It was the 30th day of September 2012, in the UK. A pleasant day to be precise, for the Brars holidaying in London. But then things took an ugly turn, suddenly. Lt Gen Kuldeep Singh Brar, popularly known as ‘Bulbul’, who had led ‘Operation Blue Star’ in 1984 to flush out pro-Khalistan militants from the Golden Temple, was stabbed in the neck in an attack by four unidentified men with long beards, in Old Quebec Street, near Oxford Street, London.
Both Brar and his wife, on a private visit there, they were lucky that his neck wound was not fatal and the lady was not injured. While Gen and Mrs Brar left London for Mumbai, counter-terrorism officers arrested ten men and two women over a couple of days in connection with the attempted murder case and subsequently barring three men released the remaining nine on bail.
Whatever course the investigations take on this case in the United Kingdom, what is indeed most disturbing is that the lessons which this country should have learnt from post 9/11 attacks like 7/7. It may be recalled that it was in UK some of the fore-runners/ ideologues/veterans of both the Khalistani terrorist movement and that of fundamentalist Islamists — particularly those hailing from Pakistan— thrived and propagated their ideologies and organised moral and monetary support for training in Pakistan and attacks against India.
UK, a sitting duck?
Till 9/11, the United Kingdom was simply not a part of the Western world, which had ever bothered about the terror unleashed by both these categories of terrorists against India, but also had never really clamped down on them. In fact, during peak periods of terror unleashed against India by both Khalistanis and jihadis, the UK based human rights groups kept pontificating about alleged atrocities of Indian security forces fighting terrorists in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast. In short, pre 9/11, UK was considered very conducive for anti-Indian movements.
It was after 9/11 that the UK began being more careful and stepped up its surveillance and pressure against jihadi elements, but the Khalistanis remained quite untouched. Following India’s independence, the first anti-Indian groups of India’s Northeast, like that led by AZ Phizo were provided support and sanctuary by the UK, with assistance and coordination by Pakistan that made all the travel arrangements for Phizo to travel to the UK in 1956, where he was provided sanctuary till his death in 1990.
Thereafter, the UK provided sanctuary to Kashmiri, Khalistani and Pakistani separatists/terrorists. In his piece ‘Welcome to Britain, a breeding ground for talking hate’, Nick Cohen writing in The Observer, dated July 31, 2011, informed, “The authors of the new and encyclopedic Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections tells me that between 1993 and 2010, 43 individuals born, resident or radicalised in Britain are known to have committed suicide attacks abroad. As it turned out, Anders Breivik hated Islam in all its forms. No matter.
The manifesto he left online showed that Britain is an equally inspiring source of ideas for murderous neo-fascists.’” Co-authored by Robin Simcox, Hannah Stuart and Houriya Ahmed in 2010, the executive summary of this paper, Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections written for The Centre for Social Cohesion, London, reads — Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda inspired terrorism remains the biggest threat to the UK’s national security. The security service estimates that over 2,000 people in the UK pose a terrorist threat and in March 2005 it was estimated that there were up to 200 Al- Qaeda trained operatives in the UK.
The widening network
The British-based threat does not only affect the UK: a number of British Muslims have been convicted in foreign courts or have fought for (or trained with) terrorist or extreme Islamist groups abroad. Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections aims to present an overview of Islamism-inspired terrorism with significant connections to the UK.
The report is a collection of profiles of Islamism-inspired terrorist convictions and attacks in the UK between 1999 and 2009 and statistical analysis is drawn from the data collected. The report also examines the scope of British-linked Islamism-inspired terrorism threats worldwide since 1993, including convictions, training and suicide attacks abroad, as well as terrorism extradition cases from the UK. Connections between significant individuals and groups have also been charted.