Peshawar blast death toll rises

8 03 2009

Source: Al jazeera

The bodies of more victims were uncovered on Saturday from the wreckage of the blast [AFP]

The death toll from a car-bomb attack on a crowded market in northwest Pakistan has risen to 27.

Police found six more bodies among the wreckage on Saturday, a day after the blast which went off close to a market in Peshawar called Qissakahani bazaar.

About 100 people were wounded when the car bomb went off on Friday, wrecking a Shia mosque, a hotel and setting a string of vehicles and shops ablaze, Mohammed Khan, a local police official, said.

A 12-year-old boy was among the victims of the explosion, which hit the city as crowds of people were out shopping in the run-up to the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

“We found six bodies buried under the debris of two destroyed hotels and one adjoining house. Among the dead was a 12-year-old boy and a woman,” Noor Mohammad, another local police official, said.

“The powerful blast brought down several buildings and destroyed over 50 vehicles.”

Deadly explosion

Television footage showed survivors frantically carrying bloodied victims through the rubble to private cars and ambulances as firefighters sought to douse the flames.

Some witnesses said the explosion ripped open a natural gas pipeline, creating a blaze that spread to nearby buildings and shops.

In Video

Peshawar after the blast

“The fire broke out again Saturday morning and firefighters were called in to put it down,” said Mohammad Khalil, whose shop was gutted by the flames.

Neither the motive nor the culprits behind the blast were clear, but Haider Khan Hoti, the head of the NWFP government, said it was possible that “external forces” could be to blame.

Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reporting from Peshawar, said that the phrase could refer to Indian involvement.

Zaffar Abbas, the Islamabad editor of Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, told Al Jazeera: “This was different in the sense that it was carried out in a public place, rather than any of the security forces being the target.

“That is where the speculation is that it could be external forces.”

‘External forces’

“The reason for that is that the Taliban and al-Qaeda have a major fight on their hands in Afghanistan and therefore more and more people here are inclined to believe that what is happening on the Pakistan side has a foreign dimension to it,” he said.

Some witnesses said the explosion ripped open a natural gas pipeline starting a blaze [AFP]

“There is also a considerable anger in this city – as well as the country – after allegations were hurled at Pakistan for what happened in Mumbai.”

The Peshawar bombing was the second blast in a Shia area in the northwest of the country on Friday.

Further adding to concerns about “external forces”, a suspected US missile attack reportedly killed three people in a stronghold of the Taliban and al-Qaeda near the border with Afghanistan.

There have been more than 30 suspected US missile attacks inside Pakistani territory since August

In another development, Pakistan’s Dawn daily reported on Saturday that the country’s security forces had been put on high alert after a hoax caller pretending to be India’s foreign minister contacted Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president.

High alert

The incident occurred on November 28, two days after the co-ordinated attacks on Mumbai, the Indian financial capital.

The caller ignored Zardari’s conciliatory language and directly threatened to take military action if Pakistan failed to act immediately against the supposed perpetrators of the slaughter in Mumbai.

Throughout the next 24 hours Pakistan’s air force was put on “highest alert” as the military watched anxiously for any sign of Indian aggression, the report said.

Dawn’s Abbas told Al Jazeera: “To some extent there was an escalation in tension. There was a bit of panic in Islamabad. The security forces started to assess the whole situation and some drills were carried out.

“But to say the war was imminent is a bit of a exaggeration because there are still two lines of communication between the two countries.

“So, no, nobody was going to war. But the alarming thing is that this kind of phone call can create this kind of panic.”

Pakistani officials said the caller ID was a New Delhi number, and some believe the call was made from India’s external affair’s ministry.

But Indian officials have denied this to US counterparts and maintained that the number could have been manipulated, Dawn reported.





Lahore ‘Cricket’ attack may mark a shift in Pakistan

4 03 2009

Source: Asia Times

By Syed Saleem Shahzad, March 04, 2009.

KARACHI – Pakistan might recently have signed peace deals with militants in its tribal areas, including with vehement anti-establishment Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, but militants on Tuesday staged a brazen attack in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province and the second-largest city in the country.

The attack by 12 heavily armed gunmen on a convoy escorted by police transporting Sri Lankan cricketers to a match against Pakistan has set off alarm bells in the capital Islamabad that militants are now taking their battle into major urban centres.

At least five people died and six of the cricketers were injured in a 25-minute battle in which militants wearing backpacks and carrying AK-47s, rockets and grenades fought police. The assailants then all fled. The Sri Lankan cricketers have called off their tour and are heading home immediately.

The attack bore some similarity to that of 10 well-armed gunmen, also with backpacks, who rampaged through Mumbai in India last November, killing 140 people. They were later found to have connections to the banned Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“This was a planned terrorist attack. They had heavy weapons,” Salman Taseer, who heads the provincial government as governor of Punjab, was reported as saying. “These were the same methods and the same sort of people as hit Mumbai.”

Numerous Pakistani analysts have been quick to point a finger at India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for staging what they say is a tit-for-tat attack on Tuesday, although there is been no official announcement in this connection.

A press attache at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Islamabad thought it highly unlikely that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who a waging a bloody separatist war in Sri Lanka, had anything to do with Tuesday’s events.

Rather, judging by what was shown on Pakistani television, the attack is the hallmark of those that were waged by militants (many of them Punjabi) against Indian security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir up until a few years ago. They were trained by the Indian cell of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

In 2005-06, these militants joined forces with the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan resistance after Pakistan closed down their training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a move that changed the dynamics of the war theater in the region. Beside the Mumbai attack, Tuesday’s assault was similar to the storming of the Serena Hotel in the Afghan capital of Kabul in January 2008 and the unsuccessful July 2008 attack on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. In all of these incidents, the attackers abandoned their weapons and quickly melted into a thickly populated area of the city where, apparently, they were whisked away by waiting colleagues.

Retired Lieutenant General Hamid Nawaz, a former interim minister the Interior and a close aide of former president General Pervez Musharraf, commented to Asia Times Online, “This proves that striking peace deals [with militants] will not serve any purpose and there is a need to handle them with iron hands. I blame the government for negligence.

“Providing a single elite police commando bus was not enough. They should have been provided VIP [very important people] security like the state provides for governors and chief ministers. Traffic should have been blocked on their route,” Nawaz said.

Former Pakistani cricketer Zaheer Abbas said, “I am not a politician to comment on who was behind it, but it has damaged Pakistani cricket very badly. I don’t understand why anybody would target Sri Lankans because they don’t have any role in the region. There might be some forces who want to damage the cause of Pakistan and Pakistani cricket.”

Possible attackers

Pakistani analysts, including retired General Hamid Gul, who is a former head of the ISI, blame India’s RAW.

However, there is no precedence for RAW having the capability to carry out such attacks in Pakistan. Its operations in Pakistan have been of two kinds, according to the records of Pakistani security agencies, documented in files and books narrated by their retired officials:

Small bomb blasts in urban centres.

The use of Indophile political parties such as the Awami League in 1970, the Pashtun sub-nationalist Awami National Party, the Baloch separatist group the Baloch Libration Army and the Muttehida Quami Movement.

However, these parties were always used in a limited political context. For creating a law-and-order situation in the country, RAW has always used bomb blasts and other small-level sabotage activities. It has never had the capacity, like the ISI had in India, to use armed groups to carry out guerrilla activities in Pakistan.

More pertinent is to view Tuesday’s attack in the context of the peace deals in the Swat Valley and the tribal areas which have stopped the fighting between ethnic Pashtun-dominated militants and the Pakistani army.

Prior to the signing of the deals, the matter of the release of militants who did not belong to the Swat area was raised, that is, non-Pashtun militants. These included Maulana Abdul Aziz, who was apprehended while trying to flee the radical Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad in July 2007.

However, after deciding on the level of compensation packages for the families of militants killed or injured by the security forces and other matters related to Swat and the tribal areas, the matter of non-Pashtun militants was deferred and the peace agreements were signed.

In effect, non-Pashtun militants have been ignored and the attack in Lahore could be a bloody message to the government that the “Punjabi militants” have the capacity to cripple urban centres at any time and place of their choosing.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com






Pakistan evasive on ‘army link’ to Mumbai attacks

26 02 2009

NEW DELHI: The 11,000 page chargesheet into the 26/11 Mumbai attacks which was presented in a Mumbai court on Wednesday has thrown up some interesting findings.
Investigations have revealed that the VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) calls made by the 26/11 terrorists to their handlers have been traced to a serving colonel of the Pakistani army.
However, the Pakistan army downplayed its link to the Mumbai terror carnage and said that the chargesheet filed on Wednesday is very vague on the link.
Speaking to TIMES NOW, Brigadier Azmat Ali, Pak army spokesperson said, “Chargesheet does not accurately identify armyman allegedly linked to 26/11. There are many Colonel Sadatullahs in the Pakistan army. We are trying to find out if this is true or it is all a media speculation.”
Though the chargesheet filed does not spell out the Pakistan army link explicitly, it does name the officer as Colonel R Sadatullah from the SCO.
The SCO, army sources say, stands for Special Communications Organization, a telecommunications agency of the Pakistani government which is run by officers from the army’s signals corps.
Another name mentioned in the chargesheet is that of `Major General sahab’ whose name crops up repeatedly in the taped conversation between the terrorists and their handlers.





200 witnesses listed in 26/11 chargesheet

25 02 2009

Source: NDTV

Rashmi Rajput
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 9:19 AM (Mumbai)

The 26/11 case stands on a huge body of evidence and most importantly on eyewitnesses who saw the terrorists unleash the carnage.

The list includes police officers who were part of the 26/11 operation, Indian survivors from the Taj, Trident and Nariman House, Railway employees at the CST station who were present there on that fateful day, staff at the GT and Cama Hospitals, forensic experts , press photographers who clicked images of the terrorists, Vinod Masani — the owner of MV Kuber on which the terrorists travelled to Mumbai and Harish Sharan, the owner of the Skoda car hijacked by Qasab on night of 26/11.

The chargesheet will also include statements of the US-based CallPhonix employees — the company through which the and handlers routed their calls using VOIP.

“We got information that the terrorist were at the terrace of Cama hospital. So we took one of our teams since we were familiar with the topography,” Additional Commissioner of Police, Crime Deven Bharati said.

These men are among the 200 witnesses who have been listed in Mumbai police’s chargesheet and will play a key role in nailing Ajmal Amir Qasab.

“When I got information, I went with my team and asked the neighbours to vacate the premises,” said Ishaq Bhagwan, Assistant Commissioner of Police.

These were ordinary citizens — policemen, hotel employees of the Taj and Trident and hospital staff among others whose statements are vital to the case.

“I saw these remorseless young guys. And at that time our only priority was to save people’s life. So, we continued with the announcements,” said V D Zende, an announcer at Mumbai’s CST station.

The chargesheet is believed to be running into 10,000 pages and will include the detail accounts of these eyewitnesses.

“It was somewhere around 9.30 when I heard a loud explosion, loud sound of gunfire and grenade when I saw the terrorists. They were two young boys in backpack and looked like collegeans. As soon as the constables fired, they returned fire. It was then I clicked the pictures. I just kept shooting. I was trailing to get more. Everybody praised me next day but I just did my job,” said Sabistan D’souza, a press photographer.

FBI officials are also likely to be summoned as witnesses because they have helped the Mumbai police gather key forensic and technical evidence. But sources say they may depose through videoconference once the trial begins.

5,000 pages of Kasab charges in court today

By Our Correspondent

Mumbai

Feb. 24: An entire chargesheet, of over 5,000 pages, will be translated into Urdu to be given to Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only Pakistani terrorist captured alive during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

While the original chargesheet, more than 5,000 pages, will be filed in court by crime branch officials on Wednesday, the translated version will be given to Kasab after a few days.

“We shall be giving him a chargesheet translated into Urdu soon,” confirmed Mr Deven Bharti, additional commissioner of police, crime.

Investigators are leaving nothing to chance and have even booked Kasab for entering the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) without a railway ticket. “Kasab has been booked under various acts, including the Arms Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Explosives Act, Customs Act, waging war against the country and other various sections of the Railway Act. Entering the railway premises without a proper ticket is also one among the various offences registered against him,” said joint commissioner of police (crime) Rakesh Maria.

The crime branch will file a chargesheet clubbing all the 12 cases registered against the 10 terrorists on Wednesday. This will be presented in the Esplanade court, which is expected to direct it to the sessions court. The sessions court will in turn mark it to the special court constituted to conduct the trial.

The police is, however, tight-lipped regarding whether Kasab would be present in court on Wednesday. “We shall be filing the chargesheet on Wednesday. However, we have yet not decided whether to produce Kasab. We have to take into account several security factors. We shall take a call on it by Tuesday night,” said Mr Rakesh Maria.

According to a senior crime branch officer, the chargesheet shall answer all the 30 questions raised by Pakistan after they registered an offence against Kasab. The chargesheet shall also contain the statements of several FBI officers whose statements were recorded by a three-member team that visited the US a fortnight ago. “The officers shall depose in court through video-conference when the court seeks it,” he said. A total of over 200 eyewitness accounts shall be part of the chargesheet.

The government has appointed Justice M.L. Tahiliyani as the special judge for the 26/11 terror attacks trial. While special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam shall represent the prosecution, Kasab is yet to appoint a lawyer to represent him.





The terror tree

24 02 2009

THE KINGPIN Abu Al-Qama

PoK-based chief of Lashkar-e-Toiba’s India operations. In his 50s.

THE second rung

Amir Raza Khan

Heads Indian Mujahideen, reports to Al-Qama. Was behind the Kolkata American Center attack of January 2002

Roshan Khan alias Riyaz Bhatkar

Former Fazl-ur-Rehman gangster, IM co-founder. Name cropped up in 7/11, Malegaon blasts probes

Mohd Sadiq Israr Sheikh (32)*

From Sanjarpur, Azamgarh; IM co-founder.

“Controlled” Delhi blasts. Worked as techie in Mumbai

NEXT IN LINE Atif Amin

Headed IM’s Delhi module; executed bombings in Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad. Was killed in Jamia encounter, reported to Sadiq

ASSOCIATES*

Afzal Mutalib Usmani (32)

Stole the 4 Navi Mumbai cars used in Ahmedabad, Surat

Mohd Zakir Sheikh (28)

Scrap dealer, helped plant Gujarat bombs

Mohd Arif Sheikh (28)

Mumbra electrician, built circuits used in Ahmedabad, Surat

Sheikh Mohd Ansar (31)

Software techie, cops probing if he hacked WiFi networks





100-day anti-terror plan gets green signal

24 02 2009

Source: Indian Express , India
Maneesh Chhibber
Posted: Feb 23, 2009 at 0323 hrs IST

New Delhi: A 100-DAY plan to make the country a safer place is ready and sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) say P Chidambaram has already ordered its implementation. The go-ahead was given at a high-level meeting chaired by him on Friday.

The plan was one of the first things that Chidambaram told bureaucrats to work upon after assuming charge as Home Minister of the country, after the Mumbai Terror attacks. His lead probably came from the speech of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a conference of state police chiefs recently, in which he suggested a 100-day plan to develop an integrated mechanism to fight terrorism and Naxalism.

The Indian Express was provided exclusive access to the blueprint of what is the biggest-ever exercise undertaken by the MHA to counter terrorism and give more firepower to the forces and other agencies.

Among other things, the plan aims to secure the country’s porous borders, make the state and central police forces better equipped to counter foreign terrorists and Naxalites, construct more roads along the India-China and India-Pakistan borders, develop more integrated border check-posts and immigration checks posts, fully activate the newly set-up National Investigation Agency by May 31, amend the Official Secrets Act, launch more operations in Naxalite-affected areas, operationalise the four new National Security Guard hubs and provide more personnel and better arms to the CRPF and SSB.

Under the plan, the scheme for flood-lights for 2,840 km of Indo-Bangladesh border would be completed by January 20, 2012. This, the ministry, hopes would help check inflow of illegal Bangladeshis.

The ministry is also seeking the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for constructing 509 border outposts — 383 on the Indo-Bangladesh border and 126 on the Indo-Pakistan border.

To secure the coasts, the MHA plan provides for inducting the first batch of 24 interceptor boats by April. These would include 12 boats each of 12 tonne and five tonne capacity. Sources said the ministry had already started working on updating the standard operating procedure (SOP) for terrorist outrage under its crisis management plan. As part of this revamp, it also intends to upgrade the MHA control room.

To counter Naxalism, the ministry is reviewing its guidelines for incentives for surrender and rehabilitation of Naxalites under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme. It has also decided to include the Khunti and Ramgarh districts of Jharkhand in this scheme. Anti-Naxal operations have already been launched in Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) and Kanker (Chhattisgarh).





Mumbai attackers had hit list of 320 world targets: Report

20 02 2009

Source: TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) ringleaders had ambitions well beyond Mumbai and had placed India’s financial hub in a list of 320 worldwide locations as potential targets for commando-style terror strikes, Britain’s daily Guardian said in a report published on Thursday.
According to the report, western intelligence agencies that accessed the computer and email account of the Lashkar’s communications chief Zarar Shah found a list of possible targets, only 20 of which were in India.
Two of the November 2008 attack’s key planners – Shah and Lashkar’s operations chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi – are now in police custody in Pakistan.
Analysts say the computer list is more of a statement of intent because Lashkar would need time to set up terrorist cells in so many places.
Islamabad’s decision to bring criminal charges against nine men accused of involvement in the Mumbai attack has partly placated Indian officials but the government in New Delhi has said it wants to see people brought to justice for terrorist acts.
“There has been some speculation that raids in Spain which netted 12 men- an Indian and 11 Pakistanis – were a result of the investigations into Lashkar’s role in the Mumbai attacks,” the report said.
“The dozen men were reportedly picked up for forging passports and other travel documents for terror organisations, including al-Qaida.
Pakistan’s government has said the Mumbai attacks were partly planned from Spain.
The US has been trying behind the scenes to coordinate intelligence exchanges between the two nuclear-armed rivals. The CIA has worked hard to be seen to help New Delhi – including by recovering phone numbers deleted by the terrorists on their satellite phones.
India has also received crucial evidence from the US agency FBI in connection with the 26/11 attacks.
Intelligence agencies have warned that Mumbai raises the spectre of a new style of terrorist assault. The city was brought to a halt by 10 heavily armed gunmen rampaging through the CST railway station, a house, restaurant Café Leopold, and hotels Trident-Oberoi and Taj for three days, killing over 180 people.





Window on Pak Press: ‘Taliban fighters moving towards Islamabad’

12 02 2009

Source: India today

As an old adage goes ‘you reap what you sow’, Pakistan is now terrified over the threat from Taliban. The News reported on Wednesday that the local Taliban leadership has decided to send its fighters to Islamabad as a reaction to the operations in Darra Adam Khel and Swat Valley and in this regard chalking on the walls of Islamabad are already appearing, forcing the Islamabad administration to whitewash these messages quickly.

Many religious scholars in Islamabad, the leading daily The News and Urdu daily Jang said, have also received messages from the Taliban that they have only two options, either to support the Taliban or leave the capital or they will be considered collaborators of the ‘pro-American Zardari government’ which, they claim, is not different from the previous Musharraf regime.

Taliban threat coincided with US President Barack Obama saying that he has sent his special envoy Richard Holbrooke to Islamabad with a message that the terrorists, who threaten the United States, also threaten Pakistan. In his first prime-time news conference as president, Obama sent forceful message to Pakistan: “Washington seeks a closer relationship with Islamabad, but there can be no compromise on the issue of terrorism.”

“There is no doubt that in the Fata region of Pakistan, in the mountainous regions along the border of Afghanistan, that there are safe havens where terrorists are operating,” he said.

“It’s not acceptable for Pakistan or for us to have folks who, with impunity, will kill innocent men, women and children,” he declared.

President Obama said that he has tasked his special envoy, now in the region, “to deliver a message to Pakistan that they are endangered as much as we are by the continuation of those operations.”

Besides, India asking Pakistan if it needed any help in the investigation into 26/11 Mumbai attack probe and Pakistan and the United States agreeing to jointly review the policy to counter extremism and terrorism to ensure peace in the region, dominated the Pakistan media on Wednesday. Several papers including Daily Times quoted India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee criticising Pakistan on Tuesday for leaking reports to the media concerning its investigation into the Mumbai attacks, saying Islamabad should have communicated any information through official channels.

Meanwhile, The Nation on Wednesday morning said, “India, Pak keen on South Asia trade; mum on bilateral ties”. The paper said India and Pakistan came together on a SAARC platform, discussing ways to mitigate the impact of the global downturn on the South Asian region, even as the two neighbours have snapped bilateral trade talks after the Mumbai attacks. As the commerce secretaries of the eight-nation South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) met in New Delhi, officials from both India and Pakistan remained focused on giving a boost to the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), but remained silent on bilateral ties even on the sidelines.

“We are at the moment talking about SAARC. I think it is important to concentrate on the matters in hand … Multilateral forums are very important and we need to strengthen those,” Pakistan Commerce Secretary Suleiman Ghani said when asked about the fate of India-Pakistan trade ties.

Presiding over the meeting of the Committee on Economic Cooperation, Commerce Secretary G.K. Pillai said, “Our resolve to initiate the review of the sensitive list is a pleasant (happening) in a depressing regional environment.”

This is for the first time that trade officials from Pakistan travelled to India after the Mumbai attacks in November. Officials agreed to work on pruning their sensitive lists to enable increased trade flow under SAFTA.

Daily Times also reported that a three-member team of the Indian Crime Branch investigating the Mumbai carnage has left for the US to meet FBI officials and share details of their investigation, a private TV channel reported on Tuesday. The channel quoted an unidentified Indian police official as saying that the team headed by Additional Commissioner of Police Deven Bharti had left for the US on Monday night. “They will discuss and share the details of the probe and also take input from officials of the FBI,” he said. The police team is likely to spend a week in the US. Meanwhile, Daily Times said Hindustan Times quoted unidentified sources in the Indian Crime Branch as saying that the investigators would collect, analyse and finalise the evidence gathered on the Mumbai case by both agencies in order to compile a comprehensive chargesheet.

The News reported that Pakistan and the United States on Tuesday agreed to jointly review the policy to counter extremism and terrorism to ensure peace in the region. It was the crux of meetings of the visiting US Special Representative Richard Holbrooke with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday.

Holbrooke agreed with Pakistan’s proposal to form a parallel group to review the new US strategy towards Afghanistan, Pakistan and terrorism. In the meeting held in the Presidency, US Ambassador Anne W Patterson, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Information Minister Sherry Rehman, Law Minister Farooq H Naek and Adviser to PM on Finance Shaukat Tarin were also present.

Besides terrorism and extremism, the meeting discussed the regional situation in the wake of the Mumbai incident, the Kashmir issue and the situation in Afghanistan. According to sources, during the meeting, President Asif Ali Zardari presented some new proposals for peace in the region. But it was the Taliban threat that attracted attention. The News went on to say that it was also surprising that the Taliban of Swat and Bajaur have included the names of some religious and Jihadi leaders, who are not ready to fight inside Pakistan against their own countrymen, in their hit lists.

The Taliban have accused some militant leaders of the tribal areas and some leaders of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkatul Mujahideen and Hizbul Mujahideen of trying to stop youngsters from fighting the Pakistani forces. Taliban have declared all these “pro-Pakistan” Jihadis as their enemies.

The names of Maulvi Nazir from South Wazirastan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur from North Waziristan, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Maulana Farooq Kashmiri and Syed Salahudin have been included in the hit lists of the Taliban, who have threatened some Hizbul Mujahideen leaders in Swat and Dir to leave the areas as soon as possible.

Another Taliban leader in the Mohmand Agency Maulvi Omar Khalid has threatened boys belonging to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba to leave the tribal agency or face death. Omar Khalid has claimed that these boys are only interested in fighting against the foreign troops in Afghanistan or against India, which means that they don’t want an Islamic government in Pakistan.

“This complicated situation has forced the government to take some extreme steps against the Taliban in Darra Adamkhel and Swat, who had killed a Polish engineer as a reaction to the operations in their areas,” the paper said.

“Some diplomatic sources have revealed that initially Pakistan was ready to release some arrested Taliban fighters in exchange for the abducted Polish and Chinese engineers but the US authorities raised objections and a deal could not be finalised,” the paper said.





Terrorism will continue to threaten India: expert

3 02 2009

Source: Dailytimes

By M. Ziauddin

LONDON, Feb 1: India will continue to face a serious jihadi terrorist threat but lacks military options that have strategic-level effects without a significant risk of a military response by Pakistan.This is one of the key conclusions arrived at by Brian Michael Jenkins of US-based think tank Rand Corporation in his testimony (Terrorists can think strategically lessons learned from the Mumbai attacks) presented before the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week (Jan 28).

Another key conclusion of this testimony gleaned from RC’s website is: The focus on Pakistan in this case should not obscure the likelihood that the attackers had local assistance or that other recent terrorist attacks in India appear to have been carried out wholly or partially by Indian nationals. Local radicalisation is a major goal of the terrorists and will remain a major political and social challenge for India.Mr Jenkins believes that neither Indian nor US policy is likely to be able to reduce that threat significantly in the short to medium term. He says most likely the threat will continue to grow and adds significantly, “Other extremists in India inevitably will find inspiration and instruction from the Mumbai attack.”

He declares that safe havens would continue to be key enablers for terrorist groups as they “allow terrorist leaders to recruit, select and train their operators and make it easier for terrorists to plan and execute complex operations, such as the Mumbai attack”.Therefore, at the strategic level, the Mumbai attack underscores, according to Mr Jenkins, the imperative of addressing the trans-national sources of Islamist terrorism in India.

How to do this is an extraordinarily difficult question that will require, he says, the reassessment of basic assumptions concerning policy towards Pakistan by members of the international community.Discussing Pakistan specifically in his testimony, Mr Jenkins says Pakistan continues to play a prominent and problematic role in the overlapping armed conflicts and terrorist campaigns in India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan itself.

Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other insurgent and terrorist groups find sanctuary in Pakistan’s turbulent tribal areas.“Pakistan’s principal defence against external pressure is not its nuclear arsenal, but its own political fragility — its government’s less-than-full cooperation is preferable to the country’s collapse and descent into chaos.

“Historically, some of them (terrorist organisations) have drawn on support from the Pakistan government itself. While the government of Pakistan has been helpful in capturing some key terrorist operatives, Pakistan is accused of protecting others. And it has been understandably reluctant to use military force against its own citizens in the remote tribal areas where these groups reside. When it has used military force, government forces have not fared well.“Public sentiment imposes further constraints. Many Pakistanis regard India and the United States, not Al Qaeda or the Taliban, as greater threats to Pakistan’s national security. This was perceived as an obstacle to US counter-terrorist efforts even before 9/11.”





US think-tank warns of more attacks on city

3 02 2009

3 Feb 2009, 0234 hrs IST,
S Balakrishnan, TNN :

MUMBAI: The Rand Corporation, a highly-respected US think-tank, has warned of more terror strikes in India in the “forseeable future”. It has also stated that the 26/11 Mumbai attack had “local assistance”. TOI was the first to report about the Lashkar-e-Taiba “fidayeens” getting local support to carry out their operation. But the investigators are still to explore the local angle.
The warning of future attacks came in the course of a testimony given by Brian Jenkins of the corporation before the US senate committee on homeland security and government affairs on January 28. It is titled `Lessons learned from the Mumbai attacks’.
Jenkins said India will continued to face a serious jihadi terrorist threat from Pakistan-based terrorist groups. “India lacks military options that have strategic-level effects without a significant risk of a military response by Pakistan. Neither the Indian or US policy is likely to be able to reduce that threat significantly in the short to medium-term. Most likely, the threat will continue to grow. Other extremists in India will inevitably find inspiration and instruction from the Mumbai attacks,” he observed.
Apart from targeting the high-profile Taj and Trident hotels, which have a large number of foreigners, the 26/11 attackers also targeted ordinary people at CST rail terminus, Jews at Nariman Point and foreigners at Leopold Cafe.
Jenkins said, terrorists designed the Mumbai attack to do what the authorities were not expecting. “There were no truck bombs or people attempting to smuggle bombs onto trains, as in previous attacks. Since attacks against high-profile soft targets are relatively easy and cheap to mount, such institutions will remain targets of future attacks. Many of India’s older symbolic buildings were not built with security considerations in mind or are at exposed locations.
Indian security agencies have taken Jenkin’s analysis seriously and are urging the government to take appropriate measures.