A new dimension of suicide terrorism

6 04 2009

A new dimension of suicide terrorism

M Abdul Vasiq Eqbal

After the successful escape of the Liberty Square attackers it was being assumed that Lahore has to face another attack in the same way, but right in the nursery of protectors was unexpected. Around 900 trainees and staff personnel were there when the “Suicide Attack” was launched. This brazen attack has given totally new dimension to the phenomenon of suicide terrorism. High value targets are no more accessible through the single perpetrator as they cannot penetrate within the security establishments blocked by barriers and security checks. Ramming vehicles is also not a worthy solution to this as it can damage the building infrastructure and that’s it. Police Training School was a “gold mine” of security personnel which were not even completely trained. Assailants were clearly ordered to kill themselves before getting caught; and out of one dozen four blew themselves up. However, two of them have been apprehended and rest of them managed to runaway in the police uniforms. They were aware that their target is place of no-return, reinforcements would be called up and even if they would use hostages to get an escape way, they would be chased till their den, still they came and did what they were indoctrinated to do. But why Police Academy was targeted? Question to this answer is that academy was located at the outskirts of the city neighbouring Manawan viallage, an urban locality just few miles away from the border line of India. Police training school is located in a city which is strategically very important and historical as well, this was the mightiest reason for the perpetrators to encircle the police training school on the map. Other reasons could be “pre-gauged” inadequate security measures and densely populated area which could provide them hindrance or easy escape way. Despite the current security situation and given warnings of Corps Commander Lahore, nothing was done to preempt the attacks. We are well aware of the ill-equipdness, inadequate training and limited resources of the police. With this kind of infrastructure they cannot maintain the law and order in the country but can just exist. Condition of the attacked police school, especially the rear side of the building clearly demonstrated the capability of police to face such kind of incidents, through the media. There were some reports in the media that according to post-event accounts of some eye-witnesses, assailants had also taken control of the arms store inside and due to that, security guards at the main gate ran out of bullets and could not resist for long. Albeit the precious lives of the policemen had been lost and number of them wounded and traumatized, Eight hours long battle is too short which has resulted in the capturing of two perpetrators which is enough to tail the storming brain. But on the contrary it is too long if the time was consumed to take the help of other security agencies through the systematic rules of engagement. Coordination of all the four agencies was praised in the media, but unfortunately one thing was neglected. If calling up army was the ultimate solution then why rangers and elite groups were mobilized to the location?

Displacement of entire security structure could have provided another and open battlefield to the “unseen” hand. If rangers were their just to cordon off the area, then I think our police can do this at least. Elite members were waving their weapons on the rooftop of the building after capturing the lost castle, the way they were moving in and out around the area, their body language was depicting the level of their training and the way they were raised up from within the existing police structure. Regular police personnel were also there, on the same scene but their inability to retaliate quickly and wisely, on such kind of assaults were in their demeanor. Do we have any contingency plan to face such kind of situation? Pakistani security forces are being attacked since Pakistan started the operation against al-Qaeda and Taliban in FATA, Swat and Waziristan. Police, the first defence line of civilian and government infrastructure has suffered the most in the country and particularly in Lahore, suicide attack at Lahore high court, another attack in front of Allama Iqbal town police station and recently on the Sri Lankan cricket team were the examples to hit the civilian security agency. A unified contingency plan for all the security agencies should be defined regardless of their type and style of working, whether they are from civilian or military setup. A well-established line of communication and chain of command that who will assist who, when, where, how and through what? A worst case scenario should be constituted to manage such kind ofhappenings. We are still onboard and the ship of war against terrorism is facing storm of Taliban but we cannot rule out our other rivals. Enemy of my enemy is my friend, quote goes with the time we are living in. Pre-defined set of rules, applicable anywhere in the country will provide basic platform to minimize the response and rescue time. It would decrease the damage and increase the chances of success simultaneously. The sooner the formation, the greater the fruitfulness, “a stitch in time saves nine”.

The author can be reached at: vasiq.eqbal@gmail.com

Advertisements




Editorial: Counter-terrorism in a divided land

6 04 2009

Sorce DAWN NEWS

The suicide-bomber who killed eight Frontier Constabulary men on Margalla Road in Islamabad two days ago was successful because the man appointed as guard in the camp thought he could leave his post during meals. In 2008, the truck that blew up the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad had taken the heavily guarded “high-security” Margalla Road because the security force stationed there thought it could leave its positions to break the Ramadan fast. In both cases the force knew that an attack was imminent.

The state can multiply the police force manifold but unless the quality of its recruits is raised, counter-terrorism strategy will be a failure. Pakistan can get any amount of money if it wants to raise the quality of its security forces through better salaries and higher educational qualification. In Lahore at Manawan the police recruits said that they were not even properly fed during training. Only an educated and “rational” security person will know that he can’t leave his post during meals and that his religion allows him relaxation of namaz and fasting during a life-and-death emergency.

Today the fact is that Baitullah Mehsud can attack a Friday congregation in a mosque and still be trusted as a “good Muslim” by sections of the population and media but the security forces cannot be relied upon to prevent their faith from becoming an impediment in the fight against terrorism. When Baitullah Mehsud says he has not done a certain act of terrorism, he is believed, adding to the deception and savagery of the violence done in the name of Islam. The latest proof of his strategy of false propaganda came when he claimed the killing of 13 innocent people at a New York immigration centre this week. The killer was in fact a Vietnamese.

It has been observed in the wake of 9/11 that Muslim terrorists find it easier and strategically useful to attack and kill Muslims. Mounting a terrorist attack in the US after 2001 and in the UK after 2005 has been difficult. Attempts made by Al Qaeda since then have been unsuccessful although the terrorists succeeded in coming to Pakistan and taking their training and indoctrination here. Killing Muslims in Muslim lands produces sympathy rather than fear and loathing. Fundamentally it is public fear and loathing which leads to better counter-terrorism efforts. This has been proved by unsuccessful Al Qaeda attempts in the US, Europe and Russia.

As terror becomes widespread in Pakistan — another incident happened Saturday when some JUI activists closed down a dancing event in Larkana, and on Sunday morning at an Imam Bargah in Chakwal — sympathy for the terrorists has arisen in Lahore instead of declining. Sympathetic terrorist incidents aimed at closing down theatres and music shops have increased. The video showing the lashing of a 17-year-old girl has united civil society but divided the media and the intelligentsia. At least two leading journalists of a major newspaper group have illustrated the dilemma of a nation trapped in terrorism it can’t clearly define in moral terms.

Reacting to the Pakistan-wide condemnation of the Swat Taliban, the chief reporter of the said group warned that the nation was “thinking like America” and referred to Sura Nisa to prove that the whipping punishment meted out in Swat was right. By ignoring the question of “authority” — a fundamental condition under Islam — he asked the nation to accept the legal status of whoever it was who ordered the whipping. Another TV anchor who does a popular “monologue” programme pointed out that the Swat whipping had brought the “humanist-Islamic” divide in Pakistan. A pro-Taliban leader in Swat also said on TV that the “roshan khayal” (enlightened) elements of the country were aligned with America and their NGOs were leading the assault against Islamic values.

Despite the nation-wide condemnation, the whipping incident is gradually becoming victim of the national division over terrorism. Are we being killed because we are fighting America’s war; or are we dying because the terrorists want to take over the country? The media is heavily tilted along with the opposition politicians in favour of the first cause. Civil society is being heavily influenced by the TV channels and is becoming vulnerable to the rhetoric of retired army officers who say terrorism can’t be fought and the correct policy is to fight the Americans out of Afghanistan instead of fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban out of Pakistan.

Terrorism has to be fought, if not as terrorism than as a law and order problem. If the state wants to survive it must raise a strong security force that will face the terrorists and lay down the law. *

Second Editorial: Uniting to kill Baitullah Mehsud

According to a reported intelligence source, “Pakistan and the US have agreed to stage a joint operation to kill local Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud”. The effort will include intelligence from Pakistan about Mehsud’s movements, with the aim of guiding a missile attack from an American drone. It is said that it took Pakistan time to persuade Washington to target Mehsud and abandon its earlier drone policy of not attacking elements who are not directly involved in raids across the Durand Line.

The Americans have likely agreed to cooperate on Mehsud after twice ignoring precise triangulation of Mehsud’s movement by Pakistan. The earlier American policy of letting Mehsud wreak havoc in Pakistan was flawed. His men literally drove NATO supply logistics out of Pakistan by attacking the truck convoys outside Peshawar. His men also spread from Khyber to Orakzai to Kurram and were able to increase Mehsud’s capacity to challenge America in Afghanistan and, finally, inside the United States. He is in his early 30s and dangerous precisely because he has acquired power without the maturity to use it judiciously. Before he goes down, he is bound to do a lot of damage to both Pakistan and America.

What Baitullah Mehsud is doing together with his master organisation Al Qaeda is global terrorism. If he is killing Pakistanis today, tomorrow he will be killing others all over the world. Pakistan can tackle him but lacks the technological capacity and funds to prepare itself for the job. It is joined with the advanced nations of the world in the fight against global terror, more or less like it is united with the world against such endemic diseases as polio and smallpox. Had Pakistan refused to join the world against the latter two diseases, a large percentage of its population would have died by now. *





LTTE — a ruthless militant organisation Press Trust of India Sunday, April 05, 2009, (Colombo)

6 04 2009

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which lost its last bastion of Pudukudiriyirippu to Sri Lankan forces on Sunday, gave a new dimension to militancy in the world by using suicide bombers and other guerilla attacks to maintain their struggle for a separate Tamil Eelam.

LTTE, led by Velupillai Prabhakaran — a school dropout from the secret jungles of Wanni in northern Sri Lanka for the past 30 years, has been accused of killing many Sri Lankan Sinhalese and Tamil leaders and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Starting as a liberation movement in the late 1970s to attain freedom for “oppressed” Tamils from the clutches of Sri Lankans, the LTTE later evolved as a ruthless organisation for whom violence became a legitimate tool to eliminate political opponents.

In its struggle for a separate Tamil homeland, 54-year-old Prabhakaran introduced suicide bombers, mostly young women, and targeted major government installations, including military headquarters and the lone international airport in Sri Lanka.

Prabhakaran founded the LTTE in the late 1970s and was first named as an accused in the murder of the mayor of Jaffna, the administrative headquarters of the Tamil Tigers’.

During the 1980s and early 90s, the organisation was also accused of committing terror acts in Tamil Nadu where it liquidated its militant rivals.

The LTTE is the only terrorist outfit in the world to have three armed forces wings — Tigers (ground), Sea Tigers (Navy) and Air Tigers — (Air Force).

Black Tigers, the suicide wing of LTTE, came into prominence when the Tigers’ launched their first suicide attack against a Sri Lankan Army camp killing 40 soldiers.

The LTTE became the first organisation in the world to employ women as soldiers in the battlefield.

Tamil Tigers and Prabhakaran, who were given refuge in Tamil Nadu under the then Central governments’ policy, lost sympathy in India after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi during campaigning in the state for the 1991 Lok Sabha polls.

It is alleged that Prabhakaran wanted to avenge the Indian prime minister’s decision in 1987 to deploy Indian peacekeeping force troops in Sri Lanka.

The Tamil Tigers are also blamed for the murder of the then Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa and a number of audacious attacks on the Sri Lankan Army installations.

The outfit has also earned the ire of human rights groups who allege that the LTTE recruits young children to fight against the Army.

LTTE, which is believed to be funded by Tamils living in Europe and other countries across the world, agreed for a ceasefire with Sri Lanka in 2002. But both sides continued to violate the Norway-brokered agreement which until it was formally abrogated by the Mahinda Rajapakse government.

Prabhakaran and the LTTE received a major blow when his confidant Colonel Karuna parted ways and formed his own outfit. However, he later converted as an opponent of the Tamil movement and is now serving as an MP.

Though his followers consider him as a freedom fighter struggling for Tamil emancipation from Sinhala oppression, various nations, including India, have banned his organisation and branded him as a terrorist.

The loss of Pudukudiriyirippu has confined the Tiger rebels to a 20 square km area marked as a ‘no-fire’ zone in northeastern Sri Lanka.

In January this year, the LTTE lost their de-facto capital of Kilinochchi in one of the biggest blows in 25 years of running battles, before being thrown out of another major stronghold Mullaittivu.





400 LTTE cadres killed

6 04 2009

400 LTTE cadres killed B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan military on Sunday claimed that over 400 cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, including half-a-dozen senior leaders, were killed as the forces captured the last stretch of land under the Tigers’ control outside the 20 sq. km. government-demarcated ‘no-fire zone’ (NFZ).

According to the Defence Ministry, the forces ousted the LTTE from over a kilometre of land east of Puthukkudiyirippu after pitched battles with the Tiger cadres.

The military believes that the remaining 500 cadres and leaders of the LTTE, including its chief Velupillai Prabakaran and intelligence wing chief Pottu Amman, have retreated into the NFZ where thousands of civilians are trapped.

There was not a word from the LTTE on the military claims. The last update on the LTTE official website was on February 24. The site was revived in the third week of February after a gap of three weeks. The estimates of civilians held up in the NFZ vary from 50,000 to 100,000. The advance of the military into the NFZ is a delicate and complicated task, particularly since there are no signs of surrender by the LTTE.

As per the military, over 250 cadres of the LTTE were killed in hand-to-hand combat since Saturday night. Among senior Tiger rankers listed as dead by the Ministry are Theepan (LTTE’s former ‘Northern region’ chief), Ruben, Nagesh, Gadaphi (former bodyguard of Prabakaran), Vidusha (‘Malathi’ female wing head), Durga (‘Soothiya’ female wing head) and Kamalini.





Surrender or face rout, Rajapksa tells LTTE;

6 04 2009
Surrender or face rout, Rajapksa tells LTTE; toll reaches 480
T V Sriram
Colombo, Apr 6 (PTI) With the LTTE remnants, including its top leaders, believed to be hiding in a narrow strip teeming with civilians, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today asked them to lay down arms or “face rout” as troops braced for a final battle after killing 480 rebels in four days of fighting.

With the operation turning more complex after the rebels were forced into the no-fire zone, the security forces are now preparing to rescue over 70,000 Tamil civilians trapped there.

Rajapaksa said there will be no ceasefire with the rebels and maintained that the troops will free the civilians, who, the government alleges, are being held hostage by the LTTE.

The rebel remnants, including their supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, second-in-command Pottu Amman and other senior commanders, are believed to be holed up in the 20 sq-km safety zone — a jungle strip along a beach in the north — after troops captured Pudukudiyirippu, the last LTTE bastion.

With recovery of more bodies of LTTE cadres from Pudukudiyirippu, the rebel toll in four days of close-quarter combat increased to 480, the military said today.

President Rajapaksa asked the LTTE, which have fought since 1983 for a separate homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka, to surrender and avoid a “complete rout that is close now”.

“The only way out for the rebels is to save their lives, and if they lay down arms and surrender, it will save the lives of the trapped civilians too,” he said. PTI





Bombs kill six in Afghanistan: officials

6 04 2009
Bombs kill six in Afghanistan: officials

KABUL (AFP) — Bomb blasts in eastern Afghanistan on Monday killed two members of the Afghan security forces and four insurgents, officials said, in new incidents linked to a growing Taliban-led insurgency.

The bloodshed came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited German troops based in the north and the top US military commander, Admiral Mike Mullen, wound up a visit to assess efforts to reverse the flagging war.

One of the blasts struck a joint Afghan police and army operation aimed at “halting terrorist activities” in the eastern province of Khost on the border with Pakistan, the interior ministry said in a statement.

“One soldier and a border policeman were martyred while another policeman was wounded during the operation when their vehicle was blown up,” it said. Six suspects were arrested.

Elsewhere in the same province, four militants were killed in an explosion in a house.

“It seems that they were making a bomb that exploded,” Sabari district chief Dawlat Khan Qayomi told AFP.

Pakistan’s semi-autonomous North Waziristan tribal area across the border from Khost is a stronghold for Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, whom Afghan and US officials say mount cross-border attacks against troops in Afghanistan.

There are 42 nations contributing to a NATO-led force, dominated by the United States, that is helping Afghanistan fight the rebels.





Blasts target Pakistan forces

6 04 2009
Blasts target Pakistan forces

Volunteers helped take those injured in a suicide
attack in Islamabad to safety [AFP]

At least 15 people have been killed in two separate suicide attacks targeting security forces in Pakistan.

A suicide attack in Islamabad on Saturday killed at least eight people, while an earlier car bomb exploded in North Waziristan, killing seven people, including two children, officials said.

The Islamabad attack targeted a police checkpoint in the capital, the second such attack in the capital in less than two weeks.

Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Islamabad, said paramilitary forces opened fire after the attack, which occurred in an upmarket residential area close to some of the capital’s most prestigious addresses.

The AFP news agency reported Aziz-ur-Rehman, a witness, as saying: “After the blast, there was intermittent firing but since it was dark I was unable to know who was firing.”

‘Wave of terrorism’

The bomber was believed to have targeted members of the Frontier Constabulary, part of Pakistan’s paramilitary force, used to protect diplomatic missions and the homes of prominent figures.

Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s interior minister, told reporters that Pakistan’s security forces were being targeted by a “new wave of terrorism”.

Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, and Yousuf Raza Gilani, the prime minister, condemned the attack.

The second attack occurred in Miranshah, the main town in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous North Waziristan tribal area.

“At least seven civilians, including two children, embraced martyrdom in a suicide attack. Thirty-nine others were injured, including six security forces,” the AFP news agency quoted an unnamed security official as saying.

Saturday’s bombings were the latest in a wave of attacks that have killed more than 1,700 people across the country since government forces battled with fighters holed up in Islamabad’s Red mosque in July 2007.