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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 4, No. 35, March 13, 2006

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




Beastly Tales from the Jihadi Zoo

Guest Writer: Praveen Swami
Deputy Editor and Chief of Bureau, Frontline Magazine, New Delhi

Fearful of being fed to the tigers in the forest next door, the inhabitants of Pakistani’s jihadi menagerie have started to turn on the zoo-keeper.

For the past week, top jihadi leaders have staged an unprecedented hunger-strike to protest against what they see as Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s decision to abandon the ‘holy war’ in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). At least eighteen top commanders, including the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) chief Mohammad Yusuf Shah, the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT) Mohammad Zaki-ur-Rahman, al-Umar’s Mushtaq Zargar, and the Jaish-e-Mohammad’s (JeM) Abdul Rehman, say they will continue their protests until General Musharraf changes course.

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, the Muzaffarabad-based HM spokesperson Mohammad Kalimullah said the United Jihad Council (UJC) had written to Pakistan’s President a fortnight ago, expressing concern about his diminishing support for the jihad in J&K. When Musharraf did not respond, Kalimullah said, the UJC had been compelled to initiate public protests against what he characterised as a “war in which one hundred thousand Kashmiris have sacrificed their lives.”

Do the protests herald an end to Pakistani support for the jihad in J&K? Not quite. Indian signals intelligence officials say there has been no reduction in military communications traffic between terrorists and their control stations in Pakistan. Individual terror cells – witness the recent bombings in Varanasi or the spate of shootouts in J&K – remain active. Although newspapers have reported that the UJC protests have been arrested, their infrastructure remains in place.

What, then, is going on?

It has long been evident that the once-happy marriage between General Musharraf and his allies in jihadi organisations was souring. Lashkar chairman Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, for one, has been increasingly critical of the Pakistani President. In a recent article in Ghazwa, LeT’s weekly publication, Saeed wrote: “After 9/11, Pakistan made a foreign policy U-turn to accommodate American interests. It was said that backing US would help solve the problem in Kashmir and protect our nuclear programme. But none of this has materialised.”

Instead, Saeed argued in a recent sermon at the al-Qudsia mosque in Lahore, strong international pressures had built up for “the termination of the jihad in Kashmir.” “Conspiracies,” he asserted, “are being hatched against Pakistan’s atomic programme.” “President Abdul Kalam, who helped make India a nuclear power, sits across to discuss matters with Bush,” the Jamaat ud-Dawa leader noted, “while the father of Pakistan’s atomic programme, Abdul Qadir Khan is rotting in a jail cell.”

To Saeed, the recent visit of President George Bush to Pakistan, during which the United States reiterated calls for an end to jihad in J&K, demonstrated the failure of General Musharraf’s policies. “But we are happy,” Saeed said, “for the situation is now more conducive for jihad.” An editorial on the Jamaat-ud-Dawa website advises, “It is better our rulers give up their anti-jihad policies and re-orient the foreign policy of Pakistan according to tenets of Islam (sic).”

None of this polemic is new. At the Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s annual Takmeel-e-Pakistan [Fulfilment of the Idea of Pakistan] convention, which was held at Lahore in August 2005, Saeed articulated many of the same ideas. He called for mandatory recruitment of all Pakistani men to the jihad and the conquest of parts of India, and held the United States of America responsible not just for the creation of Bangladesh but a still-unfinished conspiracy which would use India and Israel to “ruin Pakistan.”

Signs that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa was attempting to integrate itself with the spectrum of anti-Musharraf forces in Pakistan were evident at the convention. It was addressed, for example, by Zaeem Qadri, a functionary responsible for the public relations work of former President Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League in Punjab. Maulana Saifuddin Saif, the secretary-general of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, also addressed the convention. No representatives of the Pakistani state, by contrast, were on hand.

Also significant was the fact that a representative of the Pakistan-based leadership of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) was on hand – the political face of the UJC leaders with whom the Lashkar has now allied. APHC representative Abdullah Malik delivered an incendiary address, asserting that the jihad in J&K would continue “until the destruction of India.” “Pakistan ka matlab kya? La illaha il-Allah [the meaning of Pakistan is that that there is no god but Allah] still resounds under the guns in Kashmir,” he said.

Jihadi groups aren’t the only ones to be angry. Ever since at least 2002 a wide spectrum of politicians in Pakistan have found it expedient to charge General Musharraf with selling out in J&K. Figures as diverse as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Alliance for Restoration of Democracy leader Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Qazi Husain Ahmad and the Jamaat-e-Ulema Islam (JUI) chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman have at one point or the other made the assertion – even while saying quite the opposite to other audiences.

Does all this mean that there is a fundamental reversal in the decades-long relationship between jihadi forces and the Pakistani state? No and yes are both valid answers.

Part of the reason why the UJC’s protests have surprised experts is that the discourse on jihadi organisations suffers from a major epistemological error. Pakistan’s Islamist armies are often understood, correctly, to have an international agenda. Jihadi wars against India or Afghanistan are, without dispute, a central concern for such organisations. What is often forgotten is that they also have a domestic agenda: harvesting and expending political power in Pakistan itself.

To understand the evolving Islamist posture on J&K, one must engage with the multiple pressures on Pakistani policy-making. Ever since the India-Pakistan near-war of 2001-2002, the United States has been concerned that continued jihadi violence could lead the nuclear-armed adversaries into a calamitous conflict. Links between Pakistani Islamist groups and both the Taliban and al-Qaeda have also added increasing urgency to the United States’ calls for the jihadi zoo to be shut down.

United States pressure, though, isn’t the only reason for General Musharraf’s changing agenda. Beset by multiple internal crises, the Pakistani President must be acutely aware that his position within the armed forces is increasingly fragile. Pakistan’s corps commanders, although loyal to their chain of command, have demonstrated the will to remove leaders who threaten their corporate interests. General Yahya Khan, General Ayub Khan and General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq were all ‘removed’ from office, after all, by palace rebellion.

As things stand, General Musharraf’s position is tenuous as never before. On the one hand, his regime is confronted with potentially existence-threatening wars in Balochistan and the North West Frontier Province. On the other, the brief economic resurgence, engineered through the massive infusion of foreign aid, which the Pakistani President succeeded in bringing about, has also begun to diminish. Double-digit inflation has alienated General Musharraf’s supporters among the urban middle class, while at once feeding resentment among the growing ranks of the poor.

Heading into the 2007 elections, General Musharraf will have few allies. Jamaat-e-Islami leader Qazi Husain Ahmad has said his party will not participate in an election over which General Musharraf presides. Others in the MMA, too, seem to think capitalising on anti-Musharraf sentiments would offer Islamists greater opportunities for expansion than backing a process which allowed him a central role in Government. Neither former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto nor Nawaz Sharif is likely to back a regime which includes General Musharraf.

In recent months, there have been more than a few signs that jihadi organisations have been sensing that General Musharraf’s regime is edging ever-closer to the abyss. Predictably, some in their ranks now seem to think that joining in a larger Islamist shove might just be in the interests of their organisations. Just this month, for example, top Jamaat-ud-Dawa ideologue Abdul Rahman Makki joined in Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal protests against General Musharraf, the first time the organisation has ever done so.

Within J&K, too, the traditional supporters of the Pakistani state have been distancing themselves from General Musharraf. In an acid January 28, 2006, statement, soon after he met with the Hizb’s Shah, Syed Ali Shah Geelani of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat said that the Pakistani President had “no mandate to propose a political solution unacceptable to the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir… It is the Kashmiris who will decide the future of the freedom struggle, not President Musharraf.’’

None of this is, of course, surprising. Pakistan’s Islamists have long had an instrumentalist relationship with the state apparatus, and served its interests in campaigns as disparate as the war of genocide against Bangladesh nationalists in 1971; the anti-Soviet campaign, the subsequent Taliban takeover and the continuing interventions in Afghanistan; and, of course, the jihad in Kashmir; not to mention the training and support provided to large armies of the Islamist terrorist internationale. At once, however, they have been quick to turn on their establishment allies when it seemed that the effort would yield dividends: the Islamist protests that played a major role in undermining President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s regime are a case in point.

A major triumph on J&K could help General Musharraf beat off disaster. Some in New Delhi believe General Musharraf hopes to share a platform with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later this year, at which politicians from both sides of the Line of Control will begin discussions on the future of J&K – a kind of grand version of the round-table held in New Delhi in February 2006. Continued violence would, however, make such a dialogue near-impossible.

General Musharraf’s tactical interests demand, therefore, that violence significantly diminish. Jihadi organisations, though, have neither the intention nor desire to sacrifice their own existence for his perpetuation. Participation in the dialogue process in which they are just one of several voices is a less than tempting offer. The terrorists now on hunger strike at Muzaffarabad have, therefore, made it clear that they are looking forward to a Pakistan in which their political representatives, not General Musharraf, call the shots.

Whether the General can find the will – and the resources – to hit back is still unclear. Just how the impasse in Muzaffarabad ends will make clear whether a decisive break between the Pakistani state and the Islamist armies it has nurtured for decades is likely – or even possible.


Terror-riddled Nation
Bibhu Prasad Routray
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

On March 2, 2006, the 50 year old ‘supreme commander’ of the Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Abdur Rahman, surrendered after a 34-hour siege on his East Shaplabagh hideout in Sylhet City, 200 kilometres northeast of capital Dhaka. Arrested along with Rahman were his wife, sons, daughters, grandson, domestic helps and some associates.

Four days later, on March 6, the JMB number two and ‘commander’ of the Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai, hiding in a tin-shed in the remote Rampur Village under the Muktagachha Sub-district of Mymensingh, 120 kilometres north of Dhaka, was wounded and captured, after skirmishes with the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).

“Bangladesh is a terrorism-free nation”, declared an ecstatic Prime Minister, Khaleda Zia, in a televised address to the nation, after the March 2 arrest of the JMB chief. Speaking again on March 7, after Bangla Bhai’s arrest, she added, albeit with greater moderation, that the Government would ‘succeed in destroying the terrorist networks and arresting the remaining terrorists’.

There are obvious reasons to celebrate the ‘capture’ of the two most-wanted militants, silencing the Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP), and Begum Zia’s personal, bete noire, the Sheikh Hasina Wajed-led Awami League, which will, for the time being, sound much less convincing in its claims of Governmental collusion with the Islamist terrorists. The arrests would also, at least temporarily, discomfit the many critics of the BNP-Islamist coalition in India, who have long attacked Begum Zia’s Government on the same grounds.

The test of good faith would, however, come in the follow up to the arrests, and the willingness of the Government to act on the information recovered from the arrested militants. That would not only mean, as indicated by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, targeting the international networks of the militancy, but also tracking and breaking such ties, wherever they exist, domestically. Going by the established linkages of the JMB and the JMJB with entities like the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), BNP’s coalition partner, the Islami Chattra Shibir (ICS) JeI’s student wing, and some of the ministers within the BNP, as well as police officials and bureaucrats, effective anti-terrorist action would essentially demand steps against the Government’s own men, partners and loyalists. In the past, and despite hard evidences, the Government has demonstrated little will for such initiatives, and there is persisting skepticism that anti-militancy operations would stop short of the necessary measures this time as well. Indeed, the arrests of the two top JMB-JMJB leaders have confirmed their linkages with the JeI. Two of the four bank cheque books found in Abdur Rahman’s Sylhet hideout belonged to the former JeI ameer (chief) of the Habiganj district, Saidur Rahman. Saidur’s son Shamim, a former ICS activist, has already been arrested for his involvement in the August 17, 2005, explosions.

It remains to be seen, moreover, where these arrests lead even against Siddiqul Islam and Abdur Rahman. In Pakistan, several prominent terrorist leaders – their organizations ostensibly ‘banned’ by the Government – have been arrested in the past, only to be hosted in some comfort for a few months, before they are once again released. The ‘Pakistan model’ is one that Bangladesh has been assiduously emulating over the past years, and only harsh action against the arrested militants is going to convince the Government’s critics that it actually means business. It is significant that the District Courts in Barisal and Sylhet have already pronounced sentences of death and forty years of imprisonment against both Rahman and Siddiqul Islam; visible, determined and rapid movement towards execution of these sentences would certainly have evidentiary value within this context.

Nevertheless, the capture of the country’s two top terrorists constitutes a definite setback for the twin outfits, the JMB and the JMJB, which have engineered several terrorist strikes over the past years, including the country-wide blasts on August 17, 2005. These arrests, however, do not necessarily auger the immediate collapse and death of these groups, although five of the seven members of the Majlis-e-Shura (the highest decision-making body) of the JMB are now behind bars. These include Ataur Rahman Sunny (arrested on December 14, 2005), Abdul Awal (arrested on November 18, 2005) and Rakib Hasan Russel alias Hafez Mohammad (arrested on February 28, 2006). The remaining members of the Shura, Salahuddin alias Salehin (‘commander’ of the Sylhet-Mymensingh region) and Faruq Hossain alias Khaled Saifullah (‘commander’ of the Rangpur-Dinajpur region), remain at large. Salahuddin, considered to be an expert in bomb-making, masterminded the Netrokona suicide attack on December 8, 2005, with the help of his associate Mujahiddul Islam Sumon, who was later arrested in Mymansingh. Faruq Hossain coordinated the suicide attacks targeting judges in Chandpur, Laxmipur and Chittagong.

Also elusive is Nabil Bin Rahman, the 16 year old son of the arrested JMB chief. Nabil is considered to be a specialist in assembling explosives and is also, according to Abdur Rahman’s admissions in possession of a large cache of explosives. Police are also reportedly looking for about 40 bomb-making experts of the terrorist combine, who played a crucial part in the August 17 bomb blasts. In addition, there are an unspecified number of suicide bombers, about 10,000 ‘full time workers’ and 100,000 ‘part time workers’ of the outfit in various districts of the country, with Jamalpur, Bogra and Natore its strongholds. In areas such as the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region, Cox’s Bazaar, Gazipur, Jhalakathi, Barisal, Patuakhali and Chandpur, the JMB-JMJB has a well-established network. The group also has a strong presence among the Rohingya dominated southern parts of the country. In addition, there are numerous faceless foreign collaborators and sponsors, whose generous contributions have made the group what it is today. In fact, Shura member Abdul Awal had confessed in February 2006 that a Muslim militant leader in the United Kingdom, had given them £10,000 to carry out the bomb attacks. For a Government that is known for its more-than-wavering approach towards the growth of radical Islamism in the country, bringing Islamist militancy and its elaborate network to account, would be an enormous task.

An indication of this magnitude is visible in the ‘progress’ claimed by the Government in bringing the militants responsible for the 459 explosions of August 17, 2005, to justice. Till date, just 225 cases have been filed in various Districts of the country and 122 charge sheets have been produced before the Courts; 93 cases are under investigation and the trial of some 61 cases has begun. In most of the charge-sheeted cases, the terrorists, including their top leaders, have been booked under the Explosive Substances Act.

Evidence of foot-dragging is also visible in tracking the financial trail of the JMB-JMJB. Police have identified suspect accounts of the JMB in three bank branches in Sylhet, Brahmanbaria and Pallabi in Dhaka, but have only led to the recovery of a few thousand taka in deposits, with total transactions amounting to just Taka 1,100,000 lakh (US $16,138) – a pittance in view of the fact that the outfit is known to have been spending up to Taka 700,000 (US $10,269) per month on its activities. Targeting the financial network of the terrorists is further handicapped by the fact that the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2001, is still being amended with assistance from the United States, and does not currently support any inter-agency collaboration. Speaking on March 8, 2006, Bangladesh Bank Governor, Salehuddin Ahmed, stated that the “mere detection and seizure of accounts of alleged terrorists would not be enough to stop the terrorist financing and activities”. His confessed helplessness in the matter, stating, further, “Some of the banks do not tell us about the suspicious transactions despite repeated requests.”

There has been a continuous and great reluctance in Bangladesh to fight Islamist terrorism, and it was official patronage that encouraged and sustained the growth of extremist groups, allowing a lowly Bengali teacher like Siddiqul Islam to acquire near-heroic proportions as ‘Bangla Bhai’, and the former ICS activist Abdur Rahman to float and nourish the JMB. It remains to be seen whether Dhaka has the will and the capacity to cut the umbilical cord that has linked elements within the ruling coalition to the terrorists, even at the risk of placing the survival of the Government, and the possibilities of re-election, in jeopardy.

Bangladesh, moreover, cannot become a “terrorism-free nation” as long as it continues to host and support virtually every active Northeast Indian terrorist group on its soil, and as long as it continues to export Islamist terrorists into India – with the latter trend increasingly in evidence over the past months.


Varanasi: Same Old, Same Old
Ajai Sahni
Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management

Were the circumstances not so tragic, it would have been easier to appreciate the farcical nature of the political and media responses to the latest Islamist terrorist outrage, this time the March 7, 2006, bombings at the ancient Sankat Mochan Temple and the Cantonment Railway station in Varanasi, at a site and in a city revered by the Hindus. There were, of course, the usual cries of intelligence and policing failure, with now-routine claims of ‘hard evidence’ of the attack having been received ‘months earlier’; political parties sought to muddy issues, communalizing the attack and blaming each other for ‘weak policies’ and administrative failure; a new Rath Yatra (Chariot Expedition), seeking to revive the communal passions of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi mobilization of 1990-92, was announced by the architect of the original movement, former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, though it gained little support even within his own party; citing the earlier (failed) attack at Ayodhya on July 5, 2005, and the July 28, 2005, explosion on the Shramjeevi Express near Harpal Ganj, Jaunpur, poorly informed commentators fretted that Uttar Pradesh was the “new hub” of Islamist terrorism; even worse-informed were commentators who profoundly sought to link the attack to ‘geopolitical shifts’ in South Asia, and to President George Bush’s visit to Delhi and Islamabad the preceding week.

The truth is far less startling, though no less distressing. The attack at Varanasi is just the latest incident in a relentless campaign of subversion and terror engineered by Pakistan and its jihadi surrogates, which has systematically targeted vulnerable areas across the country over the years. Uttar Pradesh is, no doubt, a prominent target of this covert war – at least 41 incidents of Pakistan backed Islamist terrorism, subversion and the identification and neutralization of Islamist terrorist modules by intelligence and police agencies have been recorded over the period April 2001 – February 2006 in Uttar Pradesh alone. Uttar Pradesh is, however, just another point on the Pakistan-drafted jihadi map of India. Over the period January 2004 and March 11, 2006, for instance, at least 64 Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorist modules have been identified and neutralized across India, outside Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and the Northeast; only 14 of these were in Uttar Pradesh.

The Varanasi blast was claimed by the ‘Lashkar-e-Qahhar’ (Army of the Vanquisher), but this is just a name, not an organization. As was the case, for instance, with the Al Faran, Tehrik-e-Shohda, Al Mansooran, Tehrik-e-Qisas, and dozens of other such ‘fronts’, these are put forward when the actual group responsible does not want to take public responsibility for a particular action; this is usually the case where civilian targets are attacked, especially when Pakistan is under increasing international pressure to curb the activities of terrorist groups – such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), etc., – that are widely known to be operating openly from its soil, and with state support. It is useful to recall that, after the Delhi blasts in October 2005, the Islami Inqilabi Mahaz (Islamic Revolutionary Front), a front organization of the LeT, had claimed responsibility. Similarly, an unknown group, which has not been heard of since, the Tehreek-e-Qisas (Movement for Retribution), claimed responsibility for the Akshardham attack in Gujarat on September 24, 2002. These fronts are projected only to enable Pakistan to maintain ‘deniability’ as it continues to host and support the actual or parent groups on its soil with impunity.

Despite several arrests and detentions, and the killing of a prominent terrorist of the LeT, Salar-ud-Din aka Salim at Lucknow a day after the Varanasi blasts, conclusive identification of the perpetrators of the Varanasi attacks is still to be made. There is sufficient circumstantial and trend evidence to suggest, however, that this attack has again been engineered by one of the Pakistan-backed terrorist groups operating in India. The most likely suspects are the Lashkar-e-Taiba (which has denied involvement, though this means little) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad, though some other groups – including local remnants of the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) – may also be involved. The pattern of the attacks in Varanasi, including the nature of explosive devices used, also suggests links or a common source with the Delhi blasts, which were attributed to the LeT.

The Varanasi blasts were, no doubt, intended to provoke a communal polarization, and this is a natural objective for the Islamist terrorists, given their ideology as well as the history of the sub-continent. This is neither a new nor a recent tactic, and the objective in attacking temples is to provoke indiscriminate violence against Muslims. To the extent this happens, the terrorists could consider themselves successful. Since this has not happened in the wake of the Varanasi attacks, the jihadis have essentially failed, though the loss of life and the maiming of innocents leaves behind indelible scars.

Playing petty and vote bank politics over terrorist incidents and on issues relating to counter-terrorist policy is an unfortunate and continuous trend in India, and there is some evidence that several political formations seek to exploit the Varanasi incident for wider political and electoral mobilization. Such efforts can only work to the advantage of the terrorists and India’s enemies. Unfortunately, none of India’s political parties or leaders appears to have the stature or intellectual capacity to rise above such petty politicking. Unless at least some issues – including terrorism and counter-terrorist policy – are thought of as being national concerns and are put beyond the realm of partisan politics, the country will continue to suffer, and will remain vulnerable to manipulation by its enemies.

Over-thinking the proximate circumstances of each terrorist incident is not particularly productive from a policy perspective; what is required is a better understanding, as well as a comprehensive strategy to contain, the broader subversive design. It is the case that the terrorists gain only to the extent that their target societies concede their objectives. If Indians fall into the trap of indiscriminate communal retaliation, the jihadis and their state sponsors gain; if the Indian Government makes concessions or alters its policies under pressure, the jihadis and their state sponsors gain. If India remains steadfast, however, the terrorists can achieve nothing, and this movement – indeed, Pakistan itself – will founder and disintegrate against the rock of the Indian resolve.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
March 06-12, 2006

Security Force Personnel


Jammu & Kashmir
Left-wing Extremism

Total (INDIA)





 Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Gilgit-Baltistan is part of Jammu and Kashmir, says External Affairs ministry: India has reaffirmed that the Gilgit-Baltistan region is a part of Jammu and Kashmir State which, on the basis of its accession in 1947, is an integral part of the country. "We would like to reaffirm that the region of Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which, on the basis of its accession in 1947, is an integral part of India," an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said in reply to a question on March 10, 2006 in New Delhi. He was commenting on reports that some Pakistani missions were circulating a new map of Jammu and Kashmir depicting the so-called Northern Areas of Gilgit-Baltistan as a separate entity and only the rest of the Jammu and Kashmir as a State. "We have seen the reports in the Pakistani media," the spokesman said. He said the Pakistan Foreign Office had, however, denied that it had circulated any new map. Daily Excelsior, March 11, 2006.

21 civilians killed in serial bomb blasts in Uttar Pradesh: At least 21 civilians were killed and 62 others injured in three bomb explosions at a temple and the Railway Station at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh on March 7, 2006. The first blast occurred inside the crowded Sankat Mochan temple at around 6.30 p.m. Minutes later, another bomb exploded in the holding area of Platform One of the Cantonment Railway Station. The third blast occurred in a crowded coach of the Shiv Ganga Express just before it was to leave for New Delhi. An official said 10 persons died at the temple and 11 at the railway station. Seven bombs were later defused, including four that had been planted on the Gowdolia-Dasashwamedh Ghat Road near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

Meanwhile, the hitherto unknown Lashkar-e-Qahhar (Army of the Vanquisher) has claimed responsibility for the serial blasts. Abdullah Jabbar alias Abu Kahar, who identified himself as the spokesperson of the group, made a phone call to a local news agency, Current News Service, on March 9-morning saying, "If the harassment of Kashmiris and arrests don't stop we will not allow the people of India to sleep in peace." The Hindu, March 8, 2006; Express India, March 9, 2006.

Around 7,200 armed Naxalites present in the country: On March 8, 2006, the Minister of State for Home, Sriprakash Jaiswal, informed the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) of Parliament that there are over 7,200 armed left-wing extremists (also known as Naxalites) present in the country while parts of 76 districts in nine states, though in varying degrees, were badly affected by Naxalite violence. Jaiswal added that reports suggested that the Naxalite groups have been raising funds mainly through extortion and levy/cess on sale/movement of forest produce and other commodities. The Telegraph, March 9, 2006.


Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin arrested in PoK: Authorities in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) are reported to have arrested eight terrorists in Muzaffarabad, including Mohammad Yousuf Shah alias Syed Salahuddin, chief of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) and chairman of the United Jehad Council. Times of India reported on March 12, 2006 that they were arrested a few days ago for protesting against Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's Kashmir policy. According to a local news agency, they termed Gen. Musharraf's Kashmir policy as anti-Kashmiri and alleged that despite knowing the US tilt towards India, the Pakistan Government was looking at Bush for a resolution to the Kashmir issue. However, no official Pakistani confirmation was possible.

Besides Yousuf Shah, others arrested include Abdullah of the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (JuM), Jameel-ur-Rehman of Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TuM), Zaki-ur-Rehman of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Mufti Abdul Raouf of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Mohammed Usman of Muslim Janbaz Force, Mohammed Usman of Hizbul Moomineen and Mushtaq Zargar of Al Umar. The Times of India, March 12, 2006.

29 persons killed in landmine explosion in Balochistan: At least 29 people died in a landmine explosion in the Dera Bugti district of Balochistan province on March 10, 2006. A wedding party, comprising some 35 people of a family, including women and children, was en route to Rakhni from Bekar when their tractor-trolley hit an anti-tank landmine near Dera Bugti. The deceased included 16 children and five women. They reportedly belonged to the Massuri clan of the Bugti tribe, which had returned to the area recently from the Punjab province. Jang, March 11, 2006.

44 terrorists killed in North Waziristan: At least 44 terrorists were killed during two operations by the military against terrorists’ bases in North Waziristan. According to The News, Pakistan Army artillery shelled Khattay Killay village, 10 kilometers from Miranshah in North Waziristan, in the night of March 10 and helicopter gunships targeted terrorist positions following reports that two of the most wanted clerics, Maulvi Sadiq Noor and Maulvi Abdul Khaliq, and their supporters were hiding there. Military spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, informed that 25 terrorists were killed in the attack.

Earlier, 19 terrorists are reported to have died in clashes with the army in Miranshah, headquarters of North Waziristan, on March 6. US-built Cobra helicopter gunships opened fire on a hamlet near Miranshah after rockets were fired at army positions, while troops seized control of the main bazaar and key Government buildings. Military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan told AFP "As a result of an exchange of fire, some 19 militants including some foreigners were killed." Officials said two local clerics, Maulvi Abdul Khaleq and Maulvi Sadiq Noor, were leading the uprising. Jang, March 11, 2006; March 7, 2006.


LTTE promulgates 'Tamil Eelam Lands Act' in the Northeast: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has reportedly promulgated a "Tamil Eelam Lands Act" covering land administration in the areas under its control in the northeast. The Act covers a range of subjects in "Tamil Eelam" such as "distribution of land to the landless, alienating land for public purposes, settlement of land owned by the displaced either among them or their relatives, fixing land rates," reports Sudar Oli. It also covers provisions for allocating land to "private individuals, Non Government Organisations and Government offices. Other such legislations passed earlier by the outfit include, the "Tamil Eelam Penal Code" and the "Tamil Eelam Civil Code", promulgated in 1994. A "prescribed code" for the use of the "Tamil Eelam flag" was announced on November 26, 2005. The Hindu, March 11, 2006.

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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