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SAIR Archive            SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW          LATEST ON SATP
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 16, No. 4, July 24, 2017

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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Unremitting Effort
S. Binodkumar Singh
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

On July 16, 2017, four terrorists of the Neo-Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (Neo-JMB) surrendered 12 hours after Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) personnel cordoned off a tin-shed dwelling in Ashulia, a suburban area near the capital, Dhaka. The four arrested were Mozammel Huq, Rashedul Nabi, Ifranul Islam and Alamgir Hossain. Two pistols, a laptop, and some books and pamphlets were recovered from the house.

On July 12, 2017, Police arrested three Neo-JMB terrorists in Chapainawabganj District: Abdul Malek aka Alam (46), Al Amin aka Lutu (25) and Mohammad Mithun (25). 19 kilograms of explosive materials were recovered from them.

On July 7, 2017, the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police arrested Hatkata Mahfuz, one of the planners of the Holey Artisan attack , and also the top explosives specialist of Neo-JMB, along with three accomplices, from an orchard in the Kansat area of Chapainawabganj District.

On July 5, 2017, RAB personnel arrested three JMB terrorists from a house in the Master Bari area of Gazipur District while they were planning to carry out terrorist activities. RAB officials disclosed that there were allegations of their involvement in the 2005 serial bomb blasts.

On July 1, 2017, the CTTC unit of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police arrested three female Neo-JMB terrorists, including Tithi Khatun (32), wife of Neo-JMB ‘chief’ Ayub Bachchu; Sumaiya Akter (26), wife of the outfit's ‘second-in-command’ Abzar; and Toly Khatun, wife of JMB terrorist Arman Ali, after raiding a hideout in Kushtia District's Bheramara area. The hideout was neutralized in a drive codenamed “Tepid Punch”, targeting safe havens of top leaders, including the Ameer (Chief) and Shura (Committee) members of the banned terrorist outfit. Police also recovered a bomb weighing around three kilograms, two suicide vests, 10 small bombs, a pistol, 12 bullets and 10 kilograms of bomb-making materials, in the raid.

On June 12, 2017, the CTTC unit of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police arrested six Neo-JMB terrorists in the New Market area of Dhaka city. The group was planning to carry out attacks during Ramadan to mark the anniversary of the deadly Gulshan Cafe attack..

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), since the Gulshan Cafe attack on July 1, 2016, 1,197 Islamist terrorists have been arrested and another 93 killed across Bangladesh. Prominent among those killed were the Neo-JMB leader and mastermind of the Gulshan Cafe attack, Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury aka Shaykh Abu Ibrahim Al Hanif aka Amir (30); the JMB ‘military commander’ for the northern region Khaled Hasan aka Badar Mama (30); Neo-JMB ‘military commander’ Murad aka Jahangir Alam aka Omar; JMB ‘regional commander’ Tulu Mollah (33); JMB ‘regional coordinator’ Abu Musa aka Abujar; Neo-JMB ‘military chief’ Aminur Islam aka Alam (23); Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B) ‘chief’ Mufti Abdul Hannan; and HUJI-B ‘regional commander’ Tajul Islam Mahmud aka Mama Hujur (46) (data till July 23, 2017).

To continue the relentless action against the terrorist formations, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told Parliament on June 30, 2017, the Government has decided to create 50,000 additional posts with the Bangladesh Police. The Home Minister added further, “There is no alternative to ensuring people-friendly Police forces to develop law and order throughout the country. Industrial police, naval police, tourism police, Special Security and Protection Battalion (SBPN), Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI), were added to the organizational structure of Bangladesh Police.”

Earlier, at a meeting chaired by Finance Minister AMA Muhith at the Secretariat on June 18, 2017, to stop terror suspects from getting bail and to make stronger prosecution to fight terrorism, a 16-member taskforce – the National Coordination Committee on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism – under the Finance Ministry asked the Government to introduce a permanent Attorney service to engage competent lawyers. The taskforce is tasked with overseeing the Government's initiatives to prevent terror financing and money laundering. Raising concerns over the release of a number of terrorist suspects on bail in recent times due to weaknesses of the prosecution, several officials who attended the meeting asserted that, when a suspected terrorist gets bail, it is the prosecutors' duty to inform the Attorney General's Office about this, but they failed to do so in most cases. Disturbingly, The Daily Star, the largest circulating daily English-language newspaper in Bangladesh, reported on June 20, 2017, that around 150 suspected terrorists secured bail over the preceding six months, mainly because the prosecutors failed to build up strong cases due to their lack of competence and efficiency.

Significantly, on July 19, 2017, after detecting unusual transactions, the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) brought the overall activities of 17 foreign non-government development organizations (NGOs) under intense surveillance. Officials disclosed that most of these NGOs were under the control of or affiliated with Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and were based in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other Middle East countries. Major NGOs of the list, which include Bangladesh Krishi Kalyan Samity, Muslim Aid Bangladesh, Rabeta Al-Alam al-Islami, Qatar Charitable Society, Islamic Relief Agency, Al-Furkan Foundation, Kuwait Joint Relief Committee, International Islamic Relief Organization, Hayatul Ighachha, Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, Tawhidi Noor and Al-Muntada al-Islami.

Claiming that terrorists no longer possessed the capacities to carry out attacks like the one at Gulshan Café, as their ‘backbones had been broken’ during anti-terrorist drives across the country, Monirul Islam, the CTTC chief, noted, on June 30, 2017, “They may try to get reorganized again but we’ll hunt down the absconding terrorists, too. So far, eight terrorists who were involved in planning and coordination in the (Gulshan Café) attack have already been killed in different places across the country during anti-terrorist operations in the last one year.” Similarly, Inspector General of Police (IGP) AKM Shahidul Hoque talking to reporters at Police Headquarters on July 2, 2017, noted, “We do not think the terrorists have the strength. Those who are on the run will be captured, no matter how big a leader they are. We are expecting the top absconding Neo-JMB leader to be arrested soon.”

Observing that Bangladesh has set an example for the world with its success in curbing terrorism and extremism, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed stated, on July 5, 2017, "Law enforcement agencies and the Armed Forces together with a cross-section of people have made this possible, and this trend should continue so that terrorists get no place of terrorism and militancy on Bangladesh soil.” Earlier, urging the country’s Muslim population to come forward to check the spread of extremism with a rational approach, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal noted, on June 10, 2017, “At first, a vested quarter carried out extremist activities in the country, and propagated that Qoumi madrassah students are the perpetrators. Later, the quarter targeted the students of universities and English medium schools, and used them to spread extremism across the country, misguiding their young minds. This vested quarter is trying to defame both the country and its Muslim population. You have to come forward to solve your own problem. There’s no scope of ignoring this issue. You have to preach the Islam and its holy messages truthfully.’’

Worryingly, however, on July 9, 2017, bomb experts noted that the deadly explosive Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP), used by terrorists in Paris, Brussels and London attacks, had, of late become Neo-JMB’s explosive of choice in Bangladesh. The experts claimed that they had found evidence of its use in terrorist dens in Rajshahi, Jhenidah and Moulvibazar Districts. Traces of the easy-to-make TATP, known as "the mother of Satan”, was found in surgical belts terrorists use these days instead of suicide belts, and in other bombs. An official of the CTTC bomb disposal team noted, “Only 300 grams of TATP can kill everyone in a 10-meter radius.” Revealing another trend, on July 19, 2017, CTTC unit Deputy Police Commissioner Abdul Mannan disclosed, “Terrorists have begun using encryption to foil efforts by law enforcement to understand their plans. They regularly change the coding language that they use. They use them to encrypt messages sent across messaging apps. We have been able to decipher some of their messages after interrogating captured terrorists.”

Bangladesh has taken giant strides against terrorism and Islamist extremism. Recent proposal to establish a permanent Attorney service with competent lawyers to fight terrorism is a welcome development. However, the recovery of new weapons, explosives and resources during recent raids suggest that flows of material aid to these groups remains significant. Moreover, the continuous involvement of women as combatants has grave implications and potential for the abrupt augmentation of the threat. Bangladesh’s struggle against Islamist extremism and terrorism is far from over and the latent threat persists.

INDIA
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Manipur: Rising Ripples
Giriraj Bhattacharjee
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

On July 17, 2017, four civilians and one Assam Rifles (AR) trooper were injured when a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded at Khurai Ahongei in Imphal East District.

On July 10, 2017, a civilian, identified as Ranjan Das (42), was shot dead by United Tribal Liberation Army (UTLA) militants at his residence at Chhata Bekra village in Jiribam District situated near the Assam-Manipur interstate boundary. UTLA later alleged that the person as an AR ‘informer’.

On the same day, one Army trooper, identified as Moirangthem Herachandra Singh (37), was found dead at Nachou Kwak Siphai area in Bishnupur District. According to reports, unidentified militants had killed the trooper and dumped his body in a canal.

On June 30, 2017, an AR trooper was killed and another two were injured in an IED explosion at Lambui village in Ukhrul District.

On June 15, 2017, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) militants exploded an IED killing an AR trooper and injuring three in the Chassad area of Ukhrul District.

According to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Manipur has recorded at least 35 insurgency-linked fatalities, including 16 civilians, six Security Force (SF) personnel, and 13 militants, in the current year so far (data till July 23, 2017). During the corresponding period of 2016, the State had registered 23 such fatalities, including nine civilians, eight SF personnel and six militants.

Worryingly, fatalities in the first six months and 23 days of the current year have already crossed the total fatalities recorded through 2016, at 33 – the lowest since 1992. Worse, civilian fatalities – one of the most vital indicators of the security situation in a region – after registering continuous and significant declines since 2008, began to rise in the current year. According to the SATP database, civilian fatalities stood at 150 in 2007; declined to 131 in 2008; 77 in 2009; 26 in 2010; 25 each in 2011 and 2012; 21 in 2013; 20 in 2014; 17 in 2015; and 14 in 2016. 2017 has already recorded 16 civilian fatalities.

Moreover, the State has registered 14 attacks on SFs by militants, resulting in six fatalities and 14 injured among the SFs in the current year; as compared to eight such attacks and eight fatalities and 12 injured during the corresponding period of 2016. On the other hand, SFs have managed to eliminate only two militants out of the 13 militants killed so far in the current year, as compared to three out of six killed in the corresponding period of 2016.  The remaining 11 militants in 2017 and three in 2016 were either killed in internecine clashes or were eliminated by their parent groups.

The total number of incidents of killing also increased from 16 in 2016 to 28 in 2017 (data till July 23, for both years). However, no major incident (involving three or more fatalities) has been reported in the current year, thus far, as compared to two during the corresponding period of 2016. Further, in 2017, fatalities were reported from nine out of a total of 16 districts in Manipur.  These included Tegnoupal (six fatalities), Kamjong (four), Ukhrul (five), Kangpokpi (five), Noney (four), Churachandpur (three), all of which are Hill Districts; Imphal West (two fatalities), Bishnupur and Jiribam (one) each, among Valley Districts. The place of killing in the remaining four fatalities could not be ascertained. During the corresponding period of 2016, fatalities were reported from eight out of a total of nine districts in Manipur.  These included Chandel (seven fatalities), Ukhrul (two), Senapati (two), Tamenglong (two), Churachandpur (one), all of which are Hill Districts; Imphal East (four), Thoubal (three) and Imphal West (two), among Valley Districts. On December 8, 2016, the number of districts in Manipur was increased from existing nine to 16 Districts.

Extortion remains an issue of concern. Significantly, on June 18, 2017, the Kangpokpi Women’s Welfare Organization held a ‘Toumun Kiphin’ (sit-in-protest) at the Kangpokpi District headquarters, holding placards which read “Stop Extortion, Live and Let Live”. The reason for the protest was that a banned outfit (name not disclosed) has served monetary demands to Forest and Power departments, some individuals, highway maintenance agencies and shop vendors. The monetary demand ranged from INR two million each to the Forest and Power department to INR 1,500 to 4,000 for shop vendors. An unnamed businessman told the media: “Militants are threatening us all the time. We can’t live in peace. We are hiding most of the time. We are suffering immensely at their hands. Living a normal life is difficult for us.” There were a total of three reported incidents of extortion. Further, the abduction of 22 persons (in 12 incidents) had also been reported in the current year, till July 23.  However, actual incidence of both extortion and abduction is likely to be very much higher, as an overwhelming proportion of cases are settled without being reported. 

The surge in insurgency-linked violence in the current year is in spite of the fact that a total of 23 insurgent groups under two conglomerates are currently under Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreements with the Government: eight under the United Progressive Front (UPF) and 15 under the Kuki National Organisation (KNO). The SoO agreement with KNO exists since August 2008 and was valid upto July 21, 2017 [no further updates available]; while the SoO agreement with UPF was valid up to June 8, 2017 [no further updates available]. Political dialogue with these groups commenced on June 15, 2016.

This raises question over the implementation part of the SoOs. News reports indicate that the newly elected Manipur Government raised the issue of SoO violations with Union Government on June 12, 2017. An unnamed source close to Manipur Chief Minister (CM) N. Biren Singh informed the media, "The Chief Minister will raise the issue of ground rules violations by the cadres of militant groups that have tripartite Suspension of Operation agreement with the State and the Centre."

Moreover, militant groups such as the Coordination Committee (CorCom) of six Imphal Valley-based groups, the Manipur Naga Revolutionary Front (MNRF), the Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF), besides the Nagaland-based Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) and the Khaplang faction of NSCN (NSCN-K), continue to operate in Manipur. CorCom comprises the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF, the political wing of the People’s Liberation Army, PLA), United National Liberation Front (UNLF), People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), Kanglei Yowel Kanna Lup (KYKL), Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) and the progressive faction of PREPAK (PREPAK-Pro). CorCom supports the Myanmar based militant conglomerate, the United National Liberation Front of West East South Asia (UNLFWESA) .

SFs had undeniably done remarkably well to restore relative order in Manipur in recent years, providing a more secure environment for the civilian population. The recent surge, though not alarming, is nevertheless worrying, more so in the present context.  Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh observed, on May 23, 2017, "The series of violent incidents in Moreh may be related with an intentional attempt to sabotage the Act East Policy." Significantly, so far, at least five violent incidents have been reported from Moreh in Tegnoupal District in 2017, in which one civilian was killed and another three persons (all SF personnel) were injured. A ‘sanitized’ Asian Highway No. 01 (AH01), that will start from Moreh in Manipur and terminate at Maesot in Thailand, is intended to provide the necessary physical connectivity for fulfilling India's ‘Act East’ (earlier, ‘Look East’) Policy, enhancing trade links with South East Asia.

As the Government continues efforts to further strengthen and improve its security apparatus, it is vital to ensure that the ground rules for the militants in talks with the state should be strictly enforced in toto. Robust law and order is the principle prerequisite for the development of the landlocked State, and will be the lynchpin on which the success of the Act East Policy hinges.


NEWS BRIEFS

Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
July 10-16, 2017

 

Civilians

Security Force Personnel

Terrorists/Insurgents

Total

INDIA

 

Jammu and Kashmir

0
0
6
6

INDIA (Total)

0
0
6
6

PAKISTAN

 

Balochistan

4
2
0
6

FATA

0
2
21
23

KP

0
2
1
3

Sindh

4
3
0
7

PAKISTAN (Total)

8
9
22
39
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


BANGLADESH

Militants have started using encrypted language to communicate among them, say Counter Terrorism officials: Counter terrorism officials said that militants have started using encrypted language to communicate among them. Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit's (CTTC) Deputy Police Commissioner Abdul Mannan said: "Terrorists have begun using encryption to foil efforts by law enforcement to understand their plans. They regularly change the coding language that they use. They use them to encrypt messages sent across messaging apps. We have been able to decipher some of their messages after interrogating captured terrorists." Arabic words are quite common in the code language used by terrorists. Dhaka Tribune , July 20, 2017.

Bangladesh experienced significant increase in terrorist activity in 2016, says Country Reports on Terrorism 2016: Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 released on July 19 by the United States Department of State said Bangladesh experienced a significant increase in terrorist activity in 2016. The report said transnational groups such as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed several attacks targeting foreigners, religious minorities, Police, secular bloggers, and publishers. It said terrorist organizations used social media to spread their radical ideologies and solicit followers from Bangladesh. Dhaka Tribune , July 20, 2017.

IGP instructs fellow officers to take stern measures to prevent militancy and spread of illegal drugs: Inspector General of Police (IGP), AKM Shahidul Hoque in a conference at Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Headquarters on July 20 instructed fellow officers to take stern measures to prevent militancy and the spread of illegal drugs. The conference was attended by Police high-ups including DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia. The Police chief also ordered to ensure public safety at the cattle markets and the Eid congregations ahead of Eid-ul-Azha. Dhaka Tribune , July 22, 2017.


INDIA

Pakistan targeting kids, villagers near LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, says DGMO: India on July 20 accused Pakistan of "deliberately targeting" villages and school children in ceasefire violations across the Line of Control (LoC), which remains volatile with the two armies exchanging heavy fire on a daily basis in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). Indian Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lieutenant General A.K Bhatt told his Pakistani counterpart Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza over the hotline to exercise "strict control" over his troops and instruct them to refrain from any "nefarious activities". Times of India, July 21, 2017.

Over 266 militants active in Jammu and Kashmir, says Security Forces: Security Forces (SFs) on July 19 said that there are over 250 militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir with majority of them Pakistanis against whom operations to eliminate them are going on across the Valley. General Officer Commanding (GOC) Counter-Insurgency Victor Force Major General BS Raju said in Anantnag that there are 110 militants active in South Kashmir out of which nearly 100 are locals. "There are around 110 militants operating in South Kashmir out of which around 100 are locals and around 10-15 are foreignness. We are conducting operations against them which will continue", he said. Daily Excelsior, July 21, 2017.

INR 11.23 Crore FICN detected post demonetisation, states Finance Minister Arun Jaitley: Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) totalling INR 11.23 Crore has been detected since demonetisation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on July 18. Data available from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) indicates that 1.58 lakh notes of fake currency, having a face value of Rs. 11.23 crore, have been detected in 29 states post demonetisation until July 14, Jaitley