India’s requirements of homeland security need to be viewed not only in context of the turmoil due social change but in backdrop of a dyed-in-the-wool anti-India China-Pakistan nexus that has been in existence for the past five decades. Nawaz Sharif may say war with India is not an option but then Sartaj Aziz says “Pakistan should not target those terrorist organisations that are not attacking Pakistan” – read LeT, JeM, JuD etc. Chou-en-Lai had advised Pakistan in early 1960s to prepare for prolonged war with India and raise a militia that would fight behind enemy (Indian) lines. Chou’s continuing distaste for India was further indicated in April 1971 when he told a visiting Pakistani delegation that “India was responsible for the present turmoil in East Pakistan”. Describing the meeting, F.S. Aijazuddin writes in his book ‘From A Head, Through A Head, To A Head – The Secret Channel between the US and China through Pakistan’, “The Chinese detestations of the Indians came through loud and clear. Conversely, China’s warm friendship for Pakistan as a firm and reliable friend was made very plain”. Today, while China- Pakistan continue to checkmate India, US persists in arming and funding Pakistan, despite its stated tenets of promoting democracy and war on terror. Apparently, US desires Indian partnership on the high seas but does not want India to grow beyond a point; an arrangement that China happily acknowledges.
Current Scene China supports the Maoists in India, PLA of Manipur and ULFA, and engineered abrogation of the 13 year old ceasefire by NSCN (K) with government of India. This was followed by Chinese intelligence establishing the United Liberation of WSEA (West, South, East Asia) in Myanmar this May, bringing together nine northeast militant groups under the same umbrella including NSCN (K) and ULFA, with the aim of creating instability in India’s northeast at China’s behest. Following red carpets to Prachanda in Beijing, China orchestrated immense Maoists influence over formulation of the new Nepalese Constitution even as Baburam Bhattarai, founder member of the Maoist party UCPN (Maoist) resigned over his concern for Madhesis. Obviously, China wants continuing friction between Nepal and India, exploiting her Maoists links.
It is because of al Qaeda-ISI links that Asim Umar is al Qaeda’s South Asia head. Shaped in radicalised seminaries and madrassas of Pakistan, Asim was instrumental in facilitating Osama bin Laden’s move to a safe-house in Abbottabad. Asim Umar has been tasked to head al Qaeda activates from Afghanistan to Myanmar,capitalising on HUJI (his mother organisation) cells in Kashmir, Bangladesh and Myanmar. LeT representatives have been attending meetings of Indian Maoists, latter insurgent movement far from being subdued. Pakistan’s recent media cap on LeT and JuD have little meaning as the military continues with its state policy of terrorism. The threat to South India has mounted with al Qaeda and LeT footprints in Kerala and Maldives, besides the Osama Brigade that the ISI had managed to establish in Northern Sri Lanka. We have some 65 banned terrorist organisations operating in India. The IM and the Kerala headquartered Popular Front of India (PFI) are creations of ISI. Five cadres of PFI were caught in Kupwara area in J&K in 2005 trying to cross into POK. PFI also has Taliban links. The threat of ISIS can hardly be ignored. As per a report in CTX (a US journal), the terrorist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT) may become even more dangerous than ISIS and its presence in South Asia should be a cause for concern for India and Indonesia, especially since it is training in chemical, bacteriological, and biological warfare. On its website, HuT claims it organised a demonstration in 2010 at Batla House in Delhi, in protest against Israel’s alleged atrocities.
During the Herat Security Dialogue held in Afghanistan on 2-3 October 2015, an Afghan speaker stated that Pakistan has 83,000 madrassas and even if 10,000 focused on suicide bombings, there could be 50 suicide bombings daily.The ISI is linked with over 15 global and regional terrorist organisations including the Taliban and al Qaeda. Pakistan has become more aggressive,buoyed with proxy successes in Afghanistan, US acquiescence to Pakistani terror exports and China’s strategic footprints in Gilgit- Baltistan.Seven districts of Nagarhar province in Afghanistan have been taken over by ISIS that has come from Pakistan – not from Iraq-Syria. Pakistan engineered a coup of sorts by installing Mullah Akhtar Mansoor to succeed Mullah Omar as the head of Afghan Taliban, Mansoor being religious teacher of Haqqani’s based in Pakistan.
Advances in technology have empowered terrorists. Terrorist organisations have developed bomb implants and body cavity bomb (BCBs) – US believes al Qaeda has devised ways to
TAKE MUMBAI WHERE THE MARCOS, NSG AND FORCE 1 ARE LOCATED WHO WOULD BE CALLED UPON TO RESPOND TO 26/11 TYPE SITUATION BUT NEVER HAVE EXERCISED JOINTLY. POST 26/11, ENTIRE SECURITY SECTOR OF INDONESIA UNDERTOOK A NATIONAL LEVEL CT EXERCISE FOR THREE DAYS.
conceal explosives inside the body avoiding detection by sophisticated scanners. They also claim al Qaeda has developed undetectable liquid explosive that can be soaked into clothing and ignited when dry. 3D weapon printing has become reality. Recently, even a drone was copied using 3D printer and flown successfully. Internet has become a boon for radicalisation, messaging and coordinating terrorist actions. Increase in networks implies rise of ‘netwar’,with power transferred to terrorists. The 9/11 terrorist attack also knocked out critical financial transaction networks and caused an overload of the telecommunications grid, though cyber terrorism was hardly new. A cyber attack in 1982 had caused the Siberian pipeline explosion. Over the years, dams, communications and power at airports, pipelines, sewage system, nuclear monitoring systems, train signalling system, automobile plants, hospital systems, all have been attacked.
As for CBRN threats, we were witness to a Cobalt 60 leak in Delhi, 15 Uranium sticks went missing form SAIL in 2011, a 1.5 kg Uranium IED was recovered in Assam in 2013 and media revealed that during the VP Singh regime, the LeT had threatened a nuclear terror strike. Possibility of a terrorist biological, radiological or chemical strike is much more if we are to take lessons from the 1995 Tokyo Sarin gas bombings, 2001 Anthrax attacks in the US and ongoing use of Sarin in Syria. ISIS has been exhorting its cadres to resort to lone wolf terrorism and a recent study in US concludes a lone terrorist may inflict up to a million casualties. Drone terrorism is a reality and small drones are much more difficult to detect as they need little space to take off, besides the problem of intercepting and bringing down a terror drone including the method of bringing down a drone without activating its lethal load. Pakistan’s nuclear tail wagging may likely fructify through terrorists rather than the pet western concept of an Indo-Pak conventional conflict going nuclear; ploy for the US to continue molly coddling Pakistan.
Safeguards Speaking at the Police Academy, the NSA reportedly said recently that 4GW cannot be fought by the Army and the police forces should gear up to fight it. That is tad off from ground reality. 4GW and terrorism are part of hybrid war (comprising regular, conventional, irregular and cyber war) that we have been battling, which neither the Army nor the police can fight individually. It requires synergised national response with the security sector playing the major role. Security sector is a broad term used to describe the structures, institutions and personnel responsible for the management, provision and oversight of security. India’s sector would encompass at least the following: government ministries of defence, home, external affairs, law and justice, human resources, aviation, railways, surface transport, shipping etc; intelligence services; armed forces; paramilitary forces (PMF); coast guards; central armed police forces (CAPF); police forces; customs and immigration services; private security services and the like. Considering the size and diversity of our country and population, intelligence gathering requires participation by the entire citizenry – putting the billion plus eyes concept on the ground.
The first ever India Risk Survey undertaken jointly byICCI and Pinkerton finds that at the government level, reforms are reactive and piecemeal not on any integrated and comprehensive level that should have happened as part of a national strategic planning process. It requires a holistic threat appreciation that should be continuously reviewed. In case of reforms, it is a question of which organ makes the most noise and can get its way through. This is because we have yet to put in place structures to deal with hybrid warfare. Intelligence too does not appear to have been synergised. The Home Minister stated last year that Maoists organisations should be infiltrated but has that really happened? The need to infiltrate terrorist organisations is all pervasive – both sides of the border. It is ironic that even the Defence Intelligence Agency, though mandated to operate sources crossborder is denied this and instructed to rely on TECHINT.
We continue to ignore the principal of ‘One Border, One Force’,to the disadvantage of security. The CRPF is the principal force in battling the Maoists but their command is in the hands of IPS officers who have little experience of CI. CRPF, BSF and ITBP complain their arming, equipping and training is suffering because their control is with the IPS. Even in states like Chhattisgarh that has maximum CAPF deployment, the entire force is placed under the DG Police, whereas the MHA should have a 24×7 operations room manned by CRPF professionals overseeing operations in Maoist affected states. Short forays into Abujmarh area are not going to shake the Maoists citadel. There is also the question of joint CT training. Take Mumbai where the MARCOS, NSG and Force 1 are located who would be called upon to respond to 26/11 type situation but never have exercised jointly. Post 26/11, entire security sector of Indonesia undertook a national level CT exercise for three days.
The NATGRID still appears few years away and the NCTC appears to have been lost amidst government promises to review it. We need the NCTC connected to state level CT centres (SCTCs). HUMINT is more important in CT and CI and timely upward flow can be ensured through effective SCTCs. The Army is going in for Battlefield Management System (BMS) and Battlefield Surveillance Systems (BSS), but these are also required pan security sector. Navy’s National Command, Control & Communications Intelligence Network tracks ships at sea, for which the Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) has been established at Gurgaon, but will it be capable of picking up the 26/11 type small vessel? The CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems) is still far from linking all police stations in the country. Countering use of cyber by terrorists and terrorist organisations for propaganda, recruitment, funding, targeting etc requires private-public partnership in major way.
There does not appear to be much focus on responding to the CBRN response. The manpower for the NDRF is through three year deputation from CAPF, primarily from the CRPF. They lack specialisation and equipment for responding to CBRN strikes, both in terms of detection and post strike assistance. So, public in affected area will generally be abandoned to their fate, as happened during the Bhopal gas tragedy. The magnitude of such a terrorist strike requires: appreciation of likely target areas; holistic efforts to stymie it including the foreign roots; deployment of resources for detection and post strike assistance; public education and rehearsals. Placement of resources, public education and periodic rehearsals incorporating the citizens is an essential part which is generally avoided in India.
Special operations are important both sides of the border. Internally, we need to infiltrate the terrorist organisations and go for precision elimination of terrorist leadership and vital infrastructure, besides psychological operations and deradicalisation. These can hardly be left to individual states but need coordination at the national level. As for cross border special operations, we have largely been ineffective, despite large number of Special Forces because R&AW perceives this to be their exclusive domain rather than working in tandem with Special Forces. That is why we have not been able to hit at cross-border roots of terrorism and have failed to create credible deterrence. Finally, considering the massive mandate of the MHA, we need to seriously examine if weneed a separate Ministry of Internal Security, totally dedicated to CI and CT. The threats are mounting and we have a long way to go.
The Author is a Special Forces veteran of the Indian Army and is a third generation army officer. He has authored a number of books and published over 200 articles on defence and security related issues.