November 25, 2011

Secopex : French freemasons have set up a lodge in memory of Pierre Marziali

French freemasons have set up a lodge in memory of Pierre Marziali, the boss of the private military company Secopex who died in Benghazi in May.



Rest in peace to the fallen and my heart goes out to the family and friends of Pierre. I had no idea that Secopex was operating in Libya, and this is pretty big news for a couple of reasons.
The first is if this was an intentional targeting, the objective is pretty clear. By killing the CEO of a major PMC in country, this brings great attention to the fact that the west is now using it’s own version of ‘mercenaries’ or PSC’s in Libya to do their bidding. There was great outrage in the beginning of this conflict by the west/media that Ghaddafi would actually contract with private forces, and yet here is the west doing the same thing. It is a killing that reflects the hypocrisy.
I guess this incident happened at a police check point and the others in the party were arrested as well. There is no telling what will happen to them, and they might be used as political pawns in a media game that Ghaddafi could play. For those familiar with Iraq or Afghanistan warfare, the insurgencies have used fake police check points as a means to do all sorts of nasty things. I have no doubt that similar tactics will continue to happen in Libya as a tool of whatever side in the conflict.
Another thought that came to mind is that I wonder if one of Ghaddafi’s mercenaries actually thought this one up as a strategy? Could this be a case of PMC versus PMC or private forces versus private forces in Libya? Who knows, but if the west plans on using private force in Libya, the possibility exists that you could have PMC’s/PSC’s battling one another in one form or another.
I am also curious as to what are the services that France’s largest PMC was going to provide in Libya other than basic security stuff? And why was the CEO on the ground involved with this activity? To give a comparable US example, this would be like the CEO of DynCorp getting killed in Libya. So if you have the CEO on the ground in a madhouse like Libya, then I imagine that there was some very interesting planning and advising going on.
Although at this time, I haven’t a clue as to exactly the kind of services Secopex was providing and I am sure the story will develop as more details come out. If the company or anyone familiar with this story would like to provide more details in the comments or in private, please feel free to do so. -Matt
Edit: 5/18/2011 – Here is the official statement from Secopex about Pierre’s death.
Mr. Marziali was in Benghazi for the creation of a branch office destined to provide close protection services. The circumstances of his death remain unknown at this time.
The other members of the company with him are currently being held by the rebellion. The Quai D’Orsay expects their liberation within the following days. We do not know the reason for their arrest.
We will respond to the insulting and libelous allegations in due course.
Mr. Marziali’s served his country for twenty five years. Until his death he worked in respect of the laws of the Republic. He was a man of honor.

On a dark night in May, five employees of a prominent French private security company left a restaurant in the Libyan revolutionary capitol of Benghazi. Before they could return to their hotel, they were accosted by a group of armed rebels. As their colleagues explain it, they had little reason to believe there would be trouble: In the morning, the guards had an appointment with representatives of the rebel government to discuss a contract about securing a crucial material transit route from Cairo.

Very little about what happened next is clear. But one stark, bloody fact remains. Moments later, the rebels shot dead Pierre Marziali, a French ex-paratrooper who founded the security company, Secopex.

‘Allegations of espionage are totally unfounded.’

But this was no random hit by unruly gunmen who happened to wave the banner of opposition to Moammar Gadhafi. The Libyan opposition government quickly took Marziali’s men into custody, even though they were citizens of France, one of “Free Benghazi’s” most important foreign benefactors.

An official statement issued on May 11 accused the security contractors of “illicit activities that jeopardized the security of free Libya.” A promised investigation would determine if they were “spies hired by the Gadhafi regime.”

The curious incident made headlines — briefly. Then it faded away, a murky incident in a confusing war. Secopex has said next to nothing about the incident publicly — until now. Karen Wallier, a Secopex representative, told Danger Room that she herself “do[es] not have all of the answers” to what happened that night. But she said that the Secopex team “made no resistance” to the gunmen before Marziali was shot.

“The circumstances of his death were accidental,” Wallier added. “Allegations of espionage are totally unfounded.”

It is unclear if the Libyan government still believes Secopex spied for Gadhafi. But some in the private security business remain suspicious.

The Libyan rebel leadership has taken many steps in recent weeks to dispel the western suspicion, widespread when the uprising began in February, that the rebels are a shadowy band of unsavory characters. Since capturing most of Tripoli on Sunday, they’ve sounded notes about amnesty for former Gadhafi loyalists and pledged to retain most government bureaucrats.

But the May killing of the security guards is a big reminder that there is much the west does not know about the post-Gadhafi Libyan leadership — and the bands of private mercenaries that made their way to Libya to cash in on the revolution. Was Marziali, pictured above, and his Secopex guards casualties of the fog of war? Did Secopex in fact have any connection to the Gadhafi regime?

‘Secopex’s story didn’t hold water at all.’

Paris might have been expected to fight for the Secopex employees. It might have been expected to condemn Marziali’s killing. Instead, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, a key supporter of the rebels, declaimed any official links with Secopex.

“Those companies are private, as you’ve said: in other words, they have no relations with the public or in particular the French government,” he told a reporter on June 1, weeks after the killing. For good measure, Juppe referred to “reprehensible” activities taken “all over the place” by private security contractors.

By then, Marziali’s four employees had been freed and unceremoniously sent back to France. What they spent their time in Libya doing remains a mystery.

Secopex may not be familiar in the United States, but it’s one of France’s leading private military companies, one that industry observers compare to U.S. security giant DynCorp. Founded in 2003 by Marziali, a charismatic ex-paratrooper, the company got a brief burst of Anglophone attention in 2008, when it sought to station armed guards aboard commercial ships to protect them from Somali pirates — an idea that proved farsighted. Marziali even boasted of having a contract with Somalia’s interim government to build it an anti-pirate coast guard.

Secopex hasn’t said much about the killing or the detention. Its website announces that the company hasshut down operations until September. But its representative, Wallier, agreed to answer Danger Room’s questions — or some of them, at least.

According to Wallier, the Secopex team had been in Benghazi “for several weeks making contacts.” (That account was confirmed by another industry source who requested anonymity.) It scrounged a meeting with the Transitional National Council to pitch its services protecting the Cairo-Benghazi route. The meeting, scheduled for May 12, was important enough for Marziali to personally oversee it. He arrived in Benghazi on May 11 — the same day he died.

But Wallier did not address one of the biggest points of dispute with the Libyan government: whether Secopex met with any members of Gadhafi’s government.

According to the industry source — whose business interests are not in conflict with Secopex’s — the rebels who stopped the Secopex team discovered their passports had Tripoli entry stamps.

“When asked to explain how they got to Tripoli and what they did, they said they had been on a [security] detail for communications businessmen, but yes, they were in contact with Gadhafi intelligence and that they were asked to establish communications to supporters in Benghazi,” the source told Danger Room. “They claimed they refused the offer but could not explain how they got through the battle lines…. I think they were dirty. Their story didn’t hold water at all.”

Wallier did not respond to Danger Room’s questions about alleged Secopex interaction with Gadhafi intelligence; rumored interaction on behalf of “communications businessmen”; or possible entry into Tripoli. Nor did she respond to a request to interview the surviving Secopex guards.

‘Secopex’s story didn’t hold water at all.’

Shortly after the deadly incident, the Transitional National Council pledged to conduct an inquiry into those allegations. But it is unclear if any such inquiry exists. Several efforts at contacting representatives for the interim Libyan government proved unsuccessful.

One thing is not in dispute: Ten days after the Secopex guards were taken into custody, the Libyans released them without charge, sending them back to France. Outside of Secopex, the incident has been all but forgotten.

Forgotten, perhaps, but not resolved. It could be argued that after the initial shooting, the Libyan rebel government acted responsibly by releasing the Secopex guards without charge, instead of keeping them detained. But if their release is an implicit admission of error, the Transitional National Council has never owned up to it — nor apologized to Secopex, France and Marziali’s family. Will that be the style in which it governs Libya?

By the same token, Secopex hasn’t fully explained what it was doing in Libya, a country that has become awash in private security firms and mercenaries. And with Gadhafi still on the loose and NATO sending mixed signals on putting peacekeepers into a wealthy country, it’s unlikely that private security firms are done with Libya.

But for now, Secopex is. “Mr. Marziali was a man of honor, having served his country for 25 years. He would not have worked against French interests,” Wallier said. “Under the circumstances, Secopex will not be returning to Libya.”

Photo: France 3

US entering plea bargain with Headley suspicious: Pillai

November 25, 2011 21:47 IST

On the eve of third anniversary of 26/11 Mumbai [ Images ] attacks, former home secretary G K Pillai on Friday accused the United States of entering into plea bargain with one of the key accused David Headley [ Images ] without taking India [ Images ] into confidence.

Pillai questioned the motive behind the US entering into the plea bargain with Pakistani-American Headley, who did a recce of the 26/11 targets for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba [ Images ], which carried out the attack three years ago.

"I think the very fact that a person who is so closely involved in 26/11 attacks, once arrested, the Americans went into a plea bargain without informing us. One of the conditions was he would not be extradited to India. So we would like to suspect the motive behind the plea bargain itself," he told the media in New Delhi [ Images ].

Pillai said the circumstances in which Headley traveled into India, then Pakistan and then to the United States eight or nine times, it should have raised the alarm in America.

"Besides, the (his) first wife and the second wife all said that he was involved in terror activities -- no action has taken. We have raised these issues but the Americans, I think, were in total denials of these," he said.

The retired bureaucrat said the US was yet to share with India lots of information about Headley which include

information about his passport,
information about his bank accounts,
information about complaints, reports and explanation given by his second wife

India's great fear? The Outsider!

November 25, 2011 11:25 IST

The Indian middle class has largely moved away from its old, irrational fears of the West. Why, then, is the New Delhi Establishment still extremely sceptical of 'outsiders.' There is little political appetite in India for more open conversations with the world, says Rohit Pradhan.

For a long time in post-Independent India, the political and intellectual discourse was dominated by the fear of 'outsiders' -- an euphemism for the economically and culturally powerful West. India may have been desperately poor with life a constant struggle for its teeming millions, but the omniscient foreign forces were always around to thwart her rise.

Most memorably, perhaps, then prime minister Indira Gandhi [ Images ] detected the fiendishly clever 'foreign hand' in almost every unfortunate event which blighted this ancient land. Charges of being on the CIA's payroll were levelled regularly at political opponents while the guardians of intellectual citadels zealously guarded their fiefdoms from those tainted by their association with the West. But in a nation still wounded by her long association with colonialism, the inherent distrust of the West and her agencies then was perhaps understandable.

India is, of course, very different now. Economics reforms have unleashed the latent entrepreneurial talents of Indians while the forces of globalisation and the attendant technological advances have provided her with access to rich markets in the West. Consistently in global surveys, India is one country where the US scores the highest approval ratings while Western cultural norms are at least superficially dominant in her cities. India's rising economic status, her soft power and status as the world's largest democracy ensure her mostly favourable press coverage in the West.

But as the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. While the Indian middle class has largely moved away from its old irrational fears of the West, the New Delhi Establishment still remains extremely sceptical of 'outsiders.'

Take visiting research scholars, for instance. It has been well documented in the media how the Indian government has created multiple hurdles for visiting Fulbright scholars -- repeatedly delaying their visa on frivolous grounds. Similarly, the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology are still not allowed to hire foreign nationals as permanent faculty. While the government claims to be moving towards a more welcoming system, it remains notoriously unreceptive to foreign scholarship.
Apparently, the lack of openness is justified in the name of security. While minimum regulations may be necessary in some rare cases, it is obvious that paranoia will not serve larger Indian interests. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] has often argued that India must eventually evolve into a knowledge-based economy. If this worthy goal is to be achieved, then Indian universities and research facilities must build institutional capacity and collaborate closely with foreign universities and researchers.

In any case, in the Internet era, the state can hardly control the free dissemination of ideas; the government's attitude only antagonises foreign scholars.

But why blame only the leviathan Indian bureaucracy? A recent story in the weekly magazine, Outlook, on foreign agencies who are funding Indian research and policy bodies begins thus: 'Should NGOs receiving grants from international agencies like the Ford [ Images ] Foundation and others be barred from participating in the shaping of public policy?'

Now, it is entirely unclear how Outlook proposes to 'bar' NGOs funded by international agencies from participating in policy debates.
Should international agencies like the Ford Foundation be chased out of India?
Would writing op-ed columns or policy briefs be construed as interfering in policy debates?

Should foreign scholars be permitted to write on Indian policy issues or will a test of citizenship be prescribed now? When an avowedly liberal publication advocates such policy xenophobia, it is deeply disconcerting.

One would imagine that an article which begins by asking such a provocative question may have discovered some great malfeasance at the heart of the Ford Foundation or documented particularly egregious instances of corruption or doctoring of research findings. No! The charge is barely that the Ford Foundation may have an agenda which is broadly pro-market, among other things.

To reject a policy or people advocating them merely because they may be funded by reputed international agencies is extremely myopic. Who will then fund Indian research institutions and think-tanks? In a nation where the government routinely uses newspaper revenues to twist political coverage, why should government-funded research have any more credibility than private funding?
The charge of promoting an agenda can be levelled against virtually any funding agency. Indeed, funding agencies inter alia exist because they wish to shape the policy debate in a particular direction.

It is no one's case that the claims of the Ford Foundation or any other agency should be accepted as the gospel. Nevertheless, imputing motives or accusing well-meaning people of serving foreign interests is little better than hi-tech intellectual lynching. It only encourages further intellectual laziness and policy cowardice and makes people reluctant to challenge entrenched policies.
Vigorous and open debate is necessary in the policy market; ideas should be freely and fiercely debated until the best ones are adopted.

Unfortunately, there is little political appetite in India for more open conversations with the world. In fact, for diametrically opposite reasons, it is one issue which unites the religious Right with the Left-liberal intelligentsia. For the former, shunning globalisation and markets is about 'protecting' Indian culture from Western assaults while for the Left-liberal establishment, it is all about conserving their monopoly on policy.

Much as some people may wish otherwise, we live in an increasingly interconnected and globalised world. No country can be an island in itself. Any country which stops the free flow of information -- or ideas -- is likely to be left behind. India can ill-afford that.

Dr Rohit Pradhan is a Fellow at the Takshashila Institution, a think-tank on India's strategic affairs.
Rohit Pradhan
Tags: Ford Foundation, India, West, CIA, New Delhi

SWJ Book Review: SEAL Target Geronimo

Small Wars Journal Book Review

SEAL Target Geronimo:

The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden

It is ironic that the most famous military operation of the Information Age – the SEAL Team Six raid on May 1st that killed Osama bin Laden – remains a mystery to some degree. Despite the instantaneous connectivity provided by cell phone cameras, communications satellites, and Twitter, the details of what happened on that cloudless night in Abbottabad, Pakistan, remain obscured by the fog of war.

In part, this uncertainty is the result of the ham-handed nature by which the Obama administration released information on the raid, with some officials speaking to the media before all members of the assault team were debriefed; leading to subtle shifts in detail that created suspicions something was being covered up or hidden. In part, the uncertainty is purposeful. Members of “Tier One” special operations units – such as SEAL Team Six and its Army counterpart, the Delta Force – are bound by strict non-disclosure rules necessary to protect operational security as well the personal security of U.S. commandos and their families.

Although Kimberly Dozier’s reporting for the Associated Press was detailed and informative, it was inevitably an incomplete first draft of history. Nicholas Schmidle’s New Yorker piece was riveting, but quickly revealed to be based on hearsay. Consequently, the Abbottabad raid has lacked a definitive account equivalent to Mark Bowden’s retelling of the 1993 “Battle of Mogadishu” in Black Hawk Down.

Hoping to fill this void is Chuck Pfarrer’s SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden, purportedly the first account of “Operation Neptune Spear” based upon interviews with the SEALs who actually conducted the raid. A former member of SEAL Team Six in the 1980s, Pfarrer’s pre-publication publicity derided previous accounts of the operation as “fairy tales,” and hinted at numerous revelations to set the record straight.

Pfarrer’s account of the raid is compelling, building up the tension from the helicopter flight through Pakistan heading towards Abbottabad. The SEALs entered the compound from the main house’s roof, Pfarrer claims, rather than working from bottom-to-top as previous accounts assert. Bin Laden was quickly discovered on the third-floor, and subsequently killed in his bedroom 90 seconds into the raid as he reached for the AK-47 that had appeared in numerous video appearances. Pfarrer says that it was only after the Saudi was killed that the “Stealth Hawk” helicopter crashed in the compound’s courtyard due to a “million-to-one” mechanical failure, rather than the air vortex previously reported to have caused the bird to lose its lift capability.

Pfarrer’s account is tactically plausible, and would explain why bin Laden did not get a shot off despite a helicopter crash and a firefight in his yard and explosions in his house as SEALs blew the gates separating the floors. Yet Pfarrer does not offer an explanation for why the prevailing story took hold or why despite the relative innocuousness of the details they were never subsequently corrected (as if potential targets don't know by now that U.S. commandos can fast-rope onto a target). Additionally, although Pfarrer expertly recounts the technical aspects of the raid, especially the capabilities of the SEALs’ equipment, he pays little attention to the thoughts and emotions of the men who conducted the mission. Given that the primary objective of the raid – killing or capturing bin Laden – was achieved in less than two minutes, the inattention to the human dimension of the mission gives the second half of his account an anti-climactic feel.

But in reality, this is the least of SEAL Team Geronimo’s problems. Because Pfarrer does not offer any citations, even to distinguish which anonymous source provided which detail, there is absolutely no way to verify whether anything he says is true. (Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the Department of Defense and U.S. Special Operations Command have dismissed Pfarrer’s account as inaccurate). Although Pfarrer sneeringly says this complete lack of attribution “may be a passing annoyance to historians,” it requires the reader to take everything the author says on faith, which is problematic when he also admits “it has been necessary to obscure, rather than clarify certain aspects of the mission at Abbottabad.”

More problematic is the slipshod nature of the remainder of SEAL Team Geronimo, less than a quarter of which actually deals with the Abbottabad raid. At the book’s outset, Pfarrer offers a retelling of the operation that killed al-Qa’ida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on June 7, 2006. Specifically Pfarrer claims:

The capture of an al-Qa'ida in Iraq courier in late May produced the intelligence that led U.S. forces to an AQI safehouse in Baghdad. (Every other account says it was the capture and subsequent interrogations of a mid-level AQI operative in April that eventually lead U.S. forces to Zarqawi's spiritual advisor).

Two SEAL Team Six snipers observed the target, and when Zarqawi's phone call from the house was intercepted, they lazed the target. (Every other account says an unmanned aerial vehicle followed the spiritual adviser after he got in a blue car that stopped at a house in Hibhib, a small village in Diyala Province, to meet with Zarqawi).

A Predator drone subsequently delivered a Hellfire missile that destroyed the safehouse, killing Zarqawi. (Every other account says it was an F-16 that bombed the house).

In other words, Pfarrer directly contradicts the accounts of Mark Bowden, Dexter Filkins, interrogator “Matthew Alexander,” and SOCOM’s own official history, all cited as sources in Benjamin Runkle’s account of the operation in Wanted Dead or Alive. Pfarrer could be right, and all those other authors could be wrong. But to believe him is to believe that two of the premier military correspondents were duped and that two participants in the Zarqawi manhunt (Alexander, and General Stanley McChrystal, the Joint Special Operations Task Force Commander and Filkins' primary source) were complicit in perpetuating a lie. This is possible, albeit extremely unlikely, and Pfarrer's lack of citations does not bolster his case.

More damning is Pfarrer's claim that the Hellfire strike triggered secondary explosions that sent “pieces of men” falling to the ground. If so, then how were U.S. forces able to recover Zarqawi’s corpse intact, an image famously captured in the photos released after the terrorist’s death was announced. Thus, Pfarrer begs the question: who are you going to believe, his anonymous sources, or your lying eyes?

The rest of the book is riddled with poor editing and factual errors that belie its rush to publication:

  • The time elapsed between the 1970 raid on Son Tay prison in North Vietnam and the formation and the formation of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in December 1970 is described as “almost two decades.”
  • The October 23, 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut is depicted as having taken place after the October 25 invasion of Grenada in the space of a single page.
  • Bin Laden is reported to have been “introduced” to the writings of Sayyid Qutb both while in high school, and then three pages later again in college.
  • The British military defeat in Afghanistan is cited as having occurred in 1820 when the First British-Afghan War did not begin until 1839.
  • Tora Bora is mistranslated as meaning “Black Rock” rather than its actual meaning, “Black Dust.”
  • Pfarrer recounts the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Mombassa, Kenya, when the attack actually occurred in Nairobi.
  • The date for an alleged AQI nerve gas attack in Iraq is alternatively given as May 2003, May 2007, and then in May 2003 again over the course of one chapter.
  • Pfarrer claims that both Zarqawi and bin Laden’s voices were captured by signals intercepts despite both terrorists being notoriously vigilant about not using cell phones or other means of electronic communications.
  • Pfarrer places Admiral William McRaven’s nomination for command of the JSOC in 2011 rather than when he actually assumed command in 2009, and worse, misspells his name the first time he is mentioned.

Informed readers can likely find other examples of such sloppiness, which at best are an annoyance. More importantly, the errors make it difficult to accept two of Pfarrer’s more incendiary claims: that al-Qa’ida’s number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, intentionally betrayed bin Laden; and that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate knowingly shielded both bin Laden and Zawahiri. Again, as with the raid itself, this scenario could be true, but Pfarrer offers no citations to support such explosive charges.

American forces have been deployed to target individuals for more than 125 years. In 1886, U.S. cavalry troops plunged 230 miles into Mexico in pursuit of Geronimo. More than a century before SEAL Team Six travelled 130 miles into Pakistan by helicopter to capture or kill bin Laden, Brigadier General Frederick Funston led a ninety-man patrol 100 miles on foot behind enemy lines through the Philippine jungle to capture insurgent leader Emilio Aguinaldo. Both operations (as with the subsequent hunts for Pancho Villa and Augusto Sandino) were conducted by conventional forces, many of whom became legends for their courageous exploits.

Now, strategic manhunts are primarily conducted by various special operations forces such as SEAL Team Six, and the professionalization of the commando trade has led to the anonymization of the men who undertake these dangerous missions. Although these “Quiet Professionals” embrace this anonymity,SEAL Team Geronimo ultimately represents a lost opportunity. Pfarrer admirably wants to set the record straight against various accusations that the Abbottabad raid was actually a “kill mission,” and that therefore the SEALs were little more than assassins rather than the noble warriors they indisputably are. But Pfarrer’s sloppiness and vitriol towards almost every actor besides SEAL Team Six (especially the Central Intelligence Agency) renders this book little more than “Special Forces porn,” an occasionally interesting read that may or may not have some relation to the truth.



The 26/11 terrorist strikes led to five important decisions by the Government of India--- to decentralise the deployment of the National Security Guards (NSG) by setting up regional hubs, to set up the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate terrorist incidents of a pan-Indian nature, to strengthen coastal security,to create a national intelligence grid to serve as a data-base accessible to all agencies---- at the central and State levels--- dealing with counter-terrorism, and to set up a National Counter-terrorism Centre (NCTC), to take co-ordinated follow-up action on all terrorism-related inputs flowing from the intelligence agencies and the police.

2. The NSG has already been decentralised and regional hubs have come into existence. This has been done because of the delayed deployment of the NSG during the 26/11 terrorist strikes. The then totally Delhi-based NSG was slow to move and equally slow to react and its ability to co-ordinate with the local police and other security agencies in Mumbai was found wanting.

3. With the deployment of units of the NSG in big metro centres now, there is an expectation that the deficiencies witnessed on 26/11 will not recur now. If this is really so will become evident only when there is another act of mass fatality terrorism.Fortunately, we have not had one since 26/11. As a result, the proclaimed ability of the NSG to move faster and with greater effectiveness now is yet to be tested. It is important that the NSG’s training pays attention to the need to sharpen its institutional reflexes and that it keeps constantly interacting and rehearsing with the local police and other security agencies.

4. The NIA, which is already functioning, has had a lethargic and confused start. It is not clear to objective counter-terrorism analysts as to when and how it will be called into action. One has reasons to suspect and fear that like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the NIA is tending to become a partly professional and partly politicised agency, which is sought to be used by the Government of India as a stick to beat the opponents with. It has shown greater alacrity and enthusiasm in looking into terrorist incidents in which some Hindus were suspected than in investigating cases where jihadi terrorists---indigenous or externally-sponsored---were suspected. Its record till now in successful investigation has been disappointing due to excessive political control over its functioning. It was expected to be an independent agency which will move on its own after a major terrorist strike. The expectation has been belied so far.

5. The steps already taken to strengthen coastal security have not yet contributed to an increase of our alertness to possible sea-borne threats. The shocking lack of reflexes on the part of the Navy, the Coast Guard, the intelligence agencies and the Police during a recent incident when an abandoned foreign ship managed to drift into our coastal waters without being noticed by any of these agencies speaks disturbingly of the continuing poor state of our coastal defence. Our capabilities for maritime counter-terrorism---whether by way of improved intelligence collection or physical security or alert mechanism---- seem to be as poor as they were before 26/11.

6. The decisions to set up a National Intelligence Grid and the NCTC have not yet been implemented---reportedly due to a lack of convergence of views among the various agencies and Ministries that would be involved in the implementation of these decisions as to how to go about it. The implementation process has been lethargic and glacial.

7. Fortunately, we have not had any major act of mass fatality terrorism ( with fatalities of more than 100) since 26/11. However, despite the proclaimed strengthening of our preventive and investigative capabilities since 26/11, we have had five acts of low or medium fatality terrorism after 26/11 in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi and Varanasi. Despite the proclaimed strengthening of our preventive capability, none of them could be prevented and despite the proclaimed strengthening of our investigative capabilities none of them could be successfully detected.

8. We are clueless as to who committed them, how many undetected cells are operating, are they indigenous or Pakistani, wherefrom are they getting their explosives, detonators and triggering mechanism etc. While our preventive capability has generally been below par, our investigative capability used to be good. This too seems to have deteriorated now due to politicisation and communalisation of the investigation process.

9. An equally worrisome aspect is the seeming deterioration in our TECHINT capability. While our HUMINT capability was not satisfactory, our good TECHINT capability made up for our HUMINT deficiencies------ contributing to successful neutralisation of new cells and successful investigation of terrorist strikes. The detection of the electronic chatter of terrorist suspects has become weaker after 26/11. As a result, good TECHINT is no longer compensating for the poor HUMINT. My assessment is that our terrorism-related intelligence collection capability today is weaker than it was before 26/11.

10. A reason given for our failures to detect the electronic chatter of terrorist suspects after 26/11 is that the terrorists now have access to better communication technology and gadgets and have better evasive capability and that, consequently, they have become smarter. I do not buy this explanation. I have not seen any evidence to support this. Our poor performance after 26/11 is not because the terrorists have become smarter, but it is because our agencies have become less smart than the terrorists.

11. We are yet to find an effective way of dealing with the sanctuaries of the terrorists in Pakistan. While our peace initiatives are welcome, they are not going to induce Pakistan to act against these sanctuaries. The peace process has to go hand in hand with a counter sanctuary process through deniable covert actions. Peace does not mean surrender or resignation. Peace means willingness to talk without letting it dent our courage and readiness to act against the sanctuaries. Action to create a counter-sanctuary capability continues to be totally neglected.

12. The continuing deficiencies in our counter-terrorism thinking and reflexes is due to a disinterested approach on the part of the Congress as well as the BJP. Both are equally guilty of politicising and communalising counter-terrorism. Both are equally guilty of failures to build up our counter-terrorism capabilities. The public is equally disinterested. There is hardly any meaningful debate on the issue either in the parliament or in our media or in public fora. The beneficiaries are the terrorists.

13. The public has to sit up and exercise pressure on the political class. The voters have to make it clear to the political class that their counter-terrorism record will be an important factor in influencing voter preference. Unless the public stirs itself up and moves, the political class is not going to move. (26-11-11)

( 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.comTwitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Can India and Pakistan make Peace !

By Major (Retired)Agha .H. Amin, Pakistan Army.

Utopians in India are jubilant that Pakistan has made peace with India.

Nothing in reality can be farther from the truth.

The recent sudden angelic desire on part of the Pakistani establishment to make peace with India has nothing to do with any major shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy written in the Pakistani military headquarters popularly known as the GHQ.

The Pakistani apparent shift is merely a tactical response to extreme confrontation with the US over perceived US view that Pakistan is playing a double game in Afghanistan.

This is similar to Musharraf’s flirtation with India from 2000 to 2007 which in reality was a gambit to prevent a two front war with Afghanistan occupied by the USA and a hostile India in the east.

The real picture of true intentions of the Pakistani military will emerge when the US withdraws from Afghanistan.

This will be the time when the Russians ,Iranians and Indians will have no choice but to support the Northern Alliance against Pakistan sponsored Taliban who regard all Shias, Ismailis,Non-Pashtuns, moderate Pashtuns as infidels who deserve to be massacred.

The Pakistani politicians are a compromised manipulated lot who are under firm control of the Pakistani military thanks to the politicians own massive financial corruption. They will do what the Pakistani generals tell them whether it is the PPP, PML or any new party like Imran Khan’s Tehrik i Insaaf.

Pakistan will remain the same state run by an army rather than a state with an army. The Pakistani generals will control Pakistan’s politics and foreign policy and Pakistan India relations will remain a mix of an uneasy and an unpredictable peace.

Pakistan will remain embroiled in an ever continuous civil unrest. Baloch will be gunned down by the Pakistani military while Pakistan’s politicians will remain the puppets of the military that they have been since 1977.

Terrorism will remain a tool of foreign policy while the Pakistani military runs the Pakistani state under a facade of PPP or PML or Tehrik i Insaaf.

By that time Pakistani military will be hoping to achieve all its objectives--
1. An extremist dominated Afghanistan.
2. A Balochistan fully fragmented and crushed.
3. A Pakistani political party leading Pakistan fully subservient to the Pakistani military.
4. A renewed infiltration in Kashmir.
5. A brinkman’s nuclear policy with India .
6. A greater Chinese vassal with far greater Chinese interests in Pakistan.
There is no doubt that Pakistan will be a semi autonomous Chinese province by 2030 or so. Its relations with India will be run on two basis; Pakistani military retaining its nuisance value based on the much trumped and misused Indian threat and secondly Pakistan as a Chinese pawn acting as Chinas western bastion in West Asia. Pakistani Balochistan by 2030 would be a completely Chinese run show while Pakistan’s military and corrupt politicians will control Pakistan’s corrupt par excellence economy.

Xooxs like Man Mohan Singh will remain dupes that they always were. The region will remain unstable because instability is custom made to suit the Pakistani elite both military and civilian.

India’s budding middle class wants to make peace with the Pakistani establishment because they want to have a good time.

Manmohan Singh is a cheap social climber with no strategic vision.This means that the common man in both India and Pakistan will both come to grief.

Pashtuns and Baloch will remain pawns of Pakistani establishment with Baloch regarded as Red Indians and Pashtuns regarded as good cannon fodder to be launched like fools in the name of Islam. Pakistan’s economy will remain centred to serve the good of Pakistan elite and prosperity will remain confined to the triangle Pindi- Multan- Lahore and Karachi-Hyderabad.

The Pakistani Supreme Court will remain an arm of the Pakistani elite who turns a blind eye when any one challenges Pakistani military in the courts.

Pakistan shall remain a mirage which serves a 5 % elite and the region will remain unstable and a hostage to nuclear brinkmanship.

Pakistan’s pensioners will die like stray dogs ! Pakistan’s youth will be gunned down by the corrupt Pakistani police for money ! Pakistani intelligence will continue the kill and dump policy all over Pakistan and specially in Balochistan !

This is not about Islam ! This is not about Pakistan ! This is all about a 5 or 10 % establishment that has controlled Pakistan since 1948.

All that this elite wants is to preserve their unfair advantage ! These are the new Banias, the new Muslim Banias of Pakistan !

In 1947 Muslims of Pakistan got rid of Hindu Banias but the idea of the Muslim elite was that the Muslim masses need to be buxxered not by the Hindu Banias but by Muslim Banias from Gujerat, Chiniot,Khotian (later Saigalabad) and the elite feudals who had joined the Muslim League by the 1946 elections.

Third rate Pakistani lower middle class young men will continue to pass the CSS exam and join Police, FBR and DMG to become billionaires with houses in posh DHA Karachi or Lahore within ten years of passing the CSS exam !

Pakistan does not have hawks with aristocratic backgrounds like ZA Bhutto nor visionary generals ! It is run by carpetbaggers, robber industrial barons, arch intriguer feudals and generals who are NCOs sons and are just simply ambitious !

This means that Pakistan’s political economy of exporting terrorism as a foreign policy tool, massive corruption at home and the resultant ever growing reservoir of economically deprived youngsters who will fill ranks of extremists and suicide bombers will continue.

We salute the age of West Asian strategic anarchy !

November 24, 2011

The United States and Other Nations Expand Sanctions Against Iran

November 23, 2011
Fulbright Briefing - International Trade
The United States and Other Nations Expand Sanctions Against Iran

On November 21, 2011, the United States announced three measures designed to enhance sanctions on Iran. The President issued an Executive Order authorizing the Secretary of State to impose sanctions on foreign parties that provide goods, services, technology or support of certain value to Iran’s energy or petrochemical sectors; the Secretary of the Treasury designated Iran as a jurisdiction of “primary money laundering concern” under Section 311 of the U.S. Patriot Act; and Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control added Iranian entities and individuals involved in Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program to the Specially Designated Nationals List.

In announcing these new measures the United States joined the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union, each of which have implemented, or are planning to implement, additional sanctions on entities in, or doing business with, Iran:

  • The United Kingdom imposed a direction under Schedule 7 to the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 requiring U.K. credit and financial institutions to cease all business with banks incorporated in Iran, including the Central Bank of Iran (Bank Markazi), and their branches and subsidiaries unless licensed to do so by HM Treasury.[1]
  • Canada issued new sanctions prohibiting financial transactions with Iran, expanding the list of prohibited goods to include all goods used in the petrochemical, oil and gas industry in Iran or items that could be used in Iran's nuclear program, and adding new individuals and entities to the list of designated persons found in Schedule 1 of the Special Economic Measures Act regulations.[2]
  • The European Union has agreed in principle to sanction some 200 Iranian individuals, companies and organizations related to Iran’s nuclear, petrochemical and financial industries. If the E.U. sanctions are implemented as expected, European companies will be banned from doing business with the listed Iranian companies and organizations, and individuals will be subject to asset freezes and Visa bans.

Read the full text of Fulbright's Briefing online.

This article was prepared by Stephen M. McNabb ( or 202 662 4528), Marsha Z. Gerber( or 713 651 5296), Stefan H. Reisinger ( or 202 662 4698) andMary Beth Balhoff ( or 713 651 5652) from Fulbright's International Trade Practice Group. Stephen M. McNabb is a partner in Fulbright’s Washington D.C. office and is Head of Fulbright’s International Trade Practice Group. Marsha Z. Gerber is a partner in Fulbright’s Houston, Texas office and is a member of the International Trade Practice Group. Stefan H. Reisinger and Mary Beth Balhoff are attorneys in the International Trade Practice Group.

Fulbright’s International Trade Practice Group
Fulbright’s International Trade Practice Group is comprised of experienced attorneys in several of Fulbright’s offices throughout the world. Attorneys in the group assist clients in matters concerning international trade laws and regulations; including economic sanctions regulations, export/import control regulations, anti-boycott regulations, and anti-corruption laws.


Asia-Pacific strategic landscape

India must make use of opportunities
by Harsh V. Pant

THE rapidly changing strategic landscape of the Asia-Pacific has once again been in focus in recent days. Even as Europe struggles to come to terms with its economic decline, major powers in the Asia-Pacific are coming to terms with their region’s rapidly rising economic and political profile. US President Barack Obama was in Asia to underscore America’s commitment to regional stability at a time when he is wrapping up two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the US Secretary of State has already underlined, “the future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the centre of the action.”

At a time when talk of American decline and retrenchment from global commitments has become de riguer, the signals coming from Washington are that it has no intention of leaving the Asian strategic landscape. Nor will regional states allow America to lower its profile. After all, the elephant in the room (region) is China’s faster than expected ascent in global inter-state hierarchy.

The East Asia Summit was the second gathering in a week that brought American and Chinese officials together for a regional meeting. It followed the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Hawaii where, much to China’s annoyance, the US President suggested that Beijing needed to “play by the rules” in international trade. From there, President Obama moved to Canberra where he secured new basing rights even as eight regional states signed up for the Obama administration’s new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free-trade plan. As the threat of a rising China increases, most regional states are eager for greater economic, political and military engagement with the US.

Australia made it clear how, despite growing economic linkages with China, regional states continue to hedge their bets by courting American security partnerships. The US announced a permanent military presence in Australia and the move to send 250 Marines to bases there for six-month tours starting next summer, eventually rotating 2,500 troops through the country, is being widely viewed as the start of the administration’s strategic objective of repositioning the US as a leader on economics and security in the fast-developing Asia-Pacific region. Not surprisingly, Beijing was quick to react questioning whether expanding the military alliance “is in line with the common interest” of the countries in the region.

China also views the development of the TPP as a political move to create a US-dominated counterweight to a rival trade bloc of Southeast Asian countries plus China, Japan and South Korea, known by the acronym ASEAN Plus Three. Meanwhile, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao demanded that “outside forces” had no excuse to get involved in the complex maritime dispute, a veiled warning to the US and other countries to keep out of the sensitive issue. The issue of South China Sea has disrupted China’s ties with its neighbours. Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei are the other claimants to parts of the South China Sea, a major route for some $5 trillion in trade each year and potentially rich in resources. The US is supporting these states and wants a multilateral approach towards the resolution of the issue.

It is in this broader context that India’s emerging role in the region should be assessed. India is emerging as a critical balancer in the Asia-Pacific, and regional states are recognising New Delhi’s growing clout. This was reflected in Australia’s recent decision to reconsider its ban on the sale of uranium to India. That a Labour government, traditionally considered a non-proliferation hawk, should take this decision is reflective of the changing priorities of Canberra. And that this could not have happened without American pressure on the Australian government to change its policies should also alert New Delhi to the important role a so-called declining America continues to play in supporting Indian ambitions in the region and globally.

In his meetings with the Chinese Premier and the US President, the Indian Prime Minister did raise a range of issues. Though Mr Singh ruled out any major changes in the nuclear liability law in the near future, despite American misgivings, he urged Mr Obama to commence nuclear trade with India. The US was also informed that India was ready to ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC), another issue that the US wants to be done as part of implementation of the civil nuclear deal. This is an important issue to be clarified on an immediate basis, given a wide-ranging perception that the US-India ties have entered a period of drift. The strategic priorities of New Delhi and Washington are in alignment but it is the tactical issues that have made the two wary of each other. This needs rectification as America’s Asia-Pacific policy will come unhinged without Indian support, and Indian desire to effectively balance China will remain just that, a desire, without American support.

With Mr Wen Jiabao, the Indian Prime Minister was refreshingly emphatic in suggesting that India wouldn’t take sides in China’s territorial disputes with its neighbours over the South China Sea, but India did have a right to exploit the sea’s oil and gas commercially. Mr Wen urged India and China to work “hand-in-hand” to ensure that the 21st century belonged to Asia. There are, he said, enough areas where India and China could cooperate with each other. Yet this cannot hide the fact that frictions are increasing with each passing day between the two Asian giants.

China must understand that with its rise on the international stage comes increased responsibility, argued Mr Obama. If Beijing does not respect international rules, Mr Obama said, “We will send a clear message to them that we think that they need to be on track in terms of accepting the rules and responsibilities that come with being a world power.” This reflects that American strategic priorities are changing and changing rapidly. Indian diplomacy will have to be equally agile to take advantage of all the opportunities that this new realignment of structural forces presents New Delhi in serving its own interests.

The writer teaches at King’s College, London.

COMMENT on "A South Asian Grand Bargain"

"This, coming from a former Foreign Minister- one can only say one is surprised. For Pakistan the "grand bargain"" will have to involve our handing over Jamu and Kashmir and acquiescing in 'low intensity" conficlt waged against India and Afghanistan. I think he has forgotten what happened during the Kargil conflict and the hijacking of IC 814!! He only perhaps remembers what a noble person in his eyes that Jinnah was!! "
G Parthasarathy