Saturday, July 09, 2005

The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means

In the absence of anyone else owning up to yesterday's crimes, we will be subjected to a spate of articles analysing the threat of militant Islam. Ironically they will fall in the same week that we recall the tenth anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica, when the powerful nations of Europe failed to protect 8,000 Muslims from being annihilated in the worst terrorist act in Europe of the past generation. Osama bin Laden is no more a true representative of Islam than General Mladic, who commanded the Serbian forces, could be held up as an example of Christianity. After all, it is written in the Qur'an that we were made into different peoples not that we might despise each other, but that we might understand each other. Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally "the database", was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians. Inexplicably, and with disastrous consequences, it never appears to have occurred to Washington that once Russia was out of the way, Bin Laden's organisation would turn its attention to the west. The danger now is that the west's current response to the terrorist threat compounds that original error. So long as the struggle against terrorism is conceived as a war that can be won by military means, it is doomed to fail. The more the west emphasises confrontation, the more it silences moderate voices in the Muslim world who want to speak up for cooperation. Success will only come from isolating the terrorists and denying them support, funds and recruits, which means focusing more on our common ground with the Muslim world than on what divides us.

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GLOBAL JIHAD: London Blasts - The Lessons

The flow of preventive intelligence continues to be unsatisfactory. Even the law-abiding members of the Muslim community, who do not approve of terrorism, are unwilling to co-operate with the security agencies by passing on information coming to their notice either because of intimidation or because they share the anger of those who have taken to terrorism. Intelligence agencies continue to face difficulties in penetrating terrorist organisations and their ability for the collection of technical intelligence (TECHINT) has been eroded. Before the advent of the mobile phones, the terrorists were largely using land-line phones for their communications. It is easy to intercept land-line conversations. It is much more difficult to intercept and analyse in time communications over the mobile phone and through the Internet. Moreover, the terrorists have become much more adept in strengthening their communications security. How to get over this? This is a question, which has to be jointly addressed by the intelligence agencies of the world.

INDIA: An infinity of sordid political errors!!

If our country is to achieve real harmony, I feel that we, both Muslims and Hindus, must face facts and not hide behind homilies or indulge in fantasy or escapism of hollow hopes. Every Hindu suffers from a Muslim phobia. Every Muslim harbours a feeling of contempt for the Kafir. Both sides must realize that civility is not a sign of weakness or cowardice and that sincerity is subject to valid proof. These unfortunate complexes arising from backlog of centuries can be washed away only through wise statesmanship and not mean political chicanery. Do we have true statesmen in our midst today? We as a fractured nation - may I say a notion of conglomerate elements - cannot derive any comfort from the hackneyed statement that democracy is always two years behind any dictator. Unfortunately in the case of India, our perverted democracy is at least 10 years behind the terrorists. When I brood on the issue of Ayodya, I asked myself whether what happened 3 days ago is not a portent to warn all our countrymen of the fate which might lie at no great distance from us all, upon a scale to which the Ayodya horror could be but a small working model. I ask all politicians in office who are concerned with Hindu-Muslim unity and communal peace to rise to the level of events, and to trifle no more on the edge of the abyss, but to embrace the sacrifices and discipline of mind and body which the cause requires.

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Friday, July 08, 2005

INTERVIEW: Tamil Tigers Training Nepalese Rebels

It is interesting to note that Indian sensitive agencies are entirely unable to cope with the situation despite having immense resources. The sensitive agencies are yet busy to malign these forces by propagating false information to the media about defections and divisions within the Indian Maoist forces. A piece of such false information is contained in a document in Hindi entitled, “MCC-I Ke Nitibhrasht Shadyantrakari Netaon Ke Bure Mansoobe Ko Dhwast Karen” (Defeat the Bad Intentions Of the Corrupt And Conspiring Leaders Of the MCC-I). It was E-mailed recently to this correspondent by someone, possibly under the fictitious name of Aasif Nadeem. But the fact is that all Maoist rebels and parties, including People’s War Group (PWG) and Maoist Communist Center (MCC) had merged to form a new outfit namely Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-M) on October 15, 2004. Muppala Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathi Rao has recently been elected its Secretary. They have agreed to an international proposal to develop a Red Zone (RZ) from Nepal to Sri Lanka.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

BLOGOSPHERE: Other Events in London Today

There have also been reports of an explosion on Houndsditch in the City of London, near Liverpool Street station, with a police officer reporting pulling people out of a bus there.[8] Additional reports indicate that there have been unspecified incidents at Brighton, Luton, and Swindon. These stations have been closed and there has been no official confirmation of the nature of the incidents, if any actually occurred. BBC World reported that the stations had been evacuated due to "security incidents". East Croydon station is also closed.

In Brighton there was a controlled explosion of a suspicious briefcase at approximately 12:55 PM local time in a telephone box outside of Brighton station. The brief case was later found to be harmless, and the station was re-opened.

There have been reports of a controlled explosion at Coventry bus station.

Vodafone have reported that their mobile phone network reached capacity at about 10 AM on the day of the incident, and they were forced to initiate emergency procedures to prioritise emergency calls. Other mobile phone networks have also reported failures. London's Transport system is currently paralysed, significantly because of the complete closure of the underground system and the Zone 1 closure of the bus networks, as well as evacuation of Russell Square. The BBC has speculated that the phone system has been closed by the security services to prevent the possibility of mobile phones being used to trigger bombs. BBC reports mobile networks are running again.


GLOBAL JIHAD: London terrorist attacks - Update

As situation becomes clearer following the dastardly attacks in London this morning the number of actual incidents, so far confirmed by the UK's Home Secretary is four Three in the London Underground and one on a double deck bus. The attrocity bears the hallmarks of Al-Qaida or an associated group - simultaneous attacks designed to cause significant distruption and casualties and gain maximum publicity. It is probably no coincidence that the attacks have taken place on the day the G-8 Summit is opening in Gleneagles, Scotland, whose participants have been swift to condemn the attacks. An al-Qaida website has claimed responsibility. Notwithstanding the 'hallmarks', it is often wise to treat such claims with caution, initially at least, until more facts become known. Four separate bombs on subways and bus (reduced from earlier reports) in London, multiple deaths and injuries (MSNBC & ABC News report at least 40 deaths according to U.S. State Department)- and Prime Minister Blair labels them "terrorist attacks" and "barbaric" - CNN has a good timeline of the attacks (thanks to Jeffrey Imm for sending this). CBS News reports that US officials lean towards an Al Qaeda attack - Group calling itself "The Secret Organization of Al Qaeda in Europe" (thanks Michael McCaw), but no means at this time of verifying who carried out bombings. NBC News reports that US officials do not see intel pointing to follow-on US attacks - US cities now tightening transit security, especially on Washington Metrorail- and Israeli Foreign Minister specifically denies earlier report that British police warned the Israeli Embassy in London of possible terror attacks minutes before the first explosion. Victor Comras notes that the trial of Abu Mazra al-Masri, Britain's best-known Islamic radical, started in London two days ago on multiple charges of soliciting the murder of others. Walid Phares noted on NBC that several groups threatened attacks in Britain in recent months.

BLOGOSPHERE: Casualties - London Bomb Attacks

Official sources have stated 21 people have been killed at King's Cross and ambulance sources suggest: nine at Edgware road, seven at Aldgate, two at Russell Square. There are hundreds - possibly more than a thousand - injured. [3] A large portion of these injuries are believed to be minor however, with many people treated primarily on the scene.

CNN, the BBC and ITV News have confirmed 2 fatalities at Aldgate Station. At least 90 casualties have been reported from Aldgate Station alone. All major London hospitals have been placed on alert, and are currently not accepting non-emergency cases. 95 casualties were taken by bus to the Royal London Hospital where they are being treated; 10 are in critical condition. Many others are being treated at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington. Individuals who are wounded and walking are being treated at the scene; an eyewitness reported that they were "operating on injured people on the concourse at Liverpool Street station." [4]. Paramedics were sent down into the tube system to search for more casualties. St. John Ambulance was called out to assist the London Ambulance Service [5], and hospitals had to call in off-duty staff.

Virgin Radio is reporting 45 dead. The BBC interviewed a doctor at the site of the bus explosion in Tavistock Square who said that 10 people had died there, though this remains unconfirmed. ITV News reports that it understands 8-10 people were killed at Edgware Road station. A Government spokesman is talking of 20 people dead. [6] and emergency services have told CNN that there are "double digit" fatalities still underground at King's Cross.

Recent reports state that 300 casualties (208 at Royal London Hospital alone [7]) are being treated in hospital and 150 of those are in a serious condition. Many are foreign nationals.

Confirmed current casualties (Police press conference):

Aldgate East Station at least 7 killed

King's Cross Station at least 21 killed

Edgware Road Station at least 5 killed

Bus in Tavistock Square 10 killed (unconfirmed)


Sunday, July 03, 2005

NEPAL: Understanding Intentions

Those, who see Indian involvement in the Maoist issue can point their finger at the meetings with several political leaders in various locations in India and the supply of arms, ammunition and other logistic support in huge quantity to both the sides - openly to the state battling with terrorism and, perhaps, clandestinely, to the rebels. It seems that whoever runs India has been playing a hide and seek game behind the curtain and trying very hard to destroy Nepal in achieving its national goal. If we look at the past trend, we can see how India had undertaken similar activities when Bangladesh was fighting with her insurgent groups - the Singhabahini or Chukkma tribal group. The irony is that Rajiv Gandhi, the then Indian PM, and General Ershad of Bangladesh had concluded a water sharing agreement of the Ganges River, in which India agreed to halt support to these groups and also any attacks by them from Indian soil. This agreement was concluded at a Commonwealth meeting held in the Caribbean Island of Niuru in the late Eighties.

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Rewind to 1971: PostCard USA - The ghosts of 1971

Samuel Hoskinson, who was serving in the National Security Council at the time, was assigned to escort Mrs Gandhi to the White House in November 1971 for a meeting with Nixon. He told the conference that he led the Indian prime minister through the diplomats’ entrance to the White House, took her to a special reception area, picked up the phone and told Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s secretary, “Prime Minister Mrs Gandhi is here, please inform the President.” She said she would do so right away. But there was no comeback. Half an hour passed. Mrs Gandhi was getting more and more fidgety and looked visibly annoyed, if not angry. Hoskinson, feeling ill-at-ease and embarrassed, called Rose Mary Woods again. After some time, she said, “Please bring her up.” But it was not the Oval Office where visiting heads of state and government are received; it was the Roosevelt Room. They went in and another wait began, not as long as the previous one but long enough for Mrs Gandhi to begin getting really cheesed off. Suddenly, recalled Hoskinson, the doors were flung open and in walked President Nixon, arms outstretched and a big smile on his face, “Mrs Gandhi,” he said, “nobody told me you were here!” She smiled back but with a great deal of difficulty.

Rewind to 1971: A war won against the `tilt'

Forced by U.S. legislation to cut off military aid to Pakistan, Kissinger illegally arranged for transfer of fighter aircraft to Islamabad from Jordan and petitioned Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey for similar bail-out. Finally, as war broke out and the reality of "Bangla Desh" loomed large, he rushed to New York to meet with a team led by Huang Hua, Permanent Representative of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations. Why? To get China militarily involved in support of Pakistan so as to shock India and the Soviet Union. (Kissinger told Nixon : "I'm convinced that if the Chinese start to move, the Indians will be petrified.") At his meeting with the Chinese team, Kissinger beat about the bush, but eventually admitted to the gameplan: "When I sought this meeting, I did so to suggest Chinese military help, to be quite honest. That is what I had in mind ... but I did it in an indirect way."

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

ANALYSIS: Time to Call the Bluff

They will demand that India break with Iran, get involved in Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq, follow the US line on Nepal and Bangladesh, concede Pakistani demands, help to contain China, increase joint military exercises, abolish all import restrictions, privatize all state enterprises and support the Americans in the Doha trade round. In return, promises the US ambassador, David C. Mulford, they will help “India achieve its vision of being a world power in the 21st century.” The bait shows that the Americans have the measure of the politicians they are dealing with and know how easily they can be stroked into subservience. Again, the prime minister might be the exception. But he is surrounded by colleagues who are determined, no matter what portfolios they hold, to lay down foreign policy. There are altogether far too many external affairs ministers in a cabinet where, ironically, the exception seems to be the actual man whose job it is to formulate and articulate a rational statement of the country’s aims abroad and how they should be achieved.

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ASSESSMENT: Bangladesh-India relations need new impetus

Whatever sincerity Bangladesh has got for maintaining good relations with India for mutual benefit evaporates due to lack of similar desire or feeling from the Indian side as it has been observed from the beginning of the birth of Bangladesh. In the initial years, the bilateral trade turned to be a flop when officially the export of much-liked fish from Bangladesh through Benapole was discouraged. The bilateral trade over the period has now been in highly imbalanced position as the informal trade, in fact, commands three-fourth of the total business. To overcome the nagging issue, Bangladesh's repeated requests of duty-free access for some selected commodities went unheeded even though the successive Indian governments had agreed and accepted. The Indo-Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission, better known as JRC, could not ensure sharing of water of the international and common river, the Ganges even after India's controversial construction of the Farakka Barrage. The issues of sharing of other 53 common rivers are going to face the same fate as India is now planning to go ahead with its own river-linking project with a view to having total control over the South Asian river system. India, as closest neighbour, does not feel even to consult the co-riparian countries having rights over the common rivers in this regard. India is trying to impress Bangladesh that before they take up the project they would discuss with us. It reminds one of how even the assurance that was given by India at the highest level of ensuring Bangladesh's share of water of the Ganges before commissioning of the Farakka Barrage was totally ignored.

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BANGLADESH - Impasse Continues In Its Relations with India

The intentions of Bangladesh are very clear. It wants to pacify India before the upcoming SAARC summit by taking some action against insurgents based in its territory. But, these actions are hardly sincere. Anup Chetia is communicating with ULFA rebels sitting in Bangladesh. Though his jail term is complete, Bangladesh has not handed him over to India. Now his whereabouts are not known. During the Foreign Secretary level meeting India requested Bangladesh to enter into an agreement whereby information about such groups and action taken against them could be shared. But the response of Bangladesh was on expected lines. It did not agree for any such agreement. Though Bangladesh says that it will not allow its territory to be used by insurgent groups its actions prove the contrary. The onus of defending this border lies on India and it will have to take all the necessary measures, including completing the fencing work.

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