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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 13, No. 25, December 22, 2014

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


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The Hatred Comes Home
Ajai Sahni
Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management & SATP

In a barbaric act of terror, a seven-member suicide squad of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) killed at least 133 school children and nine staff members, including the Principal, in an attack at the Army Public School (APS), Peshawar (capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, KP) on December 16, 2014. Another 121 persons, including 118 students and three staffers sustained injuries. The attack, which started at about 10 am (PST), ended after more than eight hours, when the seven-member suicide squad was eliminated. Nine personnel of the Special Services Group (SSG), a special operations force of the Pakistan Army, including two of its officers, sustained injuries during the operation. An estimated 1,100 students and staff members were inside the school at the time of the attack, of which some 960 were rescued.

Schools and children have been targeted by terrorists before, but there was a qualitative escalation in the Peshawar atrocity. In the past, major incidents in which mass fatalities have been inflicted on children have been hostage cases, where terrorists had no qualms about accepting casualties among children, but did not engage in the deliberate and premeditated slaughter of children. Such incidents prominently included the Ma'alot massacre in Israel, where terrorists of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine took 115 persons hostage at the Netiv Meir Elementary School on May 15, 1974. After a protracted standoff, 25 hostages, including 22 children, were killed and another 68 were injured, when Security Forces (SF) sought to mount a rescue on the second day of the crisis.

The worst such incident, of course, was at Beslan in Russia, where over 1,100 persons, including 777 children, were held hostage by Chechen separatists loyal to the warlord Shamil Basayev. The incident commenced on September 1, 2004, and on the third day of the standoff, SFs stormed the building. 385 hostages were killed, including 186 children.

At Peshawar, however, the terrorists initiated the attack with a clear objective of killing as many children as possible. Indeed, Muhammad Khorasani, spokesperson for the Maulana Fazlullah-led faction of the TTP, declared, in the immediate wake of the Peshawar incident, “Our six fighters successfully entered the army school and we are giving them instructions from outside. The suicide bombers had been given orders to allow the youngest students to leave but to kill the rest." Children as young as five-years were killed in the attack.

The first and natural response in Pakistan, and, indeed, across the world, at the utter brutality of the attack, and the systematic, intentional and cold blooded execution of children, was shock and horror. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, many commentators concluded that this tragedy would be a watershed in Pakistan's history of complicity in Islamist terrorism, a turning point where the fiction of a distinction between the 'good Taliban and bad Taliban' would finally be abandoned. Indeed, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared, the day after the Peshawar attack, "We announce that there will be no differentiation between 'good' and 'bad' Taliban and have resolved to continue the war against terrorism till the last terrorist is eliminated."

This aroused immediate and great hope among the naive, but evidence of denial and deceit was quickly at hand. On the evening of the attack itself, Pakistani commentators clarified that the distinction between the 'good' and 'bad' Taliban was only within factions of the TTP, and did not refer to any other 'militants'; the former category was of those who sought negotiations with the state, while the latter rejected any settlement with Islamabad.

Very quickly the terrible tragedy of Peshawar was harnessed to the old mythologies of hatred that have long dominated Pakistan, and that lie at the heart of the endless violence within and emanating from that country. Within 24 hours of the Army School attack, surprisingly similar statements were made by former President and General Pervez Musharraf and by the 'ameer' of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Hafiz Mohammad Saeed that India was 'responsible for' the Peshawar massacre. In an interview on National TV on December 17, Saeed argued, further, "If India can send troops to Afghanistan to help the US, then Mujahideen have every right to go to Kashmir and help their brethren. Kashmiris are clamouring for help and it is our duty to respond to their call." Significantly, with a 10 million dollar US bounty on his head, declared a terrorist by several countries, and by the United Nations since 2008, Saeed not only operates freely across Pakistan, he continues to enjoy Islamabad's open support, evident most recently during the two day (December 4-5, 2014) “National Conference” organized by him in Lahore, with special trains operated by the state-owned Railways to bring his 'followers' to the venue. Other commentators pointed to the significance of the day of the Peshawar attack, December 16, the date on which, Bangladesh separated from Pakistan forty three years ago, to fortify arguments that India was to blame.

It is abundantly clear, less than a week after the Peshawar attack, that the focus of Pakistan's counter-terrorism response will be restricted to domestic terrorism, particularly TTP, and that the Afghanistan- and India-oriented terrorist groups that flourish on Pakistani soil with abundant state support, will remain untouched. Pakistan will milk the tragedy at the Army Public School to secure international sympathy and possibly corner some additional aid to 'fight terrorism and radicalization', but will do nothing to end its long-held policy of maintaining terrorist formations as 'strategic assets' of the state against its neighbours. Pakistan's good faith in its counter-terrorism campaigns can only be demonstrated if it expels or hands over all elements of the Afghan Taliban, including its leadership, to Afghanistan; acts, not only against LeT, but against the entire array of India-oriented terrorist formations, including all 16 listed members of the present Muttahida Jihad Council (MJC) based in Muzaffarabad, with a vigour that is at least comparable to its agitation against TTP; and cooperates with the world in eliminating all factions of international terrorist formations that currently find safe haven and support on its soil. Such initiatives remain entirely unlikely.

Of course, the Peshawar incident has pushed domestic terrorism to the top of the agenda, both of the civil Government and the Army. In a dramatic demonstration of intent, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the 2008 moratorium on the execution of death penalties in terrorism-related cases, and six condemned terrorists were quickly executed, while at least 812 other 'terrorists' await the hangman's noose. Significantly, Aqeel aka Dr. Usman, who was one of the first two terrorists to be executed after the lifting of the moratorium, had been convicted as the 'mastermind' of the October 10, 2009, terrorist attack on the Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi. His trial and appeals process had long been exhausted, and he had survived only as a result of the moratorium. Interestingly, at this extraordinary juncture, a Special Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi saw fit to grant bail to Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, 'military commander' of LeT and the 'mastermind' of the November 26, 2008, terrorist attacks in Mumbai, also known as 26/11 attacks, in a case that has gone nowhere over the intervening six years, despite overwhelming evidence provided by India and the US, including technical evidence, such as Lakhvi's voice recordings directing the terrorists in Mumbai through the 'operation'. Lakhvi was, however, re-arrested under other charges, and Islamabad has now announced that the prosecution will appeal the decision to grant bail in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case.

At the same time, the Army declared an intensification of operations against TTP. Within days, the Ministry of Defence, claimed that, among scores killed in aerial attacks, was the 'chief' of the terrorist formation, Maulana Fazlullah, who had been 'taken out' by the Pakistan Air Force. The claim relating to Fazlullah was, however, quickly retracted, and it now appears that he is likely to have survived - it is not clear who has been killed. This continues with Islamabad's established 'counter-terrorism' paradigm of fighting the terrorists from the air, or with area weapons, including heavy artillery, that devastate the alleged 'support base' of terrorists and bomb out 'suspected militant hideouts', including sizeable human settlements. With the conflict areas excluded from media access, no independent confirmation of the identities of the targeted individuals is available. That the much vaunted Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been indiscriminate and has inflicted overwhelming civilian fatalities and massive displacement in the target regions is, however, obvious even from the trickle of evidence filtering through from the areas of conflict. Indeed, this was the motive ascribed by TTP spokesman Khorasani, for the Peshawar attack, "We selected the army's school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females... We want them to feel the pain." As anti-TTP operations were intensified in the wake of the Army School attack, Khorasani warned again, on December 19, "Let us make it clear to Pakistan establishment that if any of our associates is harmed, we will avenge ourselves by targeting your children. We would ensure that houses of army generals and political leaders become centers of mourning."

Indeed, the attack in Peshawar is an index and manifestation of the wider radicalization and brutalization of large segments of the Pakistani population and society. According to partial data compiled by the Institute for Conflict Management (ICM), since January 28, 2001, till December 18, 2014, at least 396 schools had been destroyed by terrorists in Pakistan. These attacks resulted in 31 killings, though these attacks were principally aimed at destroying school buildings and infrastructure. ICM data, however, grossly underestimates the magnitude of the problem. Significantly, Pakistan's Intelligence agencies on March 26, 2013, had informed the country's Supreme Court that, since 2008, 995 schools and 35 colleges had been destroyed in KP and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) alone.

An attempt to execute a suicide attack targeting school children in the Ibrahimzai area of Hangu District in KP on January 6, 2014 was, nevertheless, on record. On that day, Aitzaz Hasan, 15, a student of the school, confronted and grappled with the bomber, who then detonated his vest, killing both of them on the spot, but saving the lives of hundreds of others. There were some 2,000 students at the school at the time of the attack. Of course, on October 9, 2012, TTP terrorists, under Maulana Fazlullah's directives, had shot and critically injured Malala Yousafzai when she was going home from school. Several other children - particularly girls - have been subjected to acid attacks and shootings, to discourage them from going to school.

Despite the enormity of the Peshawar incident, the power elite in Pakistan are quickly returning to their default setting, seeking to externalize the threat, to 'manage' their terrorist assets to press on with their 'strategic objectives', or, at best, to narrowly target domestically active terrorist formations. This is a country that has recorded at least 55,878 terrorism related fatalities, including 19,917 civilians, since 2003 (with at least 5,362 deaths in 2014 alone, till December 21), and has consistently refused to alter its trajectory.

The standard state response to Peshawar has been to dismiss the atrocity as the 'desperate act' of terrorists 'under pressure' from Operation Zarb-e-Azb. It is, however, more likely a calculated act of escalation on the part of TTP, which seeks a widening and intensification of the conflict, with a clear assessment that overwhelming retaliation by the Pakistan military will follow. There is an increasing trend towards extreme and demonstrative brutality among Islamist terrorists worldwide, now led by the appalling viciousness of excesses by the Islamic State (formerly, Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham, ISIS). Indeed, support to such terrorist formations among radicalized populations appears to increase in proportion to their ruthlessness - and this may well be the space that the Fazlullah-led TTP is attempting to occupy in Pakistan. Of course, the immediate impact of the Peshawar attack seems to be the isolation of TTP-Fazlullah among the jihadis, with condemnations coming from its breakaway faction, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA, Assembly of Freedom), the Afghan Taliban and elements within al Qaeda, among others. The survival and future strength of the group, however, will depend on its capacity to engineer even greater atrocities, and to ensure that its top leadership is able to evade the clumsy and indiscriminate operations mounted by the Pakistan Army and Air Force.

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Visible Gains, Hidden Dangers
S. Binodkumar Singh
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

On December 18, 2014, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 (ICT-2) indicted Forkan Mallik, an alleged Razakar (a paramilitary force organized by the Pakistan Army) commander from Mirzaganj sub-District in Patuakhali District, for his involvement in crimes against humanity during the Liberation War of 1971. The tribunal framed five charges against Forkan, a supporter of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

On November 24, 2014, ICT-1 awarded the death penalty to Mobarak Hossain aka Mobarak Ali (64), former rukon (union member) of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and commander of the Razakar force. Mobarak was indicted on April 23, 2013, on five specific incidents of murder, abduction, confinement, torture and loot.

On November 13, 2014, ICT-1 sentenced Zahid Hossain Khokon alias Khokon (70), vice-president of BNP's Nagarkanda unit and a Razakar commander of Faridpur District, to death in absentia. Khokon was indicted on October 9, 2013, on 11 charges, including genocide, torture, abduction and confinement during the Liberation War. He is absconding and, while Bangladeshi authorities say they have no information regarding his whereabouts, reports suggest that he may be residing in Sweden with his elder son and daughter.

The War Crimes (WC) Trials began on March 25, 2010, and through 2014, the two ICTs indicted nine persons and delivered four verdicts. Thus far, the ICTs have indicted 25 leaders, including 13 from JeI, five from Muslim League (ML), four from BNP, two from Jatiya Party (JP) and one Nizam-e-Islami leader. Verdicts against 14 of them have already been delivered – 12 were awarded death sentence while the remaining two received life sentences. One of the 12 who received the death sentence has already been executed, while the remaining 11 death penalties are yet to be executed. The two persons who were awarded life sentences have already died serving their sentence. They were JeI Ameer (Chief) Ghulam Azam (91), who died on October 23, 2014; and former BNP minister Abdul Alim (83), who died on August 30, 2014.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed’s Awami League (AL)-led Government, which retained power winning the 10th General Elections held on January 5, 2014 in the face of a comprehensive Opposition boycott, has enormously consolidated its secular commitments and kept its promise to punish the perpetrators of the 1971 genocide. By bringing the war crimes' perpetrators to justice, Dhaka has also succeeded in minimizing the threat of Islamist extremists within the country, both because they have become conscious of the clear intent of the incumbent Government, and because many of their top leaders are among those arraigned or convicted for the War Crimes. 

The Government also remained determined in its approach to dealing with JeI, the country's largest right-wing party and main Islamist extremist troublemaker. Law Minister Anisul Huq, speaking at Dhaka city on December 7, 2014, announced, "The Draft Bill to ban JeI will be placed in the Cabinet this month and it is expected to be passed in the first session of the Parliament in 2015." Notably, in a landmark ruling, the Dhaka High Court, on August 1, 2013, had declared the registration of JeI as a political party, illegal. A three-member Special Bench, including Justice M. Moazzam Husain, Justice M. Enayetur Rahim and Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque, passed the judgment, accepting a writ petition challenging the legality of JeI's registration as a political party. Further, in a major blow to JeI, Election Commissioner Shah Nawaz, on November 7, 2013, declared that the party could not participate in the General Elections of January 2014, in line with the High Court order. JeI was, of course, one of the Opposition parties that boycotted the Election.

Significantly, Security Force (SF) personnel arrested at least 1,757 cadres of JeI and Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS), the student wing of JeI, through 2014, in addition to 4,038 such arrests in 2013.  

Nevertheless, disruptive elements led by the BNP-JeI-ICS combine, continued to engage in violent activities through 2014. According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), a total of 60 people, including 29 civilians, nine SF personnel and 22 extremists, were killed in incidents related to Islamist extremism in 2014 (data till December 21), in addition to 379 persons, including 228 civilians, 18 SF personnel and 133 extremists, killed in 2013.

As the Government continued with its policy of checking the growth of Islamist extremist forces led by the BNP-JeI-ICS combine, it deprived the Islamist terrorist formations of any opportunity to revive their activities within the country, despite sustained efforts, through 2014. The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested JMB chief coordinator Abdun Noor and four of his close aides from the Sadar Sub-District Railway Station of Sirajganj District, on October 31, 2014, and recovered 49 detonators, 26 electronic detonators, four time bombs, 155 different kinds of circuits, 55 jihadi books, and a power regulator. During preliminary interrogations, the JMB operatives confessed that they were planning to carry out large-scale bomb attacks across the country, particularly in Dhaka city.

In a disturbing development, the Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) arrested two cadres of the Ansarul Bangla Team (ABT), Tanjil Hossain Babu (26), who had some technological expertise, and Muhamad Golam Maula Mohan (25), a Computer Sciences and Engineering graduate, along with a plastic frame of a drone, electronic devices and some books on jihad, from Dhaka city's Jatrabari area on December 16, 2014. After their interrogation, Joint Commissioner Monirul Islam of DB claimed, "They reached the final stages of making the drone after a six-month planning and research. Once completed, the drone could be flown up to around 25th floor of a building to launch an attack." ABT is an al Qaeda inspired terrorist formation that crystallized in 2013 from the remnants of the Jamaat-ul-Muslimeen.

Nevertheless, under the sustained pressure exerted by Security Forces, the country did not record a single major terrorist incident (resulting in three or more fatalities) by any Islamist terror outfit through 2014. In fact, only one violent incident involving such groups was reported through the year. On February 23, 2014, a Police Constable was killed and another two Policemen were injured, as an armed gang of 10 to 15 unidentified terrorists ambushed a prison van that was carrying three convicted Jama'at-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) terrorists in the Trishal Sub-District of Mymensingh District. All the three convicts managed to escape during the ambush. Though Police arrested one of them soon after, the whereabouts of the other two remain unknown.

On the other hand, a total of 96 terrorists were arrested through 2014, adding to the 163 detained in 2013. Of these 96, 43 belonged to JMB, 25 to Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), 12 to Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B), six to Kalamaye Jamaat, five to ABT, three to Hizb-ut-Towhid (HT), and one each to Kalema Dawat and Islamic State.

Dhaka has also continued its campaign against an incipient Left Wing Extremist (LWE) movement in a somewhat one-sided battle. Through 2014, 16 LWE cadres were killed - 11 of the Purbo Banglar Communist Party (PBCP), three of the Purbo Banglar Sarbahara Party (PBSP), one of the Biplobi Communist Party (BCP), and one unidentified. No civilian or SF fatality took place in LWE-linked violence through 2014. In 2013, a total of 25 fatalities were connected to LWE violence, including four civilians and 21 militants.

The nation, however, continues to face a significant threat from Islamist extremism. India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), investigating the October 2, 2014, accidental blasts at Burdwan in West Bengal, uncovered a plot by JMB to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed and BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia. According to revelations made by arrested accused in the case, JMB was planning to establish an 'Islamic state' in Bangladesh through armed struggle. The projected 'Islamic state' was also intended to incorporate the Districts of Murshidabad, Nadia, and Malda in West Bengal. Referring to the development, Bangladesh's National and Security Intelligence (NSI) Director General, Mohammad Shamsul Haque, observed, on December 15, 2014,
We have largely neutralized radical groups like the JMB or HuJI-B, but now they seem to have found sanctuaries across the border. If we think we have neutralized a group and sit easy, it is (a) big mistake. There is no room for complacency. We need to closely monitor their activities even if a few terrorists are left in the fray. Because they may well set up bases across the border, make fresh recruitment, acquire weapons and plan attacks.

Further, on September 5, 2014, Asim Umar, the leader of the newly formed al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) based in Pakistan, incited Muslims to engage in the global jihad (holy war) and expressed his group’s determination to extend the fighting from Pakistan to Bangladesh, Myanmar and India. Further, a video released on November 29, 2014, and attributed to the 'Bangladesh division' of AQIS, encouraged Bangladeshi Muslims to come to the jihadi battlefield and included glimpses of a base of fighters in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

Threats from the Islamic State (IS, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham, ISIS) are also very much a reality. On September 29, 2014, a 24-year-old British citizen was arrested in Dhaka city on suspicion of recruiting people to fight alongside IS cadres in Syria. When asked about Bangladesh’s position on the IS and the Syrian crisis, Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali disclosed, on September 30, 2014, “We have not heard about any presence of the [ISIS] group, but a British citizen of Bangladeshi origin was arrested.”

Bangladesh’s achievements on the counter-terrorism and internal security fronts through 2014 have been remarkable. Further, over the last few years, the WC Trials have also progressed quite well. A note of caution, nevertheless, remains to be sounded, as the residual capacities of subversive and extremist elements, prominently including JeI-ICS, are still significant, and their alliance with BNP remains sound. Further, surviving fragments of a range of other outfits, including JMB, HuT, HT, HuJI and ABT, also have a potential for regrouping and fomenting violence. In the unstable environment of South Asia and the wider Asian region, there is little space for complacence.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
December 15-21, 2014



Security Force Personnel







Jammu and Kashmir






Left-wing Extremism






Total (INDIA)















Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Bangladesh upgrading counter-terrorism capabilities, states NSI Director General Mohammad Shamsul Haque: National and Security Intelligence (NSI) Director General, Mohammad Shamsul Haque said that keeping in mind global and regional trends in terrorism, Bangladesh is continuously upgrading its counter-terrorism capabilities. BDNews, December 15, 2014.


Centre reissues guidelines to deal with terror threats, says report: The Centre on December 19 reissued a set of guidelines detailing how schools can ward off terror threats and respond effectively in the event of a terror attack. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), last conveyed to schools through a CBSE circular dated April 5, 2010, advise the school managements on how to deal with kidnapping of students during arrival/departure, random firing from the road near the school, armed intrusions followed by hostage taking and explosives planted on school premises. Times of India, December 20, 2014.

'If Pakistan is serious about fighting terrorism it should hand over Hafiz Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim to India', says Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu: India on December 18, asked Pakistan to hand over Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) 'founder' and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) 'chief' Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim. Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should seize the opportunity in the wake of terror attack on Peshawar school and take bold steps to combat terrorism. "If Pakistan is serious in fighting terrorism, it should arrest Hafiz Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim and hand them over to India... I hope Nawaz Sharif will seize this opportunity to take bold steps against terrorism," he stated. Times of India, December 19, 2014.

'I'm a soldier, I have no regrets', asserts IS operative Mehdi Masroor Biswas: On December 18, Islamic State (IS) operative Mehdi Masroor Biswas asserted, "I'm a soldier and messenger. I don't regret what I've done". Mehdi was remanded to 15 days in Police custody by Special Judge Somaraju. One of the advocates asked Mehdi outside the courtroom, "Why did you do this, man?" Mehdi replied he had no regrets. Times of India, December 19, 2014.

India bans Islamic State: Terror group Islamic State (IS) has been banned in India, Union Home Minister (UHM) Rajnath Singh disclosed on December 16."We have banned this organisation (IS) as a first step. I will like to inform (the House) that the group has been banned under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act," he said during the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament) Question Hour. Outlook, December 18, 2014.

Naxals planning to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi, say Intelligence Agencies:The intelligence agencies have got credible evidence that Naxals-[Left-Wing Extremists (LWEs)] are planning to attack Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi during his visit to Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoists)-infested States. Sources said the agencies saw video footage recovered from the laptops of LWE cadres arrested in the past few weeks of a number of rallies addressed by PM Modi in the run-up to the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament) polls and the ongoing polls in Jharkhand. Most of the footage is from Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand rallies. Deccan Chronicle, December 15, 2014.


144 militants and three SFs among 148 persons killed during the week in FATA: At least 25 militants were killed and three soldiers sustained injuries in a clash at Baghzai check post in the Shawal area of South Waziristan Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on December 21.

Twenty militants, including an important Uzbek commander, Islamuddin, were killed when the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jet fighters blitzed their hideouts in the Akakhel, Sepah and Kukikhel areas of Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency on December 18.

At least 10 militants were killed and two were seriously injured in a ground action at Malak Shaga Nullah near Warwandu Mella and Hossai Nullah in Bajaur Agency on December 18.

Three personnel of Frontier Corps (FC) were killed in a remote controlled bomb blast in the Damadola area in Mamond tehsil (revenue unit).

The Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Asim Bajwa on December 17 said Pakistan Army launched 20 air strikes including "dynamic targeting" killing 57 terrorists in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia Online; The Nation; The Frontier Post; Pakistan Today; Pakistan Observer, December 16-22, 2014.

132 children among 148 persons killed in school carnage in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: At least 148 persons, including 132 children, nine school staff members and all seven suicide attackers, were killed by when Tehreek-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants stormed and opened fire at the school children in Army Public School located on Warsak Road in provincial capital Peshawar on December 16. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack saying that the attack was in retaliation to the military operations in North Waziristan Agency and Khyber Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). "Our six fighters successfully entered the army school and we are giving them instructions from outside," TTP 'spokesman', Muhammad Khorasani said over phone. The Government, however, claimed that there were seven attackers. Dawn, December 17, 2014.

General Raheel Sharif didn't ask for TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah handover, says Afghan Army chief General Sher Muhammad Karimi: The Afghanistan Army Chief General Sher Muhammad Karimi said on December 19 that his Pakistani counterpart General Raheel Sharif has not asked for handing over of the chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Mullah Fazlullah, who is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan. General Raheel Sharif and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar visited Kabul on December 17, a day after the TTP attack on the Army Public School and College in Peshawar. General Raheel had shared "vital elements of intelligence with concerned authorities, with regard to the Peshawar incident," the Army spokesman had said. However, the Afghan Army Chief said that the top Pakistani military officials didn't ask for custody of Mullah Fazlullah. "They didn't mention Mullah Fazlullah. He doesn't live in Afghanistan and we are not sheltering him," General Karimi said. Tribune, December 22, 2014.

US may not target Mullah Omar after this year, says Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby: The United States has said that after January 2, US forces in Afghanistan will not target Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders unless they posed a direct threat to the US. "Being a member of the Taliban doesn't mean that the United States is going to prosecute operations against you for that reason alone," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a recent news briefing in Washington. But he also drew a line between combatant and non-combatant Taliban, saying that those who continued to fight would not be spared. "We've also concurred that a member of the Taliban who undertakes missions against us or our Afghan partners - by that act alone, renders himself vulnerable and liable to US action," Rear Admiral Kirby said. Dawn, December 22, 2014.

LeT 'commander' Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi granted bail, detained subsequently: A day after an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) granted bail to Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) ''commander'' Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai (Maharashtra) terror attacks (26/11), the Government detained him under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) on December 19. Lakhvi was granted bail by ATC Judge Syed Kausar Abbas Zaidi against submission of surety bonds worth PKR 0.5 million. The News, December 20, 2014.

Military courts being set up for trial of terrorists, says Minister of Defense Khwaja Asif: Minister for Defence Khwaja Asif on December 19 said that military courts were being established for trials of terrorism-related cases. He said that the Government had consciously decided to lift the moratorium on capital punishment, adding that carrying out of death penalty against terrorists would begin soon. He said that the process of establishing military courts for the purpose of trying terror suspects was already underway. "There will be no discrimination in the carrying out convictions of terrorists who have been sentenced to death and whose appeals have been rejected," he added. Daily Times, December 20, 2014.

If any of our associates is harmed, we will avenge ourselves by targeting your children, TTP threatens politicians: Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in a threatening letter on December 19 warned the Federal Government that it will start eliminating children of politicians, including Sharif''s family, and Army officers, if the Pakistan Government keeps its commitment to hang militants owing allegiance to the terror outfit. The letter was received by Pakistan authorities on December 19, 2014. Sources said that they were trying to verify if the letter was genuine. The letter justified the killing of young children saying the kids were committed to following in the footsteps of their parents. Times of India, December 20, 2014.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb expanded against terrorists, abettors: The top civil and military leadership on December 19 resolved to expand the ongoing military Operation Zarb-e-Azb and take forceful action against terrorists and their abettors. The resolve was made in a meeting of the civil and military leadership chaired by Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif at the General Headquarters (GHQ). The Chief of the Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, and other senior military and civil officials attended the meeting. The News, December 20, 2014.

Umar Mansoor was the mastermind of the Peshawar school attack: Umar Mansoor, a key Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander and a close aid of Mullah Fazlullah was the mastermind of December 16 militants' attack on Peshawar Army Public School. A video posted on December 18 on a website used by the TTP shows a man with a luxuriant chest-length beard, holding an admonishing finger aloft as he seeks to justify the December 16 attack. The caption identified him as Umar Mansoor. "If our women and children die as martyrs, your children will not escape," he said. "We will fight against you in such a style that you attack us and we will take revenge on innocents." Tribune, December 20, 2014.

Pakistan, Afghanistan, US agree on anti-Taliban operations: Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have agreed to launch a trilateral operation against Taliban on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border, a senior Pakistani official said on December 19. "It will be a coordinated trilateral operation launched jointly by Pakistan, Afghanistan and ISAF on both sides of the border," National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz told The Anadolu Agency's Turkish service in an exclusive interview. Daily Times, December 20, 2014.

US President Barack Obama grants USD one billion to Pakistan: The United States (US) President Barack Obama on December 19 signed an annual defence Policy Bill which grants USD one billion to Pakistan for the expenses made by its Army in support of the US military operations in war-torn Afghanistan. The National Defence Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2015, signed by Barack Obama, sets overall defence spending at USD 578 billion which has provision for release of Coalition Support Fund amounting to USD one billion to Pakistan. Times of India, December 20, 2014.

14,115 persons in terrorism-related cases acquitted in four years, reveals Federal Ministry for Interior: At least 14,115 persons have been acquitted in terrorism-related cases by the Anti-Terrorism Courts between 2008 and 2012 while some 10,387 people booked in similar cases were granted bail during this period, according to the data compiled by Federal Ministry for Interior to formulate National Internal Security Policy 2014-2018 reveals. The policy says that the criminal justice system is ill-equipped in dealing with the internal security threats. Inability to successfully prosecute cases of terrorism remains a matter of serious concern. The News, December 19, 2014.

Hang 3,000 terrorists in 48 hours, announces CoAS General Raheel Sharif on his Twitter account: Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) General Raheel Sharif on December 17 tweeted, "Asked PM Nawaz Sharif to hang all terrorists. More than 3,000 terrorists should be hanged in next 48 hours". He announced, "Enough is enough, now strict action should be taken against those who speak in favour of terrorists." He further announced on Twitter that the army "has launched massive air strikes in Khyber on the intelligence reports. More than 10 air strikes have been carried out in last 1 hour." Times of India, December 19, 2014.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government warns of 'massive jailbreak' attempt: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Government issued a threat alert on December 18, warning that militants could stage a 'massive' prison break in the province in addition to targeting more schools in the province following Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's announcement ending moratorium on the death penalty in terror-related cases. The KP Home and Tribal Affairs sent a communiqué carrying the warning to all deputy commissioners and central and district jails across the province, officials said. Tribune, December 19, 2014.

Now no distinction between 'good and bad Taliban', says Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on December 17 said that there is now no distinction between 'good and bad Taliban' and that the country was united to fight the menace of terrorism. "This conference expresses profound grief over the tragedy which has no equal in history…Terrorism and the fight against extremism is our fight."To defeat it we must unite…our armed forces have given many sacrifices to defeat terrorists and root out their hideouts," the Prime Minister said, adding, "This fight will continue until all terrorists are defeated". Dawn, December 18, 2014.

Conviction rate slow in Anti-Terrorism Courts in Rawalpindi and Islamabad: The lack of progress on tackling terrorism is evident from the fact that in 2014, the conviction rate in the three Anti-Terrorism Court's (ATCs) of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad remained low. In the two ATCs of Rawalpindi, 205 cases were heard but there were convictions in less than ten. However, even this was a success compared to the Islamabad ATC which did not convict a single accused. Dawn, December 18, 2014.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifts moratorium on capital punishment: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on December 17 lifted the moratorium on executions and allowed capital punishment for those sentenced to death in the cases of terrorism. Sources said that Prime Minister lifted the ban on capital punishment of convicted terrorists on the demand of Army Chief made in a meeting in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. Implementation on the death penalty if convicted terrorists will start within 48 hours. Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) General Raheel Sharif suggested to PM Nawaz to lift ban on all the terrorists serving time in jail whereas similar sentiments were expressed by prominent political figures through social media. More than 8,000 prisoners were sentenced to death by the courts but the punishment was not implemented as capital punishment was barred in the country. Daily Times, December 18, 2014.


'After 27 years, we gave you an election', says President Mahinda Rajapaksa: President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing an election campaign rally in Mullaitivu District on December 18 said "After 27 years, we gave you an election. You all elected your members. This election will decide a leader for the country". Speaking further President Rajapaksa said the Government has done a massive amount of work to rebuild the war-torn area and uplift the lives of the people in the North. Among other initiatives to improve their livelihood, the Government has provided self-employment loans for 430 ex-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres of Mullaitivu, he noted. Colombo Page, December 19, 2014.

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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