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SAIR Archive            SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW          LATEST ON SATP
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 16, No. 8, August 21, 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


PAKISTAN
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Karachi: New Hazards
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

On August 17, 2017, one Police Qaumi Razakar (PQR), Jamshed Ahmed (42), was killed and another PQR, Gulzar (30), was injured in a firing incident at the Northern Bypass within the jurisdiction of the SITE Superhighway Industrial Police Station in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Malir Town, Rao Anwar disclosed that the two Razakars were standing at a Police chowki (Post) near the bypass, when motorcycle borne terrorists opened fire on them. This was the third attack on the Police in Karachi by the newly-emerging terrorist formation, Ansar-al-Shariah Pakistan (ASP). The group claimed responsibility for the attack in pamphlets thrown at the crime scene immediately after the attack.

ASP had claimed the August 11 killing of Traffic Police Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Muhammad Hanif and his driver, Fida Alam, in the Hussainabad area of Azizabad Town in Karachi. DSP Hanif was on his way home from office when motorcycle borne terrorists opened fire on his vehicle according to Senior Superintendent of Police, Central, Muqadas Haider. 

On July 24, Traffic Police Head Constable (HC) Mohammad Khan, was killed and HC Mohammad Kamran injured when four unidentified assailants riding pillion on two motorcycles opened indiscriminate fire near Paradise Bakery on the Abul Hasan Ispahani Road in the Gulzar-e-Hijri locality of Sohrab Goth in Karachi. Counter Terrorism Department SSP Omar Shahid Hamid stated, "Apparently, today's incident appeared to be part of a recent wave of attacks on law enforcers in the city." Contrary to the security agencies’ assumption that ASP had committed this crime, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. Ahmed Mansoor, a TTP spokesperson, sent out an email to the media declaring that no ‘new outfit’ was involved in the attack.

On June 23, unidentified terrorists shot dead four Policemen, who were sitting at a roadside eatery for Iftar in the SITE Town area of Karachi. SITE town SP Asif Ahmed Bughio stated that the four Policemen were about to break their fast at a restaurant located between the Siemens and Habib Bank traffic intersections, when motorcycle-borne terrorists opened indiscriminate fire, killing ASI Mohammed Yusuf and constables Shabbir, Khalid and Israr. ASP claimed responsibility for the attack. Counter Terrorism Department SSP Raja Umar Khattab disclosed that the Police found a pamphlet from the scene of the crime which the assailants threw there before fleeing. The pamphlet warned of the launch of Operation Rad-ul-Artedad (End of Apostasy) against Security Forces (SFs). According to the message, the attack was carried out in agony over the release of bloggers accused of blasphemy, Government ‘indifference’ towards Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, ‘fake’ arrests and encounters involving terrorists, and continued diplomatic and military ties with Iran and Russia. According to varying media reports, five bloggers – Professor Salman Haider, Waqas Goraya, Aasim Saeed, Ahmad Raza Naseer, and Samar Abbas – were ‘picked up’ from capital Islamabad and parts of Punjab Province between January 5 and 7, 2017. Though reports claimed that all five of them were released by their ‘abductors’ and they returned home on January 28, 2017, recent reports indicate that one of them, Samar Abbas, is still missing. While the three others did not disclose about their ‘abductors’ out of fear, one of them, Waqass Goraya, told the BBC that a "government institution" with links to the military held him and tortured him "beyond limits". All five men were vocal critics of militant Islamist groups and Pakistan’s military establishment, and expressed their views on the internet. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui , is a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted by the United States on February, 3, 2010, for attacking American soldiers in Afghanistan on July 17, 2008. She is serving her 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Center of Carswell in Fort Worth of Texas.  

On July 21 an incident claimed the lives of three Policemen and a 12-year-old boy, when six unidentified assailants opened fire on a Police van parked near Darul Uloom in the Korangi Town area of Karachi. Arif Aslam, Superintendent of Police (SP), Landhi Town, confirmed that an Awami Colony Police mobile unit was the target of the attack. The dead were identified as Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Qamar Din, Constable Babar Ali and Constable Amjad.   

Four attacks on the Police personnel within a span of one month and ten such incidents in the current year bring the total number of law enforcers killed to 17. Among all the cities of Pakistan, Karachi remained the most troubled. According to official statistics published on February 9, 2017, almost 1,538 Policemen had been killed in the Karachi Range between 1995 and 2016. The maximum number of killings (261) were registered in 1995. Thereafter, the killings crossed three digit only in 2012, 2013 and 2014, across a span of 22 years, making these the three worst years for the Karachi Police in recent times, with  123 dead in 2012; 165 in 2013 and  136 in 2014.

The Pakistan Rangers’ (Sindh) Operation has been a blessing for the Karachi Police, as the killing of Policemen in the city has dramatically declined. The Rangers were called in on September 4, 2013, when violence in the city was at a peak, with 1,668 fatalities, including 165 Policemen. By 2016, only 29 Policemen were killed, as against 136 in 2014 and 67 in 2015. However, 2017 appears to be seeing a reversal of this trend, with 17 Policemen already killed, as against 13 in the corresponding period of 2016.

Although terrorist groups such as TTP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) have long targeted SF personnel all over Pakistan, the emergence of ASP in Karachi, specifically targeting security personnel, has created a new headache for the enforcement agencies. Since the name of this outfit first emerged in April 5, 2017, when it claimed responsibility for the targeted killing of Army Colonel (Retd.) Tahir Zia Nagi at the Baloch Colony, Karachi, ASP has claimed involvement in four attacks on SFs. According to Counter Terrorism Department SSP Raja Umar Khattab, the newly-formed group has its roots in Libya, and was also operating in other countries of the Middle East. The US and UK have already banned ASP, which Khattab added, “has been formed the way the al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) was formed, by merging different splinter terrorists groups.”

The chief of the Sindh Counter Terrorism Department, Additional Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Sanaullah Abbasi, stated on July 27 that ASP was behind all recent killings of Police personnel: “Ansarul Shariah Pakistan is a reality and we believe that it is involved in the recent wave of terror in the metropolis.” This assessment suggests that ASP is a professional, combat-trained and media savvy, formation, suggesting a higher level of education in its leadership. The group is likely to target only officials and state institutions, and has regretted the deaths of “civilians” in collateral damage, vowing to “pay compensation to the families of such victims”. ADGP Sanaullah Abbasi observed, “This is a different and dangerous narrative of the new terrorist [groups] and needs to be countered aggressively.” The increase in frequency of attacks in the past month indicated that this group might have ‘additional resources’, allowing it to step up attacks, he added.

However, the Red Book of the Sindh Counter Terrorism Department, released on August 3, 2017, did not mention ASP. The Red Book was issued with profiles of suspects wanted by the Government in connection with terrorist activities, suicide attacks and sectarian violence, and included profiles, with photographs, criminal records and rewards offered for both Sunni and Shia terrorists, and lists their association with various terrorist organisations.

Contrary to their previous assumption that a single outfit, ASP, had been targeting Policemen and retired law enforcement personnel, Counter Terrorism Department chief Sanaullah Abbasi stated, on August 6, that his organization had concluded that there were numerous splinter groups — of either TTP or LeJ – responsible for the spate of attacks in recent months: “There are multiple groups involved in targeted killings of policemen in the city”, he claimed, and their modus operandi were different in each case. TTP has formed a special cell to target law enforcement personnel, particularly those operating in the East and West zones of the Police’s organisational structure.

While the state and security apparatus claimed that it had eliminated the strongholds and infrastructure of the TTP in Karachi, there are apprehensions that the banned outfit was attempting to re-establish its financial network in the city in a bid to increase its capability to launch terrorist attacks. Officials claim that, although LeJ’s capacities had ‘almost’ been wiped out in Karachi, its activities were increasing, particularly in upper Sindh, with the help of ‘Afghans’ and financial support from the Islamic State.

The recent wave of terrorist attacks against enforcement personnel in Karachi puts a question mark against the claims of the state’s enforcement agencies regarding their counter-terrorism operations in this national commercial and financial hub, and their assertions that the ‘lifeline’ of the terrorist groups had been cut off.

INDIA
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Telangana: Inherent Threat
Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

On August 16, 2017, orchestrating the first violent incident of the current year (2017) in the State, suspected Naxalites [Left Wing Extremists (LWEs)] of the Red Flag faction of the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist-New Democracy (CPI-ML-New Democracy-Red Flag), killed a farmer, identified as Rayala Bhaskar (55), of Narsampet, a hamlet under Pandurangapuram Gram Panchayat (village level local-self government institution) and a supporter of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), at Narsampet village in Palwancha mandal (administrative sub-division) in Khammam District. According to reports, around 15 Naxalites owing allegiance to CPI-ML (New Democracy) Ravi Dalam (armed squad) allegedly barged into Bhaskar’s house of and dragged him out before battering him to death in full public view. The Naxalites were said to have nursed a grudge against the deceased for reportedly seeking the help of the members of Chandranna faction of the CPI-ML (New Democracy), to resolve an internal issue in the village. CPI-ML (New Democracy) had split into two in 2013 – CPI-ML (New Democracy) led by Chandranna and (CPI-ML-New Democracy-Red Flag) led by Rayala Subhash Chandra Bose aka Ravi.

According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), this is the only incident of LWE-linked violence in the State in 2017, thus far (data till August 20). During the corresponding period of 2016 as well, one fatality (a Maoist) was reported, and that was the only LWE-linked fatality in the State through 2016. On August 8, 2016, Naxal renegade Mohammed Nayeemuddin aka Nayeem aka Balanna, was killed in an exchange of fire with the Police in Shadnagar Town of Mahbubnagar District. Nayeemuddin was wanted in over 100 criminal cases including the killing of Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, Kota Srinivas Vyas and his associate at Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad, then in Andhra Pradesh (now in Telangana) on January 27, 1993,

Fatalities in Telangana: 2014-2017

Year

Civilian
SFs
LWE/CPI-Maoist
Total

2014*

4
1
1
6

2015

2
0
2
4

2016

0
0
1
1

2017**

1
0
0
1

Total

7
1
4
12
Source: SATP, **Data till August 20, 2017
* Telangana formed on June 2, 2014.

An overview of the fatalities, suggests that LWE-related violence in Telangana has been declining since the State came into being on June 2, 2014. According to the SATP database, Telangana recorded six Maoist-linked fatalities, including four civilians, one SF trooper and one Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadre in 2014; four, including two civilians and two Maoists in 2015; and one fatality each in 2016 (Maoist) and 2017 (civilian, all data till August 20). Since its creation, the State has recorded 12 fatalities, including seven civilians, one SF trooper and four Maoists.

The Sakler incident, in which at least eight members of the CPI-Maoist Venkatapuram ‘area committee’, which operates in the Bhadrachalam area of Khammam District in Telangana, were killed in an encounter with Security Forces (SFs), along the Telangana-Chhattisgarh border in the Sakler area of Sukma District in Chhattisgarh State on March 1, 2016, had weakened the Maoists’ revival plan in Telangana. Meanwhile, media reports on March 22, 2017, revealed that, while taking stock of losses suffered in recent encounters in Chhattisgarh due to lack of a strong courier system, CPI-Maoist was seeking to extend its activities and to establish a faithful courier system in Telangana. Accordingly, the CPI-Maoist leadership planned to recruit new cadres and couriers, offering huge amounts, and started recruitment near the Telangana-Chhattisgarh border. The Maoists were focusing particularly on Guttikoyas (a scheduled tribal community hailing from Chhattisgarh, who had escaped from the conflict zone of Chhattisgarh and settled in the border villages of the Khammam and Warangal Districts in Telangana), as well as unemployed tribals, by luring them with their propaganda.

Meanwhile, a July 31, 2017, report revealed that the CPI-Maoist Telangana State Committee (TSC), with the Adilabad District Committee, Khammam District Committee and Khammam-Karimnagar-Warangal Divisional Committee, the Special Guerrilla Squad and 92 cadres, had been tasked to intensify activities in the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) region. The Maoists are also in the process of forming village level teams to strengthen their strongholds in the AOB region, where the CPI-Maoist suffered a major setback in two successive encounters, with around 30 Maoists killed on October 24 and 27, 2016.

Further, an August 16, 2017, media report cited intelligence agencies to claim a revival of the CPI-Maoist project to build rocket launchers, a potential game changer in their pattern of warfare. Agencies believe that the Maoists were working on improving rocket launchers, since earlier attempts to put them to full use against SFs had failed. A top Telangana State intelligence official reportedly disclosed, “They have a central technical committee that is focusing on improvising rocket launchers. Their factory is now located in Dandakaranya.”

Meanwhile, citing intelligence inputs on possible Maoist attacks on three irrigation projects in Telangana, the Union Home Ministry (UHM) deployed three companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) for their protection; one at the Kaleswaram Lift Irrigation Project at Medigadda in Karimnagar District; a second at the Tupakulagudem Barrage; and the third either in the Adilabad or Khammam District, depending on emerging requirements. A senior official of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) disclosed, on May 18, 2017, "The Home Ministry is sending three companies of CRPF, each comprising 135 personnel, to these sites in a week. The Force's Central Region Director General Sudeep Lakhtakia has already issued an order. In all, 405 CRPF personnel will be deployed at the three project sites."

Further, the Centre has allocated CRPF’s 39th Battalion to take up anti-Naxal operations along the Telangana-Chhattisgarh borders and the AOB region. CRPF Commandant V.V.N. Prasanna Kumar on August 10, 2017, stated, “We launched operations from Chinavutapalli village recently, and our priority is to provide security to Velagapudi. The forces will also take up anti-Maoist activities on AOB and in Kothagudem-Bhadradri District in Telangana”. The battalion was also meant to provide security for the Andhra Pradesh (AP) Secretariat, as well as the Chief Minister’s residence and Camp Office located in the Capital Region.

Meanwhile, at least 109 Maoists have been arrested since the formation of the Telangana State on June 2, 2014, of whom at least 45 Maoists were arrested in the current year (data till August 20, 2017). Some of the prominent cadres arrested in 2017 included, ‘area committee member', Madivi Chukka aka Diwakar (28), from Unjupalli forest area under Charla Police Station in Khammam District on August 7, 2017; Madhu, a 'regional Committee Secretary' of the CPI-ML (New Democracy), in Mahabubabad District on July 25, 2017; Revolutionary People's Committee (RPC) 'militia commander' Kalma Lakma aka Mahesh (22) and Chetna Natya Manch (CNM – a Maoist cultural outfit) 'militia commander' Podium Idamaiah (25), near Taliperu dam in Charla mandal of Bhadrachalam Division in Bhadradri Kothagudem District on June 23, 2017; and 'militia commander' Madivi Idama, from Jayashankar Bhupalapally District on April 19, 2017.

Similarly, at least 48 others have surrendered before SFs, including at least 13 in the current year (data till August 20, 2017). Some of the notable surrenders include Manuguru Local Operating Squad (LOS) 'commander' Sodi Devaiah aka Mallesh (22), who surrendered at Bhadrachalam in the Bhadradri-Kothagudem District on August 12, 2017; and Mallam Jogaiah, a militia 'commander', who was wanted in 16 cases of Maoist violence including two murders, and who also surrendered at Bhadrachalam on July 5, 2017.

Meanwhile, in the run up to the 50th anniversary of the 'Naxalbari armed uprising', the CPI-Maoist Sabari-Charla Area Committee (SCAC), urged people to fight against "sand and mining mafia" to protect the interests of Adivasis in the Agency areas, in Bhadradri Kothagudem District, through posters that appeared on May 19, 2017. Further, on May 23, 2017, suspected Maoists erected a banner and put up handwritten posters near the Taliperu Medium Irrigation project site in the Charla mandal in Khammam District, calling upon people to spearhead the "new democratic revolution".

On July 20, 2017, CPI-Maoist distributed pamphlets commemorating their 'martyrs' memorial week', celebrated annually between July 28 and August 3. The pamphlets were distributed on NH 153 at the Tadwai mandal headquarters in the name of the CPI-Maoist TSC. Hundreds of pamphlets were also found in the Tadwai and Pasra Forest areas in Kamareddy District, through which the party called upon the public to observe the 'martyrs' memorial week' and pay homage Maoist martyrs. The Maoists accused the State and Central Governments of resorting to anti-people policies while protecting the interests of corporate and multi-national forces as part of their globalisation policy, and alleged that the Governments were spending huge amounts on strengthening the Police wing to suppress revolutionary forces that were questioning their misdeeds.

Clearly, the inherent danger from the Maoists persists in Telangana. January 4, 2017, media reportage indicated that Maoist recruitment had slowly intensified and recruits were being trained in what is considered their ‘safe bastion’, Chhattisgarh. The Maoists are anxious to engineer a revival in their erstwhile areas of dominance, prominently including Telangana which was long one of the worst afflicted regions of the country. Their effective neutralization across much of this fledgling State goes to the great credit to the enforcement agencies of undivided Andhra Pradesh, and the continued efforts of the successor State Police of Telangana. There is, nevertheless, little scope for complacency, as the Maoists are far from giving up arms, and a significant section of their ideologically committed top leadership remains actively at large.


NEWS BRIEFS

Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
August 14-20, 2017

 

Civilians

Security Force Personnel

Terrorists/Insurgents

Total

BANGLADESH

 

Islamist Terrorism

0
0
1
1

INDIA

 

Jammu and Kashmir

3
1
1
5

Left-Wing Extremism

 

Jharkhand

1
0
0
1

Telangana

1
0
0
1

INDIA (Total)

5
1
1
7

PAKISTAN

 

Balochistan

3
8
0
11

KP

2
0
0
2

Sindh

0
1
4
5

PAKISTAN (Total)

5
9
4
18
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


BANGLADESH

No threat of any major militant attack as organizational capability of Neo-JMB and ABT has waned, says DMP commissioner Mohamad Asaduzzaman Mia: Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) commissioner Mohamad Asaduzzaman Mia on August 16 claimed there is no threat of any major militant attack or security risk in the country as the organizational capability of militant groups like Neo-Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (Neo-JMB) and Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) has waned. "They've no strength to carry out any major subversive act. But one or two incidents might happen sporadically," he said while briefing reporters at the DMP Media Centre in Dhaka city. New Age, August 17, 2017.


INDIA

Around 80 militants sneak into Jammu and Kashmir this year, shows Multi Agency Centre data: Despite strict vigil along the Line of Control (LoC) to foil infiltration of militants from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), around 80 militants have sneaked in this year (2017) while Security Forces (SFs) achieved major successes against them by killing 133 militants including seven top 'commanders'. According to Multi Agency Centre (MAC) figures, around 80 militants have infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir till July 2017 from PoK. These militants mostly infiltrated from Keran, Gurez, Machil and Nowgam sectors of Kashmir and majority of them are in North Kashmir. Daily Excelsior, August 18, 2017.

34 new faces joined the ranks of militants in South Kashmir, says Police: Even as the joint combing operation, 'Operation All-Out', has succeeded in killing 35 militants in South Kashmir since April, 2017 the Police's counter-insurgency data suggest 34 new faces have joined the ranks. Police data, portray a grim picture of South Kashmir's four Districts despite "great successes" made by the Security Forces (SFs) by killing eight top commanders of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). "We have reports of 34 new faces joining the militants' ranks of both HM and LeT in South Kashmir since April when the operation against active militants was launched," said a top counter-insurgency Police officer.  The Hindu, August 18, 2017.

US terms Hizb-ul-Mujahideen a 'foreign terror outfit': The United States (US) on August 16 designated militant outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) as a "foreign terrorist organisation", nearly two months after declaring the group's 'chief' Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist. The designation, which slaps a series of US sanctions on the outfit, came against the backdrop of an upsurge in terror activities by the militant group in Jammu and Kashmir in recent months. "These designations seek to deny Hizb-ul-Mujahideen the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks," the State Department said in a statement. The Hindu, August 17, 2017.


PAKISTAN

Educated people major target for Daesh, says COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa: The Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on August 17 advised the youth to stay alert as educated people are major target of Daesh and its affiliated groups. An Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement says the COAS paid a visit to the Directorate of ISPR and