Saturday, January 31, 2009



These are comments sent by me on a draft paper prepared by a US think-tank----B.Raman

a). India has terrorism of various hues----separatist, ethnic, ideological (Maoist), and jihadi (indigenous as well as originating from Pakistan and Bangladesh). Till 2007, only the jihadi terrorists originating from the Pakistan-Afghanistan region had shown a worrisome interest in using the Internet for operational purposes---- such as propaganda, communications,motivation, training, data-mining and disruption. The interest of other terrorist groups in the Internet remained confined to propaganda and psy-war and communications. They did not show any interest in the use of the Internet for disruptionn purposes..

(b). Jihadi terrorists operating in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, including Al Qaeda, have been exhibiting an increasing mastery of the use of the Internet for propaganda, communications, motivation, recruitment and training, but one has not seen any confirmed instance of their using or attempting to use the Internet for disruption purposes.

(c).Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan has a large reservoir of IT-savvy anti-Western Muslims. India has a reservoir, but it cannot as yet be described as large. So too, the Pakistani and Indian Muslim diaspora in the West. Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations are focussing on them for the recruitment of their future IT warriors. The Indian Mujahideen has come to notice for recruiting at least three , but they were used for primitive purposes such as sending claims of responsibility without being traced back.

(d). Indian Muslims are technically less qualified than the rest of the population, but better educated and qualified than the Muslims in most of the Islamic world. They have the same access to IT education as a person of any other religion and the same job opportunity. As Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations start looking for recruits with a capability for disruption, they are likely to depend increasingly on the IT-savvy Muslims of India and the Indian and Pakistani Muslim diaspopra in the West.

(e). How to disrupt their efforts at such recruitment? That is a question, which would the need the attention of the intelligence agencies of India and the West.

(f). All Islamic fundamentalist organisations----including the Taliban---- have realised the importance of IT.The curricula of most madrasas exclude physical sciences, western philosophy, logic, etc, but include training in the use of computers, which are seen as an asset for waging a jihad. In the 1990s, I had contributed to the quarterly journal of the United Service Institution of India, based in New Delhi,two articles on likely future threats from "microchip moles" and the computer as a "weapon of mass disruption." These threats have not yet materialised, but it is only a question of time before they do. A weapon of mass destruction requires qualified manpower, financial resources and a place to test away from the attention of the intelligence agencies. A weapon of mass disruption requires only qualified manpower and limited financial resources. This is a weapon which can be launched from anywhere. In most cases, the intelligence agencies will become aware of one's capability in the field only after one has used it and not before.

(g). State-spnsored cyber war, that is, the use of lone wolf cyber warriors by States for achieving their intelligence-collection and disruption objectives, is a threat, which is already staring us in the face. Deniability is strong in the case of state-sponsored cyber warriors. Protective technology has to keep ahead of technology, which lends itself to disruptive uses. Is it doing so? (1-2-09)

1 comment:

Pete said...

Difficult issue. The US and other's bandying the term "cyberterrorism" may not be helpful.

Countering or exploiting cyber threats is not an area for multitudes of civilian or military foot soldies in the "War on Terror".

The NSA and FBI IT people and equivalents in India and elsewhere are best placed to combat cyberterror or cyberjihad.

Note also that cyberjihad runs the risk of detection. For int agencies it may well present a rare collection opportunity as well as a threat.