Tag Archives: Terrorism

Children of Taliban

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist who has been working in Pakistan and Afghanistan documenting the rise of the Taliban and other radical factions since 2001. She is working on a pilot project to counter radicalization in Pakistan and is writing her first book. TED, a nonprofit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading,” hosts talks on many subjects and makes them available through its website.

Source: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: Inside a school for suicide bombers

Sharmeen speaks at a TED event about the dynamics of the suicide bombers and terrorism with a different perspective.

Sharmeen’s full interview with CNN is here.

The Taliban are running suicide schools inside Pakistan, preparing a generation of boys for atrocities against civilians.In my documentary on the subject, “Children of the Taliban,” I came across the cases of many young men who were committed to giving up their lives for what they believed to be the glory of Islam. Fifteen-year-old Zainullah blew himself up, killing six people. Another boy, Sadiq, killed 22 and Masood killed 28.

Since more than 60 percent of the population of Pakistan is under age 25, it seems there will always be a steady supply of recruits waiting to create havoc in the country.The Tehreek-i-Taliban and the various extremist organizations that have been allowed to fester across the country have now joined hands, increasing the reach of their network, sharing recruits, plans, training centers, materials and safe houses.

It was only a matter of time before this would happen, since the Pakistani government’s flawed policy of fighting “Bad Taliban” –those who carry out attacks inside Pakistan — and turning a blind eye to “Good Taliban” — those who carry out attacks outside Pakistan — was bound to come back and haunt them and it has.

Since 2003, the number of suicide bombings has grown exponentially across Pakistan. In 2009, 78 attacks occurred across the country; this year more than 29 attacks have taken place. The Tehreek-i-Taliban is boasting that they have an army of suicide bombers waiting in the ranks to carry out more attacks at their command — and I believe them.

This is no ragtag army fighting in the mountains of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, until recently called the Northwest Frontier Province. These people have a vision, are well trained and their recruitment process is tried and tested.

In urban centers, the Taliban recruit from two fronts, Islamic madrassas and low-income neighborhoods. They have a network of sympathizers who run radical Islamic schools, providing free education to the very poor. Typically, older Taliban fighters or recruiters spend an evening at one of these schools, glorifying the front lines, showing students videos of their heroics, and talking to them about paradise and the afterlife.The students they address have already been primed by years of brainwashing; they have no access to entertainment, sports, books or even their family. The madrassa is the only home they know, they are often beaten by their teachers, told to study the Koran for hours at a stretch in Arabic, a language alien to them. They are frustrated and suddenly, they are provided with an opportunity to give their life up in the name of Islam and earn glory.

They are promised lakes of milk and honey and virgins in the afterlife. The young boys I speak with say to me: Why would I want to live in this world — where they rely on charity, dry pieces of bread and water, where they are subjected to harsh treatment, when they can be free and be the envy of their colleagues in the afterlife. They are only too eager to sign on the dotted line and join the ranks of the Taliban.

In the past few years, the Taliban have relied on other radical organizations, like Jaish-e Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, to recruit young men from low-income neighborhoods in smaller urban centers.

These organizations have had a presence there for years; first they recruited young men to fight in Afghanistan against the Soviets, then in Kashmir against the Indian Army. The Taliban have just re-activated these lucrative networks.

Smaller urban centers tend to have high levels of unemployment and the youth have fewer outlets to expend their energy. These radical organizations lure in young men from mosques after Friday sermons, from college campuses and through local neighborhood recruiters.

The young men who show slight interest are invited to selected safe houses where trained recruiters begin brainwashing them. A young man I met in Karachi described the process to me, telling me that in the end he could not carry out the attacks, but that almost everyone he knew from his group was now working for the Taliban and their affiliates.

Once inside the safe house, the young men are provided literature, so-called proof, about the atrocities supposedly being committed by the government of Pakistan at the behest of the United States.

Then, lengthy discussions ensue about their future. Will they ever have jobs, will they be able to provide for their families in this corrupt environment? Would they not want to be part of a process that changes the country and brings accountability? They are promised money, their families are promised compensation and the radical organizations then begin the next phase — training.

A number of young men who had gone through this ideological brainwashing period told me that training to be a bomber was their best option to get out of poverty. They said that they believe in the cause, because these people understood their needs, and provided them with opportunities, while the rest of society shunned them. Weeks of brainwashing also convinced them that they are fighting an evil and are working toward creating a just ideal Islamic society.

There is very little deterrent to suicide bombings, especially in a Third World country like Pakistan. Fighting the Taliban and the various radical organizations on the front lines is like adding a Band-Aid to a cut, it may stop the bleeding but unless you clean it with antiseptic, the germs stay and multiply.

The Pakistani government and its allies must overhaul their policies in Pakistan. They must tackle the madrassa system of education head on and they must look to provide alternate avenues and employment for the youth.

Thousands of civilians have lost their lives to terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, and thousands more will — because, unlike the Pakistani government, which has no coherent policy to deal with the radicals, the Taliban have one to deal with Pakistan and its citizens.

Source: CNN.com

As Sharmeen truly points out, its a lot of socio-economic variables as play. Raw power cannot succeed at rooting out terrorism and this has been proved by the experience of US and allied forces not being able to root out Taliban from Afghanistan. In fact leveraging religious fanaticism, Taliban is gaining grounds elsewhere in various forms and formats. Be it in developing nations like India through organizations like LeT (or by any other name) or in nations like Yemen where religious belief as well as internal instability fuel its growth.

So while our security forces battle it out with terrorists, government and other development agencies need to figure out more inclusive growth policies. The sooner the better.

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Afghanistan: Trained forces far, financial independence farther

Afghanistan: Eye-on-War

While the world leaders opened a major international conference on Afghanistan’s future in London on Thursday, President Hamid Karzai admitted that it could take anything between 5 to 10 years for Afghan forces to take over from the American-led coalition fighting the Taliban. He further clarified that it may take even longer to end his nation’s dependence on financial aid to sustain its military.

Leaders from around 70 nations including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Canadian Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are attending the one day conference. Mr. Brown announced that the transfer of responsibilities from coalition forces to the Afghan forces would start this year.

This is a decisive time for the international cooperation that is helping the Afghan people secure and govern their own country,” Mr. Brown said. “This conference marks the beginning of the transition process,” he said, referring to the handover to Afghan authorities of responsibility for security.

The coalition forces are targeting to weaken Taliban by dividing their forces using a central fund of about USD500 million being projected as a “pay-for-peace” plan. The proposal is targeted to bring the Taliban fighters to civilian fold.

Ban Ki-moon has named Staffan de Mistura, a veteran Swedish diplomat, as the new top U.N. official in Afghanistan. De Mistura, has been a former U.N. representative in Iraq. He will start his stint on March 1 this year.

As the coalition nations plan the next steps the plan to attract the Taliban cadres may seem to be bit tough given the fact that the U.S. military intelligence believes that the Taliban now has shadow governments in 33 of 34 provinces. Taliban sources meanwhile responded in a strong tone to the conference, calling for an immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces.

It is a matter of great sorrow that the invaders led by U.S.A. are bent on sticking to the military approach of the issue,” the statement said.

We want to say clearly, if the invaders want to save themselves from further financial and life losses, they should not deceive their people by illusory plans and strategies, nor they should waste time on them, or make our people face further sufferings and problems. They should accept the solution put forward by the Islamic Emirate, which is the full withdrawal of the invading forces from our country.

A second major gathering of the leaders is expected to take place in Kabul, in a few months from now.

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US and UK announce extra troop deployment in Afghanistan

NATO Soldier

It’s here and it’s real. The US President Barack Obama has finally let the cat out of his bag. He has announced the much awaited decision on troop numbers on Sunday night, a White House spokesman said. Though the formal plan in terms of troop numbers and other logistics will be announced on Tuesday, the current announcement confirms the earlier resolve by the US President, to “finish the job” in Afghanistan.

The Associated Press quoting White House spokesman Robert Gibbs reported, that Mr. Obama held an unannounced meeting on Sunday night with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Senior military officials have been informed about the decision and now the British, French and Russian leaders are being briefed about the plan.

Following his discussion with the Secretary of State, Obama briefed senior staff including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and National Security Adviser James Jones. He later held a videophone conference with the head of the US operation in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal and Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador to Afghanistan.

Talibani Militants

The US announcement comes close to the announcement of the British stand by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, where he committed to send 500 special force members to Afghanistan. Mr. Brown for the first time also revealed the role of special troops in Afghanistan. He said the British people had a right to know that the highly trained Special Forces are playing their full role not only in force protection but also combating the Taliban militants directly along with the regular forces.

US has around 70,000 troops in Afghanistan and may add around 30,000 more troops based on Gen McChrystal’s request who has asked for around 40,000 additional troops.

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India: ULFA blasts leave atleast 7dead, 50 injured

Nalbari_Assam_India_Map

Nalbari|Assam (India)

In a series of two blasts triggered in the Lower Assam town of Nalbari, at around 9.45 am on Sunday, at least 7 people have been killed and more than 50 have been reported injured. Police sources have named the terrorist organization, United Liberation Front of Asom, (ULFA) to be behind the blasts.

The militants used Improvised Explosive Device (IED), which they had strapped to two bicycles parked within 50 meters of the blast sites. The first blast at 9.55 am, was of low intensity and did not cause any casualty. The second blast came nearly 15 minutes later near a police station which led to casualties and injuries.

Police sources said that they had intelligence inputs that the militant organization is likely to carry out violent activities prior to what ULFA calls the Protest Day on November 27. The banned militant organization observes the Protest Day to mark the launch of military operations on it and declaration of ULFA as banned outfit by the Indian government in 1991. ULFA is also looking to avenge the arrest of two of its senior leaders, self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury and finance secretary Chitrabon Hazarika.

Earlier this week ULFA militants blew up wagons of a tanker train carrying high-speed diesel (HSD) and petrol.

Meanwhile Hira Saraniya, commander of ULFA’s 709 battalion, called up local newspapers and claimed that ULFA has no role in the explosions. He said that some elements are trying to derail the proposed peace talks between government and ULFA.

ULFA’s history of terrorizing the region is not new and spans over two decades. They have claimed responsibility in bombing military as well as civilians locations. They have also been known to attack soft-targets like railway tracks and oil-pipelines which has often left the area economically as well as logistically crippled. Situated in the North-Eastern hilly regions of India, operations against these outlaws and several other such armed outfits has been a challenge for security forces.

Previously, neighboring Bangladesh used to be a safe haven for these armed terrorist groups but with the current Bangladeshi government launching an offensive against them, their desperation has aggravated. The recent capture of the two prominent ULFA leaders was a result of Bangladesh pushing them out of their territory.

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US tries to pacify an upset India over Chinese role in South Asia

India China HeadsPresident Obama on his visit to Asia has been a trend-changer on many accounts. In a zeal to “strengthen” tied with China, US seems to have stepped in the wrong alley. After US-China released a joint press statement making reference to Indo-Pakistani relations and sending message that U.S. is fine with the idea of a third party intervention in the talks between the two nations (India-Pakistan); officials of U.S. embassy in India, State and Foreign Department are now on an explanation spree.

India on Wednesday reacted sharply to the joint statement. India has always been very critical of any third party intervention in Indo-Pakistani relations especially related to Kashmir. It revives the memories of another US-China joint statement issued during the Bill Clinton regime on June 29, 1998. the 1998 statement was also considered “offensive” by India, scolding India and Pakistan for their nuclear tests. The statement had nearly broken up the talks between  the then U.S. Deputy Secy. of State, Strobe Talbott and Indian Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh. Talbott had later discreetly apologized for the statement.

Timothy Roemer, the U.S. Ambassador to India, has been doing what seems to be an act of damage control in India after strong concerns voiced by India ahead of impending visit of Indian Prime Minister to U.S. next week.

India and the US will continue to work shoulder-to-shoulder, hand-in-hand and hour-by- hour to co-operate on combating terrorism,” Roemer said.

We are excited to have the prime minister visiting Washington,” Roemer said, adding that he was leaving for Washington on Thursday to prepare for the talks with Obama.

Roemer was also quick to point out the U.S. stand on relation with India that Obama has labelled as the “best and most important relationship to him and the people of the United States” before he (Roemer) came to India on his assignment.

Indian diplomats have meanwhile raised their concerns openly on the issue of third party intervention.

A third-country role cannot be envisaged nor is it necessary,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said. He made it clear that bilateral dialogue – and that too only when Pakistan stopped terror attacks being launched from its territory – was the only way forward with Pakistan.

Source: expressbuzz.com

The issue can become a major roadblock just before PM Manmohan Singh is scheduled to meet Obama. Washington seems to realize the repercussions of the statement and in what seems to be attempts to pacify sentiments after ruffling feathers in India, senior diplomats are on a firefighting mission.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, in a statement in Washington said that  the U.S. has always said, that it’s always upto India and Pakistan to decide how, when and the scope in terms of their bilateral relations.

I don’t think there needs to be any concern in India about what the President said in China. We have very important relations with China. But we have equally important relations with India.

And I think that will come out very clearly during the course of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit next week,” he said.

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India: National Defense College, Schools and 5-Star hotel on target

Mumbai Attacks (26/11)

26/11 Attack on India

David Coleman Headley and his associate Tahawwur Hussain Rana, both US citizens of Pakistani origin who were arrested by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investgation (FBI) in Chicago last month for hatching a plot to attack India and Denmark have revealed more sinister plans.

 

The federal agency while opposing a bail plea of the duo deposed that Headley and Rana has planned in unison with Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) plans to attack the National Defense College in Delhi along with two coveted boarding schools located in hill stations in North India as well as a few five-star hotels frequented by foreign tourists.

The names of other targets have not been released to avoid panic.

mumbai-attacks

26/11 attack at CSTM

A leading Lashkar operative, Ilyas Kashmiri has already issued challenge to India to stop another 26/11 style attack where hundreds lost life. He had recently told media that the Mumbai attacks are nothing compared to what’s in store. Headley was in constant touch with Kashmiri and reports say that he was supposed to be coordinating the plans.

 

Earlier reports did not reveal the actual motive or plan of the attack.

 

The transcripts of phone conversations and emails in FBI’s possession indicate that LeT was planning to use Headley for attack on an Indian actor named “Rahul”. Headley is reported to have divulged to the FBI his intention to travel to Pakistan in early October where he was supposed to meet with an unidentified LeT individual and another man named (Ilyas) Kashmiri, an LeT terrorist who was earlier with Pakistan’s Special Services Group.

 

Kashmiri, (aged 45) who is the head of the Al-Qaeda’s head of military operations, carries a bounty of USD 600,000 dollars on his head. He is viewed as the guerilla expert of Al-Qaeda who turns strategic vision into reality. He was also an active participant in the Soviet-Afghan War and was responsible for training the Afghan Mujahideen.

He has a long and terror-filed history of executing such acts.

 

Kashmiri’s terror is long known. He was once detained by the ISI for the attempted assasination of General Musharraf. Kasmiris was later cleared and released.

Kashmiri’s group also includes Sheikh Omar Saeed who in 2002 abducted US reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi. Pearl was later found brutally killed.

Meanwhile the Home Minister, P Chidambaram in a statement said that the government if aware of the report and the situation is “fully under control“.

 

Do not worry about the (FBI) report. We are fully aware of the contents of the report and the situation is under control,” Union Home Minister P Chidambaram told a press conference here.

 

While the Home Minister said that the situation was “fully under control”; the Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor had a different story to tell.

 

The US has not allowed a second 9/11, Indonesia has not allowed a second Bali,” Kapoor said, adding that India had allowed those behind the “2001 Parliament attack, Delhi blasts and Mumbai terror attack” to get away.

India cannot afford a repeat of 26/11,” the Army chief said while addressing a seminar on Network Centricity and National Security organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi.

Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju who was present at the function, echoed Gen. Kapoor’s view while saying that considering the “fragile internal security scenario“, there had to be new centres to facilitate rapid action across the country and better coordination among intelligence agencies and security forces.

The Army and other intelligence authorities have recently raised alarm over probable strikes which were denied by the Home Ministry.

 

We have to take all steps to prevent any Mumbai-type attacks. We cannot rule out apprehensions of such possibilities,” Gen Kapoor said on the sidelines of an Army function here.

Asked about the threat of terror spillover from the Af-Pak region, the Army chief said the entire South Asian region was infested with terror groups. “We have to collectively battle such threats,” he said.

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Fatwa by Muslim body on Indian National Song

The Government of India portal states that the National Song of the Union of India is “Vande Mataram, composed in Sanskrit by Bankimchandra Chatterji, was a source of inspiration to the people in their struggle for freedom. It has an equal status with Jana-gana-mana. Jana-gana-mana is the National Anthem of the nation.

The English translation of the first stanza of the song as per the same portal is:

I bow to thee, Mother,
richly-watered, richly-fruited,
cool with the winds of the south,
dark with the crops of the harvests,
The Mother!
Her nights rejoicing in the glory of the moonlight,
her lands clothed beautifully with her trees in flowering bloom,
sweet of laughter, sweet of speech,
The Mother, giver of boons, giver of bliss.

Source: india.gov.in

A song which has inspired generations of Indians and pre-partition generations from across the Indian border (Pakistan and Bangladesh) as the song of independence movement, was on Tuesday declared as un-Islamic and a Fatwa was slapped against singing the song by Musim Clerics under the aegis of the Ulama-i-Hind in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh. The fatwa asks of Muslims not to sing the national song Vande Mataram. In a resolution passed at the body’s 30th general session at the organization argued that some verses of the song were against the tenets of Islam. The conference was being attended by nearly 10,000 clerics and Islamic scholars.

Muslim bodies including the Muslim Law Board justified the decision on Vande Mataram, saying Muslims couldn’t offer prayers to anyone but Allah.

We love the nation but can’t worship it,” said Kamal Farooqi, a prominent member of the board.

Surce: indiatoday.intoday.in

The controversy around the song dates back to time before Indian independence when Mahatam Gandhi led Indian National Congress in the year 1937, discussed at length the status of the song. It was pointed out that the last two stanzas invoked the Hindu Goddess Durga and hence the two paragraphs were kept out of the song.

It was also due to similar reservations voiced by the Indian Muslim community that the status of national anthem was given to Jana Gana Mana.

Meanwhile the presence of Indian Home Minister, P Chidambaram at the said meeting has raised political storm. The main opposition party, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has raised serious concerns about the fallout of the whole episode. BJP leader Prof. Murli Manohar Joshi lambasted the fatwa while saying that the Home Minister’s presence “legitimized” the “anti-Vande Matram” view.

Party leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it was not mandatory under the law for anyone to sing the national song and “no one was forced to sing it.” Then why did the Jamiat feel the need to pass such a resolution at its meeting in Deoband? Why protest when it was not being forced on any one?

He was even more critical of Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who was present at the JUH session, for “legitimising” the resolution.

Mr. Naqvi said the Minister did not react to the passing of the resolution and did not make any reference to it when he spoke at the function.

The party said the Vande Mataram issue was taken up at the very start of the session. It demonstrated the “separatist mindset” of the Jamiat. On the one hand, it was praised by the Home Minister for adopting resolutions condemning terrorism and terrorists and, on the other, it declares the singing of the national song un-Islamic.

In another resolution the body also opposed the proposed Central Madrasa Board saying that it was an intrusion in the way madrasa’s are run. The body also said that education for girls after 10-years of age should be in accordance to “complete Sharia norms.” In a set of 25 resolutions passed at its 30th general session at Deoband, the top Muslim body not only endorsed a 2006 Darul Uloom edict against singing ‘Vande Mataram’ but also called upon the community to avoid cinema and television; reject anti-AIDS campaign of the government among others.

While what Sharia norms would mean is not spelt out by the resolution, it is understood to refer to segregated classrooms and use of veil and hijab. Darul Uloom has repeatedly ruled co-education as unlawful and also did not support a recent ruling of a senior cleric at Cairo’s highly respected Al Azhar that face veils were not required in all-women classrooms.

The Jamiat also noted that the women’s reservation bill seeking 33% reservation for women in legislatures was “uncalled for” as “bringing women into the mainstream will create social problems and issues including their security.”

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

The Home Minister present on the occasion tried to steer clear of any controversies and said that it is the duty of majority to protect the rights of minorities be it religious, linguistic or otherwise. Muslims in India form roughly 12% of the population. India also houses the third largest population of Muslims in the world.

A nation can ignore its minorities only at its peril…We must always remember that pluralism is our inheritance and strength. It was the duty of the majority to protect the minority. Due to the acts of a few, we have allowed diversity to become differences,” he said.

Speaking at the 30th general session of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind here, he said, “We cannot view Islam as an alien faith because this is the land of your forefathers, this is the land of your birth. It is a matter of our pride that Islam exists in India along with other major religions“.

The body also reinforced itself as the true face of Islam while slamming other Muslim bodies. It also condemned US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan while declaring Islam as the religion of peace.

As in Deobandi writings, the Jamiat warned against other sects like Qadyani for being “turncoats”, suggesting its own version of Islam was the true and correct one. Calling for professional technical institutions, it said it was necessary for Muslim organisations to take the lead as Muslims who studied professional courses could get cut off from their moorings. It condemned US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

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