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Terrorism: South Asian Scenario

Terrorism: South Asian Scenario

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Terrorism: South Asian Scenario

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  1. Terrorism: South Asian Scenario Major General Muniruzzaman, ndc, psc (Retd.) President Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS)

  2. South Asia: An Introduction • The region is located at the strategically important area in world. • SA comprises of the sub-Himalayan countries and is surrounded (clockwise, from west to east) by Western Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Asia, and Southeastern Asia. • It is home to over 1.50 billion people . • It is the home of two new nuclear weapon states . • .

  3. ( Contd.) • It has a history of protracted dispute, conflict and regional wars. It has close proximity to another nuclear power (China). • It has one of the fastest growing power and economy (India). • South Asia is one of the poorest and most misgoverned regions of the world after sub-Saharan Africa. • Enormous Diversity within South Asia . • Demography, Economy, Governance, Human Development, • Social Development and Poverty Incidence

  4. Geostrategic Importance of South Asia South Asia is a most complex, volatile and politically explosive region, the most enigmatic and baffling in the world Lies between the sea routes of the Indian Ocean (Persian Gulf and the Asia-Pacific) and the land routes of Central Asia connecting Europe to the East Large reservoir of natural and human resources

  5. ( Contd.) Prime destination for finance capital, a lucrative market for trade and a source of cheap raw material. Sits at the confluence of the richest sources of oil, gas. The transit point for most of the resources and manufactures that crisscross the world. Was the base for infamous “Great Game” in the 19th century. United States Base at Diego Garcia, just south of Maldives.

  6. Geostrategic Importance of South Asia (contd.) • Indo-US strategic partnership • Concept of “Chindia” • Emergence of India as Regional Power with global pretensions • Nuclearization of South Asia • Potentiality of Nuclear/Conventional Conflicts

  7. (Contd.) South Asia in the frontline of the energy resource regions (Central Asia, Persian Gulf). Demographic pattern-currently comprising one fourth of the world’s population. Two Nuclear club members are in South Asia. Geographical contiguity with would be super power, China “Indian Ocean Rim”.

  8. Terrorism and South Asia • Global terrorism center of gravity shifts to South Asia. • South Asia now epicenter of terrorism. • “The arc of instability”. • Islamist militancy in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. • Maoist insurgency in India and Nepal. • The “Red Corridor”. • FATA. • Hindu radicalism. • LTTE in Sri Lanka. Mumbai attack November 2008 9

  9. Common Factors Terrorism is caused by poverty and exploitation Terrorist enemies are at once civil and military, state and non-state, territorial and non-territorial’ (Beck, The Cosmopolitan Vision (Polity) 2006: 152) Regional tensions and non-resolution of core disputes Hegemonic policies Threatening sovereignty of smaller countries Growth of nuclear arsenal and induction of new weapons.

  10. (Contd.) • Terrorists identified themselves with ‘the cellular world of global terror rather than the isolating world of national minorities’ • Terrorists morphed ‘from one kind of minority – weak, disempowered, disenfranchised and angry – to another kind of minority – cellular, globalized, transnational, armed, and dangerous’ Appadurai, A (2006: 113) Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger (Duke University Press)

  11. Geography of Terror Incidents

  12. Areas of Concern • The Diaspora Connection • Self-Radicalization • Tactical Devolution • Pakistan • Afghanistan • South Asia Emerging as the Global Epicentre of Terrorism

  13. (Contd.) • Female radicalization • Migrant worker connection • Confused/Dual identity

  14. Trends in terrorism Terrorism and insurgency Internationalism Suicide terrorism Speed of learning Media developments Economic targeting Mass casualty attacks and weapons of mass destruction

  15. Strategic Trends Al – Qaeda in a strategic Cul de Sac yet posing a credible threat to global security. An incomplete ideological battle compounding the problem. Lack of effective trans-national cooperation creating an advantageous situation for the terrorist organisations. The deepening problem in the global south: need to address core issues. Preferred asymmetric tool.

  16. Changes in Tactics • Bomb Blasts Increasingly Being Replaced by Operations involving Small Arms e.g. Mumbai CST Attack 26/11/2009 • New Innovations in Training and Organisation • Rotating leadership • Organisational identity change

  17. Terrorist Tactics, based on 25,303 terrorist events, 1968-2004 Source: p.49.Kenneth T. Bogen and Edwin D. Jones. Risks of Mortality and Morbidity from Worldwide Terrorism: 1968-2004. Risk Analysis Vol. 26, No.1, 2006.

  18. Changes in Tactics (Cont’d) Small groups and sleeper cells increasingly gaining prominence. The lone wolf making a comeback? Decentralised organisational structure – The case of JMB New innovations in training: The use of Char areas for training An evolving crime – Terror nexus

  19. The Emerging Threat Scenarios The looming threat to critical infrastructure: Rawalpindi water supply The threat from internet radicalisation Fighting the flow of money: The challenge from terrorist financing JMB financing – bona fide investments The question of nuclear security Terrorist or insurgent – where to draw the line?? Possibility of WMD terrorism

  20. The Emerging Threat Scenarios (Cont’d) The deepening threat of radicalisation across societies. The increasing threat from extremist groups in the context of South Asia e.g. HizbutTahrir. The problem of integration in an increasingly globalising world. The rise of the radical elements across different societies: The mainstream becoming smaller??

  21. Who are the Terrorists? • Al-Qaeda • Militant, international Islamic organization focused on removing all western influence from Muslim countries and fighting a global “Jihad”

  22. Who are the Terrorists? • Taliban • Violent fundamentalist group from Afghanistan; focused on implementing Sharia law in Afghanistan and Pakistan

  23. Who are the Terrorists? • Separatist Movements • Punjab (Sikh), Kashmir, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland; all have tried to gain autonomy at one point.

  24. Why does this matter to us? • Terrorism threatens the stability of the region; big consequences if these countries fall. • India and Pakistan are both nuclear nations; weapons could fall into terrorist hands. • Many of these organizations are international (e.g. Al-Qaeda) • Operation Enduring Freedom – US led military action in Afghanistan

  25. International Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders “The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies─civilians and military─is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.” Fatwa issued by Osama bin Laden & Ayman al-Zawahiri

  26. Key Drivers of Radicalisation, according to Global Futures Forum • Mass communication and propaganda • Western responses to radicalisation • Governance in target countries • Western dominance (both real and perceived) • State-to-state tensions Global Futures Forum. Radical Worlds of 2020. Imagining the Futures of Radicalisation. The Hague, 12-14 December 2007, pp. 54.

  27. (Contd.) • Religion (and its relationship to politics) • Government responsiveness (civil society) • Immigration and demographics • “Us- vs. -Them” identity politics • New ideologies • Resources (scarcities, conflicts over ~) • Violence (associated with extremism) Global Futures Forum. Radical Worlds of 2020. Imagining the Futures of Radicalisation. The Hague, 12-14 December 2007, pp. 54.

  28. Radicalisation: A strategic challenge • Terrorism is a tactic, it does not operate in a vacuum. • The continuum starts with radicalisation • Myriad reasons not one single factor • A growing problem across the South Asian region. • The Afghan jihad • The role of the media in countering radicalisation

  29. Countering Radicalisation (Cont’d) The importance of the theologian. Fighting ideology with ideology. Countering the religious arguments. Understanding the importance and the centrality of the religious debate. The incorporation of the religious clerics into the sphere of counter terrorism in various countries.

  30. The situation of Afganistan ( Background) After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, as a result of military operations by the US-led multinational forces. Al Qaeda and leaders of Taliban fled to the border regions and into Pakistan. In Afghanistan, security operations by ISAF established by a UN Security Council resolution have been successful to a certain extent and the international community has been supporting nation-building.

  31. (Contd.) peace dividends have not reached every corner of the country and some people support the insurgents for economic and other causes. With increased power of the Taliban forces, the security situation has deteriorated in recent years without considerable improvement of people’s living standards.

  32. Challenges in Afghanistan • Crushing OBL and al-Qaeda, and hard-core Taliban seems imperative for US security; stabilizing Afghanistan, growing its own security forces and building out its government capacity are critical to those goals. • Revised COIN strategy is good in theory, Petraeus is real leader, US combat forces are superb, but how much will it take, can Afghanistan unite, and will US public stay the course? • Pakistan’s commitment and capacity to rebuilding Afghanistan and defeating the Taliban are huge question marks, as are Iran’s in a lesser way

  33. Afghanistan: anti-government forces: Taliban • Pakistan origin during anti-Soviet war • US and Pakistani intelligence role in creation • Pakistani military interest in maintaining Afghan unrest • Ethnically- and class-inflected Sunni Islamism • Pashtun ethnic dominance • Regional variations • Not a single united body, or equivalent to pre-invasion government • Mullah Omar, leader (at least in south) • Overlaps with Taliban in Pakistan but not identical

  34. Afghanistan: anti-government forces: Militia leaders/“warlords” • Regional/clan/tribal-based patron-client relationships • Fusion of “feudal”/pre-modern relations and “modern” social and political relationships • Haqqani Network • JalauddinHaqqani • Claimed responsibility for Kabul bombing this week • Hezb-e IslamiGulbuddun • GulbuddinHekmatyar • Former PM • Deeply opposed to foreign intervention • “Warlords” on both sides • Shifting loyalties and finances • central to current presidential elections

  35. Afghanistan: anti-government forces: Al Qaeda • Saudi- Egyptian-originated Sunni Salafi international militia group • November 2001 invasion immediately destroyed training camps, displaced AQ activists to Pakistan, reduced AQ capacity, increased tensions with hosts • key leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri still at large, presumably in Pakistan • Core AQ international combat reach doubtful; limited Afghanistan combat role • Effective “franchising” of AQ through loose international networks continues • Differentiation and development of loosely related networks • Mega-terrorism threat continues • Taliban distancing themselves

  36. Terrorist Incidents in Afghanistan in 2005 and 2006 according to US National Counter Terrorism Centre Source: US National Counter Terrorism Centre as quoted in US Department of State. Country Reports on Terrorism and Patterns of Global Terrorism. Washington, DC, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, 21 March 2007, p.3; available at, consulted on 04/05/2007

  37. Current challenges • To reverse the momentum on the ground in Afghanistan. • The safe haven that the Taliban and al-Qaeda and other jihadists have built in Pakistan has to be closed down

  38. (Contd.) Afghanistan: The new regional political play ground (e.g. entry of India) Drug-terror nexus: drug traffickingsource of terrorist funding(e.g. opium trafficking in Afghanistan) Warlordism Taliban by back Private militias

  39. Pakistan- The Core Issue • Pakistan is under international pressure linked to the influx of Afghan refugee • Pakistan under complex challenge because of geographic location • FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area) • Decentralization of Taliban • Growing radicalisation

  40. (Contd.) Politics of terror Regional politics and Indo –Pak rivalry Foreign fighters and Taliban International linkages of terrorist groups Invisible foreign hands? Complex identity toned between Islamic and ethnic identity Complex relationship with the US and the west

  41. Renewed strategic partnership with US and frontline role in the global war against terrorism elevate dangers to sensitive materials Ground Realities of Pakistan • The geo-political environment and maintenance of strategic stability present other challenges “No one else’s bomb is called Hindu, Jewish, Christian, capitalist, or communist, yet somehow our bomb becomes “Islamic”, as if that makes it illegitimate. The idea is illogical and essentially racist. This is an example of how Muslims continually feel unjustly singled out and alienated” President Pervez Musharraf’’s Memoir, “In the Line of Fire”

  42. Pakistan’s response • A bold and courageous operation in FATA by Pakistan Army. • Close cooperation with ISAF (International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan) • A stated policy of Counter terrorism • CBM efforts with India specially after Mumbai incident. • Fighting the Afghan local refugee extremists

  43. Terrorism and Pakistan Islamabad Marriott Bombing: September 20, 2008 45

  44. Marriott Hotel Bombing PERPETRATORS: • No group claimed of responsibility for the attack, although most link the attack to al-Qaeda or Pakistani Taliban. • Pakistani Taliban denied involvement in the bombing.

  45. ( Contd.) No indication that Marriott received any warning of attack. In addition, senior al-Qaeda leader Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, who claimed the June Danish Embassy bombing in Islamabad, threatened additional attacks against western interests in Pakistan in a video timed to the recent anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

  46. Lahore Incident

  47. Apprehension about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets and threat of terrorism Terrorists’ acquisition of nuclear weapons or sabotage thereof, dirty bombs, RDDs, and radiation hazards caused by sabotage/attack on a nuclear facility or a transport vehicle.

  48. Strategy needed in Pakistan Revitalizing existing multilateral mechanism, regimes and treaties for their contribution to prevent terrorist activities.