Thursday, August 16, 2012



( This is an update of a paper titled “From Internet To Islamnet” that I had presented at an international conference at Bali, Indonesia, in October,2005. Available at  )

What we have been seeing since May,2012, is a proxy jihad through the Internet and modern means of communications such as the cellphone and I-pad being waged by a new generation of IT savvy jihadis still unidentified.

2. It started in the Rakhine State of Myanmar following  violent clashes between some Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims whom Myanmar looks upon as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The clashes resulted in about 80 fatalities from both the communities and the internal displacement of a large number of Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims.

3. Following these clashes, a group of as yet unidentified Islamic elements, possibly based in the Myanmar-Bangladesh-India region, started a vicious campaign through the Internet and the new social media sites for the demonization of the Myanmar Government and for promoting Islamic solidarity.

4.President Thein Sein of Myanmar was reported to have told a delegation of the OIC that visited Myanmar last week that through  the Internet and its social media sites these elements circulated highly exaggerated reports of what they called a genocide of Muslims in Myanmar with the help of morphed pictures of violent incidents in other countries not related to Myanmar.

5. This Psyjihad was meant to destabilise not only the Rakhine State of Myanmar, but also the Sheikh Hasina Government of Bangladesh, which has refused to allow the Rohingyas  enter Bangladesh and use it as a rear base for their destabilisation operations in Myanmar.

6.One noticed a similar Psyjihad being waged in India through the Internet and its social media sites by a group of unidentified Muslim extremists after the outbreak of violent clashes between some Bodos and illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in Kokrajhar and other Bodo areas of Assam last month.

7.These elements used the Internet and its social media sites for the dissemination of exaggerated accounts of the violence in Assam and for re-circulating the fabricated Psyjihad material produced by or on behalf of the Rohingyas of the Rakhine State.

8. These sought to inflame the passions of impressionable Muslims in different parts of India during the holy fasting period of Ramadan. It resulted in incidents of shocking violence and vandalisation by some Muslims during and after a public meeting held in the Azad Maidan of Mumbai on August 5,2012, to protest against the violent incidents in the Assam State of India and in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.

9. Some Muslims incited to violence by the Psyjihad material and the highly emotional speeches attacked police men, including women members of the police, vandalised a memorial in homage of the Unknown Indian Soldier, attacked sections of the media and burnt down some media vehicles. While the anger of such incited Muslim extremist mobs against the police is nothing unusual, its anger against the media was. Its rage against sections of the media was due to the fact that, in its view, the media did not give sufficient publicity to the Psyjihad material produced by or on behalf of the Rohingyas.

10. After the Mumbai incidents which have been condemned by many leaders of the Muslim community, these unidentified elements have been directing their Psyjihad against people from the North-East, who have been working in Pune and certain cities of South India like Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai in order to create feelings of insecurity in their minds and make them go back to the North-East.

11. There is an underlying message in this new phase of the Psyjihad directed at people from the North-East living and working in South India and Pune. That is: “If the Government does not regularise the illegal immigration of Bangladeshis into the North-East, we will not allow people from the North-East to migrate to work in other parts of India.” One has to note that the Psyjihad directed at the people from the North-East is not based on their religion. Many of them are Christians and not Hindus. It is based on their right to migrate to other parts of India.

12. As a result of the feelings of insecurity created in the minds of people from the North-East in South India, many have already left for their homes, creating the danger of a fresh wave of communal violence when the displaced people of the North-East reach their homes with their tales of how they were intimidated resulting in their decision to come back home.

13.During the last 20 years the mental divide between the people of the North-East and those in the rest of India, that had given rise to different insurgencies, had disappeared. The insurgencies started losing public support and a large number of youngsters from the North-East had started identifying themselves with the rest of India. Many of them migrated to other parts of India in search of jobs. They were welcomed by people in other parts of India. A process of natural integration between the people of the North-East and other parts of India began.

14.In the Psyjihad directed against the people from the North-east, one sees the beginning of an insidious attempt to re-create the mental divide and drive a new wedge.

15. Unfortunately, one does not have the impression that our intelligence agencies and police have been able to keep pace with the evolution of the Psyjihad being waged through the Internet, mobile phones and I-pads. One does not see signs of any coherent and co-ordinated attempt to counter and neutralise it, identify the elements behind this Psyjihad and act against them firmly under the laws of the land.

16.In addition to neutralising this Psyjihad, it is important to initiate urgent measures to restore the sense of security of the people from the North-East by interacting with them continuously and vigorously and by providing them additional protection. The civil society too has an important role in this matter. This is the time to further strengthen our bonds of solidarity with them and reassure them that the civil society will stand by them.

17. All political parties should resist the urge, which could prove suicidal for the nation, to exploit these developments for their partisan advantage. This is the time for everybody to come together and unite against the new breed of extremists, who can turn out to be more dangerous than those of the past who relied on improvised explosive devices for destabilising us. ( 17-8-2012)

(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:  Twitter @SORBONNE75)




The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as the Pakistani Taliban is known, has claimed responsibility for a successful raid into the Minhas base of the Northern Command of the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) early on the morning of August 16,2012.

2. According to the “Dawn” of Karachi, Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed that nine heavily armed TTP militants stormed the PAF Minhas airbase at Kamra, located about 70 kms from the capital Islamabad in Punjab’s Attock city, leading to an intense gun battle lasting almost five hours.

3.“The attack was launched from two different sides. A team of four members entered from one side and five from the other and then they launched a collective attack inside the camp,” Ehsan reportedly  told Dawn. He added that all the nine attackers were killed.

4.He claimed  that the raiders killed more than a dozen security personnel. Ehsan said the TTP had carried out the attack “to avenge the deaths of Osama bin Laden, the TTP Amir Baitullah Mehsud and other fighters who had been killed by the Pakistani security forces.”

5.  According to the official version of the Pakistani authorities, only one security guard was killed and one aircraft was damaged by a rocket-propelled grenade. A PAF spokesman has been quoted by the Pakistani media as saying that the terrorists were wearing uniform, but he did not specify whether they were wearing the uniform of the Air Force or the Army. Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, the commanding officer of the PAF Base, was reported to  have been seriously injured. PAF officials denied media reports that there were nuclear weapons stored inside the base.

6. The significance of the Minhas base as a Taliban target arises from two factors. Firstly, it is the base in which the entire PAF holdings of aircraft fitted with Airborne Early Warning Systems are located. In 2007, the PAF had ordered five  Swedish-made SAAB 2000 aircraft, four of them fitted with Saab-Ericsson ERIEYE Airborne Early Warning system. The first of these fitted with Erieye was delivered to the PAF on April 3,2008, and the second in April last year. The PAF has also ordered from Sweden six ground receiving stations.

7. In addition, the PAF has reportedly ordered four  Shaanxi ZDK-03 ‘Karakoram Eagle’ airborne early warning and control (AEW & C) aircraft from China, the first of which was delivered in November 2010.Thus, the PAF presently has two SAAB 2000 and one Chinese ZDK-03 planes fitted with airborne early warning systems.

8. According to reliable Pakistani sources, the main objective of the TTP raiders into the Minhas base was to locate and destroy these three planes fitted with airborne early warning systems. These sources say that the raiders managed to damage at least one of them.

9. The Minhas raid resembled the TTP raid into PNS Mehran, the headquarters of the Pakistani Naval Air Arm, located inside the Faisal base of the Pakistan Air Force at Karachi on the night of May 22, 2011, during which the TTP managed to destroy two of the three US-made Orion P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft of the Pakistan Navy. After having destroyed two of the maritime surveillance aircraft, the TTP has now tried to destroy the aircraft of the PAF fitted with Airborne early warning systems.

10. The second significance of Minhas as the target arises from the fact that the Sino-Pakistan aircraft manufacturing complex at Kamra is located next to the PAF base. At this complex, Chinese engineers are helping Pakistan in the assembly and ultimate manufacture of Chinese-made JF-17 aircraft. According to the Dawn, 11 Chinese engineers are presently based in Kamra. The details of the raid available so far do not indicate that the TTP tried to attack the manufacturing complex too.

11. The Dawn has reported as follows: “All Chinese and others foreign engineers and technicians involved in co-production of Chinese and Pakistan JF-17 Thunder aircraft project were shifted to a high profile secure location, official sources told, adding that the engineers were not present near the attack area.”

12. Who are these other foreign engineers? Could these be North Koreans since China would not like to associate any other country with the assembly and manufacture of its aircraft? An answer to this question is not available.

13. Sections of the Pakistani media have reported that advance intelligence regarding the likelihood of TTP attacks on PAF establishments around this period had been conveyed by the Ministry of the Interior under which the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the internal intelligence agency, functions. If true, despite this, the PAF has been taken by surprise. The repeated successful raids of the TTP into supposedly heavily-protected military establishments underlines once again the poor state of physical security in these establishments and the likely complicity of insiders with the TTP raiders.

14. Despite this, the Pakistani Foreign Office on August 16  once again maintained that its strategic nuclear assets are safe under a robust command and control system. In his weekly media briefing, spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan  said the world should not have concerns for the safety of the country’s nuclear assets. He said elaborate measures are in place to secure the nuclear weapons.

15. This may please be read in continuation of my article of July 14,2012, titled “Pak Taliban On Come-Back Trail In Non-Tribal Areas” at   (16-8-2012)

(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: