Bangladesh Rifles: border guardians with a grievance

26 02 2009

Bangladesh Rifles: border guardians with a grievance
1 hour ago
DHAKA (AFP) — The Bangladesh Rifles, whose troops have mutinied in the capital Dhaka and elsewhere, is a well-armed paramilitary unit tagged as the country’s first line of defence.
With a total force of nearly 70,000 troops, the BDR’s primary task is to patrol and secure Bangladesh’s 4,000-kilometre (2,500-mile) border with both India and Myanmar.
As a border unit, it is highly involved in anti-smuggling operations, and its mandate further requires that it lend support to the military and civilian government in the event of war.
It has also been called in to assist police during times of national unrest.
The average BDR trooper earns about 70 dollars a month — the equivalent to a very low government clerk and a salary that has long been a source of simmering discontent within the ranks.
The revolt, which began at the BDR headquarters in Dhaka early Wednesday, was reportedly triggered by the refusal of senior officers to consider appeals for more pay, subsidised food and holidays.
Most of the officers are seconded to the Rifles from the army for a tenure of two to four years, and the BDR troopers have complained that this makes them less than receptive to their particular grievances.
Some have accused the officers of skimming off their salaries and appropriating food supplies meant for distribution to the poor.
Colonel Mujibul Haq, the third highest ranked BDR officer with a special responsibility for food distribution, was killed during Wednesday’s revolt and his body was found dumped in a drain outside the guards’ barracks.
Some of the mutineers who aired their grievances to television crews they invited into their HQ, directly accused the head of the BDR, Major General Shakil Ahmed, of making millions of dollars by stealing money from food funds.
M. Shahiduzzaman, a Dhaka university professor and security expert, said the complaints of corruption were widespread.
“I have heard stories from some honest officers about their colleagues who have become extremely rich,” Shahiduzzaman said.
“In contrast, an ordinary guard doesn’t get decent pay or food and spends a lot of time living in harsh, remote areas,” he said.
The BDR can trace its roots back to the late 18th century when the colonial British rulers recruited locals for a border force, which in time became known as the Eastern Frontier Rifles.
After independence from Britain and the partition of the sub-continent, it was renamed the East Pakistan Rifles.
During the struggle for independence from Pakistan, most of the troops revolted against their Pakistani overseers, and the current BDR was formed in 1972 following the creation of Bangladesh.
While the BDR is officially under the control of the Home Ministry, the regular army exerts a powerful influence through its role in training and running the force.
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FATA is Pakistan’s Fallujah: B Raman

22 08 2008

Source: rediff.com
August 22, 2008

At least 78 persons, most of them civilian workers in a cluster of arms production factories located in the heavily-protected cantonment area of Wah, about 30 km from Islamabad [Images], were reported to have been killed on the afternoon of August 21 when two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside different gates of the factories during shift change.

The ease with which they penetrated this high security area would indicate either that they had accomplices in the security staff or that they were workers of one of the factories who had no difficulty in entering the complex. If suicide bombers could penetrate such a high-security area with so much ease, it should be equally easy for other terrorists to penetrate Pakistan’s nuclear establishments one day. The expression ‘high security’ has ceased to have any meaning in Pakistan’s sensitive establishments because of the penetration by the jihadi elements.

This is the third suicide attack in the non-tribal areas since the elected coalition government headed by Yousef Raza Gilani assumed office on March 18. The previous two targeted the Danish embassy in Islamabad (June 2) in protest against the publication by some Danish newspapers of caricatures of the Holy Prophet, and policemen who were returning to their stations after performing duty at the Lal Masjid in which a meeting was held (July 6) in memory of those killed during the commando raid in July last year.

The blasts in Wah came in the wake of the threat issued by the Tehrik-e-Taliban [Images] Pakistan to resume terrorist attacks in the non-tribal areas if the government did not stop the on-going military operations in the Bajaur Agency, where many leaders and cadres of Al Qaeda [Images] and the Afghan Taliban have reportedly taken shelter. Since the threat was issued by the TTP, the Pakistan Army [Images] has not been much active on the ground in the Bajaur Agency either by itself or through the paramilitary Frontier Corps. However, helicopter gunships of the army and the planes of the air force have stepped up their air strikes in response to the US pressure to neutralise the terrorist infrastructure in the area, which was making the NATO forces in Afghanistan bleed.

Making a statement in the NWFP provincial Assembly on August 21, Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti said thousands of foreign militants were present in the Bajaur Agency and claimed they would have captured the area if the military operation had been delayed for a couple of days.

According to him, in the past, the two traditional pillars of power in the tribal belt were the political administration and the Malik (tribal chief) system. He said a third pillar, inducted into the area during the 1980s, had emerged stronger than the traditional pillars. He added that some called this third pillar the Mujahideen [Images], some others called it the Taliban and yet some others termed it Al Qaeda. It was this third pillar which was now dominating the tribal belt.

According to him, there cannot be peace in the NWFP without peace in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and there cannot be peace in FATA without peace in Afghanistan. The ground situation in Afghanistan, FATA and the NWFP was closely inter-connected. He said before launching the military operation in the Bajaur Agency, the government had sent a delegation for talks with the local tribals, but there were thousands of Arabs, Uzbeks and Chechens in the area who are unaware of the Pashtun traditions and customs and came in the way of peace.

In retaliation for the air strikes, the TTP blew up an air force bus on Kohat Road in the NWFP on August 12 killing 13 persons, including seven administrative personnel of the PAF, and followed this up on August 19 with an explosion outside the district headquarters hospital of Dera Ismail Kahan in the NWFP, in which 32 persons, many of them Shia outdoor patients, were killed. The TTP claimed responsibility for both these attacks and projected them as being in retaliation for the continuing air strikes in the Bajaur Agency.

While the targeting of the PAF bus is explained by the anger of the TTP over the air strikes, its targeting of Shia outdoor patients is attributed by well-informed police sources to its strong suspicion that the Shias of the NWFP and the Kurram Agency of FATA have been collaborating with the Pakistan Army in its operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Over 100 persons — more Shias than Sunnis — have been killed in continuing Shia-Sunni clashes in the Kurram Agency for the last 10 days.

While the attacks of August 12 and 19 were in the tribal areas, the attacks in Wah on August 21 were in a non-tribal area. The TTP has already admitted responsibility for the suicide attacks in Wah and warned of similar attacks on military installations in other cities including Lahore [Images], Karachi, Islamabad and Rawalpindi if the government does not stop the air strikes in the Bajaur Agency and withdraw the Army from the Agency and the Swat Valley of the NWFP. The government has to take these threats seriously in view of the repeatedly demonstrated capability of the TTP to strike at military targets in non-tribal areas since the commando action in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad from July 10 to 13, 2007.

The anger of the TTP, the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda against the Pakistan Army has not subsided as a result of the resignation of Pervez Musharraf [Images] from the post of president on August 18. They hold Musharraf as well as the army responsible for the commando action in Lal Masjid and for the military operations in the tribal belt, which they view as undertaken to protect Western lives and in support of the NATO operations in Afghanistan. They are demanding not only the stoppage of all air strikes in the tribal belt and the withdrawal of the army from there, but also the stoppage of any co-operation with the US and other NATO forces against the Afghan Taliban.

It is only a question of time before the anti-Musharraf and anti-Army anger for their co-operation with the US broadens to include anti-Asif Zardari anger for the continuing co-operation with the US. The terrorists view Zardari as no different from Musharraf and as much an apostate as Musharraf. They are convinced that the air strikes and ground operations in the Bajaur Agency have been agreed to by Zardari and Gilani as a quid pro quo for the role of the US and the UK in persuading Musharraf to quit as president.

FATA is emerging as Pakistan’s Fallujah. After the US occupation of Iraq, Fallujah became the launching pad of terrorist strikes in the rest of Iraq — whether by Al Qaeda or by ex-Baathist resistance fighters. Only after the US ruthlessly pacified Fallujah and destroyed the terrorist launching pads there, did it start making progress in its counter-insurgency operations in the rest of the Sunni areas of Iraq.

The NATO forces will continue to bleed in Afghanistan and the jihadi virus will continue to spread in Pakistan unless and until FATA is similarly pacified through ruthless application of force. The Pakistan Army has not demonstrated either the will or the capability to do so. A more active role by the NATO forces under US leadership is necessary — either covertly or openly. A strategy for a Fallujah-style pacification of FATA is called for — with the co-operation of the Pakistan Army if possible and without it, if necessary.

The USSR was defeated by the Afghan Mujahideen in the 1980s because of the reluctance of the Soviet troops to attack their sanctuaries in FATA and NWFP. India has been unable to prevail over cross-border jihadi terrorism because of the reluctance of its leadership to attack their sanctuaries in Pakistani territory. The US is unlikely to prevail over the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan unless it is prepared to destroy their infrastructure in FATA.

Deniable Predator air strikes by the US intelligence agencies on suspected terrorist hide-outs in the FATA have been increasing and some of them have been effective in neutralising well-known Al Qaeda operatives. But air strikes alone will not be able to turn the tide against the jihadis. Effective hit and withdraw raids into FATA in the form of hot pursuit should be the next step. The longer it is delayed the more will be the bleeding.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retired), Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, New Delhi [Images], and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)

B Raman





FATA is Pakistan’s Fallujah: B Raman

22 08 2008

Source: rediff.com
August 22, 2008

At least 78 persons, most of them civilian workers in a cluster of arms production factories located in the heavily-protected cantonment area of Wah, about 30 km from Islamabad [Images], were reported to have been killed on the afternoon of August 21 when two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside different gates of the factories during shift change.

The ease with which they penetrated this high security area would indicate either that they had accomplices in the security staff or that they were workers of one of the factories who had no difficulty in entering the complex. If suicide bombers could penetrate such a high-security area with so much ease, it should be equally easy for other terrorists to penetrate Pakistan’s nuclear establishments one day. The expression ‘high security’ has ceased to have any meaning in Pakistan’s sensitive establishments because of the penetration by the jihadi elements.

This is the third suicide attack in the non-tribal areas since the elected coalition government headed by Yousef Raza Gilani assumed office on March 18. The previous two targeted the Danish embassy in Islamabad (June 2) in protest against the publication by some Danish newspapers of caricatures of the Holy Prophet, and policemen who were returning to their stations after performing duty at the Lal Masjid in which a meeting was held (July 6) in memory of those killed during the commando raid in July last year.

The blasts in Wah came in the wake of the threat issued by the Tehrik-e-Taliban [Images] Pakistan to resume terrorist attacks in the non-tribal areas if the government did not stop the on-going military operations in the Bajaur Agency, where many leaders and cadres of Al Qaeda [Images] and the Afghan Taliban have reportedly taken shelter. Since the threat was issued by the TTP, the Pakistan Army [Images] has not been much active on the ground in the Bajaur Agency either by itself or through the paramilitary Frontier Corps. However, helicopter gunships of the army and the planes of the air force have stepped up their air strikes in response to the US pressure to neutralise the terrorist infrastructure in the area, which was making the NATO forces in Afghanistan bleed.

Making a statement in the NWFP provincial Assembly on August 21, Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti said thousands of foreign militants were present in the Bajaur Agency and claimed they would have captured the area if the military operation had been delayed for a couple of days.

According to him, in the past, the two traditional pillars of power in the tribal belt were the political administration and the Malik (tribal chief) system. He said a third pillar, inducted into the area during the 1980s, had emerged stronger than the traditional pillars. He added that some called this third pillar the Mujahideen [Images], some others called it the Taliban and yet some others termed it Al Qaeda. It was this third pillar which was now dominating the tribal belt.

According to him, there cannot be peace in the NWFP without peace in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and there cannot be peace in FATA without peace in Afghanistan. The ground situation in Afghanistan, FATA and the NWFP was closely inter-connected. He said before launching the military operation in the Bajaur Agency, the government had sent a delegation for talks with the local tribals, but there were thousands of Arabs, Uzbeks and Chechens in the area who are unaware of the Pashtun traditions and customs and came in the way of peace.

In retaliation for the air strikes, the TTP blew up an air force bus on Kohat Road in the NWFP on August 12 killing 13 persons, including seven administrative personnel of the PAF, and followed this up on August 19 with an explosion outside the district headquarters hospital of Dera Ismail Kahan in the NWFP, in which 32 persons, many of them Shia outdoor patients, were killed. The TTP claimed responsibility for both these attacks and projected them as being in retaliation for the continuing air strikes in the Bajaur Agency.

While the targeting of the PAF bus is explained by the anger of the TTP over the air strikes, its targeting of Shia outdoor patients is attributed by well-informed police sources to its strong suspicion that the Shias of the NWFP and the Kurram Agency of FATA have been collaborating with the Pakistan Army in its operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Over 100 persons — more Shias than Sunnis — have been killed in continuing Shia-Sunni clashes in the Kurram Agency for the last 10 days.

While the attacks of August 12 and 19 were in the tribal areas, the attacks in Wah on August 21 were in a non-tribal area. The TTP has already admitted responsibility for the suicide attacks in Wah and warned of similar attacks on military installations in other cities including Lahore [Images], Karachi, Islamabad and Rawalpindi if the government does not stop the air strikes in the Bajaur Agency and withdraw the Army from the Agency and the Swat Valley of the NWFP. The government has to take these threats seriously in view of the repeatedly demonstrated capability of the TTP to strike at military targets in non-tribal areas since the commando action in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad from July 10 to 13, 2007.

The anger of the TTP, the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda against the Pakistan Army has not subsided as a result of the resignation of Pervez Musharraf [Images] from the post of president on August 18. They hold Musharraf as well as the army responsible for the commando action in Lal Masjid and for the military operations in the tribal belt, which they view as undertaken to protect Western lives and in support of the NATO operations in Afghanistan. They are demanding not only the stoppage of all air strikes in the tribal belt and the withdrawal of the army from there, but also the stoppage of any co-operation with the US and other NATO forces against the Afghan Taliban.

It is only a question of time before the anti-Musharraf and anti-Army anger for their co-operation with the US broadens to include anti-Asif Zardari anger for the continuing co-operation with the US. The terrorists view Zardari as no different from Musharraf and as much an apostate as Musharraf. They are convinced that the air strikes and ground operations in the Bajaur Agency have been agreed to by Zardari and Gilani as a quid pro quo for the role of the US and the UK in persuading Musharraf to quit as president.

FATA is emerging as Pakistan’s Fallujah. After the US occupation of Iraq, Fallujah became the launching pad of terrorist strikes in the rest of Iraq — whether by Al Qaeda or by ex-Baathist resistance fighters. Only after the US ruthlessly pacified Fallujah and destroyed the terrorist launching pads there, did it start making progress in its counter-insurgency operations in the rest of the Sunni areas of Iraq.

The NATO forces will continue to bleed in Afghanistan and the jihadi virus will continue to spread in Pakistan unless and until FATA is similarly pacified through ruthless application of force. The Pakistan Army has not demonstrated either the will or the capability to do so. A more active role by the NATO forces under US leadership is necessary — either covertly or openly. A strategy for a Fallujah-style pacification of FATA is called for — with the co-operation of the Pakistan Army if possible and without it, if necessary.

The USSR was defeated by the Afghan Mujahideen in the 1980s because of the reluctance of the Soviet troops to attack their sanctuaries in FATA and NWFP. India has been unable to prevail over cross-border jihadi terrorism because of the reluctance of its leadership to attack their sanctuaries in Pakistani territory. The US is unlikely to prevail over the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan unless it is prepared to destroy their infrastructure in FATA.

Deniable Predator air strikes by the US intelligence agencies on suspected terrorist hide-outs in the FATA have been increasing and some of them have been effective in neutralising well-known Al Qaeda operatives. But air strikes alone will not be able to turn the tide against the jihadis. Effective hit and withdraw raids into FATA in the form of hot pursuit should be the next step. The longer it is delayed the more will be the bleeding.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retired), Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, New Delhi [Images], and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)

B Raman





Terror’s new faces B Raman

20 08 2008

Source: Rediff.com

B Raman
August 19, 2008

The Gujarat police announced on August 16 the identification and arrest of 10 activists of the Students Islamic Movement of India in connection with the serial blasts in Ahmedabad [Images] on July 26. Nine of the arrests were made in Ahmedabad and Vadodara in Gujarat and the tenth arrest, of Mufti Abu Bashir, the leader, was made with the co-operation of the Uttar Pradesh [Images] police in Azamgarh.

According to details given by a team of senior Gujarat police officers at a special press conference, the arrested persons formed the core of a larger group of SIMI [Images] activists who had planned and carried out the blasts in Ahmedabad, under the name of Indian Mujahideen [Images]. They also said while they have definitively established the involvement of these persons and their associates not yet arrested in the Gujarat blasts, they have some indications that some of these persons might have also been involved in the serial blasts of May in Jaipur [Images] and in the blasts of November 2007 in UP. Further investigation is in progress.

We said it first: Exclusive! Breakthrough in Ahmedabad blasts case

All the persons arrested so far and the suspects not yet arrested are Indians. All the arrested persons are in their 20s. A collation of available details is given below:

Abdul Rashid, also known as Mufti Abu Bashir Ilahi, aged 26. Believed by the police to be the mastermind behind the serial blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26, and the planned but failed blasts in Surat [Images] the next day. Studied Arabic in the Deoband seminary in Uttar Pradesh. Comes from a lower middle class family in Azamgarh (village Beenapara) in Uttar Pradesh. Father, a paralytic, is unemployed and mother is a housewife. The family is dependent on his earnings as a teacher of Arabic in a madrasa in Hyderabad called the Jamait Ul Sheikh Al Maududi located at Pahadisharif in Hyderabad. The madrasa had been started by another native of Azamgarh called Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi.

Abu Bashir has four brothers and one sister. Two of his brothers are working in Delhi [Images] and Mumbai. The other siblings are studying in a madrasa in Azamgarh. Abu Bashir worked for two years in the Hyderabad madrasa, till January 2007. According to the Hyderabad police, he left the madrasa for Azamgarh that month. According to his father, he returned to his village only about a month ago saying the madrasa was closed for vacations. For nearly 18 months, he was neither in the madrasa nor his village. Some of this period between March and July 2008, he had spent in Ahmedabad.

According to the Gujarat police, he was present in Ahmedabad on the day of the blasts. It is not yet known where he was from January 2007 to March 2008, when he allegedly took over as the head of the SIMI network after the arrest of Safdar Nagori, the general secretary of SIMI, and his brother Karimuddin by the Indore police. Bashir came into contact with SIMI when he was teaching in the Hyderabad madrasa and became its active member.

Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi is an activist and known sympathiser of SIMI. His son Mohtasin Billa was also in SIMI.
While examining the cell phone records of Ahmedabad over a few months before the blasts, the Gujarat police’s crime branch identified five numbers which had only received incoming calls from public call offices located mostly at a place called Juhapura in Ahmedabad. Investigations indicated that during his stay in Ahmedabad Abu Bashir had purchased five SIM cards in the names of local residents. Zahid Sheikh was making the calls to Abu Bashir at these numbers. These numbers went silent after the blasts.

How the Ahmedabad blasts case was solved

Abu Bashir and Abdul Subban Quereshi were staying in a rented house at a place called Vatva in Ahmedabad. This house had been hired with the assistance of Zahid Shaikh and Sajid Mansuri.

Imran Ibrahim Sheikh, aged 23. Did a course in human rights and journalism in MS University, Vadodara, and arrested

Imran Ibrahim Sheikh. Bombs placed in Surat were assembled in his home.
Imran Ibrahim Sheikh. Bombs placed in Surat were assembled in his home.

in that city. Attended training camps in Kerala [Images] and Pavagadh near Vadodara under an assumed name. The police zeroed in on him after a scrutiny of his mobile phone records. During interrogation he denied any role in the blasts but mentioned the name of Zahid Sheikh. Imran Sheikh and Sajid Mansuri had visited Jaipur on May 13, 2008, when the serial blasts there had taken place.

The improvised explosive devices used in Ahmedabad and Surat were assembled at three different places — in the house at Vatva in Ahmedabad in which Abu Bashir was staying, in Imran Sheikh’s house in Vadodara, and in another house in Kalpur in Ahmedabad. It is not known who was staying in the Kalpur house.

Zahid Sheikh, a resident of Juhapura in Ahmedabad. Imran Sheikh’s interrogation led to him. He allegedly confessed that he had planted bombs on cycles in Ahmedabad. He named at least three people who were involved in the purchase of the bicycles and delivery of the IEDs.

Zahid Sheikh was under surveillance by the Ahmedabad police even before the blasts. He had also attended the training camps in Kerala and Gujarat under an assumed name. He had provided local logistics support for a team of nine — five from Madhya Pradesh [Images], two from Maharashtra and two from Karnataka — which had come to Ahmedabad. The team held meetings in the Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad in April, another one in a different city in May and the final one on July 20 at Zahid’s residence.

Zahid’s confession led to the arrest of Yunus Mansuri, Shanshuddin Sheikh, Arif Kadri, Gyasuddin from Ahmedabad and Imran, Usman Agarbattiwala, Iqbal Sheikh and Sajid Mansuri from Vadodara.

Indian Mujahideen is SIMI V2.0

Usman Agarbattiwala, aged 24. A BCom graduate from MS University, Vadodara, he attended training camps in Kerala and Pavagadh near Vadodara under an assumed name. His laptop was allegedly used for programming the timer chips for the IEDs planted in Surat, which failed to explode.


Sajid Mansuri. Chief coordinator of Ahmedabad blasts.
Sajid Mansuri. Chief coordinator of Ahmedabad blasts.

Sajid Mansuri, a former zonal secretary of SIMI in Gujarat, had been absconding since 2001 and was finally arrested from Bharuch after the blasts.

Abdul Subban Qureshi. An explosives expert who holds a diploma in electronic engineering, he allegedly procured ammonium nitrate and timers for the Ahmedabad operation and had them stored in a safe house in Bharuch, and had attended SIMI’s meetings to plan the serial blasts. The arrested suspects have claimed that it was Abdul Subban Qureshi who drafted the three e-mails claiming responsibility for the blasts of November 2007 in UP, May in Jaipur and July in Ahmedabad on behalf of Indian Mujahideen. He forwarded the drafts to Mufti Bashir. Qureshi is absconding.

Adnan, also known as Hafiz Mullah is a young computer engineer and a prominent SIMI organiser for South India. He was arrested along with some other SIMI leaders in Indore in March 2008. He had named Abu Bashir as being responsible for SIMI activities in Gujarat.

Kamaruddin Nagori, brother of Safdar Nagori, was in charge of organising training camps. He was assisted by Adnan, Shibly Peedical Abdul and his brother Shaduli. The first camp was in Karnataka between April and September 2007, the second in Kerala in October-November 2007, the third in Madhya Pradesh in December 2007, and the fourth in Gujarat in January 2008.

ISI’s Indianisation of jihad

The plans for the series of blasts in different cities were drawn up during the training camp in the jungles of Waghamon near Aluva (previously Alwaye) in Kerala where 40 recruits from different states were put through a commando course. This camp was addressed by both Safdar and his brother. This camp was followed by the blasts in three cities of UP in November 2007.

Kayamuddin Kapadia is chief of SIMI operations in Gujarat
Kayamuddin Kapadia is chief of SIMI operations in Gujarat.

The plan for the blasts in Gujarat was drawn up at the Gujarat training camp held in Pavagadh in the Vadodara area. Many of those arrested by the Gujarat police after the blasts had attended this camp. After the arrest of the Nagori brothers and Adnan by the Indore police, Abu Bashir, assisted by Abdul Subban Quereshi and one Kayamuddin of Vadodara, took on the responsibility for organising the reprisal attacks planned in Gujarat. Initially, they thought of hijacking a plane or a kidnapping to demand the release of those arrested in Indore, before deciding on the blasts.

Others arrested by the Gujarat police: Yunus Mansuri, Shamsuddin Sheikh, Arif Kadri, Gyasuddin and Iqbal Sheikh. Their particulars are not available.

Photographs Courtesy: Intelligence Sources






Terror’s new faces B Raman

20 08 2008

Source: Rediff.com

B Raman
August 19, 2008

The Gujarat police announced on August 16 the identification and arrest of 10 activists of the Students Islamic Movement of India in connection with the serial blasts in Ahmedabad [Images] on July 26. Nine of the arrests were made in Ahmedabad and Vadodara in Gujarat and the tenth arrest, of Mufti Abu Bashir, the leader, was made with the co-operation of the Uttar Pradesh [Images] police in Azamgarh.

According to details given by a team of senior Gujarat police officers at a special press conference, the arrested persons formed the core of a larger group of SIMI [Images] activists who had planned and carried out the blasts in Ahmedabad, under the name of Indian Mujahideen [Images]. They also said while they have definitively established the involvement of these persons and their associates not yet arrested in the Gujarat blasts, they have some indications that some of these persons might have also been involved in the serial blasts of May in Jaipur [Images] and in the blasts of November 2007 in UP. Further investigation is in progress.

We said it first: Exclusive! Breakthrough in Ahmedabad blasts case

All the persons arrested so far and the suspects not yet arrested are Indians. All the arrested persons are in their 20s. A collation of available details is given below:

Abdul Rashid, also known as Mufti Abu Bashir Ilahi, aged 26. Believed by the police to be the mastermind behind the serial blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26, and the planned but failed blasts in Surat [Images] the next day. Studied Arabic in the Deoband seminary in Uttar Pradesh. Comes from a lower middle class family in Azamgarh (village Beenapara) in Uttar Pradesh. Father, a paralytic, is unemployed and mother is a housewife. The family is dependent on his earnings as a teacher of Arabic in a madrasa in Hyderabad called the Jamait Ul Sheikh Al Maududi located at Pahadisharif in Hyderabad. The madrasa had been started by another native of Azamgarh called Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi.

Abu Bashir has four brothers and one sister. Two of his brothers are working in Delhi [Images] and Mumbai. The other siblings are studying in a madrasa in Azamgarh. Abu Bashir worked for two years in the Hyderabad madrasa, till January 2007. According to the Hyderabad police, he left the madrasa for Azamgarh that month. According to his father, he returned to his village only about a month ago saying the madrasa was closed for vacations. For nearly 18 months, he was neither in the madrasa nor his village. Some of this period between March and July 2008, he had spent in Ahmedabad.

According to the Gujarat police, he was present in Ahmedabad on the day of the blasts. It is not yet known where he was from January 2007 to March 2008, when he allegedly took over as the head of the SIMI network after the arrest of Safdar Nagori, the general secretary of SIMI, and his brother Karimuddin by the Indore police. Bashir came into contact with SIMI when he was teaching in the Hyderabad madrasa and became its active member.

Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi is an activist and known sympathiser of SIMI. His son Mohtasin Billa was also in SIMI.
While examining the cell phone records of Ahmedabad over a few months before the blasts, the Gujarat police’s crime branch identified five numbers which had only received incoming calls from public call offices located mostly at a place called Juhapura in Ahmedabad. Investigations indicated that during his stay in Ahmedabad Abu Bashir had purchased five SIM cards in the names of local residents. Zahid Sheikh was making the calls to Abu Bashir at these numbers. These numbers went silent after the blasts.

How the Ahmedabad blasts case was solved

Abu Bashir and Abdul Subban Quereshi were staying in a rented house at a place called Vatva in Ahmedabad. This house had been hired with the assistance of Zahid Shaikh and Sajid Mansuri.

Imran Ibrahim Sheikh, aged 23. Did a course in human rights and journalism in MS University, Vadodara, and arrested

Imran Ibrahim Sheikh. Bombs placed in Surat were assembled in his home.
Imran Ibrahim Sheikh. Bombs placed in Surat were assembled in his home.

in that city. Attended training camps in Kerala [Images] and Pavagadh near Vadodara under an assumed name. The police zeroed in on him after a scrutiny of his mobile phone records. During interrogation he denied any role in the blasts but mentioned the name of Zahid Sheikh. Imran Sheikh and Sajid Mansuri had visited Jaipur on May 13, 2008, when the serial blasts there had taken place.

The improvised explosive devices used in Ahmedabad and Surat were assembled at three different places — in the house at Vatva in Ahmedabad in which Abu Bashir was staying, in Imran Sheikh’s house in Vadodara, and in another house in Kalpur in Ahmedabad. It is not known who was staying in the Kalpur house.

Zahid Sheikh, a resident of Juhapura in Ahmedabad. Imran Sheikh’s interrogation led to him. He allegedly confessed that he had planted bombs on cycles in Ahmedabad. He named at least three people who were involved in the purchase of the bicycles and delivery of the IEDs.

Zahid Sheikh was under surveillance by the Ahmedabad police even before the blasts. He had also attended the training camps in Kerala and Gujarat under an assumed name. He had provided local logistics support for a team of nine — five from Madhya Pradesh [Images], two from Maharashtra and two from Karnataka — which had come to Ahmedabad. The team held meetings in the Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad in April, another one in a different city in May and the final one on July 20 at Zahid’s residence.

Zahid’s confession led to the arrest of Yunus Mansuri, Shanshuddin Sheikh, Arif Kadri, Gyasuddin from Ahmedabad and Imran, Usman Agarbattiwala, Iqbal Sheikh and Sajid Mansuri from Vadodara.

Indian Mujahideen is SIMI V2.0

Usman Agarbattiwala, aged 24. A BCom graduate from MS University, Vadodara, he attended training camps in Kerala and Pavagadh near Vadodara under an assumed name. His laptop was allegedly used for programming the timer chips for the IEDs planted in Surat, which failed to explode.

Sajid Mansuri. Chief coordinator of Ahmedabad blasts.
Sajid Mansuri. Chief coordinator of Ahmedabad blasts.

Sajid Mansuri, a former zonal secretary of SIMI in Gujarat, had been absconding since 2001 and was finally arrested from Bharuch after the blasts.

Abdul Subban Qureshi. An explosives expert who holds a diploma in electronic engineering, he allegedly procured ammonium nitrate and timers for the Ahmedabad operation and had them stored in a safe house in Bharuch, and had attended SIMI’s meetings to plan the serial blasts. The arrested suspects have claimed that it was Abdul Subban Qureshi who drafted the three e-mails claiming responsibility for the blasts of November 2007 in UP, May in Jaipur and July in Ahmedabad on behalf of Indian Mujahideen. He forwarded the drafts to Mufti Bashir. Qureshi is absconding.

Adnan, also known as Hafiz Mullah is a young computer engineer and a prominent SIMI organiser for South India. He was arrested along with some other SIMI leaders in Indore in March 2008. He had named Abu Bashir as being responsible for SIMI activities in Gujarat.

Kamaruddin Nagori, brother of Safdar Nagori, was in charge of organising training camps. He was assisted by Adnan, Shibly Peedical Abdul and his brother Shaduli. The first camp was in Karnataka between April and September 2007, the second in Kerala in October-November 2007, the third in Madhya Pradesh in December 2007, and the fourth in Gujarat in January 2008.

ISI’s Indianisation of jihad

The plans for the series of blasts in different cities were drawn up during the training camp in the jungles of Waghamon near Aluva (previously Alwaye) in Kerala where 40 recruits from different states were put through a commando course. This camp was addressed by both Safdar and his brother. This camp was followed by the blasts in three cities of UP in November 2007.

Kayamuddin Kapadia is chief of SIMI operations in Gujarat
Kayamuddin Kapadia is chief of SIMI operations in Gujarat.

The plan for the blasts in Gujarat was drawn up at the Gujarat training camp held in Pavagadh in the Vadodara area. Many of those arrested by the Gujarat police after the blasts had attended this camp. After the arrest of the Nagori brothers and Adnan by the Indore police, Abu Bashir, assisted by Abdul Subban Quereshi and one Kayamuddin of Vadodara, took on the responsibility for organising the reprisal attacks planned in Gujarat. Initially, they thought of hijacking a plane or a kidnapping to demand the release of those arrested in Indore, before deciding on the blasts.

Others arrested by the Gujarat police: Yunus Mansuri, Shamsuddin Sheikh, Arif Kadri, Gyasuddin and Iqbal Sheikh. Their particulars are not available.

Photographs Courtesy: Intelligence Sources






The truth is security in India is a joke Krishna Prasad

27 07 2008

The truth is security in India is a joke

Krishna Prasad

July 25, 2008

Thirty-two months after an Indian Institute of Technology professor was killed on the campus of the Indian Institute of Science, ‘terror’ returned to the pensioners’ paradise that no longer is, shortly after lunch on Friday afternoon.

The question is not why Bangalore, but why did it take so bloody long?

Seriously.

Why did it take so long for these smart-assed sons of bitches to set off half-a-dozen bombs just as we were about to hit the sack for our afternoon siesta in our ‘sleeper cells’, when they could have done it yesterday, or day before, or last week, or last month?

The rocket scientists dressed as ‘intelligence sources’ and ‘security experts’ are already busy adding one and one and making it eleven: It was a Friday. It happened at 1.30 pm or shortly thereafter. Ergo, you know who was behind them.

Those bearded, fez-wearing, menacing-looking guys who procreate like hell, send their children to madrassas, and receive their cheques from strange places.

Any time now, the state government will start blaming central intelligence agencies for not alerting them. The Centre, in turn, will blame some unpronounceable outfit whose benefactors are across the border.

By primetime, the prime minister (depending on the toll) will make a macho statement something to the effect of ‘We will not cow down to terror.’ The Union home minister, whose very sentence-construction sends terrorists scurrying for cover, will pronounce that ‘such incidents will not deter the government from pursuing its policy of dealing with terrorists in a resolute manner.’

Tomorrow morning, the Congress which is in the Opposition in Karnataka will blame the BJP which is in power for being interested in anything but governance. The BJP in turn will blame the Congress for revoking POTA and making this a ‘soft State.’ Editor types will stand up and say it is time for ‘moderates’ to speak out.

And just when the TV guys were rubbing their hands in glee that something finally had happened to keep them busy over the next 36 hours, bam, the toll is just two. How do they fill ‘We, the People’ and ‘Big Fight’ and ‘Weekend Edition’ this weekend?

Yes, it sounds all too flippant.

Two people have killed, several more injured, how can we be so joyful and jokey about such a serious ‘menace’ like terrorism that is ‘eating into the vitals of our system’ and taking ‘innocent lives’?

We would.

If they would.

The truth is security in India is a joke. You know it, the terrorists know it, it’s just that our political and administrative and police masters think that we don’t.

So, like Pavlov’s pups, we are supposed to feel concerned about what happened in the ‘IT capital’ on Friday afternoon; we are supposed to slam terrorism ‘in no uncertain terms’; we are supposed to light a candle in our hearts and mourn.

For what?

Truth is we have been there, done that, and bought the lousy blood-stained T-shirt several times before: In Hyderabad, in Bombay, in Delhi, in Jaipur, and not necessarily in that order.

And you don’t need rocket scientists dressed as ‘intelligence sources’ or ‘security experts’ to tell you that it will happen again in Hyderabad, in Bombay, in Delhi, in Jaipur, and not necessarily in that order, some time soon.

The truth is security in India is a joke. Unfortunately, it is on you.





Nobody’s Friend news

18 05 2008

Nobody’s Friend news
17 May 2008

India’s war against terror has only just begun. But the security forces cannot fight it on their own. If the political leaders of our country, and the public, “do their part”, we will find ourselves losing it, says distinguished commentator Prem Shankar Jha

India’s war against terror has only just begun. But the security forces cannot fight it on their own. If the political leaders of our country, and the public, “do their part”, we will find ourselves losing it, says distinguished commentator Prem Shankar Jha

The first reports from Jaipur have put the death toll from the serial bomb blasts in Jaipur at 60 dead and 150 injured, but dismal experience tells us that the final tally will be substantially higher. The shock that this has given to the public is indescribable, for it reveals not only the perilous vulnerability of the entire country to acts of pure, hate-driven terrorism, but the increasing sophistication and killing power of the terrorists.

Although the identity of the killers is still to be established, the similarities between this attack and the one on suburban trains in Mumbai on July 11, 2006 suggests that the perpetrators are indeed members of the Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami (HuJI), as the government has surmised. In coming days there will be the usual chorus of condemnation of the Rajasthan police and of the Intelligence Bureau for having been caught napping, and the usual spate of demands from both to ‘do something’ to curb the terrorist menace. Such demands invariably force governments to promise to beef up the counter terrorist capabilities of the security forces and improve their information gathering capabilities.

The security forces usually respond to the pressure by diverting the blame elsewhere. In the past decade their favourite whipping boy has been Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence. The ISI has been accused, with ample justification, of having assisted in the birth of the HuJI, just as it assisted the growth of the Lashkar-Tayyiba into a full-fledged terrorist force a decade ago.

But this is a barren, and ultimately futile exercise. The ISI is playing it with equal vigour, accusing India of stoking rebellion in Baluchistan, but that is not making the task of controlling it any easier. All that the rival establishments have succeeded in doing is to impede the improvement of relations between their countries.

The truth is that when the only motive for murder is hate, and when the killers do not mind whom they kill, there is no way to anticipate where they will strike next. The only way of preventing such attacks is to gain prior information. But that information can only come from the people among who the terrorists seek shelter as they plan , and execute, their murderous attacks.

That is where the real threat to the country lies. For the failure to anticipate the Mumbai train blasts, the attacks in Delhi, Varanasi, Bangalore, Malegaon, Jaipur, and on the Samjhauta Express, shows that there is now an established network of bitterly alienated families in the countries that hate India so virulently that they will assist in acts that could easily lead to the hounding and destruction of their own community.

That kind of rage is not far removed from the rage that is motivating suicide bombers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Its existence in a critical mass of families and individuals in India to provide the killers with secure bases of operation in more and more cities, shows that the complacency Indians feel about the absence of extremism among Indian Muslims is no longer warranted.

The challenge that the security agencies face is daunting. Ham-handed action taken under pressure from the media and public, such as the wholesale detention and questioning of young Muslims after a terrorist attack, is almost certain to more harm than good. For instance, the investigations that followed the Malegaon bomb blast only deepened the alienation of Muslims in the area and enabled the terrorists to achieve a part of their aim.

The only sure way to prevent future attacks of the Jaipur variety is to obtain information before they happen. The police cannot do this without the active cooperation of the Muslim population. They have had a fair degree of success so far. For every successful terrorist attack that the country has suffered, there is at least one other that was averted because the police got a tip-off from someone in the community. The most important was the failed attack on the RSS training camp in Nagpur in 2006. But the police still have a long way to go.

In the long run, terrorism of the kind we are experiencing can only be defeated if the people on whose behalf the terrorists claim they are acting repudiate them and force them to stay away, or inform the police of their plans. But for this the community as a whole must feel that the police, and the majority community are their friends. In the recent past the police has all but lost that image, and not just among the Muslims. To most of us today it is an inefficient, corrupt and high-handed force that regularly preys upon the poor. Add to this the targeting of the Muslim community that follows every terrorist attack, and the task of building trust begins to look like trying to build a house on sand.

An effective anti-terrorist strategy requires us to look even more deeply into ourselves. The police and security agencies only mirror the prejudices of the majority community, and these have become more pronounced in the past two decades. Why has no one in office ever formally expressed regret for the terrible pogroms that have scarred the face of our society , from the Mumbai killings in 1993 to the Gujarat massacres in 2002. Why are Indian courts suddenly handing out death penalties by the dozen, with a predisposition towards singling out the minorities? Indeed so great has been the bias, and so quixotic the rulings, that it has provoked Amnesty International into making a scathing criticism of the Indian judiciary.

India’s war against terror has only just begun. But the security forces cannot fight it on their own. If the political leaders of our country, and the public, do their part, we will find ourselves losing it.