Andrew Buncombe: Well-trained, motivated and on the rise. But who are these militants?

5 03 2009

Source: The independent

The images are nothing short of terrifying. A dozen well-trained, well-armed men fanning out and taking up their positions with consummate ease and expertise. Nothing could be more different than the grainy CCTV footage of a single truck lurching up to the gate of a five-star hotel and its driver arguing with the security guards and, five minutes later, a massive bomb exploding.

Last night, as Pakistani police continued what increasingly seemed a hapless hunt for the perpetrators of the Lahore attack, a consensus was gathering that the ambush represented the emergence of a new and distressing terror threat for South Asia.

It is not that militant attacks are anything new for Pakistan. Since the summer of 2007, the country has been beset by about 120 suicide bomb attacks on police and civilian targets. But almost without exception, they have been largely crude, hit-or-miss strikes that depended on one or two attackers delivering a truck or car bomb. Tuesday’s highly-mobile, commando-style militants armed with grenade launchers and automatic weapons and who slipped away when they realised their objective was not obtainable, appeared anything but crude.

“These were definitely different tactics. They were like commandos and they were very clearly not on a suicide mission,” said Ayesha Siddiqa, an Islamabad-based analyst and author. “They had a particular intention – to either kidnap or attack the Sri Lankan team – but when they were not able to do that they fled and have not been seen.”

Many have likened the Lahore attacks to those in Mumbai last November when a similar number of well-trained, well-armed militants held off Indian counter-terrorism commandos for more than 60 hours. Those attacks were blamed by India and others on the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). It is too early to say whether the LeT was responsible for the Lahore attack and experts point out that, in its 20-year existence, the LeT has never attacked a target inside Pakistan. But clearly something very serious is happening in Pakistan; someone, somewhere is training groups of well-equipped, highly motivated militants who have the wherewithal and skills to challenge even the best of the region’s counter-terrorism forces. It raises all manner of questions; where are they being trained, who is supplying them with arms, who is supplying them with intelligence, why are the intelligence agencies such as Pakistan’s notorious ISI not aware of this group? More sinisterly, many will ask, are elements in the ISI linked to these militants.

Diving into the alphabet soup of potential suspects for Tuesday’s attack may be a futile task. Bahukutumbi Raman, an Indian security analyst and former intelligence official, said he believed a number of Pakistan-based militant groups had the potential to carry out that style of attack. They include the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), an offshoot of the HUM, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), an anti-Shia organisation, and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI).

Writing on his website, he adds: “Al-Qa’ida and the [Pakistan Taliban] have carried out a number of suicide bombings through individual suicide bombers and vehicle-borne bombers in many towns including Lahore but they have not so far carried out a frontal urban ambush … Since its formation in 1989, [the LeT] has never carried out any act of terrorism in Pakistani territory, against Pakistani or foreign nationals. All its acts of terrorism have been either in Indian or Afghan territory.”

Mr Raman says the HUM once had operational ties with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) the Sri Lankan rebel group.

The incident has also forced a rethink of what constitutes a target. Until this point, sportsmen and woman were believed to be largely insulated from the region’s extremism. But if cricketers are now considered fair game, it means, in effect, that no one is safe.

Asked how Pakistan can defend itself against this new threat, Talat Masood, a former Pakistani general, said: “You have to have a lot of good intelligence, the support of your people and a better police. You also have to have good governance, rather than growing opposition to everything that is happening.”

Advertisements




So what say of the one more attack

14 10 2007

To contact CMC hospital call 0161- 5026999/ 2229011-21

After the Ajmer dargah which stands for the unity and equality the sufi holy place its film theatres, Now as citizens we need to beware of whats going on and help the security agencies in warding off terror and loss of life / property.
Just watch out around and when in public places do remember to caution the nearest security personnel of any untoward or mischevous even doubtful objects/ persons or activity.

Video and details courtesy CNN IBN
UPDATE:
Ludhiana: A day after a bomb attack by suspected terrorists at a cinema hall in Ludhiana killed seven people and injured 32 others, the Centre on Monday blamed the Punjab state administration for security lapses.

New Delhi: Five persons died and at least 10 were injured when a bomb exploded inside a multiplex cinema hall in Ludhiana on Sunday evening. The 600-seater Shringar theatre on Samrana Road was packed when a massive explosion shook the place at around 2050 hrs IST.

Chandrashekar, the Additional Director General of Police, said he suspected it was a bomb blast but would make a confirmation later. TV channels showed rescue workers struggling to reach the injured inside the darkened theatre. The blast occurred during the screening of a Bhojpuri movie and since it was a holiday, the multiplex was packed to capacity.

“The bomb exploded just after the interval, maybe 5-10 minutes after the break. Most of the people present were from UP and Bihar,” says an eyewitness who was also injured in the blast.
So far, no terror outfit has claimed responsibility but DIG, Intelligence Jagdish Mittal said Khalistan Commando Force, Khalistan Zindabad Force and Muslim Jehadi groups are behind the blast.

“We suspect Babbar Khalsa in collaboration with JeM or LeT, funded by ISI,” he said.

Most wanted Sikh militants living in Pakistan:


Wadhawan Singh Babbar: Chief of BKI, who is believed to be staying in Lahore [Images].
Ranjith Singh Neeta: Chief of Khalistan Zindabad Force, who is believed to be staying in Lahore.
Paramjeet Singh Panjawar: Chief of Khalistan Commando force, who is believed to be staying in Lahore.
Lakhbhir Singh Rode: Chief of ISYF, who is believed to be staying in Lahore.
Gajinder Singh: The leader of Dal Khalsa is believed to be staying in Lahore after being released from jail.

Video courtesy: CNN IBN

Mumbai: Two blasts in four days have security agencies across the country on
high alert. After the explosions at the Ajmer Sharif shrine on Thursday, a high
alert was sounded in all metros including Mumbai.

But for Maximum City – living on the edge after the July 11 serial train blasts last year – the situation is getting complicated. The city’s police force is a harassed lot with the number of hoax calls and false alerts on the rise.