September 10, 2011

AN UPDATE OF MY THOUGHTS ON THE INDIAN MUJAHIDEEN

B.RAMAN

Between November 2007 and September 13,2008, the group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen (IM) had sent five E-mail messages to sections of the media.

2.The first message was sent a few minutes before the serial blasts in three towns of Uttar Pradesh on November 23, 2007. The second was sent after the blasts in Jaipur in May, 2008. The third was sent before the blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26, 2008. The fourth was sent after the press conference held by the Gujarat Police in August, 2008, in which they claimed to have solved the case relating to the Ahmedabad and Jaipur blasts, identified the perpetrators and arrested many of them. According to the Gujarat police version, it was the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which wasoperating as the IM. The firfth message was sent before the blasts in New Delhi on September 13, 2008.

3.The first, second, third and fifth messages claimed responsibility for the blasts and the fourth debunked the claims of the Gujarat Police of having solved the case and tried to convey the impression that the arrested persons had nothing to do with the blasts. Surprisingly, the IM did not send any E-mail message claiming responsibility for the serial blasts in Bangalore on July 25, 2008.

4. Intriguingly, the IM described its E-mail message on the New Delhi blasts of September,2008, as "our third consecutive E-mail ". It said: "The INDIAN MUJAHIDEEN accepts the sole responsibility of Delhi serial blasts, and we claim this, through our third consecutive email, which is, unfortunately, still a mystery for you. It is very sad to see the bad condition of your cyber forensics who have still failed to find out our technique of sending the “Message of Death”."

5.Why did the IM, after the Delhi blasts, talk of only three E-mail messages, when the media had received five , all purporting to be from the IM?

6. A study of the five E-mail messages made by me in September,2008, indicated the following:

(a).While the first two E-mail messages were virulent in their content, they were not obnoxiously abusive in their language. The last three messages were not only virulent in their content, but also obnoxious in their language. In the message about the Ahmedabad blasts, they had used the word bastard which normally Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations are not known to use. The message on the New Delhi blasts was even more abusive than the two messages regarding the blasts in Ahmedabad. P. C. Pandey, the DG of Police of Gujarat, was called a rascal, a bastard, a corrupt old hag, a base-born criminal and a filthy loyal dog of NarendraModi. As pointed out by me at that time, such abuses were typical of the Mafia underworld of Mumbai and Gujarat.

(b).The Gujarat Police and the Rajasthan Police and their Police chiefs were severely condemned and a specific threat of terrorist attack was also held out against A.K.Jain of the Rajasthan Police. But, significantly, there was no criticism of the Karnataka Police and its chief. There was not even a reference to the investigation by the Bangalore Police, whereas the investigations by the Ahmedabad and Jaipur police were debunked and their claims of having solved the cases were questioned. Similarly, there was no reference to the UP Police investigation of the blasts of November 2007.

(c ).The language used in the third and fourth messages about the Ahmedabad blasts and the fifth message about the New Delhi blasts, which were very abusive, differed from the language used in the first message about the UP blasts and the second about the Jaipur blasts.

7.I had commented as follows in my assessment of these messages : “Why such discrepancies ( in language)? It is important to find answers to them before we come to definitive conclusions about the IM. Just as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the proof of the terrorist is in the catching. Unless and until we are able to identify and neutralise or arrest the right persons, who are the brains behind the IM, we will have more surprises. We have arrested many perpetrators of individual blasts, but I am not sure we have arrested the brains. By thinking and prematurely projecting that we have identified and arrested the brains, we will make ourselves liable for more surprises, which could damage the credibility of the police in the eyes of the public.”

8. In the message after the Delhi blasts of September,2008, many State Governments were criticised for their alleged harassment of the Muslims, but the main brunt of the criticism was against Maharashtra and the Mumbai Police.

9. I had then assessed as follows: “ From these messages, it is apparent that the IM does not as yet have a strategic objective such as the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate or the "liberation" of the Muslims of India. Its objective till now is purely tactical to wreak vengeance on the Hindutva organisations and the various State Governments accused of harassing the Muslims. New Delhi seemed to have been targeted not only to exhibit their capability for action in the capital, but also to wreak vengeance on the Government of India for its failure to prevent the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December, 1992. The message says: "Babri Masjid was and will remain to be our glorious self esteem and Inshallah, we will prove it to you a hornet’s nest in which you have immersed your bare hand, unaware of the pain to come. If you are prepared to suffer the results of this issue,then by the will of Allah, verily! We will make you face it, and if you feel you are wise enough, then here we announce our ultimatum: Vacate the land of Babri as soon as you can."

10.The Mumbai Police announced on October 6,2008, the arrest of 20 suspected members of the IM, who had played a role in the serial blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26,2008, in the abortive attempt to organise similar blasts in Surat the next day and in the serial blasts in New Delhi on September 13,2008.

11. Among those arrested were four IT-savvy members of the IM, who had played a role in sending the E-mail messages in the name of the IM before and after the Ahmedabad blasts and before the New Delhi blasts by hacking into Wi-fi networks in Mumbai and Navin Mumbai. These were :

Mohammed MansoorAsgarPeerbhoy aka Munawar aka Mannu.A 31-year-old resident of Pune, who was reportedly working for Yahoo, India, on an annual salary of Rs. 19 lakhs (US $ 45,000).

Mubin Kadar Shaikh, a 24-year-old graduate of computer science from Pune.

Asif Bashir Shaikh, a 22-year-old mechanical engineer from Pune. In addition to helping in sending the E-mail messages, he also reportedly played a role in planting 18 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Surat, all of which failed to explode.

Mohammed Ismail Chaudhary, a 28-year-old computer mechanic, who was also suspected to have helped in planting the IEDs in Surat.

12.After these arrests in Mumbai, the IM stopped disseminating messages.There were no more terroriststikes in which its involvement was established .There was almost total silence by the IM.

13.The IM started messaging again on September 19,2010, after a silence of nearly two years after the Delhi blasts of September,2008. A statement purported to have been issued by the IM was disseminated by E-mail on September 19,2010. It referred to certain anti-Muslim incidents which allegedly took place in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on the day of Eid (September 11). It also referred to the day when the total number of people allegedly killed by the security forces in Jammu & Kashmir during 2010 crossed 100 (September 17).

14.The statement was in good English with very few grammar or typing mistakes and had few of the kind of obnoxious abuses seen in the messages of 2007-08. It had been drafted by one well-versed in the Holy Koran.

15.Many of the religious allusions in the message had been taken from some past messages of Osama bin Laden, but bin Laden was not mentioned anywhere by name. The last para of the message had been borrowed almost word for word from a message against Gen. Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani Army issued by bin Laden in September 2007 calling for the wrath of Allah on them for the raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July, 2007. It read: "O,Allah, deface them, break their backs and heads, split them up and destroy their unity; O, Allah, afflict them with the loss of their near and dear ones as they have afflicted us with the loss of our near and dear ones; O, Allah, we seek refuge in You from their evilness and we place You at their throats; O,Allah, make their plotting their destruction; O,Allah, suffice for us against them with whatever You wish; O,Allah, destroy them for they cannot escape You; O, Allah, count them, kill them and leave not even one of them. " There were only two minor changes. bin Laden had not said "deface them". He had also not said "and heads". One did not know wherefrom bin Laden had originally taken his curse against Musharraf and the Pakistani Army. bin Laden's curse against them was converted by the IM into a curse against the Indian people and officials.

16.The statement did not directly claim responsibility on behalf of the IM for the attack in Delhi on September 19,2010, in which two Taiwanese tourists were injured by motor-cycle-borne individuals. However, it indirectly hinted at IM’s responsibility by saying: "In the name of Allah we dedicate this attack of retribution...."

17.In a reference to the Commonwealth Games, it said: "On the one hand Muslim blood is flowing like water, while on the other hand you are preparing for the festival of games. This is surely not a Child's play. Mind you this is the initiative from the Lions of Allah and we warn you to host the Commonwealth Games if you have a grain of salt. We know that the preparations for the Games are at its peak. Beware we too are preparing in full swing for a Great Surprise. The participants will be solely responsible for the outcome as our bands of Mujahideens love death more than you love life."

18.It had highlighted in red ink the following words: "Our bands of Mujahideens love death more than you love life." While over 75 per cent of the statement was about alleged atrocities against Muslims in Jammu & Kashmir, there were also condemnatory references to the death of two IM suspects during a raid by the Delhi police on September 19,2008, to the arrests of some alleged members of the IM by the Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra Police in connection with the Pune Bakery blast of February 13 2010 and some alleged anti-Muslim incidents in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on Eid day. The IM was not able to carry out its threat against the Commonwealth Games.

19.A message dated December 6, 2010, purporting to be from the IM indirectly claiming responsibility for the explosion in Varanasi on December 7,2010, was received by the media outlets to which it was addressed after the explosion had taken place. It differed from the message of the IM sent on September 19, 2010, in one significant aspect. It avoided any allusions to the messages of Osama bin Laden and was free of bin Laden like language and rhetoric. It had not borrowed from the past messages of bin Laden. It sought to project the IM as a purely indigenous movement, but needing the support of the Islamic world.

20.It warned the Hindus of continued attacks on Hindu holy places till all Masjids (mosques) belonging to the Muslims were restored to them. It was critical of the Indian criminal justice system, which was projected as anti-Muslim. This has been a recurring theme of all IM messages disseminated since the explosions in Uttar Pradesh in November, 2007. It warned moderate Indian Muslim leaders not to barter away the rights of the Muslims on the Babri Masjid issue. The salient points in this IM message, which was quite detailed, were as follows:

Criticism of the Judiciary: "The Supreme Court, the high courts, the lower courts and all the Commissions have utterly failed to play an impartial role regarding Muslim issues. NarendraModi who presided over the 2002 massacres of Muslims in Gujarat is given a clean chit whereas the victims still run from pillar to post for justice. Even the 92 Mumbai culprits roam freely and enjoy Government security. All the anti-Muslim pre-planned riots, arson, rapes, losses of lives and properties are still awaiting justice. The list is endless!"

Criticism of the Congress (I): "It needs no mention that time and again the Congress party with its hidden agenda has shown its true colors. Be it the inaction over the planting of the idol in 1949 or the shilanyaas, the ground-breaking ceremony of 1989 and finally the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. For all practical reasons the Masjid site has since been transformed into a Mandir (temple), thanks to the Supreme Court order to maintain Status-quo."

Warning of More Attacks on Hindu Holy Places: "Our memories are still fresh and our hearts still bleeding over every Muslim brother and sister who was hacked to death after the demolition of Babri masjid. Indian history is decorated with countless state-sponsored terror and state-managed riots. Indeed every martyr enlivens the ummah. We will not budge until every inch of the Masjid is regained and lives of our martyrs avenged. We will strike terror in the hearts and minds of these idol worshippers until the mountain of injustice is undone. We will leave no stone unturned come what may till the anger of believer’s hearts is removed and a Magnificent Masjid is built at the same spot. We are fully aware of your preparations at the Babri Masjid site for the construction of a ‘grand temple’ over the corpses of our martyrs all over the country. The Indian Mujahideen warn these filthy Hindu zealots that even if a Grand Temple of Gold is built over the Babri Masjid we will destroy it at all costs. Remember! It was a Masjid, It is a Masjid and It will always remain a Masjid. At this juncture Muslims are silent due to their state of affairs. We hereby invite all our Muslim brethren to never be weak-hearted over the designs of these idolators and urge them to strengthen their faith in Allah and unite for the cause of Islam. Surely, victory is awaiting us. Be assured that Indian Mujahideen, the sons of Mahmud Ghazni, Muhammad Ghori, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, Firuz Shah Tughlaq and Aurangzeb have resolved that none of your Mandirs will remain safe until and unless all our occupied Masjids throughout India are returned back to the Muslims with honour. "

Caution to Indian Muslim Leaders: "Neither the All India Muslim Personal Law Board nor the Babri Masjid Action Committee nor the Sunni Waqf Board nor any litigant has any right to alter or compromise on any of these aspects whatsoever regarding the Babri Masjid. All sorts of bartering and bargaining is totally unacceptable to Allah and thus to the Muslims. We urge those ulema to behave sensibly, change their attitude towards this Holy Cause, fear Allah alone, come forward, inspire and motivate the people and thus appease none but Allah alone. We hereby declare that even if all the ulema, scholars and Muslim leaders collectively deviate from or refuse Allah and Prophet’s Verdict, their decision will be right beneath our feet."

The Kashmir Issue: "The manhandling and heckling of Kashmiri leadership in Indian cities is not at all a minor issue. These insane and cowardly Saffron Hindus on the behest of the IB (Intelligence Bureau) and the administration pounce upon weak people. As usual we are going through minute details of the matter and have obtained vital clues of the mischief which we presume to be inappropriate to be divulged at this point of time. Meanwhile we request the respected Syed Ali Shah GeelaniSaheb and the Mirwaiz to maintain their self-respect and dignity. These sons of monkeys and snakes will never heed to sensible arguments and historical facts. Please don’t waste your time with these lowly creatures as they will never understand!"

Appeal to the Islamic World to Support Indian Muslims: "We appeal to all the Muslim countries to voice their concerns regarding oppression and injustice done by India upon their fellow brethren. It is their duty to pressurize this ‘Empire of Falsehood and Tyranny’ regarding the longstanding Kashmir issue where world’s largest concentration of armed forces in an occupied territory stands. This ‘Hollow superpower’, needs to be told loudly and clearly that it should get over its obsession with Muslims in India and that the Global Muslim Ummah is seriously concerned about the issues like Babri Masjid and Kashmir."

21.From this, it is apparent that the IM does not as yet have a strategic objective. It is still an organisation of tactical, reprisal terrorism determined to avenge the destruction of the Babri Masjid, the alleged atrocities against Muslims in different parts of India, including J&K,and what it sees as the unfair attitude of the judiciary towards Muslims.

22.I have not covered in this note the latest messages purporting to be from the IM received after the blast outside the Delhi High Court on September 7,2011, since their authenticity has not yet been established. ( 11-9-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Pakistan Terror Group Eyes Global Jihad

Pakistan Terror Group Eyes Global Jihad


By Stephen Tankel

http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2011/09/10/pakistans_global_jihad_99666.html

Long before airborne terrorists struck America on September 11, 2001, a militant Islamist group in Pakistan had begun a terror campaign against India. Lashkar-e-Taiba, or LeT, rose to international notoriety with their dramatic November 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed more than 160 people and injured more than 300.
Many had previously viewed the militant group, whose name means Army of the Pure, as a purely parochial player in South Asia. Yet by the time of those attacks, seven years after 9/11, the group boasted transnational networks stretching across several continents.

Like Al Qaeda and many other jihadist groups, Lashkar was born during the anti-Soviet jihad inAfghanistan. From the outset, it was a pan-Islamist organization, dedicated to waging jihad until the domination of Islam was achieved. But regional dynamics associated with the India-Pakistan rivalry and the insurgency that erupted in Indian-administered Kashmir in 1989 exerted the heaviest influence on it. For Lashkar's leaders, the road to reestablishing the caliphate ran through South Asia.
Focusing on jihad against India to liberate Kashmir also brought with it the offer of significant state support from the Pakistan army and its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, known as the ISI. Within a decade, Lashkar had become Pakistan's most reliable proxy against India. The ISI increased support to the group for several reasons. Most important was the belief that LeT would easy to control based on its small size at the time and lack of natural allies.
State support enabled Lashkar to develop a powerful military apparatus and the group also channeled resources into the provision of social services as a means of missionary outreach. By the late 1990s, it controlled a robust social welfare and powerful military infrastructure. During that decade Lashkar also began weaving together its international networks.
As early as 1992, Lashkar operatives began working with Indian Muslims motivated by domestic grievances to help them build a homegrown jihadist movement and launch small-scale terrorist attacks. By 2000, it had a robust network of operatives in India and provided support to various indigenous jihadist cells responsible for a growing drumbeat of bombings there. To assist these efforts, Lashkar also built up its footprint in Bangladesh and Nepal. LeT was not necessarily building up its footprint in these areas because of caliphate ambitions. This really was about supporting attacks in India.
Lashkar leaders also had longstanding ties to the Persian Gulf. Saudis associated with the group helped expand networks there during the 1990s and 2000s, as did Pakistani and Indian operatives living in the region and South Asian criminal syndicates. Lashkar had been raising funds in the Gulf since the 1980s. By the late 1990s, its donor base included members of the Pakistani diaspora and those motivated to give money on the basis of a shared Salafi religious identity. The Gulf proved a fertile ground for recruiting Indian operatives to execute attacks against their country of origin as well as an ideal location from which to support such attacks.
Lashkar has a history of recruiting and training Westerners, particularly members of the diaspora living in the UK. Unlike Al Qaeda, Lashkar did not use its overseas recruits to launch attacks against America or its allies prior to 9/11. Instead, the group's objectives included developing transnational networks across Europe for support purposes, including fundraising and the procurement of a military kit including night-vision goggles and surveillance equipment for use in Kashmir, promoting the organization's international reach and appeal, building its brand for fundraising purposes, and promoting its interpretation of Islam.
After 9/11, Lashkar began using its international networks along with its training apparatus to contribute to the global jihad against the US and its allies. This included the provision of training and logistical support to established outfits and aspiring Western jihadis, some of whom used the group as a gateway to Al Qaeda. And it continued to use many foreign operatives to support local, India-centric operations.
From the middle of the decade onwards, Lashkar's organizational footprint in Afghanistan grew. The insurgency there eclipsed the conflict in Kashmir, and an increasing number of militants from other organizations, in some cases spurred on by Al Qaeda, began attacking the Pakistani state. Lashkar's leaders came under increasing pressure to expand the group's involvement in the global jihad.

The 2008 Mumbai attacks appear intended partly to increase Lashkar's credibility among members, recruits and donors, impressing them with a terrorist spectacular that included Western targets. A month before the Mumbai attacks, Lashkar leaders also began plotting a unilateral terrorist attack in Denmark. The operation was delayed indefinitely as a result of ISI pressure, but David Headley, the transnational operative who conceived of the idea and was tasked with surveillance, linked up with jihadists close to Al Qaeda to move the plot forward. He did so without quitting Lashkar.

The group remains active in Kashmir, and its Afghanistanpresence is believed to have grown since Mumbai, though its organizational footprint in Afghanistan remains small relative to other outfits. Some members now have more experience fighting against America than they do India, though the latter continues to be the primary enemy for Lashkar's leadership, who still prioritize the Kashmir jihad and remain heavily influenced by the Pakistan army and ISI.
The Pakistan security establishment still considers Lashkar to be its most reliable and obedient proxy for several reasons, including the leadership's India-centric priorities, its policy of abjuring attacks in Pakistan and the fact that the group remains more disciplined than others. Longstanding personal connections between Lashkar members and those in the army and ISI enhance this assessment. The two historically shared the same recruiting pool, and a number of retired army and ISI officers have joined Lashkar, at captain, major, colonel ranks and some at brigadier level, which strengthens these bonds. Nevertheless, organizational control was seen to slip prior to Mumbai. Several ISI officers played a role, but there was no evidence that the ISI or army leadership was aware of the full parameters of the plot.
Since early 2009, the ISI has tightened control over Lashkar's leaders and sought to help them regain control over their cadres. Yet anecdotal evidence also suggests that Al Qaeda continues attempts to lure Lashkar members and that the two organizations' leaders clash ideologically over the issue of fighting against the Pakistani state. In short, tensions within the organization over the direction of its violence remain.
With its international network, Lashkar has the means to release such tension by launching a unilateral attack against the US or allied interests, though the more likely scenario is that the group could provide support for a joint attack. Considerable concern also exists regarding the capacity of nodes within these transnational networks to engage in unsanctioned activities against the West. The greater concern is that LeT will launch another major terrorist attack against India, leading to an escalation with Pakistan. With networks in Bangladesh, Nepal and the Gulf, as well as India, the group has multiple locations from which to support Indian militants engaged in homegrown terrorism. If Pakistan were to crack down on Lashkar's domestic infrastructure, these networks could be unleashed in many countries or in Pakistan itself.
At present no significant effort has been made to dismantle the group's military apparatus. As long as its infrastructure in Pakistan and transnational networks remain extant, Lashkar remains a threat close to home and abroad.
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Stephen Tankel, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and assistant professor at American University, is the author of the new book, "Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba."
Rights:Copyright © 2011 Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. YaleGlobal

Yushchenko denounces Tymoshenko's deal with Putin

© RIA Novosti. Grigoriy Vasilenko
by Tom Washington at 18/08/2011 12:06

Passions rode high inside and outside a Kiev courtroom as former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko took the stand against his old orange revolutionary ally Yulia Tymoshenko.

He called for Russian Prime Minister Putin to be summoned as well, a demand the court has already refused, and called Tymoshenko’s 2009 gas deal with Russia, for which she is now standing trial while Moscow looks on in concern, a “knife in the back.”

The crowd went ballistic and pelted his retreating Mercedes with eggs amid cries of “traitor” as he made his departure from the scene of the drama.

Lies

Russia is keen to keep the gas deal as it is and maintain the current rate that Ukraine pays for Russian fuel. A Kremlin source denounced Yushchenko’s testimony as “lies.” The rate that Tymoshenko signed up to was a base rate of $450 per 1,000 cubic meters.

“Yushchenko is lying to his court... During his presidential term he personally wanted to gain political dividends and proposed to President Dmitry Medvedev to personally sign a deal settling gas issues... But he was told that the issue was within the competence of the heads of the governments,” the source told RIA Novosti.

“Moreover, in his later telephone conversations with Dmitry Medvedev, Yushchenko said he fully trusted Yulia Tymoshenko, that she had all the necessary powers and that he would support all agreements reached with Russia,” the source added.

Comrades collide

Yushchenko and Tymoshenko stormed to power in Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution, but the two then had a bitter dispute. Yushchenko later called his one-time ally and prime minister his “biggest mistake.”

At the trial Yushchenko rejected Tymoshenko’s claim that he had recalled the Ukrainian delegation from its gas talks with Russia in late 2008. Tymoshenko says that if he had not withdrawn the delegation, which she headed, Russia would not then have cut off of gas supplies to Ukraine.

But Yushchenko said Tymoshenko had refused to accept a more reasonable price [of $250 per 1,000 meters] set by Russia and was later forced to accept the revised Russian terms that dramatically raised the price of gas.

“There was a complete breakdown in the negotiations,” Yushchenko said, AFP reported.

Stab in the back

“Yulia Vladimirovna rejected the proposal of the Prime Minister of Russia,” Yushchenko said. He added that this was for political motives. “To say this was unexpected is an understatement, it was a knife in the back,” he said, Vedomosti reported.

Putin suggested that Ukraine buy Russian gas for $250 per 1,000 cubic meters. “I will quote Putin,” Yushchenko said, “‘I am personally making an offer to the prime minister of Ukraine. Come here, sign the contract for $250 for 1,000 cubic meters, and we will give you the right to export. Now get the hell out of here’…But she refused,” Yushchenko said.

The figure at the center of it all sat stony faced and almost silent throughout proceedings before being shuttled back to her prison cell at the end of proceedings. “Let God be his judge,” she said.

She faces up to ten years in jail if convicted of abuse of power.

Vietnam: Under the weight of China

August 27th, 2011

Author: Le Hong Hiep, Vietnam National University

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2011/08/27/vietnam-under-the-weight-of-china/

Some researchers liken China to a rooster, with Korea as its beak and Vietnam its leg.

The analogy highlights the strategic importance of Vietnam toward China, especially in terms of security, while also suggesting that Vietnam must live under China’s weight. Vietnam is therefore, in Carlyle Thayer’s words, condemned to a ‘tyranny of geography’ where it has no choice but to learn to share its destiny with neighbouring China.

A stronger China has long been the most serious threat to Vietnam’s security. Vietnam came under Chinese suzerainty for almost a thousand years until 938 CE. Even after the French colonisation of Vietnam in the latter half of the 19th century, China was still deeply involved in Vietnam through invasion and occupation, as illustrated bythe brief yet bloody war China waged along Vietnam’s northern border in 1979 and the naval clash initiated by China in the South China Sea in March 1988.

This threat posed by China toward Vietnam comes not only from geographical proximity but also the asymmetry of size and power between the two countries. China is 29 times larger than Vietnam, while Vietnam’s population, despite being the world’s 14th largest, is still only equivalent to one of China’s mid-sized provinces.

Vietnam’s impressive economic performance since the late 1980s hasn’t allowed it to close the gap in strength. This is because China’s own economic modernisation has caused the power gap between the two countries to become ever wider. According to World Bank data, China’s GDP expanded more than 16 times between 1985 and 2009 from US$307 billion to US$4.985 trillion. Vietnam’s GDP increased only seven times over the same period, from US$16 billion in 1985 to US$97 billion in 2009.

With its economic development, China’s military might has grown significantly, posing a formidable threat to Vietnam’s security. According to China’s official statements, its military budget for 2011 is US$91.5 billion, while Vietnam is said to have allocated US$2.6 billion. Particularly worrying for Vietnam is that China’s expanding military budget is concentrated on its air force and navy, strengthening China’s capacity to project power into the South China Sea where China and Vietnam have competing claims.

Vietnam’s transformation toward an open market economy also adds another aspect to this tyranny of geography: increased economic vulnerability.

Since Vietnam resumed trade with China in the late 1980s, its domestic production has long been threatened by Chinese goods — flooding the country through both formal and informal (smuggling) trade. This not only exerts a negative impact on Vietnamese domestic production but also puts Vietnamese consumers at risk when smuggled goods are toxic and harmful to people’s health.

Another vulnerability is Vietnam’s perennial trade deficit with China, amounting to US$5.4 billion out of the country’s total trade deficit of US$7.5 billion in the first half of 2011. China has also emerged as Vietnam’s largest source of imports, accounting for almost a quarter of its import turnover in 2010. Vietnam is heavily dependent on China for input materials for some of its major export industries, while Vietnam’s exports to China are just a minuscule portion of China’s total imports. Should China discontinue trade with Vietnam for some reason, the damage to Vietnam’s economy would be immense.

Another concern is that Chinese companies have won up to 90 per cent of EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contracts for Vietnam’s major industrial projects, especially those of coal-fired power plants. Chinese contractors are favoured as they offer cheap technology and promise to help arrange financial funding from Chinese banks.

But although these projects appear to be cheap Vietnam in fact pays dearly. First, cheap technology usually is more polluting. Reports suggest some technologies offered by Chinese companies were discontinued or banned by China since 2005. Second, Chinese contractors’ technical capabilities are limited, causing projects to be delayed. Even when the projects are completed on time, shoddy construction often leaves project owners with expensive maintenance bills. Third, as Chinese contractors refuse to use locally available products, instead importing everything from China, Vietnam’s trade deficit with China soars. Chinese contractors are even illegally bringing in Chinese labourers at the expense of Vietnamese workers, provoking public outrage in Vietnam.

Another recently-exposed economic vulnerability for Vietnam relates to Chinese merchants buying massive quantities of Vietnamese agricultural products. This caused food prices to surge in Vietnam, and, despite the government’s desperate efforts to curb inflation, prices climbed by 20.8 per cent in June 2011.

Yet Vietnam seems to have few options for dealing with the economic vulnerabilities it faces over China. On the one hand, any possible reaction will likely be constrained by Vietnam now having to observe international trade and investment rules, as Vietnam acceded to the WTO in early 2007. On the other hand, Vietnam hopes that growing (though asymmetrical) economic interdependence will help to reduce the possibility of China taking militarily aggressive action against Vietnam, especially in the South China Sea. And, despite the drawbacks, Vietnamese businesses still find it much cheaper and more convenient to work with its looming neighbour than with other partners.

As a result, Vietnam continues to actively do business with China, especially given the allures of its northern neighbour’s booming economy. But, as an old Vietnamese saying goes, honey kills flies. The lesson here is that it is essential Vietnam stay fully aware of China’s potential threat; it must develop strategies to at least neutralise the economic aspects of the tyranny of geography the country increasingly suffers from.

Le Hong Hiep is a lecturer at the Faculty of International Relations, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City, and is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of NewSouth Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy.

A version of this article was originally published here by the The Diplomat.

China Analysis: The new Great Game in Central Asia

China has set its sights on Central Asia, triggering a new Great Game in a region where Europe, Russia and the US have all long sought influence.

As the five Central Asian states become increasingly important as a source of oil and gas, a market for consumer goods and as the core of the strategically-important Shanghai Cooperation Organization,China is now “clearly confident it can reorient Central Asia towards Beijing” and away from the world’s other major powers.

China Analysis: The new Great Game in Central Asia, published today by the European Council on Foreign Relations and Asia Centre, explores these issues by analysing the evolving debates among experts within China itself. The authors argue that the EU should closely watch Chinese policy in Central Asia – the region is becoming “almost a laboratory for Chinese foreign policy.”

Key themes that emerge include:

  • China increasingly sees the five states of central Asia – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – as an important destination for investment and aid that could in turn leverage influence. It is positioning itself as a “good neighbour” to the region: Hu Jintao has made three trips there since 2009.
  • Beijing also sees the region as a source of fuel that could reduce Beijing’s risky dependence on maritime routes. Chinese analysts predict that Central Asia will be central in the “battle for resources” between the major powers.
  • The SCO is seen in China as a hedge against Western demands; some analysts hope it will become a quasi-military alliance that could veto a UN-based intervention in the region and carry out its own security actions, including against future terrorist threats.
  • China wants the Central Asian states to take a more active part in its fight against Uighur separatist movements

Key facts:

  • China overtook Europe as Central Asia’s principal trading partner in 2010, doing €23 billion of trade with the region’s five states compared with Europe’s €21bn
  • Over 10 percent of China’s oil and gas imports now come from Central Asia
  • Current members of the SCO are China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan: some Chinese analysts hope that both India and Pakistan will join in the medium-term

Download China Analysis: The new Great Game in Central Asia here

Visit ECFR China Programme page here

You can also subscribe to receive a French-language version by emailing Asia Centre at:chinaanalysis@centreasia.eu


America’s year, our decade

Saturday, 10 September 2011 00:17
ASHOK MALIK

After 9/11, the NY armoury's walls were plastered with victims' photos. It was hard not to cry.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/pioneer-news/edit/5184-americas-year-our-decade.html

In the summer of 2001 I reached the United States for a four-month fellowship programme. Almost instantly I was introduced to Congressman Gary Condit. It was difficult to miss him. A Democratic legislator from California, he had been accused of an extramarital relationship with Chandra Levy, an intern half his age who had subsequently gone missing. There was the usual outrage, the simulated frenzy, the calls for impeachment and loud questions about whether Mr Condit would stand for re-election. TheWall Street Journal even carried an editorial on Chandra’s “Sanskrit name”.
Mr Condit was beginning to bore me. Unfortunately channel surfing, from Fox to CNN to NBC to Whatyamacallit TV, had become a habit. One morning in Chicago, it led me to turn on the television while I was brushing my teeth. What I saw changed my day, America’s year and our decade September 11 was crazy. The orderly certitude of a First World society was sucked into the whirlpool of imponderables that so many of us Indians call home. I didn’t need a boss barking orders on the telephone to figure out I had to get to New York and pronto. I called airports, airline offices, bus service companies, Amtrak train stations, car rental agencies. It was all to no avail. New York was tottering; the rest of America was at a standstill.
As I drove through the suddenly empty, suddenly silent streets of midday Chicago — “Everybody’s home, watching television” mumbled an associate — about the only engines whirring were those of US Air Force fighter aircraft patrolling the skies overhead.
America was shaken — but it was also stirred. In the days that followed all across the country Americans were waving the flag, flying it outside their homes, on their cars, wearing scarves depicting the Stars and Stripes. About the only comparable fast-moving commodities were maps and books on Afghanistan. As a store owner in Washington, DC put it, “Everything on Afghanistan is gone. There’s absolutely nothing left.”
Quoting Franklin Roosevelt from World War II, President George W Bush spoke of the “warm current of national unity”. For a man who till two weeks earlier had been seen as a struggling leader, Mr Bush seemed a new man. A USA Today-CNN Gallup poll conducted on September 10 gave Mr Bush a 51 per cent approval rating. By September 17, the figure had climbed to 86 per cent.
An astounding 88 per cent wanted retaliation against the terrorists. You didn’t have to wait for the polls to figure that out. You could see it as you drove down the highways, passing dusty trucks with only one word painted on them: “Revenge”.
It was also a time of new prejudices for old. Joe Spaulding, a fast-talking taxi driver in Chicago, was a little befuddled when his South Asian and West Asian colleagues parked their cars on September 11, fearing trouble or, at the very least, rude customers. They were back on the road the next day but not before Spaulding had had an experience that, despite New York, left him chuckling.
“I’m a Black man,” Spaulding explained to me, seated behind him in his taxi, on the afternoon of 9/11, “and in my time White folks have done some pretty unfair things to my people. So it struck me as funny when a White woman climbed into my cab this morning and exclaimed ‘Thank god it’s you and not one of those foreigners’.”
Exactly a week later, I did finally get to New York. Either La Guardia airport had half-a-dozen passengers around or I had lost the ability to count. The streets of New York seemed busy enough, even if the first hotel I walked into had every single room free.
I went to the still smouldering remains of the World Trade Center. Perhaps it was the cynicism that is every Indian reporter’s lot, perhaps it was simply many hours of television viewing. Whatever it was, as I stared into and smelt the acrid emptiness that was once the Twin Towers, I didn’t feel the horror, the passion, the emotion I had thought I would. I took a train to Midtown Manhattan, still coming to terms with what I’d seen but hadn’t felt. A friend advised me to go to the New York State Armoury on Lexington Avenue, where “families of victims hang around”.
In many ways, the armoury had become a shrine for a grieving city. Pasted on its walls were pictures of the missing, with a name, a description, a phone number and an anguished family’s message. I saw one picture and moved to the next, I saw the second and moved to the third, the fourth, fifth, 500th, 2,000th. They just didn’t stop. There were all sorts of faces, ethnicities, nationalities. It was difficult not to cry. In death as in life, New York had established itself as the world city.
India’s perennially paranoid intelligentsia didn’t see it that way. Nor did its kindred souls in New York’s hyperactive NRI NGO circuit, dominated, I couldn’t help but note, by old Calcuttans like this writer. There were stories of racial crimes against Indians and others. I was asked to find the evidence. I’m afraid I failed. Coming from a country that often pretends the Sikh pogrom of November 1984 never happened, it was difficult not to be impressed by America.
A judge unilaterally postponed the trial of a Black Muslim — for a crime completely unrelated to 9/11 — because she felt the jury wouldn’t be fair. Just after Balbir Singh Sodhi was killed at his gas station in Mesa, Arizona, a Sikh friend of mine working in New York was stopped on the streets of Manhattan by a wizened White woman. “Are you a Seekh?” she demanded. Our man nodded. “"Well,” came the mellowed response, “I’m sorry for what my people are doing to your people. Please don’t worry.”
A few weeks later, I flew out of America. The easy-going society I had landed in was now at war. Anthrax had replaced higher taxes as Public Fear Number 1. An unsure President had become a steely Commander-in-Chief. “The new normal” was a phrase one heard over and over again.
Postscript: Two months later, as the ‘Year that Changed the World’ began its final countdown and as the last of the Taliban’s bastions fell, a friend from Minnesota sent me an e-mail captioned: ‘Earth-shaking news from America’. “Gary Condit has filed for re-election,” he said, “with just 45 minutes to go for nominations. I just thought you’d like to know.”
For the first time in many weeks, I thought of America and laughed.
malikashok@gmail.com

Events leading upto 9/11

As we mourn the tragic loss of innocent lives lost on 9/11/01, it is imperative that American citizens continue to demand full, complete and honest disclosure from our government of events leading upto 9/11. That we continue to mollycoddle Pakistan after decades of proven chicanery is detestable!

1. July 14, 1999: US government informant Randy Glass records a conversation between some illegal arms dealers and ISI agents, held at a restaurant within view of the WTC. An ISI agent points to the WTC and says, "Those towers are coming down." Glass passes these warnings on, but he claims "The complaints were ordered sanitized by the highest levels of government." [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02, New York Observer, 10/1/01, Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] (I think the ISI agent(s) referred to is R.G. Abbas).

2. September 6, 2001: Antoinette DiLorenzo, teaching English to a class of Pakistani immigrants, asks a student gazing out the window, "What are you looking at?" The student points towards the WTC and says: "Do you see those two buildings? They won't be standing there next week." At the time, nothing was thought of it, but on September 13 the FBI interviews all the people in the classroom and confirms the event.

http://www.wanttoknow.info/9-11timeline60pg

(I may have missed it, but the wantoknowlink above does not mention ISI chief hobnobbing with CIA officials on Sept. 10/11th in D.C.; and alleged transfer of large sums of money to Md. Atta by the ISI chief.)

3. The National Security Archive: Documents Detail Years of Pakistani Support for Taliban, Extremists http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB227/index.htm#15

In rememberence,

Reggie Sinha

The Bloody War for Southern Thailand

Islamist separatists clash with Thai Army as Buddhists, Muslims die

http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3720&Itemid=392

Written by Richard S. Ehrlich
WEDNESDAY, 07 SEPTEMBER 2011

Each morning, Buddhist monks wrap themselves in saffron-colored robes and silently stroll, collecting alms in Thailand's three southern provinces while a phalanx of troops armed with assault rifles walk alongside, protecting them from Islamist assassins.

Buddhist and anti-separatist Muslim teachers suffer a similar deadly fate in the south, despite military escorts to and from campus, armed soldiers posted inside classrooms, and official permission for every teacher to carry a gun. In the grim struggle, which escalated in 2004, more than 4,700 people on all sides -- Buddhists and Muslims -- have been killed plus 9,000 injured.

On Sept. 6, suspected Islamist guerrillas shot dead a school teacher, poured gasoline on his body and set him on fire in Yala province, Police Lt. Col. Krisanapong Paetsith said after shocked villagers discovered the corpse in flames on the side of a road. The teacher had been executed with a bullet to the head. He had been riding his motorcycle, which lay abandoned nearby, after helping students in an academic contest.

The military has also set up fortified outposts along the graceful walls of Buddhist temples in the south to safeguard monks and worshippers amid shrines and statues of the Buddha, where troops also detain suspects for questioning. But often the military is thwarted, as on Aug. 23, when an improvised explosive device injured one monk, nine soldiers and three civilians in Pattani province, despite 15 soldiers escorting the monks and young novices returning to their temple, police said. The remote-controlled bomb was hidden in a five-kilogram cooking gas cylinder in an untended pushcart, which had been used to sell fried chicken. The same day, in neighboring Yala province, a bomb at a bridge killed two paramilitary rangers on a motorcycle.

Muslim guerrillas bomb, shoot, stab and behead government officials, teachers, moderate Muslims, rubber plantation workers, shopkeepers, restaurant owners, hoteliers, businessmen, Buddhist monks, worshippers and others to force an exodus of residents who oppose the Islamists' demands for autonomy or independence in the south. But on the other side, army and police in the mountainous jungle region unleash their assaults with mixed results, amid documented reports of extrajudicial killings, torture, kidnapping, wrongful imprisonment and other human rights violations.

In July, a court ordered the army, defense ministry and police to pay US$175,000 to the family of a Muslim religious teacher who was killed in military custody while undergoing violent interrogation for two days in 2008. Yapa Koseng, 56, had been arrested for suspected links to the guerrillas, but the court ruled the imam was not involved with the insurgency.

Thailand's new Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was elected on July 3, now faces a seemingly intractable war. The violence is mostly confined to the three southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat where ethnic Malay-Thai Muslims comprise a 95 percent majority of the region's 1.7 million population along Thailand's border with Muslim-majority Malaysia.

Politicians and the military denounce the Islamist guerrillas as greedy and corrupt Muslims, allied to criminal gangs, who want to terrorize Buddhists and Muslims, seize their property, and create anarchy so they can smuggle drugs, weapons and other black market items.

"Those who subscribe to a true separatist ideology make up only 20 percent of the insurgents. The rest are drug traffickers and oil smugglers who stage insurgent violence," said Lt. Gen. Udomchai Thammasarorat, the army chief in charge of the military's assaults in the south. "Every time they deliver drugs, they will plant bombs to divert the authorities' attention," he said in August.

Independent analysts, however, say the Islamists want political, ideological and economic control over the region's profitable rubber plantations, coastal fishing industry and other natural resources, and to dominate the population under sharia law.

To avoid discovery, the guerrillas keep themselves hidden, do not identify any leader or spokesman, and do not claim credit for successful attacks except for occasionally scattering printed warnings about their vengeance.

Investigators link most attacks to the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate (BRN-C), or National Revolutionary Front-Coordinate, which is rooted in the pan-Arab Islam of the 1960s. The BRN-C appears to use mosques and Muslim "pondok" schools to spread a fundamentalist Islamic doctrine, and operates a village-based cell structure to ensure confidentiality which has enabled it to become the Thai military's most difficult and deadly enemy.

Another group, the Pattani United Liberation Organization (PULO), was founded in 1968 but now has its main spokesman Kasturi Mahkota based in Sweden. Critics say PULO has no control over the south's new generation of increasingly hard-line Islamist guerrillas.

Rival groups have also staged attacks, but have grown weaker over the past two decades due to arrests, deaths, defections and splits. Graffiti and pamphlets by various Islamists herald the revival of an independent Pattani, which they describe as a prosperous Malay sultanate before it was invaded in 1786 by northern Buddhists.

In 1909, British colonialists arranged for the territory to be annexed by Bangkok, which curbed the Muslims from emphasizing their Malay dialect and history, and boosted the use of Thai language and a sanitized, nationalistic storyline. But the dream of a "liberated" Pattani has not disappeared. When an appeals court on July 27 upheld a life sentence for rebellion against an Islamist guerrilla, Rosdi Mayama, it said he was terrorizing southerners to create an independent Pattani nation. Prosecutors said Rosdi organized rebels to bomb targets and execute informants.

Some Malay-Thai insurgents fought in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and chaotic aftermath of the 1990s, while some Muslim clergy were influenced by a puritanical Salafi or Wahhabi theology, which dates back to Islam's earliest followers and remains inspirational in some Arab nations.

Other Malay-Thai rebels have loose links with guerrillas in neighboring Indonesia and the Philippines. But US and independent investigators have not found any major relationship with al Qaeda or other foreign-based jihadists, and describe Thailand's war as home-grown and localized mostly to the south.

The army insists its 60,000 troops in the south have whittled the rebels to less than 5,000 fighters, but the guerrillas seemingly attack at will -- often several times a week -- and usually escape.

Thailand's senior generals meanwhile are more often focused on the disastrous ramifications of their opportunistic 2006 coup and ensuring military promotions, lucrative procurement contracts, and legal immunity for their actions in the south and elsewhere, despite the war's urgency.

The U.S., however, has been warning of Bangkok's mistreatment of southern Muslims.

"Apart from a distinct regional identity based on the historical Kingdom of Pattani, the southern insurgency is fueled by a communal sense of grievance based on an overall lack of justice," the U.S. Embassy wrote in a March 20, 2009 confidential cable to Washington released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

"The police and judiciary have historically been part of the problem in the deep south," said the cable, signed by then-U.S. Ambassador Eric John. "Corrupt and abusive police units, coupled with a weak and opaque judicial system, have inflamed the long-standing animosity of majority Malay-Muslim population towards the central government. As these institutions have exacerbated the problems in the South, their reform is crucial to any RTG [Royal Thai government] effort end the violence," it said.

"We have a guidance in the embassy: 'No boots on the ground in the south.' That means no military people down there," said Randall D. Bennett, Senior Regional Security Officer at the American Embassy in Bangkok in a rare public description of U.S. government anti-terrorist activity in the south.

"If we go, we go down without profile. We go down from point A to point B. We don't wander around. It's kind of an invisible presence," Mr. Bennett said in a news conference last year.

When Thailand's military invited him to the southern war zone, "I went straight to Hat Yai, they flew me into the Yala base, and I met with the senior command, and we had a lot of good discussions about terrorism and ways that you can win people over," Mr. Bennett said.

"We have a program called the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, where we provide about 12 courses, every year, to royal Thai police and royal Thai government officials in a wide range of topics that typically are somehow anti-terrorism related."

That program is officially known as Diplomatic Security Anti-Terrorist Training and includes "training in intelligence, VIP protection, canine operations, small arms, and similar subjects," according to the 2009 U.S. Embassy cable.

During 2009 and 2010, "I think we've had about 30 courses. So we bring a lot of the southern force people up here, the leaders, the commanders, and we train them here, and then they go back," Mr. Bennett said.

"We are very concerned, we are very interested, but this is an internal insurgency."

Is It Time for America to Harden Its Asian Alliances?

Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011
Chinese fighter jets take part in an international fleet review to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy in Qingdao, Shandong province on April 23, 2009.
Chinese fighter jets take part in an international fleet review to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy in Qingdao, Shandong province on April 23, 2009. (Guang Niu/Courtesy of Reuters)
Anyone who needs convincing that China’s military trajectory is cause for alarm should take a look at “Asian Alliances in the 21st Century,” a new report co-authored by several well-known Asia security experts, including Dan Blumenthal, Randall Schriver, Mark Stokes, L.C. Russell Hsiao and Michael Mazza. The report details the rapid modernization of China’s military capabilities and claims that Beijing is interested neither in benign hegemonic rule nor in helping Washington address global challenges. Rather, China’s leaders are ultimately concerned only with maintaining their power and expanding their maritime reach.
The thrust of the report has merit. China’s assertiveness in the East and South China Seas, as well as its increasingly unattractive foreign policy rhetoric, gives significant reason for concern and little reason for optimism about China’s real interest in strengthening regional security cooperation in the near term.
There are no shades of gray in the report, however, and the lack of nuance can be disconcerting. Oddly enough, it may even lead the authors to be a bit too optimistic. In the “what do we do about it” section, for example, the report calls for a far more deeply integrated U.S.-led alliance system in Asia. This proposal, however, raises a few additional issues that the report does not fully address.
First, in recommending that the United States weave together a more cohesive military alliance in Asia, the authors seem to assume that given the necessary political and economic will on the part of the United States, the allies will be ready to jump on board. Maybe the authors are right, but for the most part, countries in Asia—even the United States’ closest allies—see their economic future with China and the United States as their security blanket. It’s not clear to me that absent a truly significant provocation by Chinese military forces, these countries will be willing to upset their economic apple carts.
Second, before the United States begins developing, transferring, and selling its advanced military technology throughout the region, as the report proposes, it may be worth thinking about the fickle nature of global politics. A number of countries in Asia hold joint military exercises of one form or another with China as well as with the United States — perhaps the authors might suggest a few safeguards against inadvertent or deliberate sharing of technology.
Finally, I think that there is an intermediate step that the United States should take before completely slamming the door on potential military to military cooperation with China. While the U.S. military on its own has not been able to get the PLA to the table in a meaningful manner, the region as a whole may have more success. Collective action has proved useful with China in areas such as climate change and trade; there is no reason not to give it a chance now. The United States and the region’s other central military players need to send a unified message to China that they want a legitimate effort from Beijing to sit down to negotiate the rules of the road—or the sea in this case—otherwise China will face the “Asian Alliance in the 21stcentury”.
The report is certain to raise other questions as well. Foreign Policy columnist James Traub, in his commentary on the report, for example, worries that painting China as an enemy may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fair enough, but he may also want to consider, as the report suggests, that it more and more looks like the painting is of China’s own design.

September 09, 2011

AN OPEN LETTER TO FAREED ZAKARIA : INDIA’S COUNTER-TERRORISM RECORD

B.RAMAN

Dear Mr.FareedZakaria,

I read with considerable interest extracts from your interview to the CNN-IBN on counter-terrorism in which, interalia, you have compared the track record of the Indian counter-terrorism community with that of the US.

2. Rediff.com has reported on your CNN-IBN interview as follows: “

“ When looking at the capacity and talents of intelligence agencies around the world, I don't think anyone has spoken highly about the Indian intelligence agencies.

“As a matter of reporting, India's counter-terrorism operations are not regarded very high. This is an area India has not focused on a great deal.

“India has not done good because as it has a large Muslim population, but again India's police force is pathetic. Look at Mumbai -- India's police force is not a police force -- it is a patronage job that is given to people to support communities, they don't know how to police.”

3. Before I comment substantively on your observations, I must introduce myself: I was an officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS). I joined the IPS in 1961 and retired in August,1994, after having served for about four years in the Madhya Pradesh Police, one year in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) of the Government of India and 26 years in the Research & Analysis Wing ( R&AW), India’s external intelligence agency. When I was in service, the R&AW had two divisions dealing with terrorism----one with indigenous terrorism --- what many now call home-grown terrorism--- and the other with international terrorism. I headed the Division dealing with indigenous terrorism from 1981 to 1985 and headed both the Divisions from 1988 till my retirement in 1994. Between 1991 and 1994, I used to wear a second hat as the head of the division responsible for intelligence liaison with foreign intelligence agencies. In that capacity, I had interacted closely with the intelligence agencies of the US and the UK----particularly in matters relating to counter-terrorism.”

4. The Indian track-record in counter-terrorism is not one of abysmal failure. We have had remarkable success stories particularly against Khalistani terrorism in Punjab and against the terrorism of Al Umma in Tamil Nadu. In both these instances, it was the local police force which led the counter-terrorism operations and won final victory despite all the handicaps suffered by it. In Jammu and Kashmir too--- though final victory has not yet been won--- the Indian counter-terrorism forces led by the Army have succeeded remarkably in bringing what we call cross-border terrorism under control.

5. The poor track-record of the Indian counter-terrorism community has been mainly against jihadi terrorism in North India.

6. We have had instances of jihadi terrorism in the South too in places such as Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh and Bengaluru. In the 1990s, we had the Al Umma phenomenon in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

7.The police in South India has generally done better against terrorism emanating from the Muslim community than the Police in North/West India because the political class and the media in the South have generally refrained from demonising the Police and the intelligence agencies whenever they have acted against Muslims who have taken to terrorism. The Police in the South has, therefore, the confidence that it can do whatever is legally permissible in order to bring terrorism involving the participation of some Muslims under control.

8. Thankfully, in the South, there has been no politicisation till now of counter-terrorism which affected some members of the Muslim community. Unfortunately, there was politicisation of counter-terrorism directed against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). We paid a heavy price for it in May 1991, when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the LTTE in Chennai. Since then, this politicisation too has come down.

9. In North and West India, the admittedly poor record of the counter-terrorism community against jihadi terrorism---whether of the home-grown or Pakistani variety--- has been considerably due to the reluctance of the political class to act against the terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan and its equal reluctance to act against those members of the Muslim community who take to terrorism.

10. It is very unfair on your part to have compared the track-record of the Indian counter-terrorism community with that of the US. Many things which are permitted against Muslims in the US will not be permitted in India and we in the counter-terrorism community feel should not be permitted by the political leadership. Examples of what we in India do not do and will never do are:

· Treating a Muslim as a suspect by virtue of his religion and appearance unless proved otherwise. Shah Rukh Khan, the famous Indian film actor, was treated as a suspect in the US. Such things will not happen in India.

· Treating jihadi suspects as “war criminals” and keeping them in a military camp (Guantanamo Bay) and subjecting them to trials by military tribunals.

· Use of air strikes against terrorists and their sanctuaries, killing a large number of innocent Muslims. Since India became independent in 1947, we have used the Air Force only once in Mizoram in 1966 when the Mizo insurgents over-ran almost the entire State.

· The so-called rendition flights by which the US counter-terrorism agencies kept flying Muslim suspects arrested abroad from country to country in order to avoid having to produce them before a court of law.

· The extraordinary methods of torture sanctified by the US Justice department that were used against Muslim suspects---whether in Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere.

11. I am proud to say that neither the Indian political class nor the Indian counter-terrorism community would ever think of resorting to such diabolical methods. Even if we thought of them, the Indian media would have been the first to start a campaign against them.

12.Mr.Zakaria, how many of you in the US media world raised your voice against these methods when these were being used in the years after 9/11. Did you raise your voice against them, Mr.Zakaria? You all believed that any method is a good method against Muslim suspects till Al Qaeda is brought under control.

13. We have a self-denying counter-terrorism policy. We consciously deny to ourselves many practices which you in the US permit to yourselves in your counter-terrorism against Muslim suspects. We are proud of such self-denying provisions in our counter-terrorism policy.

14.One last point, I should make. India is next door neighbour to Pakistan. Much of our jihadi terrorism emanates from Pakistan. The US is thousands of KMs away from Pakistan. We face a terrorist threat from Pakistan every day. You face a threat sporadically. And yet, the kind of methods that you have used against Pakistan we have never used. We fight against terrorism emanating from Pakistan with one hand tied in the back.

15. It is not only because our political leadership will not permit it, but it is also because of the hypocrisy of the US Government which will use any methods against Pakistan in order to protect the US Homeland and American lives, but never hesitates to come in the way of India following a similar policy to protect the Indian Homeland and Indian lives.

With regards,

B.Raman

Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com. Twitter” @SORBONNE75 .

Mr.FareedZakaria,

Editor-at-large,

Time Magazine,

New York