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F-16 fighters sold by US to Pakistan are nuclear-enabled: Scientist

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A study of Google satellite images and information from other intelligence sources by US nuclear scientists Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris released earlier this week contains startling revelations: contrary to the conditions laid down by the US when it sold Pakistan F-16 fighters, the US jets, along with the Pak air force’s French Mirages, are now nuclear-enabled. Speaking exclusively to DNA, Hans Kristensen, co-author of the ‘Nuclear Notebook on Pakistani Nuclear Forces’ released November 16 acknowledged that despite the study, US strategic interests in the region will determine further weapons sales to Pakistan.“The US nuclear establishment can but won’t initiate further action,” the Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists told DNA. “The F-16s were considered to be the first planes that are nuclear-capable in the Pakistan arsenal and the French mirage was upgraded as well to carry a new air launch cruise missile. But the US made its case. What Pakistan does once they get the planes is inevitably up to them,” he said. The worry that prevails — as several attacks on Pakistani military establishments have shown — is that its nuclear arsenal could land in the wrong hands: that of Islamist terrorists. But which of the study’s revelations are new, given that there have been many precedents based upon satellite pictures?“We haven’t had a picture of where Pakistan’s nuclear-capable forces went for a long time but this study throws up a more focused posturing of Pakistan’s nuclear-capable forces and their infrastructure,” Kristensen told DNA. “There will be more to come, this is only the beginning.”Kristensen said that while the number and location of Pakistan’s nuclear-capable missile bases is not known, an analysis of Google satellite images threw up features to suggest that at least five bases might throw light on Pakistan’s emerging nuclear network: army garrisons at Akro, Gujranwala, Khuzdar, Pano Aqil and Sargodha. The scientist speculates that a sixth base at Bawalpur may be under construction while a seventh seems to be coming up near Dera Ghazi Khan. Gujranwala in particular could be of concern to India: this is where the Pakistani Taliban have been active and in the open.Do these revelations indicate that Pakistan has now reached what is known as a ‘full-spectrum nuclear deterrent posture’? Almost, says Kristensen, but warns that it is only a matter of time before Pakistan is fully equipped not only for retaliatory strikes in response to nuclear attacks but also to launch short-range missiles to counter conventional attacks. The US scientist added that the study of Pakistan’s nuclear installations is a routine one and that one of India and other nuclear weapons states will follow. ‘Short-range’ nuclear strikes are likelier to damage Pakistan than India, but will certainly interest New Delhi’s defence, diplomatic and military establishment, since they could be launched if Islamabad merely perceives the threat of an all-out invasion by the Indian military establishment. Consequently, Kristensen suggested that even quick ‘surgical strikes’ by India will have to make it ‘appear’ to Pakistan as though there is no danger of an all-out pan-national aggression of Pakistan by India.

At least 25 killed after blast at shrine in southwestern Pakistan | Reuters

At least 25 killed after blast at shrine in southwestern Pakistan | Reuters

Updated: Nov 12, 2016 20:23 IST


By Gul Yousafzai
| QUETTA, Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan An explosion at a Muslim shrine in southwestern Pakistan killed at least 25 people and wounded dozens of others, local officials said. Hashim Ghalzai, a local district commissioner, told Reuters that the toll was based on initial reports, and could rise further.The blast occurred at the Shah Noorani shrine, located in Baluchistan province, about 100km (62 miles) north of the port city of Karachi. It took place while hundreds of people were inside, said Ghalzai.

Dozens of wounded people were being moved to the nearby town of Hub and to Karachi, rescue official Hakeem Nasi told Geo TV.The government dispatched 25 ambulances from Hub to the shrine, said Akbar Harifal, provincial home secretary for Baluchistan.

“Every day, around sunset, there is a dhamaal (ritual dance) here, and there are large numbers of people who come for this,” said Nawaz Ali, the shrine’s custodian. Baluchistan has seen some of the worst militant attacks this year in Pakistan, one of which was claimed by an Islamist movement that is allied to the Islamic State group.

The province is also key to a $46 billion transport and trade corridor between Pakistan and China, which hinges on a deep-water port in the southwestern city of Gwadar. (Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Jon Boyle)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 12, 2016 20:23 IST

US warns its citizens in India of a possible terror attack by Islamic State

New Delhi: The United States on Tuesday asked its citizens in India to keep high level of vigilance citing reports indicating that terror outfit Islamic State desires to attack “targets” in India.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

An advisory issued by the American Embassy in New Delhi warned its citizens of an increased threat in places frequented by Westerners in the country.

“Recent Indian media reports indicate ISIL’s desire to attack targets in India. The US Embassy warns of an increased threat to places in India frequented by Westerners, such as religious sites, markets, and festival venues.”

“All US citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness as detailed in the State Department’s Worldwide Caution of September 9, 2016,” the advisory said.

An earlier advisory, under ‘Worldwide Caution’ section on the US state department’s travel website, says that India continues to experience terrorist and insurgent activities which may affect US citizens directly or indirectly.

“Anti-Western terrorist groups active in India include Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba.”

“Past attacks have targeted public places, including some frequented by Westerners, such as luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas,” the worldwide advisory, last updated in September, says.

US issues advisory, warns citizens of heightened ISIS threat in India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The United States on Tuesday asked its citizens in India to keep high level of vigilance citing reports indicating that terror outfit Islamic State desires to attack “targets” in India.An advisory issued by the American Embassy here warned its citizens of an increased threat in places frequented by Westerners in the country. “Recent Indian media reports indicate ISIL’s desire to attack targets in India. The US Embassy warns of an increased threat to places in India frequented by Westerners, such as religious sites, markets, and festival venues.”All US citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness as detailed in the State Department’s Worldwide Caution of September 9, 2016,” the advisory said.US State department in its advisory had stated, “India continues to experience terrorist and insurgent activities which may affect U.S. citizens directly or indirectly. Anti-Western terrorist groups active in India include Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba. Past attacks have targeted public places, including some frequented by Westerners, such as luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas”. With agency inputs

Bhopal jailbreak: All you need to know about Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI)

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eight SIMI activists who were under trial were killed on Monday in an alleged encounter with police on the outskirts of Bhopal, hours after they escaped from the high-security Bhopal Central Jail after killing a security guard. The eight activists were identified as Amzad, Zakir Hussain Sadiq, Mohammad Salik, Mujeeb Shaikh, Mehbood Guddu, Mohammad Kalid Ahmed, Aqeel and Majid, a police official said.SIMI was banned by the government of India in 2001. Here is what you need to know about this banned organisation.FOUNDATION OF THE ORGANISATION:Students Islamic Movement of India, or SIMI, was founded on April 25, 1977 in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh. Mohammad Ahmadaullah Siddiqi was the founder of SIMI, who currently is a Professor of Journalism and Public Relations at the Western Illinois University in USA. It was launched as a student wing of Jammat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), however the alliance broke in 1981 after SIMI activists protested against Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat’s visit to India. Arafat was greeted with black flags upon his visit to New Delhi by SIMI activists. JIH eventually abandoned SIMI and floated a new student wing called the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO).IDEOLOGY:As an organisation, SIMI does not believe in the Indian Constitution or the secular order. SIMI is widely believed to be against Hinduism, western beliefs and ideals, as well as other ‘anti-Islamic cultures’. Young extremist students of SIMI declared Jihad against India; to establish Dar-ul-Islam (land of Islam) by either forced conversion or by violence is the aim of it.STRONG PRESENCE OF SIMI:SIMI has strong presence in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra (especially in Thane, Jalgaon, Malegaon and Aurangabad), Kerala (Thiruvananthapuram, Kondutty in Malappuram district), Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Assam. It is alleged that prominent Islamist organisations like Kerala-based National Democratic Front and Islamic Youth Centre (IYC), and Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), are controlled by former SIMI cadres. BANNING OF THE ORGANISATION:Following the 9/11 attack in America, the Government of India banned SIMI under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for alleged anti-national activities. As soon as SIMI was outlawed, national president of the organisation Dr Shahid Badar Falah was arrested from Delhi and was charged with sedition and inciting communal trouble in Uttar Pradesh.Organisation’s secretary general, Safdar Nagori, who was absconding since 2001, was arrested in 2008 from Indore. He is alleged to have established links with Pakistan’s ISI and other Islamist fundamentalist leaders. SIMI is alleged to have conducted the 2006 Mumbai bomb blasts that killed 187 people. Top SIMI leader Abul Bashar Qasmi was arrested in August 2008 for allegedly being the mastermind behind the July 2008 Ahmedabad serial bomb blasts.

Dhaka cafe attack mastermind dead, says Bangaldesh police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The chief of a radical Islamist group accused of carrying out Bangladesh’s deadliest terror attack on a popular cafe in Dhaka in July died during a police raid, the country’s elite security force announced on Friday, in a major blow to the ISIS-linked outfit.Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) confirmed the identity of dead militant Abdur Rahman as the chief of Neo-JMB, a new faction of banned militant outfit Jama atul Mujahideen Bangladesh. “Our investigations confirmed that (slain) is the chief of Neo-JMB,” RAB’s director general Benazir Ahmed told a media briefing.Rahman died on October 8 after falling from a five storey building in Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital while attempting to evade arrest during a police raid, BD News reported. Rahman’s identity was confirmed by his family who were shown pictures of his body, the statement added. Rahman had used the alias Shaykh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif while forming Neo-JMB.RAB officials said Rahman took over as the Neo-JMB s ‘ameer’ in July last year. They said the Neo-JMB has been reduced to just 21 operatives after security forces launched a massive crackdown against the group after the July attack.New JMB is said to be ideologically linked to the ISIS which had claimed responsibility of the attack on Dhaka’s Holey Artisan restaurant on July 1 in which nine Italians, seven Japanese, an American, an Indian and five Bangladeshis, including two police officers, were killed.

Kashmir unrest: ‘Mahashay, marwa na dena’; how things came to pass in J&K

New Delhi: Last Sunday, after an army camp came under attack in Uri, Kashmir valley witnessed a day of calm after seventy days. There was no stone-pelting as protesters chose to stay indoors. The main hospital in Srinagar, which has treated fifteen injured protesters on an average since the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani on 8 July, received none. Unprecedented traffic hit Srinagar’s main city square and the police had to deploy its men after long to manage it. After two days, the protesters have returned.

There is a lesson to be learned here: the Indian state needs to send a clear message that it has zero tolerance for assault on its security forces. While buzzwords like Insaniyat (humaneness) and Mamata (love) should be practised in letter and spirit, it cannot (and should not) mean that a mob can start attacking security personnel just because they have done their job and killed a terrorist.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

But how did things become so grim in Kashmir this time? While we must study the Uri attack, it is imperative that it should not wean attention from the situation in Kashmir. It has been seventy-five days since the latest turmoil began. The media is not saying it, but from one end of Kashmir to another, Pakistani flags are all out. Analysts sympathetic to the current establishment will dismiss this occurrence, saying the flags have always been there. But this time, it is different. Remember, in March 2015, on Pakistan Day, Asiya Andrabi, the head of the radical Islamist group, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, hoisted a Pakistani flag in a closed room somewhere in downtown Srinagar and the ceremony was over in a few minutes. And now, the Pakistani flags are a part of every small and big protest.

The fact is that the civil and police administration in Kashmir valley is paralysed. A majority of policemen are afraid of going to duty and many of them have not gone back to their homes in weeks for fear of retribution. Sources say that many of them, including senior police officers, have got civilian identity cards made in case they find themselves confronted by a violent mob.

Hospitals are refusing to admit injured police personnel. A sub-inspector of police, who suffered a heart attack, was refused treatment at Kashmir’s premier hospital in Soura. He died while being shifted to another hospital. The MLA from Pulwama and a senior leader of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mohammed Khalil Bandh, who was injured as his driver tried to pull away the car from a mob, could not be admitted at the district hospital and had to be taken to the army’s 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar.

Senior officials of the administration avoid travelling for work. Even in cases of normal crime, the police are scared to go to the spot and instead prefer to gather details over the phone and then register a First Information Report. A journalist friend says that a file involving a simple government sanction that his friend requires has been stuck at the Secretariat for more than two months.

The trouble has spread to hitherto peaceful areas this time. In Budgam, for example, there has hardly been any militancy for more than twenty years. But now, the district is witnessing pitched battles between protesters and security personnel.

This time, an organisation called Ittehad-e-Millat has come into being; it constitutes of elements from radical organisations like the Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat-e-ahle Hadith. Its leaders have been addressing big rallies, especially in south Kashmir, asking people to take oath of shunning mainstream political parties. Several prominent people in Baramulla have been asked to apologise for their association with political parties. Police sources reveal that from next month onwards, plans are afoot to begin collecting taxes from people as terrorist organisations often do in their strongholds. “What will I do?” says a friend, who hails from Budgam, “suppose I am in Jammu and these guys come to my house and tell my family members: tomorrow, he will have to address a public rally and ask for azadi from India. And my family says: Well, he is in Jammu. And they will say: if he wants to live here, ask him to return immediately and do as we say. Then what choice will I have except to return immediately and do their bidding?”

Since the houses and properties of politicians have been targeted, the journalist friend said, they had been wondering how the house of a PDP leader in south Kashmir remained unscathed. “We made queries locally and realised that to save his family from the wrath of violent mobs, the politician’s brother has also been indulging in stone-pelting. And, of course, the politician has not even set foot in his house since the first day of the trouble,” he said.

How did it begin? Even when the accused in the Parliament attack, Afzal Guru, was hanged in Tihar jail in 2013, there was minimal protest in Kashmir valley. The problem, police sources reveal, began after the late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed became the chief minister in the PDP’s alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Soon after he took over, Mufti decided to release the radical Islamist, Masarat Alam, who had been arrested for his role in the 2010 turmoil in Kashmir. Sayeed also had plans to release the Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist and the husband of Asiya Andrabi, Qasim Faktoo.

This is what happened after Alam was released: every year, the radical separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chooses to spend Kashmir’s harsh winter months in Delhi. He returns around April, an event largely ignored by the Kashmiris. But on 16 April, 2015, after his release, Alam organised a big reception to welcome his mentor. As Geelani was accorded a hero’s welcome, he addressed a public rally, his first in almost two-and-a-half years. As the rally passed the Director General of Police’s office, the crowd shouted: “Pakistan se kya paigaam, Kashmir banega Pakistan (What is the message from Pakistan? Kashmir will become Pakistan!)” and “Jeevay, jeevay Pakistan (Long live Pakistan!).”

Upon Mufti’s instructions, no attempts were made to stop the procession. “It bolstered youngsters who had grudgingly reconciled to the fact that azadi is a mirage,” said a senior police officer. It is also roughly around this time that the legend of Burhan Wani was created. “Till then, nobody had even heard of Wani,” said the police officer, “and suddenly journalists land from Delhi and picture him as the new poster boy of militancy.”

As Wani made effective use of social media to influence the youth, the final straw came in February this year when a group of Kashmiri youth shouted slogans for India’s destruction at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. “The intelligence agencies have identified all of them. But none of them has been touched. Instead, a scapegoat was made out of Kanhaiya Kumar,” said the police officer.

As a result, the entire separatist machinery got together in what they saw as a big opportunity, permanently damaging what had been achieved in Kashmir in the last many years. The separatists became so confident that they refused to budge while mainstream politicians begged for an inch.

As protests ceased to ebb, Narendra Modi’s ministers made one infantile remark after another. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that normalcy would be restored in seven days. How he came to such conclusion remains mysterious. The Union Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh, said that the reason India is giving security to separatist leaders in Kashmir is because they face threat from Pakistan, which might attack them to blame India. If the separatist leaders were acting in accordance with Pakistan, why would Pakistan kill them? And if India offered them security because the separatists are ‘assets’, why are then they damaging India’s cause so much in Kashmir? The fact remains that Kashmir has become like the elephant and those who ‘handle’ Kashmir for the BJP the proverbial blind men.

In a remarkable 2011 piece, the Pakistani writer, Mohammed Hanif, wrote about the night when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s elected government was about to be toppled by the then army chief, General Zia ul Haq. Hanif describes how Zia took aside a senior army officer who was his right-hand man and whispered to him: “Murshid, marwa na dena.” (Guide, don’t get us killed). Someone ought to go to the BJP’s main handler of Kashmir and tell him: “Mahashay, marwa na dena” (Sir, don’t get us killed).

Uri Attack: Continuous strategic intelligence will help respond to asymmetric threats

Same old story; another terrorist attack albeit this time more heinous in Uri using incendiaries to burn the wounded, and higher number of casualties. There events have been dissected, conferences held, prime minister warned the perpetrators, home minister cancelled his US trip, DGMO talked about Jaish-e-Mohammad JeM involvement on national TV, there was a flurry of officials sent to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), TV debates, proclamations about what needs to be done, Raheel Sharif brought out his ‘nuclear’ approach, so on and so forth. Could we have consigned bodies of the four terrorists to flames (they burned our soldiers, didn’t they?), televised it and showed live to the world — have you not been harping terrorists have no religion? But this apart, are we going to do anything beyond ‘Artomacy’ (artillery bombardment and diplomacy)? If that is all then our civilian areas will also be targeted by Pakistani artillery and mortars. And, while you may be happy about the diplomatic isolation of Pakistan, there will be more cautionary remarks by the US (sanctions – you must be kidding!) to go after terrorists organisations, China will hug Pakistan more tightly — end of the story. The Hurriyat separatists would be mighty amused, as would the ISI and their terrorist protégés.

When will we learn that we have to fight our own war? The global powers, themselves using proxy forces, will go by their own national interests. Have we not understood why foreign intelligence related to Pakistan is coming to us piecemeal, as and when it suits the interests of the country providing it? Following the January terrorist attack on the IAF base at Pathankot, the editorial of Washington Times of 6 January titled ‘Islamic terrorists open a new front’ said, “Just what the civilised world needs, a new front in the war against radical Islamic terrorism: Two terrorists were killed this week in an attack on the Pathankot Indian Air Force Base.”

Smoke rises from the Army Brigade camp in Uri. PTISmoke rises from the Army Brigade camp in Uri. PTI

Smoke rises from the Army Brigade camp in Uri. PTI

Of the 1,67,221 terrorist related fatalities in period 2001-2015, only 2.2 percent were suffered by US and Western Europe which included 11 September 2001 attacks; which is a is happy situation, while 75 percent of those killed were in 25 Muslim-majority countries. Significantly, Ashley Tellis of Carnegie Endowment had said in 2012, “India being continuously subjected to terror actually suits many … India is a sponge that absorbs global terror.” Also, post the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008, Tellis recommended to a Senate panel that US must go for the evisceration of the LeT and allied terrorist groups with or without the cooperation of Pakistan. But there is hardly any pressure on Pakistan. Pakistan was as big a country with nuclear weapons in 2001 when Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State threatened Pakistan to join the global war on terror (GWOT) or they would be “bombed into stone age”.

Late MK Dhar, former Joint Director IB wrote in his book Open Secrets – India’s intelligence unveiled published in 2005, “I continued to advocate for an aggressive and proactive counter and forward intelligence thrust against Pakistan. My voice was rarely heard and mostly ignored. The Pakistani establishment is a geopolitical bully. The best response to blunt such a bully is to take the war inside his home. India has allowed itself to be blackmailed by Pakistan even before it went nuclear. The sabre rattling of ‘coercive diplomacy’, which is nothing but sterile military power, cannot convince the Islamist Pakistani Establishment that India can take the border skirmishes inside their homes and hit at the very roots of the jaundiced Islamist groups.” Dhar was obviously referring these recommendations while he was in service, much before he wrote the book post retirement.

Similarly, Jaswant Singh, former Foreign Minister and Defence Minister wrote in his book A Call to Honour, “Terrorism in India – as an aspect of our current history, now virtually an ideology, a new tool of coercion in the conduct of internal and external relations — has redefined both internal and international relations — has redefined both inter-state and intrastate dynamism. There are issues here that we have, sadly, neither sufficiently grasped nor addressed. Whatever we have done has been ad hoc. This is a sure recipe for ultimate failure”. If any more proof was needed we are a soft state, Army’s sub-conventional warfare doctrine, preamble of which was signed by Defence Minister AK Anthony, is confined to its own side of the border.

So, how should India respond? Sure the diplomatic pressure must be accelerated including at the UN to isolate Pakistan. Conventional PGM strike at carefully selected target(s) too is an option that would also call Pakistan’s nuclear bluff once for all. The two-way porosity of the LoC should also be exploited to hit the enemy hard. But the most important issue is to understand that conventional response is no match to asymmetric and irregular war. Diplomatic efforts sure should be accelerated to get Pakistan declared terrorist state, terror organisations blacklisted and getting their leaders isolated and declared terrorists. But such measures do not suffice by themselves. You cannot protect your house without effective policing in streets. We need to take control of Pakistan’s fault-lines, which are so many one can actually pick and choose. Special forces have been employed in conjunction national intelligence agencies to good effect by USA, UK, France, Israel, Germany and China, but despite being subjected to terror for decades and continuing voids in strategic intelligence this has not happened in India. We have a host of special forces that must be used in conjunction intelligence agencies to control Pakistani fault-lines since these forces operate without or with ambiguous signatures. Their tasks no more focus solely on direct action but span continuous strategic intelligence and shaping the environment in own national interest, in addition to politico-military actions at the strategic level. Unless this is acknowledged and put in motion, we will never be able to respond to asymmetric threats appropriately. Concurrently there is need to synchronise global political, intelligence, military, cyber and diplomatic efforts towards identifying, isolating and stemming the specific sources of financial and armed support to terrorist organisations.

When Zia-ul-Haq ushered in Wahabism, he set Pakistan on the trail to consume itself through Islamic radicalisation. Raheel Sharif will be remembered for letting in the PLA, setting Pakistan in the path of US-China strategic competition on land, similar to what’s happening on the waters of South China Sea. But while that takes its own time, we should be prepared to fight the sub-conventional on our own steam.

The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army

Tweeting Jihadism: How the online onslaught of Islamic State can be countered

This part two picks up from the previous part where the author discusses how the Islamic State terrorists use Twitter to drive communications over other social media platforms and Twitter’s crackdown on hundreds of thousands of these pro-Islamic State accounts. The author also explains how social media platforms, particularly Twitter, ‘serves as a breeding ground for the terrorists’. 

Numerous research findings have corroborated the vital functioning of online media in the process of radicalisation. Mass communication portals and social networking sites are facilitating the interconnection between the radical preachers and Islamic State sympathisers, like Anjem Choudary, and the gullible Muslims. This situation has triggered an academic debate on the online media’s key role in mediating and popularising the extremist narratives among a section of the Muslim audience.

According to the Times of India report, it was the US-based non-profit think tank RAND Corporation which studied the Twitter accounts supporting Islamic State between July 2014 and May 2015. The think tank found that over 75,000 accounts were tweeting pro-Islamic State messages about 60 times a day on an average, which made them 50 percent more active than their online detractors.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Prior to this report, RAND also carried out a rigorous research on ‘radicalisation in the digital era’. Based on case studies, it primarily explored how individuals were engaged with the internet during the process of their radicalisation. For instance, a study held by RAND titled “The use of the internet in 15 cases of terrorism and extremism” has developed a nuanced understanding of the role of the online media in radicalisation. Some of the fundamental questions that this study sought to address are: How the radical Islamist groups are using the internet to indoctrinate radicalism into an individual’s mind, and what are the ways in which a radical Islamist’s online engagement relates to his offline activities?

RAND’s study also offers precise and useful recommendations for framing policy responses to the use of the digital media in the process of radicalisation. It argues that the digital media is an enabling technology in the case of growing Islamist radicalisation and thus this ‘online onslaught’ can best be tackled online only.

Empirical evidence in this study supports the hypotheses that internet eases the online process of radicalisation and that it acts as an ‘echo chamber’ (a place where individuals find their ideas supported and echoed by other like-minded individuals). But this evidence relies only on a few cases which buttress the point that internet facilitates the radicalisation of Muslim users of certain Islamist websites and online portals. Although it is not the only driver of the radicalisation process. However, there is no substantial evidence in this study to corroborate the main hypothesis that the study holds. For instance, the online media maximises the potentials of self-radicalisation or that it occurs without any physical contact.

Several other think tanks have studied the scope of ‘digital radicalisation’ from an anti-terrorism perspective.

A research journal Studies in Conflict & Terrorism published a detailed report titled, “Tweeting the Jihad: Social Media Networks of Western Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq” in 2015. Jytte Klausen, the compiler of this report, did a social network analysis of the data on Twitter users, mostly militants, based in Western Syria. He used a snowball method with 59 starter accounts to collect data about the most popular accounts in the network at large from January to March 2014. The researchers engaged in this study used their own Twitter accounts to identify potential foreign fighters in Syria. A total of 60 accounts were initially identified but one was inactive at the time, and therefore excluded from analysis.

Klausen also used the social network analysis (SNA) tool in order to recognise the crucial disseminators of content that drove the traffic on Twitter. Using a snowball method, the original accounts were treated as “starter nodes” in a network of followers creating a larger dataset that covered the entire network. The snowball method captured a particular network that comprised only a slice of the global network of the Twitter. However, the analytical platforms of this study could not encompass the larger scope of the dataset for the whole of Twitter’s network. Due to lack of capacity of the analytical platforms, there could not have been more sophisticated analytical description.

Another American think tank like RAND – Brookings Institution – based in Washington, D.C, found in its “Twitter Census” that Islamic State supporters used at least 46,000 accounts between September and December 2014. Alarmed at this increasing trend of Twitter jihadism, the social media network’s daily suspensions of terror-linked accounts have jumped to 80 percent since 2015. Twitter has suspended an additional 2,35,000 accounts since February 2016, after halting 1,25,000 accounts since the middle of 2015, most of which were related to Islamic State.

However, experts believe that merely blocking the jihadist accounts on Twitter is not a guarantee for their complete elimination. Since the beginning of February 2016 when Twitter began this crackdown, terrorist accounts have started migrating to Telegram. Nevertheless, Telegram channels of the terror indoctrinators are also being shut down just like the Twitter accounts. But in recent years, several accounts promoting terrorism, particularly Islamic State, have used Facebook as their platform.

Clearly, just blocking the jihadist accounts on certain social platforms is not the solution. Also, a well-thought-out, well-reasoned, coherent and effective counter-narrative against the extremist rhetoric is imperative.

In this gigantic anti-extremism moderate, Islamic scholars and thinkers can help. Since the jihadist indoctrination and recruitment of the Muslim youth has been on the rampage in the cyber world, the ‘online de-radicalisation’ is desperately required.

In this task, the fundamental questions that should be grappled with are: What drives online radicalisation to rely on a religious justification? – How operative is the “ideology” within the process of online radicalisation? What is the significance of “idealism” and “theodicy” and how these could be interpreted and implemented? – As most terrorists loudly claim to be inspired by Islamism, what is the moderate response of the Muslims to the violent extremist ideology; and how they interpret Qur’an and Hadith – the two primary sources of Islam – to counter radicalisation?

Omar Ashour, the author of “The De-Radicalization of Jihadists: Transforming Armed Islamist Movements”, wrote a paper ‘Online De-Radicalization? Countering Violent Extremist Narratives: Message, Messenger and Media Strategy’. Based on his empirical knowledge of the impact of religion on radicalisation, he explored the role of the ‘new media’ or the online media in indoctrinating the violent extremist narratives into the young and impressionable Muslim minds. At the same time, he also examined how the online media and internet, as opposed to its effects on radicalisation, can play an effective role in promoting a counter-narrative to facilitate the process of online de-radicalisation.

The very first question Ashour addressed was: Whether online counter-extremism is possible? In conclusion, he offers what could be a ‘concrete solution’ in his mind to ‘online radicalisation’. He opines that the ongoing online extremist indoctrination can only be countered by an online de-radicalisation. To work out an effective and impacting counter-narrative, he avers, we need to channelise digital media – websites, online newspapers, blogs, wikis, internet TV and most importantly social media.

Indeed, without an online counter-narrative, we cannot tackle the onslaught of the extremist Islamist narratives. But it is very unsettling that no such strategy has been evolved to control the ongoing digital radicalisation even in the US, UK or India. Ironically, this is too difficult a task for even these countries of the best tech-savvy people. One still fails to understand it. If the government-led high-tech teamwork is not capable enough to battle the jihadist radicalisation, no wonder that the executives from Twitter, Telegram, Apple Snapchat, Facebook, MTV to Buzzfeed still fail to tackle the online onslaught of the Islamic State.

The author is a scholar of Comparative Religion, Classical Arabic and Islamic sciences, cultural analyst and researcher in Media and Communication Studies. Write to him at [email protected]

Almost two-thirds of Germans think Islam doesn’t belong to their country – poll | Reuters

BERLIN Almost two-thirds of Germans think Islam does not “belong” to their country, a survey showed on Thursday, indicating changing attitudes following militant Islamist attacks in Europe and the arrival of more than a million, mostly Muslim, migrants last year.

Former German president Christian Wulff sparked controversy in 2010 when he said Islam belonged to Germany, a comment repeated by Chancellor Angela Merkel last year.

Six years ago, 49 percent of Germans agreed with Wulff and 47 percent did not.

Thursday’s poll, carried out by Infratest dimap for broadcaster WDR, showed that the mood has shifted, with 60 percent now saying that Islam does not belong to Germany. It showed 34 percent thought it did belong.

Scepticism about the religion was greatest among older people, with 71 percent over the age of 64 believing Islam does not belong to the country.

Germany is home to around four million Muslims, about five percent of the total population, and unease over the religion is on the rise, especially in the wake of deadly Islamic State attacks in Brussels and Paris.

Earlier this month members of the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) backed an election manifesto that says Islam is not compatible with the constitution and calls for a ban on minarets and the burqa.

Just over half of Germans are concerned that the influence of Islam in Germany will become too strong due to the influx of refugees, the Infratest dimap poll showed.

Fears about an Islamist terrorist attack in Germany are also rife, with almost three-quarters of Germans worried about the possibility.

The survey of 1,003 Germans was conducted between May 2 and May 3.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Bangladesh Hindu tailor hacked to death in attack claimed by Islamic State | Reuters

DHAKA Three assailants sped up to a Bangladeshi tailor’s shop by motorcycle on Saturday, dragged out the Hindu owner and hacked him to death, police said, in an attack claimed by Islamic State.

Police official Abdul Jalil, quoting witnesses, said the attackers fled the scene after killing 50-year-old Nikhil Chandra Joardar outside his shop in the town of Tangail, 80 km (50 miles) northwest of the capital Dhaka.

Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the killing, saying the tailor had blasphemed Prophet Mohammad, the U.S.-based monitoring service SITE said.

The attack came days after a Bangladeshi gay rights campaigner and his friend were killed in a similar manner in a Dhaka apartment.

Islamist militants have targeted atheist bloggers, academics, religious minorities and foreign aid workers in a series of killings that dates back to February 2015 and has claimed at least 20 lives.

International human rights groups say a climate of intolerance in Bangladeshi politics has both motivated and provided cover for perpetrators of crimes of religious hatred.

Police said they were investigating whether Joardar’s killing was connected to a complaint made against him for making a derogatory comment about Prophet Mohammad.

He was in jail for a few weeks in 2012 but released after the complaint against him was withdrawn, said Jalil.

The Islamic State and a group affiliated to al Qaeda have issued similar claims of responsibility in the past, but the authenticity of Saturday’s statement could not be immediately verified.

Three people, including a local Islamist party leader, have been picked up for questioning, police said on Sunday.

The Bangladeshi government has denied that Islamic State or al Qaeda have a presence in the country of 160 million people. Police say home-grown militants groups are behind the attacks.

Western security experts doubt that there are any direct operational links between Islamic State, based in the Middle East, and militants operating on the ground in Bangladesh.

But they do say that claims and statements of support for militant attacks through their propaganda channels allows them to create the impression of being in league together.

Human rights activists have urged mainstream politicians in Bangladesh to abandon sectarian hostilities that date back to the 1971 war of independence, and to engage in a constructive dialogue that would deprive Islamist extremists of cover for their attacks.

(Editing by Kim Coghill)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Music-loving professor is ISIS’ latest target in Bangladesh

Continuing the spate of identical murders – unknown Islamist militants armed with machetes attacking and fleeing on motorbikes – a professor of English language was hacked to death on early Saturday morning in Bangladesh. The Islamic State affiliated group in Bangladesh has claimed the killing for “calling to atheism”.Rezaul Karim Siddique, 58, died on the spot, near his home when he was on his way to Rajshahi University, where he taught English. The attack nearly left three deep wounds on Siddique’s neck, nearly severing his head.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Islamic State group, in the evening, claimed responsibility for the attack by releasing a four-line statement on Amaq news agency of “assassinating a university teacher for calling to atheism”. In departure with its online propaganda strategy, the IS did not cash in on the attack. Neither did it release any further details or photos on the incident, nor did its group members or supporters sensationalize the attack.Siddique’s family is reported to have said that the professor never spoke publicly on religion nor expressed any thoughts critical to Islam on social media. A connoisseur of Bangla music and literature, he took interest in culture and had recently set up a music school in his village Bagmara in Rajshahi district.This is the seventh attack made by IS-affiliated group in Bangladesh and the first since the group was formally accepted by the core leaders in Syria. The 14th edition of IS mouthpiece Dabiq released earlier this month featured a detailed interview of Sheikh Abu Ibrahim al Hanif, who was introduced as the new emir of the group’s operations in Bangladesh.In the interview, Abu Ibrahim repeatedly mentions that his group has “small number of mujahideen with limited means”, who have pledged allegiance to IS. This indicates why the group in Bangladesh focuses on targeting ‘anti-Islamist’ or who it considers to be apostate individuals as against IS strategy in its other operational divisions like Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan-Pakistan and even Europe, where it concentrates on mass casualties through suicide bombings, gun battles and public beheading.“They (IS) are desperately trying to make their presence felt and hit and run attacks like in urban areas keep them in news. They are not capable of carrying out large-scale attacks, like in Brussels or Paris, in Bangladesh,” says Tufail Ahmed, director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) South Asia Studies Project, who focuses his research on jihadi groups and movements in the region. “Members of some local jihadi groups like Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) Bangladesh and Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) who are locally organised seems to have established contact with the main IS because they relate to its ideology of forming Caliphate.’’This is the second attack by IS Bagmara after it claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in December on a Ahmadi mosque killing one. Bagmara in Rajshahi – bordering India across Padma river – is a stronghold of the JMB, which was banned in 2005. The top leadership of JMB, including Bagmara leader Siddiqul Islam Bangla Bhai, was executed in a major crackdown by Bangladesh’s security forces.State minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam, in a counter-terrorism conference held in Jaipur, credited the government’s policy, which includes “engaging religious scholars to demotivate the terrorist sympathizers”. “The Religious Affairs Ministry is arranging religious gatherings to highlight the negative impacts of militancy in effectively combating Islamist extremist and terrorism,” he said.Transnational jihadi groups like the al Qaeda and the IS are desperately seeking to expand their operations and gain a foothold in the region. The existing network of Islamist sympathizers and network of local jihadi groups has made Bangladesh an attractive territory. The top leadership of Bangladesh government has denied presence of IS or al Qaeda.Since 2014, when al Qaeda announced its new wing in the Indian Sub continent (AQIS) and the Islamic State burst out on the scene of global jihad, Bangladesh has seen a revival in attacks by Islamist militants. Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) has pledged allegiance to AQIS and Abu Ibrahim and his men have aligned with IS. The patterns of killing adopted by AQIS and IS are glaringly similar and often overlap.The IS had earlier targeted two foreign nationals, blown an Ahmadiya shrine killing one, and beheaded two Hindus and a Christian convert, while AQIS-ABT targeted bloggers for ridiculing or criticizing Islam. The latest in the series was law student and activist Nazimuddin Samad, who was hacked to death in the first week of April for posting comments against radical Islamists on Facebook.

India does a China: Allows visit of Uyghur leader Dolkun Isa claimed to be a ‘terrorist’

China on Friday aired its concern over World Uyghur Congress (WUC) leader Dolkun Isa’s reported visit to India, saying he is a “terrorist” on Interpol’s Red Corner and it is the obligation of all countries to bring him to justice.India’s decision to permit WUC leaders whom China regards as backers of terrorism in its volatile Muslim-dominated Xinjiang province was reported to be in response to Beijing’s blocking a ban on Jaish-e Muhammad chief Masood Azhar in the UN.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am not aware of the situation,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told PTI in a written response when asked about the reports that WUC leaders including Dolkun were given permission to meet the Dalai Lama later this month.
ALSO READ Masood Azhar issue discussed with China: Ajit Doval”What I want to point out is that Dolkun is a terrorist in red notice of the Interpol and Chinese police. Bringing him to justice is due obligation of relevant countries,” Hua said.Xinjiang, which has over 10 million Uyghur population of Turkik origin Muslims, was on the boil for several years over Uyghur protests against the large-scale settlements of Hans from different part of the country.
ALSO READ China sticks to its guns on blocking India’s bid to ban Pathankot mastermind Masood AzharChina blames East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a militant Islamist group, for terrorist attacks in Xinjiang and other parts of the country.

ISIS may be linked to Gurudwara attack in Germany: Report

The dreaded Islamic State terror group may be linked to the explosion at a gurudwara in Germany’s western city of Essen, a media report said on Thursday as police arrested two teenagers in connection with the “terrorist act”.Suspicions of an ISIS involvement in the Saturday blast at the Nanaksar Satsang Sabha Gurudwara, which occurred at the end of a marriage ceremony, have hardened following the arrest of two 16-year-olds in the nearby town of Gelsenkirchen last night.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The two teenagers with known links to regional Islamists have been arrested over the attack which left three persons, including a priest, injured, said city police chief Frank Richter. “We have to presume it was a terrorist act — religiously motivated terror by the Islamist scene,” Richter said.”We will continue to do everything possible to ensure the protection of the Sikh community in Essen,” Richter said. “Our work does not end with the arrest of the two suspects. There are numerous leads that need to be evaluated.” The strength of the Sikh community members in Germany is estimated around 15,000.Earlier, one of the two men identified by police as Yusuf T, an ISIS sympathiser, is now treated by investigators as the main suspect in the attack, ARD TV network reported. He is known to the authorities as an activist in the Islamist scene in the Ruhr region of North Rhine Westphalia and has been actively involved in a campaign to distribute free copies of the Quran in the German-speaking region organised by a radical Salafist sect of Islam.Yusuf also has links to “Lohberger-Brigade”, an alliance of radical Islamists in the town of Dinslaken, the report said. Most of German Islamists who have travelled to Syria to join ISIS militants had close links to LIES, the organisation behind the Quran distribution campaign, according to the report.Yusuf had used his Facebook profile to carry out propaganda for the ISIS, it said. Media reports said earlier that his mask thrown into a bush was recovered by police and it was being subjected to DNA analysis.Police yesterday released photos and CCTV footage of two men suspected of planting a backpack containing a bomb in the entrance hall of the gurudwara.One of them carried a backpack with the logo “Russel Athletic”. Investigators found the remains of a similar back pack in the debris of the explosion, according to police. India had expressed “distress” at what has been deemed as a deliberate act from the beginning. Top Indian officials have already taken it up at the highest level as Essen authorities assured India that all steps will be taken to ensure security for all minorities including the Sikhs.

Pakistan plans new paramilitary crackdown after Easter bombing kills 70 | Reuters

LAHORE, Pakistan Pakistan has decided to launch a paramilitary crackdown on Islamist militants in Punjab, the country’s richest and most populous province, after an Easter Day bombing killed 70 people in the provincial capital Lahore, officials said on Monday.

Sunday’s suicide bombing at a public park was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban’s Jamaat-ur-Ahrar faction, which once declared loyalty to Islamic State. The group said it was targeting Christians.

The brutality of the attack, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar’s fifth bombing since December, reflects the movement’s attempts to raise its profile among Pakistan’s increasingly fractured Islamist militants.

At least 29 children enjoying an Easter weekend outing were among those killed when the suicide bomber struck in a busy park in the eastern city of Lahore, the power base of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan is a majority-Muslim state but has a Christian population of more than two million.

Pope Francis condemned the attack as “hideous” and demanded that Pakistani authorities protect religious minorities.

It was Pakistan’s deadliest attack since the December 2014 massacre of 134 school children at a military-run academy in the city of Peshawar that prompted a government crackdown on Islamist militancy.

Security and government officials told Reuters the decision had been made to launch a full-scale operation involving the paramilitary Rangers, who would have powers to conduct raids and interrogate suspects in the same way as they have been doing in the southern city of Karachi for more than two years.

The move, which has not yet been formally announced, represents the civilian government once again granting special powers to the military to fight Islamist militants.

“The technicalities are yet to be worked out. There are some legal issues also with bringing in Rangers, but the military and government are on the same page,” said one senior security official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to share details of the plan.

One other military official and two government officials confirmed the decision on condition of anonymity.

“The PM ordered a joint operation of ‎the counter-terrorism department and Rangers in the border areas of Punjab against terrorists and their facilitators,” said one government official who attended a meeting with Sharif and Punjab officials on Monday.

The move is likely to be controversial in Punjab. In Karachi, the Rangers’ crackdown has drawn accusations of human rights abuses and the targeting of opposition politicians, though the rate of militant and criminal violence has dropped sharply since the paramilitary force arrived.

Sharif’s own party has long opposed any militarised operation against militants in its Punjab heartland.


Military spokesman Gen. Asim Bajwa said intelligence agencies, the army and Rangers had already launched several raids around Punjab following the attack, arresting an unspecified number of suspects and recovering arms caches.

Sharif visited the wounded in hospitals and described the attackers as a “coward enemy trying for soft targets”.

“Terrorists should know that failure is their fate,” he said in a television address to the nation, vowing to crush them.

Claiming responsibility on Sunday for the attack on behalf of Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan issued a direct challenge to the government: “We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore.”

Rescue services spokeswoman Deeba Shahnaz said at least 29 children, seven women and 34 men had been killed and about 340 people wounded, with 25 in serious condition.

Jamaat-ur-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for several big attacks since it split from the main Pakistani Taliban in 2014.

While it mostly focuses attacks in its base of the northwestern Mohmand tribal area, it has previously carried out at least two major attacks in Lahore: one in 2015 that targeted two Christian churches and another at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan in late 2014.

Pakistan has been plagued by militant violence since it joined a U.S.-led campaign against Islamist militancy after the Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on the United States.

While the army, police, government and Western interests have been the prime targets of the Pakistani Taliban and their allies, Christians and other religious minorities have also been attacked.

Security forces have killed and arrested hundreds of suspected militants under an earlier crackdown launched after the 2014 Peshawar school massacre. Militant violence eased, but groups retain the ability to launch devastating attacks.

Most militants, like the Pakistani Taliban, want to topple the government and introduce a strict version of Islamic law.

(Additional reporting by Asad Hashim.; Writing by Asad Hashim and Kay Johnson.; Editing by Nick Macfie and Gareth Jones)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

JNU row: No regrets, proud of being jailed for sedition, says Umar Khalid

Hours after his release from Tihar jail in a sedition case, JNU student Umar Khalid said he has no regrets of being jailed and was rather proud of being booked under the said charges.”We have no regrets of being jailed in this particular case. We are in fact proud of the fact that we have been booked under sedition, a law under which activists like Arundhati Roy and Binayak Sen were booked.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Our names have been added to the list of those who have been jailed for raising their voices,” he told a gathering at the varsity.In a 35-minute speech, Umar said, “I am not ashamed that I was in jail. Criminals are those who are in power, those in jail are the ones who raise their voice.” “I also don’t think that freedom of expression is in danger. It only belongs to those in power. People like (Pravin) Togadia and Yogi Adityanath have all the freedom of expression,” he said.Umar claimed that he was being labelled a terrorist because of Islam, which, he said, he did not practice.”I never followed Islam but I was called Islamist terrorist. It was not just my trial but entire Muslim community’s trial. But I want to ask what if I was practising Muslim? What if I came from Azamgarh and wore a skull cap? That will be enough to give me a terrorist certificate”, he said.Khalid, who was welcomed at the gathering by JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and his 6-year-old sister Sara, said, “Those who are raising concerns about wastage of taxpayers’ money, we want to tell them we are not going to go back to studies now that we are back from jail. By jailing us you have given bigger responsibilities on our shoulders and we will fulfill that by fighting.”Umar, and Anirban Bhattacharya, arrested last month on charges of sedition for their involvement in a controversial event organised to protest hanging of Afzal Guru, were today granted interim bail for six months by a Delhi court on ground of parity with Kanhaiya.Kanhaiya, who was also arrested on charges of sedition in connection with the February 9 event at the JNU, was granted bail earlier this month.

Bangladesh police raid suspected militant hideout, find explosives | Reuters

DHAKA Bangladesh police seized explosives and bomb-making materials on Sunday from a hideout used by Jama’atul-Mujahideen militants believed to be behind a spate of recent attacks in the south Asian nation, a police spokesman said.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh has seen a rise in Islamist violence in the last year, including the killing of several liberal activists and attacks on minority Shi’ite Muslims, a Christian priest and Hindu temples.

Police searched a house on the outskirts of Dhaka based on information from members of the banned Jama’atul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) captured in an earlier raid in the capital, said Maruf Hossain Sardar, a deputy commissioner of police.

A large amount of bomb-making equipment and explosives were found in the raid, he added.

The group is believed to be behind attacks such as the bombings of a Shi’ite shrine and the killing of two foreigners.

Militant group Islamic State has claimed responsibility for some recent attacks, including the killing of a Hindu priest last week and an attack on a Shi’ite Muslim mosque in November.

The government denies that Islamic State has a presence in Bangladesh, and instead blames Islamist political opponents for instigating violence in the nation of 160 million people.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Ros Russell)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Proxy war: Get over with diplomacy, take war to Pak or else Last Posts will play on after Pampore

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

As this article goes to the media, the encounter in Pampore has been on for 42 hours. India has lost five security personnel including two officers, one being Captain Pawan Kumar the only child of his parents. Captain Tushar Mahajan too was a young officer. Last rites of the bravehearts are shown live on the media with last posts sounded with full military honours and hundreds in attendance. Media calls it a Pakistani proxy attack. Some of the media houses will probably organise TV debates with the same Pakistani stooges saying Pakistan has nothing to do with it or when countered by Indian panelists, will say, OK, if you think that way you are welcome to launch your Strike Corps. The hierarchy will say that appropriate reply will be given and the show will carry on till the next such encounter/terror attack.

Army jawans paying tribute to to Captain Tushar Mahajan who lost his life in a gun-battle with the militants in Pampore, in Udhampur on Monday. PTIArmy jawans paying tribute to to Captain Tushar Mahajan who lost his life in a gun-battle with the militants in Pampore, in Udhampur on Monday. PTI

Army jawans paying tribute to to Captain Tushar Mahajan who lost his life in a gun-battle with the militants in Pampore, in Udhampur on Monday. PTI

But first let us examine the above, even as the encounter continues. As per reports only one terrorist has been gunned down till now and perhaps another three-four are holed up inside the double storey house being shown on the TV obviously with plenty ammunition and food. Whether there are other civilians in that house is not known but perhaps that may be the reason why heavy weapons have not been used till now. But the bottom-line is that Pakistan sends across jaundiced terrorists who perhaps are addicted to narcotics and have wreaked AIDS on the women in J&K. The Valley in particular over the years has seen rise in HIV/AIDS cases even as the state government hides the figures. These terrorists are extracting lives of our security forces including young officers. It is a very cheap option for Pakistan to keep our security heavily tied down. Next comes the media blitz of sudden found nationalism during such occurrences — saluting the martyrs, photographs with full description, live coverage of last rites and all. All this is very fine but look at the other side of the coin. What is the status of such coverage for martyrs elsewhere? Has the US or Nato done such publicity for their personnel killed in say Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, numbers are released at later date and perhaps list of names much later. Has the Pakistani media ever given such coverage to their killed in action in Operation Zarb-e-Azb even though their officers hardly lead? The way our media handles such occurrences’ is obvious motivation to terrorists in Pakistan with jaundiced mullahs like Hafiz Saeed and Azhar Masood laughing all the way home, not that the Pakistani military-ISI would not be popping champagne.

What have we really done suffering Pakistan’s proxy war for the past three and a half decades? Late MK Dhar, former Joint Director IB wrote in his book ‘Open Secrets – India’s intelligence unveiled’ published 10 years ago in 2005, “I continued to advocate for an aggressive and proactive counter and forward intelligence thrust against Pakistan. My voice was rarely heard and mostly ignored. The Pakistani establishment is a geopolitical bully. The best response to blunt such a bully is to take the war inside his home. India has allowed itself to be blackmailed by Pakistan even before it went nuclear. The sabre rattling of “coercive diplomacy”, which is nothing but sterile military power, cannot convince the Islamist Pakistani Establishment that India can take the border skirmishes inside their homes and hit at the very roots of the jaundiced Islamist groups.” We have failed to establish credible deterrence against Pakistan’s proxy war, refusing to acknowledge that irregular forces have emerged with greater strategic value over conventional and even nuclear forces, as can be seen from examining conflict situations over the past decade.

Even Operation Parakram should have taught us that conventional forces are no match to irregular threats. But we still continue to rely on diplomacy which is useless without being backed by unconventional muscle. While we have been mostly relying on idealism, we have compounded it with an inward looking policy. The costs of always following an inward looking policy are much higher, as India should have realised years back. The most effective policy for India or for that matter any country, should be one that balances both realism and idealism, which in effect, makes the idealism realistic. But we need to also weigh in other issues why we are continuing with such intransigence? Ask the public and you would be surprised to know how many are of the view that they think if the terrorists would have actually entered the Parliament during attack in December 2001, our response to Pakistan’s proxy war would have been far more cohesive and effective. The fact is that you can hardly find a politician or bureaucrat’s ward in the security forces. So casualties are just numbers that don’t matter, not that some politicians have also had the gumption to say that after all security forces personnel are meant to die. The second issue is the cross-border links of the terrorists and mafia which includes politician; money laundering through hawala, narcotics trade and diversion of funds to terrorist organisations, as reported by NIA from time to time, and hinted by veteran R&AW officers.

If we think that Pakistan will have a change of heart, we cannot be more foolhardy. Filing of FIR against unknown persons in the terrorist attack on Pathankot IAF air base and removing personal security of the prosecutor in the trill underway in Pakistan for the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack, with the previous prosecutor gunned down are latest indicators. But the fact is that Pakistan will up the ante of proxy war with the US and China firmly in support of the Pakistani military. It is time that our government despite the approaching elections in various states and modernising-cum-development schemes, seriously get down to build the sub-conventional muscle. We urgently need to establish effective deterrence to combat Pakistan’s proxy war, which may need to be exercised from time to time in order to demonstrate its credibility. If we fail to take such action even now, then the Last Posts and the show will simply go on as hithertofore.

Suspected Islamist militants kill Hindu priest in Bangladesh

Suspected Islamist militants stabbed and killed a Hindu priest at a temple in Bangladesh on Sunday, and shot and injured a devotee who went to his aid, police said.Bangladesh has suffered a wave of Islamist militant violence in recent months, including a series of bomb attacks on mosques and Hindu temples.Some of the attacks have been claimed by Islamic State, which has also said it is behind the killings of a Japanese citizen, an Italian aid worker and a policeman.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In Sunday’s attack, five or six motorcycle-borne attackers cut the throat of the priest, Jogeshwar Roy, 55, as he was organising prayers at the Deviganj temple near Panchagar, 494 km (308 miles) north of the capital, Dhaka, police said.”We suspect that they might be members of the banned Islamist militant group Jamaatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB),” police official Humayun Kabir told Reuters.The Islamist militant group could not be reached for comment. No group has so far claimed responsibility.The motive for the killing was probably to create an unstable situation in the country and ultimately establish a caliphate, Kabir, the deputy director general of police in the area, added.One devotee who tried to stop the priest’s attackers was shot in the leg before the group fled, he said. Police have not yet made any arrests.The government denies that Islamic State has a presence in the country of 160 million people. Police have blamed earlier attacks on home-grown Islamist militants.

Taslima Nasreen says India not intolerant, asks why secularists only target Hindu fundamentalists

Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen said on Saturday that she did not think India is an intolerant nation, reports The Hindu. Nasreen was speaking at the Kerala Literature Festival in Kozhikode. The writer who is living in exile in India said, “I think most people are quite tolerant of each others’ faith. The laws in India do not support intolerance. But there are so many intolerant people in this country”, she said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She also asked that why secularists were questioning Hindu fundamentalists and not Islamist fundamentalists. She added that democracy which was based on pseudo-securalism was not a true democracy at all.She condemned the Dadri incident and praised the intellectuals for leading the Award Wapsi movement. She spoke about the issue of religion being used to oppress women. She said all religions were anti-woman as they are misused by fundamentalists. She said, “You have to keep religion separated from government. There is no need to practise 7th Century laws in the 21st Century.”

dna Must Read for tonight: From the latest on Pathankot terror attack to the new Indian origin Jihadi John and more

Born a Hindu, the 32-year-old ran a business renting out bouncy castles in London before converting to Islam and joining the radical Islamist group Al Muhajiroun. Read more here

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