Monday, September 20, 2010



A major sports event that will be watched by million of persons provides theater for terrorist organizations. It is to be expected that many terrorist organizations would be tempted to explore the possibility of organizing terrorist strikes during the forthcoming Commonwealth Games (CWG) in New Delhi from October 3.

2. Organizations such as the Indian Mujahideen (IM), the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and others would have an anti-Indian motive. Others such as Al Qaeda, the Talibans and other affiliates of Al Qaeda would have an anti-West motive. Though the US and Germany are not participants, the UK, Canada and Australia are. They have incurred the anger of these organizations because of their role in the fighting against Al Qaeda brand terrorism and the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and would be tempting targets. Any nervousness in these countries about the state of physical security before and during the Games is natural and should be understood and appreciated by the Indian authorities.

3. What will give confidence to them is our seriousness in threat assessments, thoroughness in physical security and competence in investigation of threats. If they get an impression that we are trying to play down threats and cover up incidents which indicate security inadequacies, their confidence in us will be damaged. Keeping this in view, one has to deplore the seeming attempts of the Delhi Police to play down the seriousness of the incident of September 19,2010, in Delhi in which two Taiwanese tourists were injured by two assailants on a motor-bike. Instead of treating it as a possible terrorist incident which could have implications for physical security before and during the CWG unless and until proved otherwise, the Delhi Police have started projecting it as an ordinary criminal incident with no implications for the CWG even before any progress had been made in the investigation. This is totally unwise.

4. It is said that those in charge of physical security are fully prepared against possible acts of catastrophic or mass casualty terrorism involving weapons of great lethality, but they seem to be ill-organised to deal with small acts of terrorism where the objective is not mass casualties or catastrophic damages, but psychological consequences creating nervousness and panic. The attack on the Taiwanese tourists on September 19 has to be treated as one such incident with a psychological objective and not a catastrophic one.

5.The objective of any anti-India terrorist group targeting the CWG would be two-fold. Firstly, to embarrass the Government of India and its security agencies by disrupting the games through panic and loss of faith in the ability of the security agencies to protect the foreigners. Secondly, to highlight that the security conditions for major sports events in India are as bad as they are in Pakistan.

6. Pakistan has gone through a humiliating experience following the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team last year. The anti-India, Pakistan-aided terrorists would want to make India go through a similar humiliating experience.

7. To achieve these objectives, the terrorists do not have to organise spectacular acts of mass casualty terrorism like 9/11 in the US or 26/11 in Mumbai. A series of small incidents with limited casualties, which show the Indian security agencies in a poor light and erode the confidence of foreigners in their ability to ensure effective security, would be adequate for this purpose. If they are able to repeat small acts similar to the one staged on September 19 it would have a ripple effect on the morale of the participating teams and other foreigners. It is, therefore, important to ensure that there would be no repetition of such acts.

8. The Government should immediately hold a brain-storming session of the security agencies and senior Police officers of all States to discuss what further steps to prevent a repetition need to be taken. Examples of such steps are a ban on pillion riding and repeated appeals to the public to report cases of theft of motor vehicles and follow-up action to trace those vehicles. All hotels and guest houses should be advised to keep the police informed of all suspicious-seeming persons staying in their establishments. The police should prepare a list of suspicious indicators and circulate it to them.

9.Any comprehensive security plan for an event like the CWG has to have three components covering the core area, the peripheral areas and measures to prevent diversionary attacks such as the hijacking of planes to divert the attention of the authorities. The Munich Olympics of 1972 saw a penetration of the core area (the games village).The Atlanta Olympics in the US in 1996 saw an explosion when the games were in progress in a park in a peripheral area. The Beijing Olympics of 2008 were preceded by diversionary attacks in Chinese-controlled Xinjiang, Yunnan and Shanghai.

10. The Delhi incident of September 19 show inadequacies in the peripheral areas. The manpower available to the Delhi Police would have to remain focused on the core area. They would need additional manpower for the peripheral areas from other States. They have to be drawn from the adjoining States and deployed immediately so that they become familiar with the topography.

11. Measures to prevent diversionary attacks have to be in place all over India. Steps to prevent an act of aviation terrorism should receive high priority. All the States should be in a high state of alert with effective co-ordination.

12. One can be certain that our intelligence and security agencies would have prepared comprehensive plans covering all these components. They would have been under constant pressure from their counterparts in the participating countries to do so. These plans need to be constantly revisited to identify and remove deficiencies.

13. We should not hesitate to seek the co-operation of Pakistan to detect and pre-empt any conspiracies hatched in the Af-Pak area to disrupt the CWG. We should not stand on false prestige or prejudices against Pakistan and avoid seeking the co-operation of Pakistan. It is not too late to invite Mr.Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, for a discussion on this subject. ( 21-9-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )




The statement purporting to be from the Indian Mujahideen (IM) disseminated by E-mail on September 19,2010, is shown as having been signed by one Al Arbi the same day. It refers to certain anti-Muslim incidents which allegedly took place in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on the day of Eid (September 11). It also refers to the day when the total number of people allegedly killed by the security forces in Jammu & Kashmir crossed 100 ( September 17). This would indicate that this message must have been drafted between September 17 and 19.

2. The statement is in good English with very few grammar or typing mistakes. It has been drafted by one well-versed in the Holy Koran. Many of the religious allusions have been taken from some past messages of Osama bin Laden, but bin Laden has not been mentioned anywhere by name. The last para of the message has been borrowed almost word for word from a message against Gen.Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani Army issued by bin Laden in September 2007 calling for the wrath of Allah on them for the raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July,2007. It reads: "O,Allah,deface them, break their backs and heads, split them up and destroy their unity; O, Allah, afflict them with the loss of their near and dear ones as they have afflicted us with the loss of our near and dear ones;O, Allah, we seek refuge in You from their evilness and we place You at their throats; O,Allah, make their plotting their destruction; O,Allah, suffice for us against them with whatever You wish; O,Allah, destroy them for they cannot escape You; O, Allah, count them, kill them and leave not even one of them. " There are only two minor changes. bin Laden had not said "deface them". He had also not said "and heads". One does not know wherefrom bin Laden had originally taken his curse against Musharraf and the Pakistani Army. bin Laden's curse against them has been converted by the IM into a curse against the Indian people and officials. I had referred to bin Laden's message of September 2007 in my book "Terrorism---Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow--Page 234.

3. The statement does not directly claim responsibility on behalf of the IM for the attack in Delhi on September 19 in which two Taiwanese tourists were injured. However, it indirectly hints at its responsibility by saying: "In the name of Allah we dedicate this attack of retribution...."

4. In its reference to the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, it says: "On the one hand Muslim blood is flowing like water, while on the other hand you are preparing for the festival of games. This is surely not a Child's play. Mind you this is the initiative from the Lions of Allah and we warn you to host the Commonwealth Games if you have a grain of salt. We know that the preparations for the Games are at its peak. Beware we too are preparing in full swing for a Great Surprise. The participants will be solely responsible for the outcome as our bands of Mujahideens love death more than you love life."

5. It has highlighted in red ink the following words: "Our bands of Mujahideen love death more than you love life." This could be a hint or threat that it is planning to commit an act of suicide or suicidal terrorism. The IM has not so far indulged in either.

6. While over 75 per cent of the statement is about alleged atrocities against Muslims in Jammu & Kashmir, there are also condemnatory references to the death of two IM suspects during a raid by the Delhi police on September 19,2008, to the arrests of some alleged members of the IM by the Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra Police in connection with the Pune Bakery blast of February 13 last and some alleged anti-Muslim incidents in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on Eid day. While the IM has threatened to launch a campaign of reprisals in solidarity with the Muslims of Kashmir, its initial attacks could be in Delhi, Mumbai and Ratlam. ( 20-9-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )