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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 2, No. 27, January 19, 2004

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: Haze Shrouds the Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin
Guest Writer: Praveen Swami
New Delhi Chief of Bureau, Frontline Magazine

"DON'T SHOOT," Ghulam Rasool Dar had shouted out to photographers on August 3, 2000, "my life is in danger." It's unlikely the Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin's (HM) overall commander of operations in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) had time to make the same plea to the Indian troops who surrounded his hideout on January 16, 2004 - but his prediction turned out to be prophetic.

Dar had made his way across the Line of Control in 2000 to participate in the HM's first - and so far, last - official contact with the Government of India. His task was to represent his Amir, or supreme commander, Mohammad Yusuf Shah, who is widely known by his nom de guerre, Syed Salahuddin.

Shah had become increasingly suspicious of the pro-negotiations HM commander who spearheaded the dialogue, Abdul Majid Dar. Majid Dar himself was told not to meet India's then-Home Secretary, Kamal Pande, and to send his deputy, Farooq Sheikh Mirchal, instead. Rasool Dar represented the hardliners. Soon after the talks, Shah shut down the dialogue process.

Majid Dar held his ground, only to be expelled from the Hizb. In August 2001, the HM organised Mirchal's assassination, who had emerged as the key organiser among the pro-dialogue HM faction. Not so long afterwards, in March 2003, Majid Dar himself was executed by a HM hit squad near his home in Sopore.

The assassination provoked a split within the HM's cadre in Pakistan, but with the help of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence, Shah remained firmly in control of the organisation. Now, it appears, the HM doves have had their vengeance.

Operating under the aliases Ghazi Nasiruddin, Riyaz Rasool and Zubair, Rasool Dar was second in seniority in the Hizb command, reporting only to its Amir, Mohammad Yusuf Shah. Dar's elimination is a significant blow to the HM command structure, and could have consequences for the imminent dialogue between the Union Government and secessionist politicians in J&K.

Dar was killed in a brief encounter with the 2 Rashtriya Rifles battalion at Zainakot, near Srinagar. Fayyaz Ahmad, a HM deputy divisional commander in charge of southern Kashmir, was shot dead along with him. A resident of Tral, Ahmad also handled finance and publicity work for the Hizb.

The elimination of the HM commander marked the climax of a long-running hunt, which began soon after Dar took charge of the operational command in November 2003. The key breakthrough came when Indian intelligence began intercepting calls made by Dar on his Thuraya hand-held satellite phone. India is among the few countries in Asia with a significant satellite signal interception capability, which is enabled by a string of listening stations run by the Research and Analysis Wing's National Technical Intelligence Communications Centre.

While RAW's technical intelligence helped security personnel gain a general idea of where Dar was operating, not a little work remained before the jaws of the trap finally closed. At 5:30 PM on Thursday, January 15, Border Security Force (BSF) personnel succeeded in eliminating the Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin deputy commander, Mohammad Abbas Malik, at a safe house in Srinagar. Malik, a resident of Gund in Doda had earlier served as a divisional commander in the mountain district.

A series of raids began after Malik's elimination, targeting the locations of all local telephone numbers dialled from his satellite phone. Correctly believing that Indian security forces would soon locate him, and knowing his safe houses had been identified, Dar fled Srinagar to a suburban safe-house used by Ahmad. Soon after they arrived there, a source working for the 2 Rashtriya Rifles informed the battalion that two unidentified terrorists were hiding out in the area.

Dar's elimination will have considerable consequences for the HM's military operations. The organisation has lost a string of top-level commander over the last year - a sign, some believe, of a blood-feud within the organisation sparked off by the 2002 assassination of the pro-dialogue commander Abdul Majid Dar.

In April, Indian security forces succeeded in eliminating Rasool Dar's predecessor as military commander, Ghulam Rasool Khan, who operated under the code-names Saif-ul-Islam and Engineer Zamaan. Dar's deputy, Pakistani national Saif-ul-Rahman Bajwa, was subsequently killed by the BSF in November. Khan's killing would have given considerable satisfaction to the HM dissidents, since he had ordered Mirchal's execution, hoping to remove pro-dialogue elements from the key border district of Kupwara.

As things stand, the Hizb will be hard-pressed to find a credible successor for Dar, a Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) veteran who enjoyed the personal confidence of the organisation's Amir. Dar himself had been reluctant to serve in the Kashmir valley, and delayed filling the post for several months after Khan was killed. He had narrowly escaped several security force operations while serving in J&K, and his family had left for Pakistan on the New Delhi-Lahore bus service inaugurated by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Now, Shah needs to nominate someone from among his diminishing circle of confidantes on the HM's central command council, since the organisation is fighting against time to stall the imminent dialogue between All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) moderates and New Delhi. In recent days, the HM, as well as sister jihadi organisations like the Jamait-ul-Mujaheddin (JuM), have held out threats to the life of APHC moderates. Shah himself also opposed the ongoing détente process between India and Pakistan.

Shortly before his death, Dar is also believed to have personally met the JeI chief Syed Nazir Ahmad Kashani, to demand that the organisation throw its weight behind the Islamist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Geelani has opposed the talks soon scheduled to take place between the APHC and New Delhi, although, unlike the Hizb itself, he has backed the parallel India-Pakistan détente. Dar's efforts to swing support for Geelani had, however, met with little success. Notably, Kashani did not attend Dar's burial ceremony.

If the failure to coral the JeI is indicative of a larger split within the constituency from which the HM draws its ranks, the consequences for the terrorist organisation could be calamitous. Majid Dar's initiative did not quite pose as much of a challenge to the Hizb as do the moderates within the JeI. Both Majid Dar and Qureshi had their political roots in the People's League, not the JeI, and served in the Tehreek-i-Jihad before joining the HM.

Shah is also confronted with discipline issues within the organisation. Local HM units in some areas, notably Budgam and Anantnag, are believed to have entered into profitable protection-rackets involving contractors working on the Qazigund-Baramulla railroad. Such activity, obviously, does little for organisational discipline. Although disaggregated data for Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin activities is not available, 97 terrorists were killed against just 19 Indian security personnel in December 2003, an unusually adverse ratio, indicating rising pressure on and disarray within terrorist ranks.

Unfortunately for the Hizb Amir, he is open to criticism for having made deals of his own with the Indian state. Shah has five sons, not one of who has joined the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir. One, Wahid Yusuf Shah, studies at the Government Medical College in Srinagar, to which he was controversially granted an almost-unprecedented transfer from a privately run institution in Jammu. The other brothers are either students, or work in government and private sector jobs.

What could the HM's options now be? Both Dar and the Hizb's central division commander, Abdul Rashid Pir, had in recent weeks met senior political leaders from the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), as well as the opposition National Conference. One meeting, with a top PDP leader, is believed to have taken place only four days before Dar was eliminated. Dar is also believed to have met a senior National Conference leader from central Kashmir with substantial support among the Gujjar community.

Little is known about the possible content of this dialogue track. While the PDP has enthusiastically backed the New Delhi-APHC dialogue, it has also been calling for the Hizb to be invited for negotiations. Some analysts believe the PDP has a long-term interest in actually seeing the APHC dialogue fail, since the moderates and the party compete for essentially the same mass constituency. If this is, indeed, the PDP's objective, its covert negotiations with the HM have obvious significance.


Tripura: Making Sense of a 'Surrender'
Bibhu Prasad Routray
Acting Director, ICM Database & Documentation Centre, Guwahati, with,
Syed Sajjad Ali
Correspondent, Hindustan Times at Agartala

Waves of anticipation, apprehension and frustration followed in quick succession in Tripura as the issue of the surrender of a faction of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) led by Nayanbasi Jamatiya (NLFT-N) emerged and disappeared within a week. In this short period, the subject raised enough heat and dust, leading to expectations and signals that were interpreted to be the 'beginning of the end' of insurgency in this peripheral State. There are, however, sufficient indications now that the 'surrender' has been non-starter, as all lines of communication with the militants, waiting across the border in Bangladesh, have broken down.

In the first week of January, Nayanbasi appeared to have sent a letter to the State administration from a safe house in the Comilla area of Bangladesh, across the international border opposite to Sonamura area of West Tripura district, expressing his desire to surrender and give up violence. The letter also included certain conditions, which the State Government needed to address before Nayanbasi could decide on a formal surrender. These demands were:

  1. A political position for Nayanbasi Jamatiya after he surrenders.
  2. Amnesty for all the NLFT-N cadres.
  3. A meeting with the Chief Minister prior to the surrender.
  4. Amnesty for the Tripura State Rifles (TSR) renegade Rahid Mian.

It was, indeed, difficult for the State Government to concede to these demands, especially the amnesty for the renegade TSR personnel, who had earlier connived with the militants to kill three of his colleagues on September 23, 2003, in the Shermun Tilla area in North Tripura district.

It is nearly twelve years now since the TSR 1st battalion rifleman Nayanbasi Jamatiya, a man from the Trishabari area under West Tripura's Teliamura police station, had fled his post at the Baramura Thermal Power Plant with a rifle on March 23, 1992, following a dispute with colleagues on the previous night. Having joined the NLFT with the adopted name of 'Major Nakbar', Nayanbasi rose fast in the outfit's hierarchy, mostly due to his skills in guerrilla warfare. Following his differences with the organisation's top leadership, Nayanbasi formed his own group in February 2001, even though it could never really outgrow the NLFT faction led by Biswamohan Debbarma.

With an estimated 250 cadres, of whom only 50 have access to some type of firearms, NLFT-N remained marginally active in the bordering areas of North Tripura and Dhalai district as well as Takarjala and Bishalgarh police station areas in West district. Its only major ambush remains the August 20, 2002, incident in which a TSR vehicle was attacked and 20 security force personnel killed, with a large cache of arms and ammunition, including 18 self loading rifles, one light machine gun, one carbine and several grenades also looted, at Hirapur under the Takarjala police station. Apart from this attack, NLFT-N was generally known for its linkages with the criminal and mafia gangs of the border areas in Bangladesh.

What drove Nayanbasi to send feelers for surrender is still uncertain. There are, however, some indications that in the aftermath of the military operations in Bhutan, in December 2003, India has been able to build up considerable heat on the Bangladeshi authorities to act on the militant outfits long harboured in that country. Bangladesh had to act, albeit in a cosmetic manner, to show that the country is not really providing safe haven to militants operating in India's Northeast. Nothing could have been wiser than to target a small, and hence least consequential, group like the NLFT-N under the circumstances. As a result, on December 28, 2003, a number of hideouts of the outfit were reported to have been raided by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) in Sylhet and Maulavi Bazar districts, a crackdown which was led by the Commanding Officer of the 39R battalion of BDR at Dhalalpunji transit camp. Expectedly, not a single militant was arrested, since all of them had fled the scene after being tipped off.

If the BDR was trying to send messages to India and the rest of the world, the raid perhaps proved to be a little too much for the militants, who felt that the guarantees of protection they had long operating under were possibly being diluted. Nevertheless, Bangladesh has been quick to react to Nayanbasi Jamatia's surrender moves. Alarmed by the possibility of the NLFT-N cadres returning to India, BDR personnel raided Nayanbasi's safe house in the Comilla area, from where he reportedly had sent feelers for the surrender, in the second week of January 2004. The raid was intended to make Nayanbasi shut up. Nayanbasi, in his long years of courtship with his mentors in Bangladesh, knows too much about the BDR-ISI-criminal nexus, and there was the inherent danger that, once he started talking about his 'field experiences' in front of the Tripura intelligence department, Bangladesh would have a hard time in explaining its 'we do not harbour any terrorist' stand.

There is also a need to look at a related and very interesting piece of intelligence making the rounds in Agartala, the State capital of Tripura. The BDR has apparently asked the terrorist groups operating in Tripura to abandon their present bases in Bangladesh and to take shelter in rented houses in residential areas. As a result, over the past month, several groups have deserted their camps in Sylhet, Maulvi Bazar and Habiganj districts bordering areas of North Tripura and Dhalai districts, as well as the Khowai and Sadar subdivisions in the West Tripura district. The All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) camp located at Satcherri in the Habiganj district of Bangladesh, opposite the Simna area of Sadar in the West Tripura district, and the NLFT camps located in Khasiapunji, Ranirgaon Bazar, Kurma, Naynarpar, Kandigaon and Kukijhuri have also been deserted. On one instance, a terrorist camp at Kukijhuri in the Sylhet district had been burnt down by the BDR after the terrorists abandoned it.

NLFT-N's problems, however, do not start or end with the BDR. Nayanbasi's ability to lead the relatively small band of 250 cadres has, of late, been questioned by many cadres who have surrendered. There are also indications that the outfit and its cadres have been suffering from a lack of direction resulting in a leadership crisis of sorts within the group. Part of the problem is believed to be Nayanbasi's obsession with women. His first wife Padmadebi Jamatya (35) works in the Tripura State Government's social education department and lives in the Jampuijala area of Bishalgarh subdivision. Nayanbasi, after joining the NLFT, is known to have married Samirani Chakma (34), a tribal woman of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in Bangladesh. Subsequently, he married a Muslim woman, Tahera Bibi (37), daughter of his main patron and Mafia don Abu Mia in Srimangal sub-district area in Bangladesh's northeast. Tripura police sources reveal that, in order to solemnise his last marriage, Nayanbasi converted to Islam.

The prospect of Nayanbasi's surrender does not appear to have generated much enthusiasm in Tripura's security set up. In plain terms the surrender would mean that nearly 250 militants, only 50 of whom have some sort of firearms, would give up violence. By the State Government's calculation, and going by the outfit's past activities, the NLFT- N is not considered capable of extraordinary violence. Further, the conditionalities listed by Nayanbasi are simply too prohibitive to be conceded by the Tripura Government. The end result, consequently, would appear to be 'wait and watch' on both sides.



Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
January 12-18, 2004

Security Force Personnel






     Jammu &








Total (INDIA)



*      Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


United States warns of threats against its citizens in Bangladesh: The U.S. State Department said that it has received "several possible threats" against the U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh and other U.S. interests there. "American citizens in Bangladesh should remain vigilant, particularly in public places frequented by foreigners such as hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, and places of worship. They also should avoid demonstrations and large crowds," the State Department said in its 'public announcement'. The State Department did not elaborate on the nature of the threats, but it said the embassy in Dhaka "has taken a number of measures to ensure the safety and security of its staff, including restrictions on in-country travel for official Americans." Cable News Network, January 15, 2004


Naxalite-affected States to get Central forces free of cost: On January 17, the Union Government announced that the Centre would not demand any charge from Naxalite-affected States for deployment of Central Para-Military Forces (CPMFs). The suggestion came up during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's meeting with the Chief Secretaries of States, attending a conference on 'Internal Security' in New Delhi, the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, told the concluding session of the conference. The decision is expected to provide major relief to the nine States that have been making this demand for the past few years. The Hindu, January 18, 2004

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen's 'chief commander of operations' Ghulam Rasool Dar killed in Jammu & Kashmir: On January 16, the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen's (HM) 'chief commander of operations', Ghulam Rasool Dar alias Riyaz Rasool alias Ghazi Nasiruddin, alongwith another Hizb terrorist, Fayaz Ahmed Dar, was killed by security forces in an encounter at Shalteng in the outskirts of the capital city, Srinagar. Ghulam Rasool Dar had reportedly returned from Pakistan in November 2003 and was second to the 'supreme commander', Syed Salahuddin, in the Hizb hierarchy. After former Hizb 'chief commander' Saif-ul-Islam's killing in an encounter on April 2, 2003, Ghulam Rasool Dar had taken over as 'chief commander of operations' of the outfit. Fayaz Ahmed Dar was the group's 'publicity and financial chief'. The Hindu, Daily Excelsior, January 17, 2004

Union Government formally invites All Parties Hurriyat Conference for talks: On January 13, the Union Government formally invited the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) led by Maulana Abbas Ansari for talks with Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani on January 22, to which the outfit has reportedly responded positively. The invitation by the Union Government to the Hurriyat said that, "pursuant to the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security on October 22, the Deputy Prime Minister would like to meet you on January 22." In Srinagar, accepting the invitation, Ansari said that the Hurriyat would discuss the issue at all levels-executive, working committee and general council-to firm up the strategy and the composition of its delegation for talks with Advani. In a bid for a broader consensus on the talks, he said "we are also going to discuss with all pro-freedom parties outside the Hurriyat Conference." The Hindu, January 14, 2004

National Liberation Front of Tripura surrender put on hold in Tripura: The surrender of the Nayanbasi Jamatiya faction of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) has hit a hurdle following the outfit's insistence on two demands, which the State Government has refused to accede to. Firstly, Nayanbasi Jamatiya wanted to meet chief minister Manik Sarkar prior to his surrender and secondly, he demanded an amnesty for the Tripura State Rifles (TSR) deserter, Rahid Mia, who had earlier reportedly worked with the terrorists to kill three of his colleagues in the Shermun Tilla area of Dharmanagar subdivision in the North Tripura district on September 23, 2003. As a result, all lines of communication with the outfit and the facilitators have reportedly been snapped. Telegraph India, January 14, 2004


1,500 persons killed since the collapse of ceasefire, claims Royal Nepal Army: After the collapse of the ceasefire with the Maoists in August 27, 2003, nearly 1,500 people have been killed until January 14, the Royal Nepal Army spokesperson, Deepak Gurung stated at a press meet. Out of the 1500 persons killed, 1200 were Maoist insurgents, he added. In the same period, 288 security personnel had died and 451 were injured. Gurung added that 94 Maoists had surrendered to the administration since the beginning of the 'amnesty' policy programme on December 18, 2003. Nepal News, January 15, 2004


President Musharraf calls for 'jihad' against extremism: In his first address to a joint session of Parliament, on January 17, President Musharraf called for a jihad (holy war) against extremism that he said was one of four "dangerous allegations" facing the country. The other such allegations cited by him were militant's operations in Afghanistan, cross-border terrorism in Kashmir and nuclear weapons proliferation. The President said Pakistan had to counter these "negative impressions" by fighting foreign elements operating from its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, seeking a peaceful, just solution of the Kashmir dispute and assuring the world that Islamabad would not allow nuclear proliferation. President Pervez Musharraf also vowed to further strengthen the country's nuclear and missile deterrent while pursuing the goal of a moderate, Islamic, welfare state. Dawn, January 18, 2004


Retired Major General Trond Furuhovde replaces Tryggve Tellefsen as Head of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission: Retired Major General Trond Furuhovde will be appointed as the new Head of Mission of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), replacing Tryggve Tellefsen, who is in Oslo after being accused of endangering national security by President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Major General Furuhovde who served as the first Head of Mission of the SLMM from its inception in March 2002 to February 2003, will assume duties again on February 1, 2004, the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo said on January 16. The appointment of General Furuhovde came months after President Kumaratunga in her letter to the Norwegian Prime Minister on October 23, 2003 held the SLMM chief responsible for the leak of information to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), foiling Sri Lankan Navy's effort to track down a suspected arms smuggling LTTE vessel. Daily News, January 17, 2004

The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that brings you regular data, assessments and news briefs 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.


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