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Post 9/11 assaults: Some gaps in security grid, but tighter overall

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On September 11, 2001, as plane appearing as bombs shattered the parable of American invincibility, there was a momentary sense of vindication in the Indian security institution. There was hope the West would possibly ultimately recognize the issue that India had been wrestling for over a decade.

Nonetheless, as the USA introduced its world struggle on terror, the Analysis & Evaluation Wing (R&AW) famous the vow President George W Bush made — that this struggle wouldn’t finish “till each terrorist group of world attain ha[d] been discovered, stopped and defeated”. Indian officers puzzled whether or not, for the Individuals, the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) or Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) certified as terrorists with world attain.

Certainly, by the Eighties, because it used the ISI to battle the Crimson Military in Afghanistan, and into the Nineties, the US had paid hardly any consideration to India’s considerations concerning the terrorism coming from Pakistan. The indifference continued even after 9/11, when JeM terrorists attacked India’s Parliament on December 13, 2001.

“When it comes to the symbolism, the assault on Parliament was the most important assault India had ever confronted. But, we had been on our personal. The West was too caught up with the invasion of Afghanistan. (The US and UK bombing marketing campaign had begun on October 7.) No matter intervention got here, got here as a result of we pressured the fingers of the US. As India moved its forces to the western border, Pakistan withdrew its navy from the Afghanistan border. That was when the US put stress on Pakistan to behave, and (LeT founder) Hafiz Saeed was arrested for the primary time (on December 21, 2001),” a former R&AW officer stated.

The 9/11 assaults impacted India’s efforts to fight terrorism in two methods. One, they impressed terrorist teams and emboldened them to launch extra ferocious assaults. Two, 9/11 paved the way in which for India to collaborate internationally in opposition to terrorism, and to construct its personal capacities in opposition to Pak-sponsored terror.

“Post 9/11, terror teams had begun getting extra recruits. They’d entry to extra funds. Disparate teams even started uniting. And there was an urge to launch spectacular assaults and unfold indiscriminate terror,” a former Intelligence Bureau official stated.

Lower than a month after 9/11, a automobile bomb focused the J&Okay Meeting, killing 38. This was adopted by the Parliament assault and, in 2002, the assault on Akshardham temple in Ahmedabad, and two suicide assaults at Jammu’s Raghunath temple. The August 2003 bombings in Mumbai adopted after which, the sequence of assaults by the Indian Mujahideen from 2006 to 2013. Probably the most spectacular assault was, in fact, the one by the LeT in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.

Lid on Pak terror manufacturing unit

To a terrific extent, India’s efforts to fight terrorism, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir, had been helped by the circumstances that arose with the US struggle in Afghanistan. Whereas the Pakistani institution needed to reorient its focus and sources on the Af-Pak area, starting 2003, the A B Vajpayee authorities, inspired by the US, began a peace course of with the navy regime of Pervez Musharraf.

“Pakistan received more and more concerned in Afghanistan. So whereas it managed to guard the anti-India terror teams akin to LeT and JeM from the worldwide struggle on terror to an extent, with fewer sources on the Indo-Pak border and the peace course of, the infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir lowered dramatically,” a senior intelligence officer stated. “Over 1,000 infiltrations was once reported yearly in Jammu and Kashmir in the Nineties. This dropped to 500 in the years after the 9/11 assaults. Now we take into account 150 infiltrations a yr as very excessive,” the officer added.

From the mid-2000s, Kashmir skilled over a decade of relative calm — with violence happening so drastically that paramilitary forces deployed there started to name it a “peace posting” in comparability to a deployment in Naxal-hit Bastar. India was capable of conduct elections in J&Okay and tourism boomed — and the message was conveyed to the world {that a} main a part of the Kashmir drawback was Pakistan.

“We had been additionally capable of take aggressive motion in opposition to terror teams as a result of publish 9/11, the thought of human rights violations took a backseat among the many worldwide group,” a former J&Okay police officer stated.

Smoke rises from the burning twin towers of the World Commerce Middle after hijacked planes crashed into the towers on September 11, 2001 in New York Metropolis. (AP Picture/Richard Drew)

So far as worldwide collaboration on counter-terrorism was involved, nevertheless, the West continued to prioritise its personal pursuits for the following few years. “After 9/11, whereas the US began to have a look at South Asia in another way, this focus was restricted to very slim discipline of threats in geographic phrases. Largely, it was restricted to Afghanistan and the Af-Pak area, and to some teams that had been instantly associated to al-Qaeda,” the previous R&AW officer stated.

The LeT, lively for the reason that early Nineties, was designated as “International Terrorist Orgnisation” by the US State Division solely in December 2001. It took virtually seven extra years for the United Nations to place it on the UNSC 1267 listing as a bunch “linked to Al Qaeda”. “The issue was that the eye of the US quickly shifted to Iraq. So whereas US-India cooperation on counter-terrorism did get a fillip publish 9/11, their wasn’t sufficient time for this relationship to crystallise in the way in which it ought to have. It was solely after the 26/11 assaults that the Individuals began to take the LeT significantly. Their focus got here again to the area after Barack Obama grew to become President,” the R&AW officer stated.

Cooperation in the Gulf

A number of officers who noticed the evolution of the US-India relationship carefully stated the international locations’ counter-terrorism collaboration in the instant post-9/11 world remained restricted to very particular threats.

“The overarching collaboration by no means occurred, a minimum of so far as the LeT and JeM had been involved. The US all the time stored them beneath al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban as a menace, although they had been the feeder teams for each al-Qaeda and, later, ISIS,” the officer stated.

The shocks of 9/11 travelled past the US. The spectre of fundamentalist Islam started to make international locations of Europe in addition to regimes of the Center East uncomfortable. In some ways, 9/11 was the start of the Muslim world being plunged right into a civil struggle the place the thought of “Civil Islam” has come beneath stress from the thought of “Apocalyptic Islam”.

“New equations had been developed. There have been international locations in Europe — France and Germany — and in the Center East, which thought of the LeT and JeM a menace. They began collaborating extra with us. This was a results of 9/11. There have been mates who neutralised anti-India threats in third international locations,” the officer stated.

Through the years, international locations such because the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been of nice assist to India — often deporting terror suspects needed right here. In 2012, Saudi Arabia deported 26/11 accused Zabiuddin Ansari, the person who taught Hindi to the ten terrorists who attacked Mumbai. Each the UAE and Saudi have since despatched a number of IS suspects again to India.

The 9/11 assaults additionally opened the eyes of the Indian security institution to threats from past the subcontinent. “We grew to become extra acutely aware that these teams have the capability to behave far past their borders. There have been Somalians and Maldivians engaged in world terrorism. We acknowledged that there have been cells even in international locations in East Africa, and that they may very well be a menace to us,” one other former R&AW officer stated.

Enhance past security

India additionally realised that the world was responding to world terrorism, and it wanted to place ahead a world case of the issues it was dealing with in its personal area.

“The onus was on us to carry out the ramifications of the worldwide attain of those (LeT and JeM) organisations. As soon as we had been capable of give you exhausting proof, the US did reply. There have been additionally international locations aside from the US who appreciated our standpoint,” the second R&AW officer stated.

The world listened extra to India additionally due to its rising financial energy. India’s IT exports to the US had been among the many world’s largest, and US firms had been more and more eager on investing in India and its enormous market.

A lady pays tribute to the victims of the September 11 assaults. (AP Picture)

Inside years of 9/11, India and the US signed the civil nuclear deal, which indicated that the 2 international locations noticed one another as long-term strategic companions. There was additionally the context of the rise of China, its expansionism in the Pacific area already a transparent concern.

By the mid 2000s, India-US engagements had begun to incorporate navy ties. These included high-level contacts, joint coaching, and a wide range of workouts. The 2 international locations collaborated in safety of sea lanes carrying very important oil shipments and different sea-borne commerce. This was adopted by sizable gross sales of American navy and defence tools to India.

Info, cooperation

The cooperation on counter-terrorism that began after 9/11 acquired depth and breadth with time. “Earlier, the US would hardly share intelligence. Post 9/11, they started sharing some info on LeT. They’d higher protection on LeT,” a former intelligence officer stated.

Based on this officer, the US had offered intelligence on an assault in Kashmir throughout a go to by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the mid-2000s.

A lot earlier than Indian companies received a repair on the IM, the US had contacted India to know if it had extra info on the ISI’s Abdul Rehman Pasha, who it stated was recruiting and coaching males for assaults past Kashmir. Pasha’s identify later figured prominently in context of the “Karachi undertaking” that produced the IM, in addition to the 26/11 assaults.

“It was the US which gave us info on the approaching 26/11 assaults. It’s one other matter we couldn’t forestall it. Indo-US security cooperation flowered following 26/11. The US was carefully related to our investigations and gave us loads of info. We wouldn’t have been capable of show the case and embarrass Pakistan internationally with out the FBI’s assist,” a senior IB officer stated. Since then, the US has continued to share intelligence on threats focusing on India, the officer stated.

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Investing in capability

India additionally invested closely in capacity-building. The Indo-Pak border was fenced, and investments had been made in creating intelligence infrastructure. The Nationwide Technical Analysis Organisation (NTRO) was arrange in 2004. It additionally launched into tasks such because the Crime and Felony Monitoring Community System (CCTNS) and the Nationwide Intelligence Grid (NATGRID). It was post-9/11 that R&AW received a counter-terror desk.

“Complete adjustments had been imagined in the Kargil Overview Committee report. After the 9/11 assaults, they received a push. We additionally began terror financing significantly and commenced partaking with the Monetary Motion Job Drive (FATF). The Illegal Actions Prevention Act (UAPA) was strengthened, the Prevention of Cash Laundering Act (PMLA) was introduced in. Particular companies for counter-intelligence and terrorism had been created. There was higher synergy amongst totally different companies, particularly publish 26/11, and operationalisation of intelligence grew to become higher,” a senior intelligence officer stated.

Now, as Pakistan as soon as once more manages to make itself geopolitically essential for these eager to take care of Afghanistan beneath the brand new Taliban regime, the Indian security institution is watching carefully.

(Deeptiman Tiwary covers nationwide security.)

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