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SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 15, No. 5, August 1, 2016

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


ASSESSMENT

BANGLADESH
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Sustained Response
S. Binodkumar Singh
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

On July 26, 2016, nine militants were killed in ‘Operation Storm 26’  carried out by the Joint Forces including Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the Detective Branch (DB) of the Police and the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), in capital Dhaka’s Kalyanpur area. One militant identified as Rakibul Hassan aka Reagan, purportedly a member of Daesh [Islamic State], was arrested from the area with bullet injuries. However, Inspector General of Police A.K.M. Shahidul Haque, who visited the encounter site, stated, “The detained person claims to be an IS member, but we think they are of the banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).” On July 27, 2016, Police identified seven of the nine militants killed as Abdul Hakim Naym (33), Taj-ul-Haque Rashiq (25), Akifuzzaman Khan (24), Shazad Rouf (24), Motier Rahman (24), Abdullah (23) and Jobayer Hossain (20) after matching their fingerprints with those on their National Identification Cards. Most of them were from well to do families and were missing since January 2016. On July 28, 2016, the identity of the eight slain militant was established as Raihan Kabir aka Tarek, the Dhaka ‘region coordinator’ of JMB. He had reportedly trained the men who attacked the Holey Artisan café in Gulshan on July 2.

The July 2, 2016 incident, the first ever hostage crisis in the country in which 22 civilians including 18 foreigners and six Bangladeshis were slaughtered at Holey Artisan Bakery, a Spanish restaurant at the Gulshan diplomatic zone in Dhaka city, was also claimed by Daesh. On July 4, 2016, Police identified the five terrorists killed in the incident as Nibras Islam, Rohan Imtiaz, Meer Saameh Mubasher, Shafiqul Islam Ujjal and Khairul Islam Payel, all under 30 years of age. All five men had gone missing between three and six months before they reappeared at the site of the terror attack. Three of them came from affluent families in Dhaka and studied at top schools or universities, while two were from lower income families. On July 20, 2016, officers investigating the restaurant attack identified the coordinator of the operation as Rajib aka Shanta aka Adil, a mid-level JMB leader.

Disturbingly, a Government official who is working closely on the issue of terrorism, seeking anonymity, on July 9, 2016, disclosed that more than 100 young persons in the age group of the terrorists who attacked the Holey Artisan café in Dhaka, had gone missing since January 2015. Law enforcement agencies gathered this information from general diaries provided by Police Stations across the country, as well as from parents of missing persons who had contacted the Police since the Holey Artisan attack. Further, on July 19, 2016, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) published information on 261 missing youth from 39 Districts. Asking people to contact nearby RAB office if they have any information about those on the list, the elite crime buster also published photos of 50 in this list.

Earlier, on May 17, 2016, Golam Farukh, the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of the Rangpur Range disclosed that two JMB militant groups – one based in Rangpur District and the other in Dinajpur District – were working in smaller units of seven to eight members and were currently active in the eight Districts of Rangpur Division. Further, the Detective Branch of Police stated, on June 14, 2016, that JMB had around 100-150 trained madrassa students working for them in 16 Districts of north-western Bangladesh with a highly educated 16-member cell supervising them. 

Urging all to be more watchful, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed warned, on July 13, 2016, “We have intelligence reports that the terrorists have planned to launch more attacks. We have to keep in mind that this will not stop here. There are many kinds of plots. We are collecting reports of various intelligence agencies at home and abroad.” In a second warning in less than two weeks, during a Cabinet meeting on July 25, 2016, Prime Minister Hasina stated, “They [terrorists] will try to create unrest in August. They are planning something big… Ministers may also be targeted… Everyone must remain alert. Their goal is to free Mir Quasem.”

Mir Quasem Ali (63), a Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) central executive committee member, is a war crime convict sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal-2 (ICT-2) on November 2, 2014, for the killing of young freedom-fighter Jashim Uddin Ahmed and eight others during the Liberation War of 1971. On June 19, 2016, Quasem had filed a petition with the Supreme Court seeking acquittal from the charges in which he has been convicted. On July 25, 2016, the Supreme Court deferred hearing of the death penalty review plea by Quaesem to August 24, 2016.

Meanwhile, on May 21, 2016, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, warned that different militant groups were trying to reorganize to carry out subversive acts aiming to thwart the War Crimes trials. So far, ICT-1, constituted on March 25, 2010, with the objective of bringing the perpetrators of War Crimes to justice, and subsequently, ICT-2 created on March 22, 2012, to speed up the War Crimes Trials, have indicted 67 leaders, including 43 from Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), 11 from the Muslim League (ML), five from Nezam-e-Islami (NeI), four from Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and two each from the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) and Jatiya Party (JP). Verdicts against 42 of these accused have already been delivered – 27 were awarded death sentences while the remaining 15 are to undergo imprisonment for life. Five of the 27 who received the death sentence have already been executed, while the remaining 22 cases are currently pending with the Appellate Division of the SC. Former JeI ameer Ghulam Azam (91) and former BNP Minister Abdul Alim (83) passed away while serving life imprisonment sentences.

Further, law enforcement agencies interrogating militants who were arrested in various operations on July 27, 2016, disclosed that at least two dozen hideouts in Dhaka and surrounding areas were being used to attempt more attacks by setting up small dens. A senior law enforcement official requesting anonymity confirmed that militants were now renting flats in areas where low income populations and garment workers live. Small groups of militants, usually numbering seven to nine, are living in these flats and, some cases, were using family members to rent flats.

The Hasina-led Government has succeeded in minimizing the threat from Islamist terrorism since assuming power in 2009. According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), 231 terrorists belonging to JMB, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B), Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), Hizbut Towhid (HT) and Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) and other Islamic extremist groups have since been killed across the country (data till July 31, 2016). A Press Release from Police Headquarters on July 6, 2016, warned that strict measures would be taken against people putting up any video, photo, message, share, comment or like, supporting Daesh or other terrorists on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Further, urging all parents to be vigilant about the movements of their children to prevent them from being radicalized, Prime Minister Hasina on July 12, 2016, asserted “The people of the country are pious, but not bigots. I simply cannot understand why their children who are receiving education in reputed schools and colleges and English medium institutions are turning into bigots. We don't want these students to lay down their valuable lives indiscriminately after getting derailed from the right path. We won't allow emergence of militancy in the country. We don't want Bangladesh to be the land of militancy… we'll have to take some measurers keeping this view in mind.” At an emergency meeting of the Awami League Parliamentary Party (ALPP) at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban (National Parliament House) on July 26, 2016, Hasina asked her party lawmakers to form active anti-militancy committees in their respective constituencies to fight extremism.

Remarkably, Bangladesh Jamiyatul Ulama (BJU), a national body of Islamic scholars, issued an anti-militancy fatwa (religious edict) on June 18, 2016, through a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity, declaring that those killing people in the name of religion were heading for hell. Signatures of 101,850 Islamic clerics, including 9,320 women, have been collected in support of the fatwa, prepared in light of the Quran and Hadith. Explaining the initiative, Farid Uddin Masoud, BJU Chairman, observed that law enforcement agencies alone cannot resist the criminals who are ready to kill themselves in the name of religion. The first thing needed is to dispel the militants' misconceptions about Islam. Fatwas, he added, are more powerful than one lakh weapons and they will largely be able to curb terrorism. Separately, on July 14, 2016, Bangladesh Islamic Foundation authorities issued a circular requesting imams (prayer leaders) of all mosques across the country to recite a common khutba (sermon) during the Jumma (Friday) prayers to create awareness among people against terrorism and militancy.

The Holey Artisan café attack was meant to strike terror in the hearts of Bangladeshis and foreigners with the intention to harm the country's economy and international relations. The response of the Sheikh Hasina Government has been immediate, vigorous and calibrated across a wide range of variables, beyond a knee jerk security clampdown. Nevertheless, Bangladesh has developed large reserves of radicalization over decades of earlier mischief by complicit Governments, and the threat of extremist violence remains real and significant, demanding extreme vigilance and continuous efforts of containment.

SOUTH ASIA
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Islamist Recruitment: Intensifying Efforts
Sanchita Bhattacharya
Visiting Scholar, Institute for Conflict Management

There is a visible increase in activity of militant outfits in South Asia – particularly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – in their respective recruitment drives, especially using online communications. Previously, terrorist formations were using printed Jihadi literature, propaganda videos and face to face interactions with religious motivators to entice people to their cause. With the Internet boom and proliferation of online web-based communications, as well as the dramatic example of Daesh’s (Islamic State’s) cyber outreach, terrorist formations in the region are increasingly using the internet to communicate with youth and inspire them to embrace violent extremism.

In one significant effort to tackle the challenge of online recruitment, a July 21, 2016, report disclosed that the Kolkata Police had decided to recruit around 100 software and networking experts to its Special Task Force (STF). The move was initiated after Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar stressed the need for better monitoring of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, where the Police believe terror groups “spot” potential recruits. A source added, “The idea is to stop these youths before they get radicalized. Among the terror groups, the Islamic State (IS)/ Daesh has a specific formula. They want to attach themselves to young men who have problems and are looking for something to give them a structure in their life.”

In December, 2014, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested Mehdi Masroor Biswas, a native of West Bengal, an electrical engineer posted in Bangalore, as he was tweeting to recruit for the IS. Police recovered some 122,000 Twitter messages with over 18,000 followers on his Twitter handle.

An unconfirmed report in January 2016 suggested that Daesh had contacted over 30,000 young techies from India and that some of them may already have grabbed the opportunity offered.

Significantly, Islamist terror entities appear to be working across group lines. Operatives of Indian Mujahideen (IM) and IS, for instance, have been working in tandem for recruitment. In January 2016, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) found chatter on the internet suggesting that Ansar-ut Tawhid fi Bilal al-Hind, an IM splinter, was attempting to carry out strikes in India. Earlier, in August 2014, the group had pledged support to IS and promised to recruit at least 300 Indians. IB officials have been on the trail of brothers Sultan and Shafi Armar who operated various handles on Twitter. Sultan Armar was killed in a US strike in Syria on March 6, 2015, while Shafi Armar continues to run Ansar-ut Tawhid (AuT)’s operations, now under the identity of Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind or the Army of Caliph in India.

Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind has managed to recruit a handful of young men in different parts of the country, and has emerged as a new threat. Investigations by NIA reveal that a financial nexus was involved in the recruitment process. Mudabbir Mushtaq Shaikh, the 'chief' of Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind confessed to having received INR 600,000 from Shafi Armar.

A July 26, 2016 report stated that there have been a total of 54 arrests made in India linked to IS. Sources disclose that the suspects, during interrogation, explained the functioning of their motivators who, through social media and WhatsApp, look for "talent" and after spotting them, carry out indoctrination by sending links to videos of atrocities on Muslims, speeches of Islamist extremists and write-ups to lure them to their violent ideology.

In Pakistan, direct linkages with Daesh and a number of splinters of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), under the umbrella of the Islamic State-Wilayat Khorasan, have been established and constitute a direct kinetic threat to security. Nevertheless, cyber recruitment plays a significant role, even as domestic terrorist formations continue to play a role in international terrorism. The blasts at Medina (July 4, 2016), in the month of Ramadan, in Saudi Arabia are a case in point, with direct links to the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its chief, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.  12 Pakistanis were arrested in connection with the blasts in Medina. The European Parliament's Vice-President, Ryszard Czarneck, in an editorial titled "Wake up call to Anti-terrorism Ayatollahs" as reported on July 11, 2016, observed that the recent terror attacks in Saudi Arabia had signaled the arrival of  LeT's "humanitarian" NGO Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) as the source of the Medina attack. The arrests demonstrate FIF's quiet ways of radicalisation of the Pakistani Diaspora, as part of LeT's campaign for a new Islamist world order based on Sharia, Czarneck noted. One of the suicide bombers involved in the attacks was identified as Abdullah Qalzar Khan, a Pakistani national.

Hafiz Saeed’s terrorist footprints have long been visible in India, especially in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). As reported in January 2016, LeT is recruiting “vulnerable young men in Pakistan,” as part of a larger conspiracy to wage war against India, especially in the state of J&K, a chargesheet filed by NIA in the Udhampur terrorist attack (August 5, 2015) case stated. On April 26, 2016, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, India’s Minister of State for Home, also mentioned in a written reply to Parliament that LeT was recruiting “vulnerable young men in Pakistan” as part of a larger conspiracy to wage war against India.

Apart from LeT and its affiliates, other terrorist organizations, including Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) have been openly involved in generating funds for jihad and recruiting cadres. A July 5, 2016, report noted that JeM was soliciting funds from various mosques in Karachi (Provincial capital of Sindh) to send jihadists to fight in India and Afghanistan. Video footage showed JeM cadres demanding money from people in name of Kashmir and the jihad in Afghanistan and against Americans. HM has also been involved in a recruitment drive, paying a “monthly salary" to its cadres to fight in Kashmir. INR 35,000 was offered to those willing to join HM by 'poster boy' and 'commander' Burhan Wani, who was killed by Security Forces on July 8, 2016 . Wani’s picture with other armed cadres, shot in an orchard, had gone viral on social media in August 2015, and was used by HM as a recruiting tool. According to some reports, Wani's viral images and videos on social media had attracted around 100 Kashmiri youth to HM. 

In January 2016, Wilayat Khorasan (Khorasan Province), the IS's branch in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, released a propaganda video titled, "Cubs of the Caliphate Camp," that showed young boys undergoing training for jihad. Earlier, on December 24, 2015, a report on "Recruitment of Pakistani boys and Afghan refugees by Daesh", circulated by the Punjab (Pakistan) Home Department warned against the potential threat of the global terror network. It claimed that Daesh was spreading its propaganda, particularly through CDs, to win the support of Pakistani youth to its global agenda. The report further stated that Daesh had started recruiting individuals from Pakistan, especially Afghan refugees living in different refugee camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) at a monthly salary ranging from PKR 30,000 to PKR 50,000.

A May 27, 2016, report on the National Action Plan (NAP, launched in January 2015 to tackle terrorism) noted that banned outfits in Pakistan were still recruiting jihadis who had become a serious internal security threat. “Major banned outfits are still recruiting the students of madrasas to wage jihad in the Indian-Held Kashmir and Afghanistan. Such non-state actors have become very dangerous for Pakistan.” In the secret document, consisting of 111 pages, the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), Punjab, revealed that 32 proscribed organizations with nine splinter groups had now become “a nursery of terrorism in Pakistan.” Banned organizations like IS and HuT (Hizb-ut-Tahrir) are also gaining ground by establishing a special wing in Pakistan where their ‘commanders’ are recruiting militants, the document revealed.

The latest attack on the Holey Artisan café in the Gulshan area of capital city Dhaka on 1-2 July, 2016 demonstrated the power of recent recruitment in Bangladesh. The group of middle-class university students behind the attack, affiliated with Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) prompted alarm about the reach of terrorists' recruiting networks and how the group drove affluent young men to such barbarism. Following the attack, Bangladesh has launched a clampdown on social media sites spreading jihadist propaganda, saying the country's young were being radicalised online. "Social media has become a fertile ground for recruiting militants," the head of the telecoms regulator Shahjahan Mahmood stated. One of the attackers, Rohan Imtiaz reportedly posted an appeal on Facebook in 2015 urging all Muslims to become terrorists. Survivors of the café siege narrated how the young attackers seized mobile phones from hostages and forced them to provide their passwords so they could send out photographs of the carnage. The Holey Artisan café attackers also sent out their own photographs as well as images of the ongoing carnage even while it was underway, and these quickly found their way to the Daesh website, as the IS claimed the attack as one of its own.

Earlier, in January, 2015 the Bangladesh security services arrested JMB 'regional commander', Shakhawatul Kabir, a self proclaimed 'IT expert', also claiming affiliation to Daesh. Police disclosed that Kabir had set up a Daesh recruitment cell inside Bangladesh, along with friends, Nazrul Islam, Rabiul Islam and Anwar Hossain. The men planned to carry out a series of bombings, and then use the publicity to draw recruits online.

On July 26, 2016, Tarana Halim, Bangladesh's Minister of State, Post and Telecommunications Division stated that she had discussed the export of more internet bandwidth from Bangladesh to India’s northeastern States. The Bangladeshi terrorist formation, JMB, is working its way across the border into the Indian States of West Bengal and Assam, and is also recruiting from these areas. An April, 2016 report stated that, according to the Assam Police, JMB operatives are concentrating mostly on recruiting boys from lower Assam Districts. Subsequently, on May 26, 2016, three JMB 'fresh recruits', Mohammad Mohiruddin Sheikh, Mohammad Mafidul Sheikh and Mohammad Rojob Ali Patowary, were arrested from Chirang District in lower Assam. In case of West Bengal, a May, 30 report suggested that Enamul Mollah, a, JMB operative, helped in recruiting new members and also in spreading the group’s agenda by circulating jihadi material and arranging programs of radicalisation.

A July 9, 2016, media report indicated that 10 Bangladeshi youth who had been missing for months and feared to have been recruited by terrorist outfits such as the Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami – Bangladesh (HuJI-BD) and JMB and trained as Daesh modules, were believed to be hiding in West Bengal. The Bangladesh Government has shared their details with Delhi. Consequently, vigil has been intensified at the Indo-Bangladesh border in Malda, Murshidabad and North 24-Parganas Districts.

The terrorists are also exploiting disturbed areas along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border to garner recruits. Intelligence reports in the month of February 2016 noted that 20 terrorist outfits in Bangladesh were trying to recruit documented as well as undocumented Rohingyas living in the Districts of Chittagong, Cox's Bazaar and Bandarban. The terrorist groups named their alliance Hilful Fuzul al Islami al Bangladesh (League of the Virtuous - Bangladesh) to recruit the Rohingyas. This otherwise unknown outfit plotted to blow up over 100 navy and coastguard bases and oil refineries in Chittagong city in 2015.

Daesh has claimed responsibility for 21 attacks against foreigners and minorities in Bangladesh since September 2015, and claimed the presence of “Khilafah Soldiers” in the country in April 2016. Agencies, however, claim that this strategy is more about using propaganda to spread fear than carrying out sophisticated terror attacks. Shaykh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, the 'self-styled chief' of Daesh in Bangladesh, is also reportedly radicalising and recruiting prospective jihadis in India, Pakistan and Myanmar.

Further, ABT (Ansarullah Bangla Team) also appears to be succeeding in indoctrinating and recruiting elements among the youth. Its main target group for recruitment is highly-motivated and well-educated university students, especially those familiar with the English language and active on social media. However, ABT also recruits from the poorer and more conservative sections of society as well as from the Islamic political organization Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and its youth wing, the Islami Chhatra Shibir.

The ABT is also known to have extended its recruitment network to Singapore. Between November 16 and December 1, 2015, Singapore authorities detained 27 Bangladeshi construction workers, connected with ABT on charges of conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks on Bangladesh. The group was trying to recruit Bangladeshi workers in Singapore, to wage jihad against the Bangladeshi Government. The Internal Security Department (ISD) of Singapore recovered a “significant amount” of radical and jihad-related material, such as books and videos containing footage of children being trained in jihadi camps. Additionally, documents with graphic images and instructions detailing how to conduct “silent killings’’ using different methods, were recovered.

With terrorism becoming a pronounced international phenomenon, frequent lone-wolf incidents, and an increasing number of terror attacks across the world, the recruitment strategies of terrorist formations demand comprehensive study. The profile, both, of potential terrorists, and of recruitment tools, is undergoing continuous shifts, and state agencies seeking to contain the threat will need extraordinary efforts to keep pace.


NEWS BRIEFS

Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
July 25-31, 2016

 

Civilians

Security Force Personnel

Terrorists/Insurgents

Total

BANGLADESH

 

Islamist Terrorism

0
0
9
9

INDIA

 

Arunachal Pradesh

0
0
1
1

Assam

0
0
2
2

Jammu and Kashmir

1
2
6
9

Left-Wing Extremism

 

Andhra Pradesh

1
0
0
1

Chhattisgarh

0
1
1
2

Jharkhand

4
0
0
4

Maharashtra

0
0
1
1

Total (INDIA)

6
3
11
20

PAKISTAN

 

Balochistan

4
0
0
4

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

2
0
0
2

Punjab

0
0
7
7

Sindh

1
3
1
5

Total (PAKISTAN)

7
3
8
18
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


BANGLADESH

Prime Minister urges to stay alert as terrorists were using ICT in their evil activities: Renewing her resolve to crush terrorism and militancy with the help of people, Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina on July 28 urged all to stay alert as terrorists were using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in their evil activities. "Although good works are done through ICT, terrorists and militants are also using it. We'll have to be very alert to this," she said. The Daily Star, July 29, 2016.

Prime Minister issues 19-point directive on DCs to eliminate militancy, terrorism and communalism: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on July 26 issued a 19-point directive on the Deputy Commissioners (DC) of the country. The directives are discharging duties more carefully and strictly in maintaining peace, law and order and stability by eliminating militancy, terrorism and communalism giving attention so that people are not harassed and deprived while receiving government services making efforts to get rid of social menaces, misuse of drugs, dowry, stalking and early marriage taking special measures for the welfare of the disabled, autistic and disadvantageous community alleviating poverty through rural infrastructure development, promoting potential local small and medium-size industries and generating employment. The Daily Star, July 27, 2016.


INDIA

India and Bangladesh sign pact to amend Extradition Treaty: India and Bangladesh on July 28 signed an agreement amending Article 10(3) of the Bilateral Extradition Treaty between the two countries. The two sides also agreed on the necessity of signing a Repatriation Treaty to simplify and expedite the procedure of repatriation of each other's nationals. Both sides also agreed to undertake urgent action for the repatriation of released prisoners and victims of human trafficking. Assam Tribune, July 29, 2016.

India asks Myanmar to act against NSCN-K: India asked Myanmar to act against four top leaders of the Khaplang faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K), including its chief S.S. Khaplang, accused of the ambush on an army convoy in Manipur in June 2015 in which 18 soldiers were killed. The message was conveyed to a Myanmar delegation, led by Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Major General Aung Soe. The team is on a two-day visit in New Delhi. Nagaland Post, July 29, 2016.

Illicit poppy cultivation in border districts of West Bengal now a principal source of terror funding, says report: Illicit poppy cultivation in the border districts of West Bengal and smuggling of the contraband across the border to Bangladesh and elsewhere are worrying intelligence authorities because it has turned out to be among the principal sources of funds for terror outfits like the Jama'at ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). CID sources stated that the strategic position of these districts facilitated rise in illegal cultivation of poppy, which "has become a major fund generating business drawing several hundreds of youths into it". Indian Express, July 29, 2016.

79 ultras killed in J&K till June 30, informs Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir: Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said there has been a spurt in infiltration attempts from Pakistan and the Security Forces (SFs) have responded to it, resulting in killing of 79 terrorists till June 30, this year. "Since a large number of terrorists neutralisation has taken place, the terrorist organisations based in Pakistan are now increasing their efforts to promote radicalisation through vested interest groups and social media and increase the attack on the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir forcing them to retaliate and give it a shape of civil resistance," the Minister said replying to a written question in Rajya Sabha (Upper House of India's Parliament) on July 27. Daily Excelsior, July 28, 2016.

54 IS supporters arrested in India, states Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir: As many as 54 supporters of Islamic State (IS) have been arrested in the country, Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament) was informed on July 26. Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and state Police have registered various cases with respect of IS phenomenon in the country. "As per the information received so far, 54 ISIS supporters/ sympathisers have been arrested before they could carry out any terrorist attack in the country," he said in a reply to a written question. The Times of India, July 27, 2016.

Isolate those who harbour terrorists, India states to international community: Advocating outright rejection of state-sponsored terrorism, India said on July 25, it is vital to construct a strong international legal regime on the principle of "zero tolerance" for terrorism and isolate those who harbour, support or sponsor terrorists. "Countering terrorism is an imperative, in the face of rising terrorist attacks across the globe, including in our region, notably in Jakarta, Bangkok, Pathankot, Dhaka and Kabul in recent times," Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said at the 14th ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers' Meeting. Indian Express, July 26, 2016.

Many from Kerala in 'terror net' are new Muslim converts, says report: Many of the people from Kerala accused of terror links in the recent past have been new converts to Islam, including five of the 21 currently missing who are feared to have joined the Islamic State (IS). In 2008, when four youths from Kerala were killed in an encounter in Kashmir while allegedly trying to cross over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for training, one of them was Muhammed Yasin, a Christian who had recently converted to Islam. Indian Express, July 26, 2016.


NEPAL

CPN-Maoist Center Chairman assures new Government would address demands of Madhesh-centric political parties: Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre (CPN-Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal addressing the National Assembly of the All Nepal National Free Students Union-Revolutionary in the Kathmandu on July 28 assured that the new Government would address demands of the dissenting Madhesh-centric political parties, Tharus and indigenous groups. Dahal reiterated that key responsibility of the new Government would be ironing out the differences with these disgruntled parties. The Himalayan Times, July 29, 2016.

Parliament passes President's order to remove constitutional difficulties in electing new Government: Parliament on July 26 passed the President Bidhya Devi Bhandari's order to remove the constitutional difficulties in electing a new Government, despite criticism from opposition lawmakers. Lawmakers of opposition parties, including the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre (CPN-Maoist Centre), had opposed the government's recommendation to the President to give the order although they voted to endorse it. The Himalayan Times, July 27, 2016.

NC and CPN-Maoist Centre agree to hold local elections by mid-April 2017: Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre (CPN-Maoist Centre) at a meeting of held in Kathmandu on July 27 have agreed to hold local elections by mid-April 2017. Local polls were last conducted 19 years ago. "We (NC and CPN-Maoist Center) have decided to hold local elections by mid-April after forming the new government under the leadership of Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal," NC leader Bimalendra Nidhi told. My Republica, July 28, 2016.

President asks political parties to elect new Prime Minister on basis of political consensus within seven days: President Bidya Devi Bhandari on July 25 asked the political parties in the Parliament to elect new Prime Minister on the basis of political consensus within seven days. A statement issued by the Office of the President said the President has called the parties to elect the Prime Minister and form the Government following the invocation of Article 305 on removal of difficulties, and Article 298 (2) of Nepal's Constitution. The Himalayan Times, July 26, 2016.


PAKISTAN

Pakistan Rangers arrest 7,950 suspects in three years, say officials: Pakistan Rangers have arrested 7,950 suspects since the execution of National Action Plan (NAP) on September 5, 2013 among which 6,361 were handed over to Police and 221 to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) with evidences, said Pakistan Rangers official Colonel Qaiser. The Rangers also recovered a large amount of weapons and ammunition from the arrested persons. "We have arrested 848 target killers who confessed more than 7,000 killings", said Colonel Qaiser. While giving a detailed briefing to Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights, he said that among the arrested persons, 1,236 were terrorists, 848 target killers, and 403 were kidnappers for ransom. Daily Times, August 1, 2016.

Provincial Home Department directs Punjab Police told to keep an eye on JuD fundraising activities: The Punjab Home Department on July 28 directed Punjab Police to take strict action against activists of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed-led Jama'at-ud-Dawa (JuD). In its directions issued to the Additional Inspector General of Police-Operations Punjab and to Divisional Police Chiefs across the Province, the Home Department asked for details of fundraising by JuD and other proscribed organisations as the activity is against the law. According to the directive, JuD is making efforts to collect funds through Islamic charity, including fitrana, zakat and sadkaats. Dawn, July 29, 2016.

Ignoring Pakistan will be dangerous, says Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services John McCain: The Chairman of the United States (US) Senate Committee on Armed Services, John McCain, on July 26 urged the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan to overcome their differences and get down to the business of fighting terrorists. In an opinion piece published in The Financial Times, Senator McCain argued that without Pakistan's cooperation, the US mission in Afghanistan would become "immeasurably more difficult". "The sooner the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan get down to the business of fighting their common terrorist enemies together, no matter where they hide, the better off the nations, the region and the world will be," he wrote. Dawn, July 28, 2016.

Killings drop but kidnappings, gang rape & riots on the rise, says Sindh CTD data: After a significant drop in crime rate in the wake of Rangers-led operation in the city, the incidents of kidnapping, gang rape and riots have registered an alarming rise not only in Karachi but also in the rest of Sindh, said data compiled by Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD). The data showed that 557 murders took place between January and July last year while 371 killings were reported during the same period this year, marking a difference of 186 lives. Dawn, July 28, 2016.

Karachi target killers being funded from South Africa, Thailand, UK, claim Rangers: The Rangers authorities have revealed on July 27 that target killers in Karachi are receiving financial assistance from South Africa, Thailand and the United Kingdom. While briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights, the Rangers authorities informed that 7950 operations were conducted across the metropolis since September 2013. Around 6361 suspects were handed over to police and 221 were handed over to FIA and other law enforcement agencies. Daily Times, July 28, 2016.

'1,808 terrorists killed, 5,611 captured since launch of NAP', says NACTA coordinator Ihsan Ghani: The coordinator for the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) Ihsan Ghani on July 25 said that a total of 1,808 terrorists had been killed and 5,611 arrested since the National Action Plan (NAP) was launched in 2015. About 951 of the terrorists were killed in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA), 455 in Sindh, 197 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 135 in Punjab, 68 in Balochistan and two in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), he added. Daily Times, July 26, 2016.


SRI LANKA

ICRC asks Sri Lanka to clarify fate and whereabouts of 16,000 missing persons: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a 34-page report released on July 26 asked Sri Lanka to clarify the fate and whereabouts of 16,000 missing persons including over 5,100 Security Force (SF) personnel missing in Action. The report said "The years that have passed since the armed conflict in Sri Lanka ended in 2009, did not bring solace to the families of over 16,000 persons who, according to the ICRC's records, remain missing." The ICRC released the "Living with Uncertainty, Needs of the Families of Missing Persons in Sri Lanka" after conducting a 14-month island-wide assessment between October 2014 and November 2015. Colombo Page, July 27, 2016.