INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR--PAPER NO.602
For the first time since the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December,1992, we did not have any act of jihadi terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K during 2009----either by indigenous or by Pakistan-based terrorists. I would attribute it to the following reasons:
(a). The good investigation of the acts of terrorism involving the Indian Mujahideen (IM) in 2007 and 2008 by the police of Karnataka, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra and the arrest of most of those involved.
(b). The neutralisation of the cells of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) by the police of the above States and Madhya Pradesh.
(c). As a result of these actions, the IM and the SIMI have not been able to reconstitute their cells and command and control.
(d). The more sensitive handling of the grievances and anger of the alienated sections of the Indian Muslim community by the Government of Manmohan Singh. The anti-State anger in the Indian Muslim community is less.
(e). The strengthening of the intelligence and counter-terrorism machinery by P.Chidambaram since he took over as the Home Minister after the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai.
(f). The greater co-operation between the counter-terrorism communities of India and the US.
(g). The sustained pressure exercised by the US on the Pakistani political and military leadership to see that 26/11 is not repeated. The US continues to be reluctant to take punitive action against the State of Pakistan for not acting against the anti-India terrorist infrastructure. At the same time, it is anxious to ensure that there is no more 26/11 in Indian territory outside J&K by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists lest uncontrollable tensions between India and Pakistan come in the way of its operations in Afghanistan..
(h). After 26/11, there is growing international concern over the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET). Consequently, it is under watch by the intelligence agencies of the US and many other countries.
2. One must remember that while there were no acts of jihadi and Pakistani-sponsored terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K, the Pakistan-based organisations, with the nod of the ISI, continued to attack Indian interests in Afghanistan during 2009. There was a second major act of terrorism outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul during 2009.
3. There has been no change in the jihadi objective of making India bleed. We should be prepared for more surprises, but try to prevent them by following the present policy of sustained revamping of the Intelligence and counter-terrorism machinery, continued attention to the grievances and sensitivities of the Indian Muslims, continued pressure on Pakistan to act against the anti-Indian terrorist infrastructure in its territory and continued co-operation with the US, despite our periodic unhappiness with Washington DC over matters such as not allowing us to interrogate David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana of the Chicago cell of the LET. Indo-US counter-terrorism co-operation will be mutually beneficial. If it wants and decides to, the US is the only country in a position to make Pakistan behave. We should use the US skilfully. Occasional anti-US breast-beating is necessary, but overdoing it could be counter-productive. ( 3-1-10)
( The writer is Additional Secretary( (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )