategy of political and military consolidation. The absence or infrequency of violent incidents has been interpreted – at the highest quarters – as an absence of threat. Thus, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik declared, after the Nayagarh incident, "The Naxal violence profile in the State remains much less compared to the neighbouring Naxal-affected States like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar."
The result of such assessments is that there has been little emphasis on building State Police capacities, and very poor levels of preparedness. National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2007 indicates that the actual strength of the Civil Police, including District Armed Police, stood at 27,408 against a sanctioned strength of 31,367 – a deficit of 12 per cent. At the Director General (DG)/Additional DG/ / Inspector General (IG)/ Deputy IG level, the actual strength of officers is 25 against the sanctioned strength of 33 (24.24 per cent shortage). At Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP)/ Superintendent of Police (SP)/Additional SP/ Deputy SP level, the actual strength is 257 against the sanctioned strength of 313 (deficit: 17.9 per cent). At the Inspector, Sub-Inspector (SI) & Assistant SI level the actual strength is 4,345 against the sanctioned strength of 6315 (deficit: 31.2 per cent). At the level of personnel below the ASI rank, the actual strength is 22,781 against the sanctioned strength of 24,706 (deficit: 7.8 per cent).
However, data for the Armed Police component – where capacities are most urgently needed – is even more distressing. In the Armed Police, the actual strength is 10,864 against the sanctioned strength of 15,828 (deficit: 31.4 per cent). At SSP/SP/Addl. SP/ASP/DySP level the actual strength is 73 against the sanctioned strength of 184 (deficit: 60.33 per cent). At Inspector, SI & ASI level the actual strength is 449 against the sanctioned strength of 911 (deficit: 50.7 per cent). At the level of personnel below the rank of ASI, the actual strength is 10,342 against the sanctioned strength of 14,723 (deficit: 29.8 per cent). The Police population ratio (policemen per 100,000 population) in the State is dismal 97 against the extremely poor national average of 125. The Police density (Policemen per 100 square kilometre area) is, again, a paltry 24.6 compared to the national average of 45. Crucially, the distribution of Force is also extremely lopsided, with the highest deficits persisting in areas worst affected by Maoist violence. Praveen Swami notes that Malkangiri, one of the worst affected Districts in the State, for instance, should have 49 sub-inspectors, but only 17 were in place. Swami notes, further,
Incidentally, all major Maoist attacks have been followed by promises of strengthening the Police Force. After the February 15 Nayagarh attack, Chief Minister Patnaik, who is also in charge of the Home Department, announced that all Police vacancies would be filled expeditiously within the shortest possible time and all the Police Stations and armouries would be fortified. As per these plans, an additional 1,300 posts of constables and sepoys would be created in the Orissa State Armed Police (Special Security) Battalions, to guard the newly fortified Police Stations. Further, the strength of the SOG of the State Police was to be increased by sanctioning 1,000 additional posts. Five India Reserve Battalions (IRBs) were also to be created after obtaining sanction from the Centre, in addition to three already sanctioned.
Similarly, after the July 16 landmine blast incident, which killed 17 SOG personnel, the Orissa Government decided to recruit 2,000 Special Police Force personnel to combat the Maoist insurgency. The Government further decided to appoint 1,500 retired defence personnel in various posts that were lying vacant. It was also decided that more than 5,000 Constables and other staff would be appointed under a special recruitment drives.
Further, on October 25, the Orissa Government initiated steps to start a scheme to deploy 2,000 armed tribal youth as Special Police Officers (SPOs) in five Maoist-infested Districts to fight the extremists. An Orissa Home Department resolution (No 47958 dated October 25, 2008) indicates that tribal men and women in the age group of 18-25 years, from the Maoist-infested Malkangiri, Koraput, Gajapati, Rayagada and Kandhamal Districts, would be appointed on a contractual basis for the first three years. With a minimal educational requirement of having passed the VIIIth Standard, they were to undergo training in arms and ammunition like regular Policeman. As SPOs, they would be paid INR 4,000 per month in the first two years and INR 4,500 in the third year, after which they might be absorbed as sepoys or constables against regular Police vacancies. Referring to the manifestly counter-productive anti-Maoist civilian vigilante movement in Chhattisgarh, a senior Home Department official said, "It’s just like Salwa Judum. They will be doing the same things that the SPOs in Chhattisgarh are doing. The aim is to let the tribals defend themselves against the onslaught of Maoists."
According to the Chief Minister’s disclosures in the State Assembly on December 4, 2008, 2100 tribal youths were being appointed as SPOs in the Maoist-affected Districts by relaxing educational and physical standards. The State Government has appointed an ex-Army officer of Brigadier rank as the training advisor for the State Police in addition to as many as 124 ex-servicemen. Further, the fortification of 142 Police Stations and 41 armouries had already started. After the Nayagarh incident, a decision had also been taken to fortify 115 urban and 305 rural Police Stations in phases. Further the Government had also created 878 additional posts for the SOG, a force raised for anti-Maoist operations. Besides, the decision had also been taken to station one Commando Battalions for Resolute Action (COBRA) Battalion of the para-military Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the Koraput District for anti-Maoist operations. The recruited constables of the Second and Third India Reserve Battalion (IRB) had also been sent to six Border Security Force (BSF) training units at Malkangiri and Rourkela. Training for fresh batch of newly recruited personnel was also slated to commence ‘soon’ in the SOG training institute at Chandaka. A recruitment drive has also been launched to fill up 2,075 posts of constables in the civil Police and 541 sepoys in the Orissa State Armed Police (OSAP) battalion. The Orissa Staff Selection Commission had been moved for ‘immediate recruitment’ of 319 sub-inspectors, 35 sergeants and 160 deputy subedars, which constitute the leadership positions at the cutting age level of the Police Force.
It remains to be seen how rapidly these various schemes and declarations of intent are actually translated into capacities on the ground. The experience of the past has been extraordinarily discouraging. Swami notes,
Evidently, Orissa’s past record of keeping up with promises made after high-profile attacks holds little hope for this beleaguered State. Unless there is a sea-change in the orientation of the State’s political and Police leadership, the creeping Maoist consolidation promises to continue unchallenged.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
December 8-14, 2008
National Investigation Agency to be set up, says Union Home Minister: Addressing the Lok Sabha (Lower house of Parliament) on December 11, 2008 Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said the Government would introduce a set of Bills to strengthen the legal provisions on prevention, investigation, prosecution and punishment of terrorist acts. One Bill pertains to the setting up of a National Investigation Agency and another to an amendment to the Money Laundering Prevention Act, 2002. Making a statement on the November 26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, he said the Government would take certain hard decisions and prepare the country to face the challenge of terrorism. The Home Minister also said the Government has decided to locate National Security Guard (NSG) units in a few regional hubs. The Armed Forces’ commando units would also be drawn on to create more regional hubs until a decision was taken to locate NSG units in those hubs too.
Outlining some decisions taken to enhance security in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, he said gaps in intelligence gathering had been identified, and steps were being taken to provide advanced technical equipment to agencies. Other decisions include the raising of India Reserve Battalions in a number of States with Central assistance, and the setting up of 20 counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism schools in different parts of the country for training commando units of the State Police. The Hindu, December 12, 2008.
Maoists recruiting children forcibly, says Home Ministry: The Maoists have forcibly recruited children into their ranks and created a special squad of minors in Chhattisgarh, the Centre said on December 11, 2008. "As per the information available, in Chhattisgarh, CPI (Maoist) have constituted special squad of minors," Minister of State in the Union Home Ministry, Sriprakash Jaiswal, said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament). He added, "The State Government has banned 'Krantikari Adivasi Balak Sang', an organisation of minor child soldiers created by the Maoists." In reply to a separate question, he said Maoists are attempting to expand their activities to northern States like Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab, among others. Jaiswal, however, said that no instance of Maoist violence had been reported from these States during the last one year. PTI, December 11, 2008.
Mumbai Police releases identity of nine terrorists involved in multiple attacks: The Mumbai Police on December 9, 2008 released the names, hometown and identification of nine terrorists, who were involved in the November 26 multiple terrorist attacks. They were identified as Hafiz Arshad alias Bada Abdul Rehaman from Multan, Javed alias Abu Ali from Okara District, Shoaib alias Abu Soheb from Narowal in Sialkot, Nazeer alias Abu Umed and Nasir alias Abu Umar from Faisalabad, Babar Imran alias Abu Akasha from Multan, Abdul Rehaman alias Chota Abdul Rehaman from Arafwala in Multan, Fahad Ullah alias Abu Fahad from Dipalpur taluk (administrative division) in Okara, and Ismail Khan alias Abu Ismail from Dera Ismail Khan District in the North West Frontier Province, all belonging to Pakistan. An unidentified official said the information was based on the interrogation of the arrested terrorist, Mohammad Ajmal Amir ‘Khasab’ (Iman) alias Abu Mujahid, who learnt about the others while travelling by boat to Mumbai. Times of India, December 10, 2008.
Nepal seeks extension of UNMIN's tenure: The Government has asked the United Nations for another six-month extension of its special Mission's tenure in the country. The Foreign Ministry has dispatched a letter to the UN Security Council asking for extension of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) term for six months, The Foreign Ministry's spokesperson, Suresh Pradhan, told PTI. The tenure of the UNMIN, which is a special political mission set up by the world body to monitor the peace process in Nepal, expires on January 23, 2009. If granted, it will be the third six-month extension of UNMIN's tenure in Nepal since it was set up for a one-year period in January 2007. The Hindu, December 14, 2008.
No ISI link with Lashkar-e-Toiba, says President Zardari: The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s external intelligence agency, has no links with the banned Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), President Asif Ali Zardari said in a Newsweek interview on December 14, 2008. Asked if the ISI had shared intelligence with the LeT on Kashmir, Zardari said it was "something [that happened] in the old days when dictators used to run the country. Maybe before 9/11, that may have been a position. [But] since then, things have changed to a great extent". He said the group had now been banned in Pakistan, but such groups "keep re-emerging in different forms". "Whenever there is actionable intelligence, we move in before anyone else does," he said. Daily Times, December 14, 2008.
Countrywide crackdown launched on Lashkar-e-Toiba: Police shut down offices of the Jama’at-ud-Da’awa (the front organisation of the Lashkar-e-Toiba [LeT]) and arrested scores of operatives as it continued a crackdown against the banned group on December 12, 2008. Islamabad Police sealed three offices of the Jama’at-ud-Da’awa (JuD) on December 12. One was near Masjid Quba in the I-8 Markaz and another in Street 35 in G-6/4, Chief Commissioner Kamran Lashari said. However, no arrests were made. In the NWFP, JuD officials in Peshawar said Police had arrested 150 operatives in a province-wide operation and sealed 46 offices, Daily Times reported. But Dawn reported that over 181 activists were arrested and 46 offices sealed across the Frontier on December 11. Many workers have reportedly gone underground. Police closed the Da’awa headquarters at Peshawar’s Fawara Chowk late on December 11. However, no arrests were made. The Frontier Police also closed down offices of the banned Al Akhtar Trust and Al Rashid Trust in the Saddar, Hashtnagri, Gulbahar and Yakatoot areas of the city and in the rest of the province. JuD spokesman Attiq-ur-Rehman Chohan told reporters outside the sealed office at Fawara Chowk in Peshawar that workers were arrested from offices in Mardan, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Haripur, Malakand, Swabi and other Districts of NWFP. He claimed the crackdown would deprive over 400,000 people displaced by the military operation in Bajuar Agency of food, medicines and other items. Police raided an office, two schools and a religious seminary run by the JuD in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), and placed its leader Abdul Aziz Alvi under house arrest. In Rawalpindi, security agencies sealed five offices in Satellite Town, Kashmari Bazaar, Benazir Bhutto Road, Pindora and Tench Bhatta. Police sources said no arrests were made from these locations. In Lahore, the Divisional Superintendents of Police took surety bonds from the Jama’at-ud-Da’awa operatives. Multan Police sealed a JuD office at Rasheedabad Chowk, and a school and a dispensary on Tareen Road in a midnight operation. Police also sealed the group’s offices in south Punjab cities of Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur, Arifwala, Bahawalnagar, Khanewal, and arrested one operative each from Arifwala and Rajanpur. In the Sindh province, officials said they had arrested 11 JuD operatives and sealed six offices and six seminaries, but the group’s officials claimed 100 operatives had been detained and 35 offices sealed. "Seven of the men and two of the seminaries belonged to Karachi," said Sindh Special Secretary Collin Kamran Dost. In Balochistan, Police sealed a Jama’at-ud-Da’awa office and a library on New Zarghoon Road in capital Quetta late on December 11. However, no arrests were made.
Earlier, the LeT chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed was placed under house arrest for three months on December 11. Police also sealed Qudsia Mosque, the headquarters of Jama’at-ud-Da’awa in Chauburji Chowk, and 18 other offices throughout Punjab province. Five offices were sealed in Sialkot. 25 members of the organisation, including Ameer Hamza, Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, Maulana Naseer Hamza, Saifullah Mansoor, Da’awa’s director of public relations, Col (Retd.) Nazir Ahmed, and Rajanpur District president Talib Rehman, were detained. A large number of publications of the organisation were reportedly seized. The JuD office in Quetta, capital of Balochistan, was also sealed. In Karachi, Police sealed the central office of the Jama’at-ud-Da’awa in Gulshan-i-Iqbal. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the State Bank said the central bank had frozen bank accounts of the Jama’at-ud-Da’awa, its leaders and sister organisations — Al-Rashid Trust and Al-Akhtar Trust.
LeT ‘operational commander’ Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was among 15 persons arrested in PoK on December 7 after the raid on the outfit’s camp. Troops backed by a helicopter overran the camp close to Muzaffarabad, the PoK capital, briefly exchanging fire with militants there, a senior intelligence official said. Daily Times; The News; Dawn, December 8-14, 2008.
UN Security Council imposes sanctions on Jama’at-ud-Da’awa and designates Hafiz Saeed and three others as terrorists: A United Nations (UN) Security Council panel declared on December 10, 2008, that Jama’at-ud-Da’awa, a Pakistan-based charity, is a front group for Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the terrorist group accused of orchestrating last month's attacks that killed 195 persons in Mumbai. The panel said Jama’at-ud-Da’awa is a front for the LeT and now subject to UN sanctions on terrorist organizations. The panel also designated four men linked to the Mumbai attacks as terrorists subject to sanctions. The four men are believed to hold leadership positions in the LeT. Designated as terrorists subject to UN sanctions were LeT chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, ‘operations commander’ Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Haji Muhammad Ashraf, its chief of finance; and Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq, a financier with the group. The Security Council's al Qaeda and Taliban sanctions committee added them to its list of terrorists subject to the assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo under a council resolution adopted this year.
The UN sanctions panel also described a number of trusts and foundations as aliases for the al-Rashid and al-Akhtar trusts, which have raised funds for Lashkar. According to the panel, the al-Rashid Trust can be equated with the al-Amin Welfare Trust, al-Amin Trust, al-Ameen Trust and al-Madina Trust. The al-Akhtar Trust aliases, the panel said, are Pakistan Relief Foundation, Azmat-e-Pakistan Trust and Azmat Pakistan Trust. The News, December 11, 2008.
Jaish-e-Mohammed chief confined to his headquarters in Bahawalpur: Pakistani authorities have placed restrictions on the movement of Maulana Masood Azhar, chief of the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), by confining him to his multi-storeyed concrete compound in the Model Town area of Bahawalpur in the Punjab province. Official sources said Azhar’s activities have been restricted in the wake of India’s recent demand to hand him over to New Delhi. Adviser on the Interior, Rehman Malik, said in Islamabad last week that India has given to Pakistan a list of three persons — Maulana Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon — for their immediate extradition. India has reportedly sought the arrest and extradition of Masood Azhar while citing a 1989 agreement signed by the Director General of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Director General of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) which binds both the agencies to collaborate with each other, to trace out the most wanted terrorists and criminals and hand them over to their respective counterpart. Azhar is wanted by the CBI for his alleged involvement in the 2001 attacks on India’s Parliament. The News, December 9, 2008.
195 persons killed as fighting intensifies in North while killing continues in East: At least 120 soldiers, 72 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants and three civilians were killed in separate incidents between December 8 and December 14, 2008, as fighting intensified in the North, while killings continued in the East. Troops commenced their eastward march from the north of captured Kanakarayankulam on the Jaffna-Kandy (A-9) road and took control of Katkidanku Junction which links all surrounding important towns like Nedunkerni, Nainamadu, Olumaduwai and Kanakarayankulam areas, the Army Headquarters officially declared on December 8. On the same day, the Security Forces attacked a group of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants in the Bakmitiyawa jungles of Ampara District and killed four of them. Meanwhile, another 11 dead bodies, including those of seven female cadres, of the militants killed in clashes with troops at Mankulam in the Mullaitivu District, were handed over to representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on December 9. 27 LTTE militants and 20 soldiers were killed as the troops advancing northwards from Kokavil and eastwards from Akkarayankulam, captured the strategically vital Terumurikandi Junction in Kilinochchi District in the night of December 11. Troops also captured the Murikkandy Hindu Temple area, Military sources said. "With the capture of Terumurikandi, troops have almost entered the built-up area of the Kilinochchi town that extends more than seven kilometres on the A-9 road," an unnamed official said. Heavy fighting erupted between the troops and militants for the control of the location for the last two days, but with air support and an intense ground assault, the troops pushed back the militants, Defence Ministry said. The pro-LTTE Website Tamil Net, however, claimed that 120 soldiers were killed and more than 280 wounded in these clashes. Earlier on December 10, the Website had reported that 89 soldiers were killed and more than 180 soldiers wounded in these clashes. Sri Lanka Army; Daily News; Tamil Net; Colombo Page, December 9-15, 2008.