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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 1, No. 11, September 30, 2002

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


J&K Elections 2002 - Phase II: September 24, 2002
Voter turnout (in %)


Assembly Segment

Poll %age








































































72-Jammu East



73-Jammu West






75-RS Pura









78-Raipur Domana













TOTAL (28)



* Provisional figures, subject to final verification by the Election Commission of India.
Election Commission of India



Gujarat: New Theatre of Islamist Terror
K.P.S. Gill
President, Institute for Conflict Management

Whether by accident or design, even as the second phase of elections was unfolding in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) on September 24, 2002, two terrorists launched an attack in the Akshardham Temple of the Swaminarayan sect of Hindus, one of the most hallowed temples in the western Indian State of Gujarat. They first lobbed grenades and opened indiscriminate fire on the devotees in the crowded hour of the evening aarti (prayer), and then, as darkness fell, entered into a protracted exchange of fire with security forces that lasted through the night. They were eventually killed at dawn by a crack team of the National Security Guard, but only after they had taken the lives of 32 persons, including 16 women and four children, and injured at least another 74. With this outrage, militant Islamists opened up one more theatre of terrorism on Indian soil.

There has been a certain inevitability about a terrorist attack in Gujarat for some time now. The international pressure on Pakistan to curb cross border terrorism in J&K has mounted substantially since 9/11 - and can be expected to increase further after the very credible election process in that State. Under the circumstances, it had become necessary to extend the terrorist campaign to other theatres to maintain the cover of deniability, and to project the fiction that Islamist terrorism in this country is an 'indigenous' outcome of the frustrations and despair of the Muslim community. The tragic and indefensible slaughters after the Godhra carnage of February 27, 2002, in the retaliatory riots in Gujarat through the months of March and April, made this State the highest priority in this process, since it is here that Pakistan can most plausibly claim that the violence is 'indigenous', the result of local Muslim anger against the post-Godhra atrocities. It is significant that the Akshardham incident occurred within days after General Pervez Musharraf brought up the issue of the Gujarat riots in his address to the United Nations. Gujarat, however, will not be the last or only destination of such violence - more and more concentrations of Muslim populations will be targeted in this strategy to project to the world that Muslims in India are spontaneously resorting to violence as a result of their growing frustrations in 'Hindu India'.

This, precisely, is why the perpetrators of the Akshardham Temple outrage identified themselves as members of an entirely unknown organization, the Tehreek-e-Qisas or 'movement for revenge', although there is preliminary evidence to suggest that they were linked to existing Pakistan based terrorist proxies operating on Indian soil. More significantly, there has been continuous evidence of recurrent efforts by Pakistan backed Islamist extremist groupings to engineer terrorist incidents in Gujarat in the months since the riots in this State. Thus,

  • On August 28, 2002, Farhan Ahmad of Moradabad (Uttar Pradesh) and Shahid Ahmed Bakshi of Ahmedabad were arrested from the Nizamuddin area in Delhi with four kilogrammes of RDX, a pistol, two detonators and ammunition. Interrogation reports indicated that they were linked to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and were tasked to go to Gujarat and to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi and some senior members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Council of Hindus, VHP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Ahmad and Bakshi had been recruited while they were working in Kuwait, by three Pakistani LeT members identified as Basharat, Faheem and Mujahid-ul-Islam. Farhan had undergone training in Muzaffarabad (Pakistan occupied Kashmir, PoK) as far back as in 1998, and was a specialist in illegal fund transfers from Kuwait to various recipients in India. He had returned to India in May 2002 to mobilize support in madrassas (seminaries) in Tanda, Rattanpura, Umrikalan and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, and to motivate these institutions to accept and retain Muslim youth orphaned during the Gujarat riots until they could be trained to join the jehad. In July 2002, Farhan had visited relief camps in Gujarat and identified at least 33 boys for possible recruitment. Bakshi, in turn, had received substantial funds to purchase a tanker for 'milk collection' in the Kutch-Bhuj areas of Gujarat, which was intended to be used for transporting arms and explosives clandestinely inducted from Pakistan, to urban centers in the State.
  • On August 4, 2002, security forces arrested Mohammed Maqbool Joiya @ Bashir Joiya, a Pakistani terrorist of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) from Kotla, under Khavda police station limits, Kutch district, Gujarat. Maqbool, a native of Saiwal in Pakistani Punjab, had infiltrated into India via Jammu. He had trained with the JeM at camps at Kotli (PoK) and later at an Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) training camp at Sensa, and was 'launched' into J&K along with a group of eight terrorists. He initially operated in Rajouri in that State, and was involved in an encounter with Village Defence Committee (VDC) members in the district. He was surveying infiltration / exfiltration possibilities on the Kutch border in Gujarat in an effort to identify new routes and operational bases.
  • On May 10, 2002, Delhi Special Commissioner of Police (Intelligence) K.K. Paul disclosed that five terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) [two of whom were killed in an encounter in Delhi on May 9] had plans to target VVIPs and industrial interests in Delhi and were operating under a changed name of Tehreek-bin-Zaid. He also indicated that the terrorists planned to rope in Muslim youth from Gujarat into militancy, as they apparently visualised the State as a 'fertile ground' for recruitment into terrorist organisations in view of the recent communal violence there.
  • In early May, intelligence agencies in J&K intercepted communications between the Lashkar-e-Toiba and their handlers in Pakistan. The LeT cadres were being instructed to send groups to execute acts of terrorism in Gujarat, and also to identify and mobilize potential recruits among the victims and survivors of the Gujarat riots.

These are only a handful of the recent intelligence breakthroughs that prevented acts of terrorism from taking place in Gujarat, and are part of a much larger plan that extends well beyond this State, and that predates the Gujarat riots by many years. Since 1998, for instance, Central intelligence and State police units charged with countering Pakistan-backed terrorism in India outside the State of Jammu & Kashmir, have identified and dismantled at least 162 terrorist and support modules [1998: 29; 1999: 30; 2000: 25; 2001: 59; 2002 (till September 25): 19] located virtually across the country. These figures relate only to terrorist and terrorist support activities, and do not include arrests relating to subversion and espionage charges.

Despite these successes, it is in the nature of terrorism that someone will eventually slip through even the most elaborate intelligence and security net. As the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) said to the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, "We only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always." This is what manifested itself at Akshardham - one more among the many occasions on which the terrorists 'got lucky'. Such occasions, regrettably, will repeat themselves again and again, as long as the motives, the incentives and the external support for terrorism survive.




Jammu & Kashmir Elections: Macabre Scorecard
Guest Writer: Praveen Swami, in Srinagar
Chief of Bureau, Mumbai, Frontline

Cynics contend that all politicians want is to make a quick buck. If that's true, those contesting the ongoing Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) elections might do well to consider that there are easier and safer ways of making a living. What journalists wryly call the 'scoreboard' - the register of fatalities in terrorist violence - has continued to grow each day. Many of the targets have been high-profile candidates.

On September 28, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) attempted to assassinate the Nationalist Congress Party candidate from Devsar, in southern Kashmir. She, along with her brother, was critically injured; her father and three others died in the explosion. The day before that, her party colleague Abdul Gani Veeri was attacked at Bijbehara. And the day before that, another National Conference (NC) candidate, Ayesha Nishat, was fired on at Wachi. The previous day, terrorists fired on the Congress (I)'s Mohammad Shafi Banday and the National Conference's Sheikh Rafiq, both standing from Shopian.

No major attacks took place on September 22, apart from the murder of an inconsequential NC activist, Ghulam Mohammad Parrey in Beerwah. No surprise that terrorist groups felt the need for a little peace and quiet, since September 21 had been a particularly busy day: Minister of State for Tourism, Sakina Itoo, escaped a fourth attempt on her life near Meerhama, in Kulgam. A 22-year-old villager, Maimoona Akhtar, who had come out to support Itoo was killed, along with a police constable. Before dawn the same morning, two Communist Party of India (Marxist) cadres were also killed by terrorists, along with a two-person truck crew from Punjab who had nothing whatsoever to do with the elections.

With the total numbers of political activists killed in acts of terror specifically directed against the ongoing election process now at over 81, few people in their right minds ought to have any reason to vote. And yet, some 41 per cent of voters chose to do so in the second phase of polling, conducted on September 24 in districts of Jammu and Srinagar (over 47 per cent had voted earlier, in the first phase). While fewer voters came out in the core urban segments of Srinagar, which gave birth to the rebellion of 1988-1992, participation was high in the surrounding countryside. Abdul Gani Bhat, the chairperson of the secessionist coalition, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), attributed the levels of voting to coercion by security forces in some areas and to the existence of a 'personality cult' in others.

Both arguments are fairly easy to debunk. Bhat's 'cult' reference was directed at the Shia religious leader Aga Rohullah, whose father Aga Syed Mehdi was assassinated by terrorists last year. But Shia voters were also protesting Sunni chauvinism of the kind symbolised by the assassination and, indeed, by Bhat's remarks. More important, Rohullah supports the National Conference, and many Shia communities, traditional Congress (I) voters who are often relatively less affluent than their Sunni counterparts, hope the new political alignment will yield tangible developmental benefits.

Debunking the notion of state coercion of voters to exercise their franchise is a problem even easier to address. First, there were few credible accounts of such coercion having taken place, and no reporters' eyewitness accounts whatsoever. Second, it is hard to understand why, if the Indian Army exercised such coercive pressure, turnout was still so low in some areas where such pressure is alleged to have been exerted. The only explanation would be that residents of the Kashmir Valley are, in some neighbourhoods, inherently more terrified of the state than in adjoining areas - a dubious explanation at best. Even more curious, individuals allegedly 'coerced' by soldiers to vote nevertheless felt free to hold demonstrations against the elections and even chant anti-India slogans in front of those very soldiers. Finally, proponents of the thesis need to consider one simple issue: if the Indian Army was able to so easily terrify an entire population on September 24, it would have long ago succeeded in crushing the insurgency now underway for over 13 years.

Sadly, the media has paid little attention to the very real terrorist coercion evident through J&K to prevent participation in the voting: threats rendered credible by the fact that, while not one member of anti-election political groups has been shot at, killings of pro-election individuals and leaders have been widespread. This fact is likely to be crucial to voter turnout in the third phase of elections in the hard-hit areas of southern Kashmir.

It has passed largely unnoticed that these elections have attracted a rich spectrum of ideological interests. While secessionist groups like the People's Conference and Kashmir Revival Movement have elements formally participating, a large number of pro-independence figures, pro-Pakistan figures, one-time terrorists and individuals with current links to terrorist groups have entered the election theatre through the medium of mainstream opposition parties. Southern Kashmir, in particular, has seen a good deal of behind-the-scenes deal making with local terrorist groups, particularly the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM). This is, without dispute, the most politically inclusive election J&K has seen in decades. Terrorist violence and intimidation is, sadly, depriving the people of the State of the opportunity to have an election that is as inclusive in terms of grassroots participation as well.



The Terror Targets Christians
Guest Writer: Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Stockholm University

On September 25, 2002, gunmen entered the offices of the Idara-e-Amn-o-Insaf (Institute for Peace and Justice), a Pakistani Christian charity located in the country's biggest city, Karachi. Victims were tied up in chairs with their hands behind their backs, their mouths taped, before being shot point-blank in the head, according to Karachi Police Chief Kamal Shah. Early police reports suggested that three of the victims were Muslims, though subsequently all seven were claimed to be Christians. Shah stated that the police were questioning an office assistant who was tied up and beaten by the attackers, but not shot. He is being questioned on how the gunmen got into the office, which had an electronic door that could only be opened from the inside. The office assistant told the police there were two gunmen involved in the shooting. The Christian group has been in operation for 30 years, working with poor municipal and textile workers to press for basic worker rights, and organizing programs with local human rights groups.

Pakistani Information Minister Nisar Memon condemned the attack, saying those who carried it out were enemies of Pakistan. He also extended the assurance that Pakistan's cooperation with the world community in the war against terrorism would continue. In subsequent statements, the police and even General Pervez Musharraf have suggested that the Indian intelligence agency, the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), could be behind the latest killings. However, senior Pakistani journalist M.B. Naqvi has suggested that the killers are probably militant Islamists. This month, police in Karachi had arrested 23 members of Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen Al-Almi, which is believed to be behind many of the attacks in recent months. There is no doubt that General Musharraf has not been able to crush all the militants, and reports of various assassination attempts on him have also been circulating in the Press. It is widely suspected that the militants continue to receive help and protection from disgruntled elements within the Army and the secret services, though the possibility of a coup against Musharraf remains remote.

3.8 million Christians constitute some 2.5 per cent of Pakistan's total population. Concentrated mainly in the Punjab and in the port city of Karachi, most of them belong to the poorest sections of society. Mission hospitals and schools have been the main avenue for social mobility for those among them who succeed in getting an education. Very few openings are possible for them in the mainstream public and private sectors, where religious and caste prejudices against them abound.

The climate against the minorities in Pakistan began to harden during the regime of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (1977-88). He introduced a system of separate electorates in 1985 under which Christians and other non-Muslims voted separately for reserved seats for non-Muslims in the various legislative assemblies. The Blasphemy Law of 1986 made any insult to Islam or the Prophet Muhammad a penal offence punishable with death. Over the years, many Christians have been charged with blasphemy, and although death sentences passed in the lower courts have been commuted to lesser sentences or acquittals, the general atmosphere has become increasingly hostile. Violent attacks on Christian churches and property have been occurring since the late 1980s.

General Musharraf, who captured power in a coup on October 12, 1999, was widely believed to favour a modern type of Islam, and he initially made some remarks in that direction. This resulted in loud protests from the Islamists who had been enjoying state patronage for many years. The result was that Musharraf quickly retreated to a policy of inaction vis--vis the various Islamist groups. These extremists had, for years, been operating in Afghanistan and Indian-administered Kashmir. Almost all of them adhered to a puritanical type of militant Sunni Islam. The Lashkar-e-Toiba (
LeT) and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) were the biggest among these. They openly conducted their propaganda and recruited cadres from bases in various parts of Pakistan, and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and some senior army officers were directly involved in the activities of these groups.

After September 11, 2001, General Musharraf decided to abandon the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and Pakistan joined the anti-terrorism coalition. The Americans were offered all help, including access to military airfields and seaports. Such a dramatic reversal of policy was greatly resented by the Islamists who organized mass protests all over Pakistan. Things came to a head on October 7, when the bombing of Afghanistan began. The fall of the Taliban regime and the liquidation of the Al Qaeda network on Afghan territory made the Pakistani Islamists look for revenge. They began to target native Christians and Westerners.

Thus, on October 28, 2001, gunmen opened fire on Christian worshippers in Bahawalpur, a town in southern Punjab. 16 Christians were killed and many injured. The culprits managed to escape and were never captured. On March 17, 2002 a grenade attack took place on a Protestant church in a heavily guarded diplomatic quarter of Islamabad, resulting in the death of five people. Among the dead were an American woman who worked at the US embassy and her 17-year-old daughter. On May 8, 2002, a suicide bomber killed 11 French Engineers. On June 14, a bomb exploded outside the US Consulate in Karachi, killing 12 Pakistanis. On August 9, assailants hurled grenades at worshippers leaving a church on the grounds of a Presbyterian hospital in Taxila, 25 miles northwest of Islamabad. Four nurses were killed and 25 people wounded. Four days earlier, attackers had raided a Christian school 40 miles east of Islamabad. Six persons were killed in that outrage.

Western governments, church leaders and human rights organizations have protested against the continuing violence against Christians and Westerners in Pakistan. The European Union and the United Nations have expressed great concern over the fact that Pakistan has been converted into a base by terrorists. The reaction from Washington, however, has been more muted. It seems that the Americans do not want to destabilize the present Pakistani government, whose cooperation in the campaign against Al Qaeda has been to their full satisfaction.


Weekly Fatalities: Major conflicts in South Asia
September 23-29, 2002

Security Force Personnel
Jammu & Kashmir
Left-wing extremism
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


125 injured in bomb explosions in Satkhira town: Media reports said approximately 125 persons were injured in two bomb explosions that occurred separately at a cinema hall and a circus in Satkhira town on September 28, 2002. Police suspect involvement of the Islamic Shashantantra Andolon (ISA) group in these incidents. The ISA had reportedly been holding a series of agitations against the circus and hall authorities accusing them of holding 'indecent shows' and screening pornographic movies. Unconfirmed reports said about ten persons have been killed in these attacks. The Daily Star, September 29, 2002.

Seven Arabs arrested for suspected international terrorist links: The Detective Branch (DB) of Bangladesh Police is reportedly interrogating seven Arab nationals, arrested in Uttara Model Town in Dhaka on September 23, 2002, for suspected international terrorist links. A Bangladeshi national was also arrested along with the seven Arabs from the Al Hermann Islamic Institute. The Daily Star, September 26, 2002.


Five terrorists involved in 1998 Coimbatore blast killed in Bangalore encounter: Five terrorists, including Imam Ali and four of his associates, involved in the February 1998 bomb blast in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, were killed in an encounter in the Sanjaynagar area of Bangalore, capital city of Karnataka State, on September 29, 2002. 13 Police personnel were also injured during this encounter. The terrorists belonged to the newly floated Al-Mujahideen group. Preliminary investigations and telephonic intercepts have reportedly revealed that the group had planned to assassinate the Deputy Prime Minister, L K Advani, the Union Human Resource Development Minister, Murli Manohar Joshi, and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader, Ashok Singhal. Imam Ali, a native of Tamil Nadu and trained by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), had escaped police custody at Thirumangalam near Madurai in Tamil Nadu on March 7, 2002. Ali also allegedly masterminded the bomb blast at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters in Chennai in August 1993. Times of India, September 30, 2002.

Pakistani terrorists involved in Gujarat temple-attack: Security agencies have reportedly identified the two terrorists responsible for the attack on the Akshardham temple of the Swaminarayan sect in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, on September 24, 2002, as those belonging to Pakistan. The two slain attackers were identified as Mohammed Amjad Bhai and Hafiz Yasir, who hailed from Lahore and Attock respectively in Pakistan. Reports said the identification of terrorists was established on the basis of intercepts from across the border when a commando operation was on to flush them out of the temple on September 24 night. The police have also detained the driver and the owner of the car used by the terrorists. Press Trust of India, September 28, 2002.

34 persons killed in terrorist attack on temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat: An estimated 32 persons were killed and nearly 100 injured when terrorists attacked the Akshardham temple of the Swaminarayan sect in Gandhinagar, capital of Gujarat, on September 24. The terrorists gained entry into the temple complex at around 5 pm and after lobbing hand grenades opened indiscriminate fire. They moved from the exhibition complex to the main temple before climbing and taking positions on the rooftop. The commando operation by National Security Guards (NSG) to flush out the terrorists ended on September 25 morning, with the killing of the two terrorists. Documents recovered from the possession of the two slain terrorists indicated that they belonged to a hitherto unknown terrorist group called Tehreek-e-Qisas-Gujarat (Movement for Revenge in Gujarat). The Hindu, September 25, 2002.

ULFA 'general secretary' sentenced to seven years imprisonment by Bangladesh court: United Liberation Front of Asom 'general secretary' Anup Chetia and two of his associates were sentenced to seven years imprisonment by a court in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on September 24, 2002. They were convicted for 'illegal possession' of a satellite phone. Dhaka police had arrested them in December 1997. The ULFA terrorists are already serving a six year-jail term there for other offences, including illegal entry into the country, possession of forged passports and fake foreign currencies of 16 countries. Outlook, September 24, 2002.

CBI team leaves for Lisbon to seek deportation of Mafia don Abu Salem: A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team has left for the Portugal capital Lisbon on September 23, 2002, to seek the deportation of Mafia don Abu Salem. Official sources said that a two-member team had left with some documents that would help in convincing Portuguese authorities about Salem's involvement in the 1993-Mumbai serial bomb blasts. Outlook, September 24, 2002.


74 Maoist insurgents killed in Rolpa district: The Defence Ministry said on September 25, 2002, that troops of the Royal Nepal Army killed at least 74 Maoist insurgents in a major military operation in Rolpa district, on September 23, 2002. The dead bodies of 24 slain insurgents have reportedly been recovered by troops while the insurgents had carried away the others. Nepal News, September 25, 2002.


Mullah Omar and bin Laden alive, claims Taliban ex-Envoy: Naseer Ahmed Roohi, a former Taliban diplomat claimed in Peshawar on September 27, 2002, that 'supreme leader' Mullah Mohammad Omar and Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden were both alive and in good physical condition. Roohi, who also heads the Tehreek Jamiat Shababul Muslimeen (Movement of Young Muslims), made the claim at a press conference held at an unidentified location in the Peshawar region. He claimed he met Mullah Omar 15 days ago inside Afghanistan, but refused to disclose the exact location. Dawn, September 28, 2002.

Seven Christians killed in Karachi terrorist attack: Seven Christians were killed and three others injured on September 25, 2002, when two unidentified terrorists attacked the office of the Idara Aman-o-Insaaf (Institute for Peace and Justice), a Christian charity, located at Rimpa Plaza, Karachi. Dawn, September 26, 2002.

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

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


South Asia Intelligence Review [SAIR]

K. P. S. Gill

Dr. Ajai Sahni

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